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Russian human rights defender Alexei Sokolov calls on Public Chamber to attend cassation hearings

Alexei Sokolov, Head of the civic organization “Pravovaya osnova” [“Legal Basis”] is facing a 5-year sentence and has been declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. On 22 June he sent an appeal to the Public Chamber of Russia asking them to send a representative to the court hearing due to consider his cassation appeal.  Alexei Sokolov suggests that they will be convinced that in Russia you can fabricate criminal charges against anyone without problem.  And this is with the sentence being based not on any objective proof but on the unconfirmed and contradictory testimony of repeat offenders being held in isolation and experiencing torture and threats from law enforcement officers within the penal system.

Alexei Sokolov was until May 2009 an active defender of prisoners’ rights.  He is the Head of the civic organizations “Legal Basis” [Pravovaya Osnova] which campaigns on torture and other ill-treatment of people held in Russia’s prisons and detention centres. He was appointed by the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation to a civic supervisory committee for ensuring human rights in places of confinement.

As AI writes, Alexei Sokolov became came prominent after he publicized and distributed a film about torture and other ill-treatment in a temporary holding centre in Yekaterinburg called IK-2. The film received wide coverage, both in Russia and internationally, and led to the closure of IK-2. The work of Legal Basis brought about several investigations into police and prison colony staff, accused of crimes including the use of torture to force suspects to "confess."

He was arrested on 13 May supposedly on suspicion of involvement in an attack in 2004 on the industrial base “UralTermoSvar” during which welding equipment and a cable were stolen. Five years on, two prisoners serving sentences for other crimes “confessed” to this one and named Alexei Sokolov as accomplice.

He was convicted on 14 May 2010 and sentenced to 5 years strict regime imprisonment.

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