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Russia: Smear campaign against human rights defender Mr Philipp Kostenko
On 20 June 2012, posters showing a photo of Mr Philipp Kostenko framed as a criminal wanted by police appeared on public buildings and advertisement boards in St. Petersburg.
Philipp Kostenko is a member of ADC Memorial, a prominent anti-discrimination organisation that defends the rights of the Roma population in the Russian Federation. Philipp Kostenko is also an active participant in the anti-fascist and anarchist movement in St. Petersburg.
On 20 June, A4 posters, designed as police documents for wanted persons, were attached to various public spaces in St. Petersburg. The posters were entitled 'Wanted', contained a photograph of Philipp Kostenko and his name, and stated that he was wanted by police in relation to a crime he allegedly committed on 19 June in a children's play yard.
On 22 June, ADC Memorial applied to the General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation, St. Petersburg's City Department of the Ministry of Interior and other authorities to investigate the dissemination of false and defamatory information on Philipp Kostenko.
These posters form part of a continued campaign of defamation and intimidation against Philipp Kostenko and ADC Memorial. During the past six months, unknown individuals have reportedly posted false information and threatening messages on the defender on the independent media site http://piter.indymedia.org, including reports that he was attacked, raped or killed. Friends of Philipp Kostenko and other human rights defenders were named in these reports as witnesses of the events, and the name and address of Philipp Kostenko and ADC Memorial were provided. Other messages reportedly stating “Philipp Kostenko will be killed” also appeared on the site. The website administrators tried to delete the messages as soon as possible, however in many cases it could not be done immediately. On 21 June, a message appeared on the site stating: “If our messages are being deleted, we will post them at places where they cannot be removed.”
On 7 February 2012, Front Line Defenders issued an urgent appeal on a brutal attack suffered by Philipp Kostenko on 3 February, which resulted in a broken leg, brain concussion and trauma to his head and eye (see www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/17305). A criminal investigation on the attack was opened, however there has been no visible progress on the case to date and threats received by the defender prior to the attack have not been investigated. In December 2011 and January 2012, Philipp Kostenko was sentenced to 15 days of administrative arrest. ADC Memorial has since applied to the European Court on Human Rights complaining of the arrests.
Front Line Defenders condemns the ongoing smear and intimidation campaign against Philipp Kostenko and believes that it is directly linked to his legitimate and peaceful human rights activities.