Environmentalist Andrei Zatoka charged. Campaign for his release continues
In the evening of 23 October, after three days in custody, well-known environmentalist and civic activist Andrei Zatoka was formally charged with “deliberately inflicting medium severity damage to health”. Item 2 of this Article (108) of the Criminal Code allows for a stiffer sentence – imprisonment for up to 5 years - in certain cases, including if the action is not the first time. It has not been possible to ascertain whether a date has been fixed for the trial.
The environmentalist is charged with attacking and beating a drug addict with three convictions. It is widely believed that the real reason is his civic activity. A number of international organizations have already spoken out in Andrei Zatoka’s defence, these including Human Rights Watch, Civicus, Crude Accountability, the Social and Environmental Union, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Memorial and others.
According to Rachel Denber of Human Rights Watch, “Zatoka’s arrest appears to be a clear move by Turkmen authorities to stifle his activism. Authorities should let him go at once and drop any charges against him”
“The European Union recently upgraded relations with Turkmenistan through the conclusion of an Interim Trade Agreement and is looking to enhance them further with the conclusion of a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement in the near future. Both agreements contain a so-called human rights clause, committing the parties to "respect for democracy and fundamental and human rights" and providing for possible suspension should either party violate this principle”
“In this situation, the leaders of the USA and European Union are obliged to react – it would be the height of cynicism to continue closing their eyes to what is going on in Turkmenistan”, Sviatoslav Zabelin, Co-Chair of the International Social and Environmental Union, stresses. “You can’t proclaim commitment to the defence of human rights in the entire world and then exchange them for hydrocarbons.”
To support and protect Andrey Zatoka, please, send e-mail and faxes to:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan
Minister Rashid Meredov
Prospect Makhtumkuli, 83