Call for a resolution on Ildar Dadin, a Russian political prisoner

Jan 06 2017

As of January 4, 2017, Ildar Dadin, a jailed 34-year old Russian opposition activist who accused his prison staff of torture, has been missing for 33 days.

While Ildar’s wife Anastasia Zotova counts days on her Facebook page since her husband went missing and unsuccessfully tries to break through a wall of silence that the Russian authorities have built around Ildar’s case, the 30-day mark has triggered a campaign in social networks using the hashtag #ГдеИльдарДадин (#WhereIsIldarDadin). It became a trending topic on Russian Twitter.

Prominent political figures, human rights activists and civil demonstrators have uploaded photos of themselves to social media holding #ГдеИльдарДадин (#WhereIsIldarDadin) signs, pictures of Ildar and articles about him using the hashtag. Some prominent figures who have latched on to the inquiry include the director of the organization “For Human Rights” Lev Ponomaryov, editor-in-chief of a radio station “Echo of Moscow” Alexey Venediktov, and an MP in St.Petersburg’s Legislative Assembly Boris Vishnevsky, and they have sent letters to the Federal Penitentiary Service demanding the authorities to reveal Dadin’s location. A group of famous Russian writers published an open letter on Facebook with the same request that was signed by hundreds of Facebook users.

Ildar Dadin is serving his 2.5 year sentence for so-called “repeated violations of of public assembly rules”. Article 212.1 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code allows the Russian authorities to impose a prison sentence against most persistent street protesters. Dadin was the first convicted under this law, but he is not the only activist who the law was used against. Vladimir Ionov and Irina Kalmykova, were charged under the same Article 212.1 and had to flee the country to avoid persecution. Mark Galperin is currently under investigation on his own recognizance.

Despite of being a resident of the Moscow metropolitan area, in October 2016, Ildar was sent to a penal colony about 750 miles to the north from Moscow, in Karelia, to serve his term. About a month later, his wife released a letter from Ildar where he alleged that he was tortured with cold, hunger, repeatedly beaten by 10-12 men, humiliated, and threatened with abuse and death by a prison warden and guards. In one particular episode Ildar Dadin was hung up by handcuffs for half an hour, before his underpants were taken off and he was threatened with rape. His previous letters never reached their intended addresses as they were intercepted by the prison colony administration. Dadin’s shocking message ignited a series of protest events throughout the world. The protests were held in Segezha in front of the Dadin’s penal colony, in Kyiv, Vilnus, Riga, Tallinn, Bonn, Washington, D.C., Chicago, New York, and Ottawa. The official investigation did not find any evidence to confirm Ildar’s claim, although human rights defenders and journalists were able to find current and former inmates of the prison where Ildar was held who confirmed regular practice of beating and torture in the prison. On December 5, 2016 Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service informed that Dadin had been moved from Karelia to a different facility for his safety. Since then, his whereabouts and condition has been unknown for his wife and his lawyers.

Experts say that long transfers from one facility to another which can last up to 6 months is another method of torture. Inmates are placed in railroad cars without heat when the temperature outside drops down to -22 F, and with 3-4 men sleeping in a space meant for one. Ildar Dadin’s case is not isolated in the Russian penal system, a fact confirmed by many reports of human rights organizations such as Russian Committee Against Torture and the Russian Public Verdict Foundation. His case reveals a terrifying picture of systematic use of torture and ill-treatment in prisons and penal camps while government agencies shield those whose crimes become too difficult to hide.

The Helsinki Final Act recognizes the human rights and fundamental freedoms as an essential factor for the peace, justice and well-being necessary to ensure the development of friendly relations and co-operation among all states.” Institutionalized practice of torture in Putin’s Russia breaches its international legal obligations such as The United Nations Convention against Torture of 1984, The United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, The Helsinki Final Act of 1975 and others. While Putin wants to be treated by the West as an equal partner, he wants neither keep up his obligations under international law, nor invest in protecting the world order. As Michael McFaul, a former United States Ambassador to Russia, said: “Russia under Putin today is not interested in being a stakeholder or responsible member in many of these international institutions. Rather, they seek to weaken them or in the case of NATO to undermine them completely.” The rules of the international community should be enforced, as well as the human rights and the fundamental freedoms must be guaranteed.

We call on the U.S. Congress and the U.S. administration to support the resolution of the European Parliament on the case of Ildar Dadin and:

  1. Call for the immediate and unconditional release of Ildar Dadin and all those detained on false or unsubstantiated charges or for using their right of freedom of expression and assembly;
  1. Initiate an evaluation of correspondence in between the article of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation that places new restrictions on public gatherings and provides for such gatherings to be considered a criminal act and international standards;
  1. Urge the Russian authorities to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation of the allegations made by Ildar Dadin of torture and ill-treatment, with the participation of independent human rights experts; calls for an independent investigation into the allegations of torture, abuse and degrading and inhumane treatment on the part of state officials in Russian detention facilities, labor camps and prisons;
  1. Call on the Russian Federation, in this regard, to carry out a thorough review of its penitentiary system with a view to undertaking a deep reform of the system, and to fully implement the standards agreed under the relevant international conventions;
  2. Express its solidarity with those arrested in Russia and in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, including Crimean Tatars, on false and unsubstantiated charges, and calls for their immediate release;
  1. Remind Russia of the importance of full compliance with its international legal obligations, as a member of the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and with fundamental human rights and the rule of law as enshrined in various international treaties and agreements that Russia has signed and is party to; underlines that the Russian Federation can be considered a reliable partner in the sphere of international cooperation only if it keeps up its obligations under international law;
  1. Work with 28 EU Member States and the EU institutions in developing a unified policy towards Russia that commits them to a strong common message concerning the role of human rights in the USA-EU-Russia relationship and respect for international law; call on the EU to develop a substantive and concrete strategy supporting Russian civil society and organizations, making use of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights;
  1. Adopt a series of targeted sanctions to punish those responsible for the mistreatment of Ildar Dadin and other human rights activists.

 Magnitsky Act Initiative
Free Russia Foundation

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