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07.03.2008

An open letter in support of political prisoner Maxim Reznik

   

Y.Y. Chaika, Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation

V.P. Lukin, Human Rights Ombudsperson of the Russian Federation

Stop the trumped up case against Maxim Reznik

The Russian Federation Presidential elections were marked by an ominous precedent – an overtly fabricated criminal investigation against a political opponent.

During the early hours of 3 March the police detained the head of the St. Petersburg branch of the Yabloko Party Maxim Reznik. He is facing charges of “insulting representatives of the authorities” and “using force against representatives of the authorities” – attacking three (!) police officers.

On 4 March 2008 Judge Andreyeva of the Dzherzhinsky Federal Court in St Petersburg ruled that Reznik be remanded in custody in the pre-trial detention centre “Kresty” where those charged or suspected of committing criminal offences are held.

In the most flagrant violation of the RF Criminal Procedure Code, Judge Andreyeva refused to allow Reznik’s colleagues, members of the public and journalists to attend her announcement of the ruling, which will of course result in yet another approach to the European Court of Human Rights. In protest at the obviously wrongful ruling, Maxim has declared a hunger strike.

By fabricating this case, the St Petersburg authorities are unfurling a new spiral of political repression and issuing another challenge to civic society and all Russians with civic consciousness.

None of us believes that Maxim Reznik could have assaulted police officers. Nobody believes that, if left at liberty, he would abscond or bring pressure to bear against witnesses.

We call on the Prosecutor General to:

-  immediately terminate this trumped up case;

-  carry out an internal investigation and punish those who both initiated it and carried out.

We demand that an end be put to the shameful practice by the executive branch of power of using law enforcement agencies in pursuit of their own political aims.

Members of the St. Petersburg Human Rights Council

The long list of signatures includes those of Yelena Bonner, Sergei Kovalev, Ludmila Alexeeva, Lev Ponomarev, Yury Samodurov, Ernst Cherny, Gleb Yakunin, the writer Boris Strugatsky and many more.

You can add your signature by writing to: zpch@zaprava.ru

It is vital that the international community does not simply look on while the basic principles of democracy and the rule of law are eroded.

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