Fears for the life of Novorossiysk human rights defender Vadim Karastelev


 Novorossiysk human rights defender Vadim Karastelev was attacked and badly beaten up on Saturday, 27 February. He has undergone an operation under general anaesthetic and has been transferred to the neurosurgery ward where police are maintaining a guard. The police have also forbidden the doctors from giving any information about Vadim’s state and diagnosis to either his relatives or lawyer.

According to Interfax and other news agencies, one of the alleged assailants has been arrested. He has apparently stated that he attacked Vadim Karastelev “out of personal animosity”.

Vadim Karastelev has been representing Major Alexei Dymovsky, the senior Russian police officer sacked for libel after posting a video on the Internet alleging corruption in the force.  He had only just been released from custody after spending 7 days administrative arrest for handing out leaflets calling on people to come to a rally in support of Dymovsky.

Vadim’s lawyer, Nikolai Ukraintsev, says that the human rights defender had received threats previously and had asked the police to carry out a check.

Human Rights in Russia notes the extremely negative attitude to Vadim Karastelev from several highly-placed police officers and officials in the Krasnodar kraj [area]. Vadim has repeatedly spoken of criminals in police uniform, of corruption, and links between several public officials and criminal gangs. His defence of Alexei Dymovsky must have especially angered the police. 

Dymovsky alleged in his Youtube video that officers were treated like cattle and that the results of investigations were pre-ordained.  According to the BBC, his video clip states: “I am tired of being made to uncover crimes that do not exist," "I am tired of being told that these are the people who we need to go to jail."

As reported at the time, in September 2009 the Novorossiysk Prosecutor’s Office attempted to have the Novorossiysk Human Rights Committee which is headed by Tamara and Vadim Karastelev declared an extremist organization and dissolved. The grounds would have been humorous had the whole situation not been so serious. The slogan deemed “extremist” and as “undermining the moral pillars of society” was “Freedom is not given – it’s taken” , this being a rephrasing of a quote from a play by Maxim Gorky (the original was “Rights are not given, rights are taken”.

Human Rights in Russia quotes observers as warning that if the federal centre which has made loud noises about decisive reform of the police force and fighting corruption in the State apparatus does not intervene and carry out a comprehensive external check into the Krasnodar and Novorossiysk Police to uncover criminal elements gaining police protection, events could take on a tragic nature.

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