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Russian Federation: Harassment of human rights defender Ms Sophia Kropotkina
On 19 September 2012, the chief doctor in the hospital in which human rights defender Ms Sophia Kropotkina is staying reportedly received a letter of inquiry about the human rights defender from the local Federal Security Service (FSB) office.
She was hospitalised on 14 September when she was taken ill during a discussion with officials from the Ministry of the Interior who wished to take her to Moscow for interrogation. Sophia Kropotkina is a journalist who works mainly on human rights issues with the Novaya Gazeta in Ryazan.
According to Sophia Kropotkina's husband, the contents of the letter sent by the FSB to the chief doctor of the hospital currently treating the human rights defender have not been made public and it is not known why the FSB is inquiring about her.
On 14 September 2012, Sophia Kropotkina was approached by three people in plain clothes as soon as she left her apartment block to go to her office in Ryazan. The men identified themselves as officials from the Ministry of the Interior and said that they had a summons to bring Sophia Kropotkina to Moscow for interrogation.
The human rights defender questioned the officials regarding the legality of the order and called a lawyer, and the officials responded by saying that she would be forcibly taken to Moscow by local police if she refused to comply.
During this discussion, Sophia Kropotkina began to feel sick and an ambulance was called. The human rights defender was taken to hospital where she continues to receive treatment. After her hospitalisation, several officials refused to leave the hospital and stayed there monitoring Sophia Kropotkina.
However, on 15 September, due to public pressure and the involvement of a lawyer, they left the hospital. It is reported that the actions of the Ministry of the Interior officials have been reported to the Public Prosecutor's Office.
Local human rights defenders believe that the pressure being put upon Sophia Kropotkina is a direct consequence of her professional activities as a human rights journalist, as well as the activities of her husband, a fellow journalist and a locally well-known member of the opposition movement “Other Russia”.