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18.01.2009

Moscow: Protest in support of political prisoner Igor Sutyagin

   

A picket was held on Saturday 17 January near the metro station “Chistiye prudy”. The meeting, calling for the release of political prisoner Igor Sutyagin, was held to mark the scientist’s 44th birthday.  Igor Sutyagin is serving a 15-year-sentence, convicted of divulging State secrets for passing on material created on the basis of sources available on open access.

The picket, organized by the Union for Solidarity with Political Prisoners, the Human Rights Centre Memorial and others, was authorized by the Moscow authorities.

Around 60 people took part, while at the location there were three coaches with OMON [riot police] officers considerably outnumbering the demonstrators.  The picket began late, after one of the members of the Union for Solidarity with Political Prisoners refused to allow police officers to check the contents of the picket material.  For around 15 minutes they were stopped from getting to the planned site, however in the end were allowed through without the material being checked.

Igor Sutyagin, a disarmament researcher with the Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, was convicted in 2004 on espionage-related charges and is serving a 15-year sentence in a maximum security prison for allegedly passing classified information about Russia’s nuclear weapons to a London‑based firm.

Sutyagin and human rights groups maintain that he had no access to classified information, and that the government sought a severe sentence to discourage others from sharing sensitive information with other countries. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch both consider Sutyagin a political prisoner and  the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has passed a resolution urging Russia to release him. .

For more information, please see http://www.sutyagin.org/  http://www.hrw.org/legacy/backgrounder/eca/russia/4.htm  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Igor_Sutyagin

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