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Russian Federation-Update: Doubts about effectiveness of investigation into the attack on Mr Alexey Dmitriev
Three months have passed since the violent attack on environmental rights defender and lawyer Alexey Dmitriev, and there are serious concerns about the effectiveness of the investigation being carried out.
The prosecutor's office refuses to take into account the fact that the human rights defender was previously threatened by unidentified individuals, and it delayed organising a forensic examination for a long time, finally carrying it out on 29 June 2012 after the third request made by Alexey Dmitriev. Following the attack on 16 April 2012, the human rights defender spent 12 days in hospital and was incapable of working until 28 June, during which time he continued to receive medical treatment.
The prosecutors continue to treat the attack as a common robbery and do not intend to investigate the possibility that the attack could be linked to the activities of the human rights defender. However, prior to the attack, Alexey Dmitriev participated in a public inspection of two sites where rivers had been filled in for construction purposes in the vicinity of Khimki forest and took numerous photos. In the two days after the attack, he was scheduled to appear as the legal representative of the plaintiffs in two court hearings, one of which was held on the basis of a complaint he had submitted on behalf of a group of citizens.
Alexey Dmitriev is a lawyer and member of the Movement in Defense of Khimki Forest, which is at risk of destruction because of the construction of the Moscow-St Petersburg motorway. Alexey Dmitriev is an active participant in demonstrations against deforestation in the town of Khimki. He has complained formally about the actions of construction companies in Khimki and is the author of a blog dedicated to the protection of Khimki forest.
On April 16, 2012, at about 8:30 in the morning, Aleksey Dmitriev left his home and while waiting for the elevator, was attacked from behind and lost consciousness due to blows received to the head, face and to the area of the heart. He was diagnosed with concussion and a broken arm and a medical examination determined that the attack was carried out with the aid of brass knuckles or a club. The attackers stole his mobile phone, camera and MP3 player, but his backpack and wallet containing money were not taken.
Many journalists gathered in Khimki Hospital to conduct an interview, but the head of the hospital department where Alexey Dmitriev was placed did now allow this, claiming that she had received an order from the Khimki local administration to this effect.
This is not the first attack on Alexey Dmitriev. On 23 February 2012, he was attacked by a political party leader known to him, who threw him to the ground, hit him in the face and took a camera belonging to the defender. The human rights defender submitted a written complaint to the police, but they refused to open a criminal case.
Front Line Defenders reiterates its call upon the authorities of Russia to carry out a thorough and impartial investigation into the attack on human rights defender Alexey Dmitriev, as well as other attacks on human rights defenders, and guarantee that crimes against environmental activists defending the Khimki forest do not remain unpunished.
For further information on this case, please see Front Line Defenders urgent appeal, dated 16 July 2012, Threatening and intimidatory acts against environmental human rights defenders HERE, and 20 April 2012, Attack on ecological rights defender Mr Alexey Dmitriev HERE.
You can find additional information on the situation for human rights Defenders in Russia. HERE