Razvozzhaev: No let up to lawlessness
Russian investigators have pulled out a criminal case abandoned 15 years ago against Leonid Razvozzhaev, the Russian activist who was abducted in Kyiv on 17 October as he was in the process of applying for asylum. Razvozzhaev was apparently charged in 1997 with taking part in an armed robbery in Angarsk, Siberia. According to investigator, Vladimir Markin, he is alleged to have been part of a group brandishing hunting rifles and pistols that burst into a businessman’s apartment, taped him to a chair, beat him and left with a video camera and 500 fur hats. Razvozzhaev’s lawyer told reporters that the charges were dropped 15 years ago for lack of evidence.
RIA Novosti has cited their own sources within the police as saying that the investigators have offered to drop the charges as time-barred if Razvozzhaev effectively admits guilt. It is proposed that he agrees to the case being dropped “due to non-rehabilitating circumstances”, this meaning that he does not deny guilt.
In fact Associated Press reports that the case according to one charge is already time-barred, and would become so shortly with respect to a more serious charge. As another form of pressure, the threats are serious, especially given the extremely nebulous nature of the charges presently facing him. These, as reported, stem effectively from an anti-opposition programme broadcast on the pro-Kremlin NTV channel. This claims to show footage in which certain Left Front activists met with a Georgian official to discuss organizing mass riots. The charge against him of organizing riots could carry a 15 year sentence.
Leonid Razvozzhaev was abducted from the centre of Kyiv on 17 October outside the office of a partner of UNHCR where he was completing his asylum application. He was taken by force to Moscow and remanded in custody by a Moscow court two days later. His “confession” has now been retracted and Mr Razvozzhaev has stated that it was made under serious pressure, including threats of violence against his wife and children.
The Ukrainian Interior Ministry has refused to initiate a criminal investigation, with one official claiming that this was not their business since the case involved a foreign security service and foreign national.
The SBU has responded to a formal information request stating that it is investigating.
The Prosecutor General’s Office is also not taking any measures, nor is Ukraine’s Human Rights Ombudsperson.
The heads of the above-mentioned Ukrainian bodies have all been nominated for the UHHRU 2012 Thistle of the Year anti-award for their failure to act in the case of Razvozzaev and a previous case of refoulement in August. In that case, an Ingushetian man was forcibly returned to the Russian Federation despite being a mandate refugee and having been offered asylum by an EU country. The Thistle of the Year award is for the worst human rights offences in the given year.