Posted 2012/3/27

Russian Federation: Attack on the offices of the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society as part of an ongoing campaign of intimidation and harassment

Mr Stanislav Dmitrievsky, the head of the Russian-Chechen Friendship (ITAR-TASS).

On 24 March 2012, the offices of the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society was subjected to an attack when unidentified people broke the windows and left two Molotov cocktails (improvised incendiary weapons) on the ground outside.

The Russian-Chechen Friendship Society (RCFS) is a human rights organisation registered in Finland and based in Nizhny Novgorod. RCFS has recently been hosting meetings of the Nizhny Novgorod Civic Council (NNCC), a civil society organisation which leads peaceful protests against falsifications in parliamentary and presidential elections in Nizhny Novgorod.

On 24 March 2012, at approximately 11.30 p.m., members of the RCFS, Mr Stanislav Dmitrievsky and Mr Ilya Shamazov, arrived at the offices of the RCFS, after they had been alerted to the attack on the offices by the landlady. The windows of the offices, situated on the ground floor, had been broken and two unlit bottles with Molotov's cocktails were left near the windows. The human rights defenders called the police who arrived at 2.00 a.m.. The police then called in an investigation team, reportedly for the purposes of gathering evidence, who arrived at 4.00 a.m.. Members of the investigation team, took the bottles and told the human rights defender that some hooligans were apparently responsible for the incident and that it was not a case of attempted arson.

The failure of the police to open an investigation into the incident is particularly worrying as the incident comes in the context of an ongoing campaign of intimidation and harassment which appears to be linked to the meetings of the NNCC at the offices of the RCFS.

On 22 March 2012, just before a meeting of the NNCC was about to take place at 6.00 p.m. at the RCFS' offices, police arrived at the offices saying that they had received an anonymous call claiming that a bomb had been planted there. The search of the premises lasted an hour and a half. On 3 March 2012, a leaflet with the inscription 'Be informed that in the Middle Ages the plague was cured at the stake! This place will be saved by the Inquisition!' appeared on the entrance door. As Stanislav Dmitrievsky was abroad at that time, the landlady tried to call the police, but they refused to come. On his return Stanislav Dmitrievsky transmitted the leaflet to the deputy head of Police Department Mr Shmonin, who promised to investigated the matter, however nothing further was done by the police regarding the incident.

On 2 March 2012, the glass of the entrance doors of the RCFS's office was broken, and orange paint (which may refer to the 'orange revolution' in Ukraine in 2004 which is depicted by Russian authorities as a model of a coup d'Etat wanted by Russian opposition) was thrown all over the doors. Front Line Defenders views this latest incident with serious concern and believes that the attack on the offices of RCFS is the most recent incident in a campaign of intimidation and harassment attempting to curb the legitimate and peaceful human rights work of the Nizhny Novgorod Civic Council.

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