Free Russia Foundation Launches #NoToWar Campaign

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

Jan 06 2017

The Magnitsky Act Initiative and Free Russia Foundation call for a resolution on Ildar Dadin, a Russian political prisoner.

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 the days on her Facebook page since her husband went missing and unsuccessfully tries to break through the  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 the more 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 being a resident of the Moscow metropolitan area, in October 2016, Ildar was sent to a penal colony about 750 miles to the north of 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 protests 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 announced that Dadin had been moved from Karelia to a different facility for his safety. Since then, his whereabouts and condition have been unknown by both 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 the only one 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 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 refuses to keep up his obligations under international law, and 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, and 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

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 the days on her Facebook page since her husband went missing and unsuccessfully tries to break through the  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 the more 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 being a resident of the Moscow metropolitan area, in October 2016, Ildar was sent to a penal colony about 750 miles to the north of 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 protests 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 announced that Dadin had been moved from Karelia to a different facility for his safety. Since then, his whereabouts and condition have been unknown by both 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 the only one 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 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 refuses to keep up his obligations under international law, and 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, and 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

Free Russia Foundation Condemns the Signing of the Treaty on the “Incorporation of New Territories into Russia,” De Facto the Annexation of the Occupied Territories of Ukraine

Sep 30 2022

On Friday, September 30, 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin and the heads of the self-proclaimed “Luhansk People’s Republic” and “Donetsk People’s Republic,” as well as the occupation administrations of Zaporizhia and Kherson regions, signed treaties in the Kremlin on “joining Russia.”

Free Russia Foundation strongly condemns the decision of Vladimir Putin and his administration to continue the illegal annexation of the occupied territories in Ukraine. The forcible change of international borders at the expense of another sovereign state and the so-called “referenda” that preceded it are a serious violation of the foundations of international law and cannot be recognized under any circumstances.

Natalia Arno, president of Free Russia Foundation: “Today Vladimir Putin has de facto announced the illegal annexation of the occupied territory of a sovereign state. The signing of this treaty is a blatant violation of the fundamental norms of international law and the Charter of the United Nations, of which Russia is a member. Such actions by the Russian President, together with previously announced military mobilization and nuclear blackmail, only lead to an escalation of the conflict and new human sacrifices. In the modern world, borders cannot be redrawn at gunpoint. Russia’s actions are illegal and unacceptable to the civilized world.”

Free Russia Foundation, which provides support to Russian activists, journalists, and human rights defenders, calls on all countries and international organizations to join us in resolute and public condemnation of Russian military aggression and its illegal actions to tear away the territory of sovereign Ukraine. We urge you to call on the Kremlin to cease its hostilities and leave the territories it has seized.

Free Russia Foundation Condemns the Kremlin’s Decision to Annex the Occupied Territories of Ukraine and Preparations for Mobilization in Russia

Sep 20 2022

On September 20, 2022, the occupation authorities of the self-proclaimed republics “LNR” and “DNR” and other occupied territories of Ukraine, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, hastily announced that they would hold “referendums on joining Russia” in the near future. The authorities of the “LNR” and “DNR” added that the vote will take place as early as this week, from September 23 to 27, 2022.

On the same day, the Russian State Duma introduced the concepts of “mobilization,” “martial law” and “wartime” into the Russian Criminal Code. The deputies voted for the law in the third reading unanimously — all 389 of them. Now voluntary surrender, looting and unauthorized abandonment of a unit during combat operations will result in imprisonment.

From the first day of the war unleashed by Putin’s regime and its allies against independent Ukraine, Free Russia Foundation, which supports Russian activists, journalists, and human rights activists forced to leave the country because of direct security threats, has condemned the crimes of Putin’s regime against independent Ukraine. We respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of states and consider human life and freedom to be of the highest value.

The forthcoming “referendums”, mobilization, and martial law are a collapse of the whole system of “Putin’s stability,” the illusion of which the Kremlin has been trying to maintain since the beginning of the full-scale war with Ukraine. Vladimir Putin is preparing to blatantly violate international law once again and launch an attack on democracy and freedom in Ukraine and Europe. Any statements by the Kremlin that residents of the occupied territories of Ukraine want to become part of Russia are false.

Three decades ago, the Ukrainian people proclaimed the independence of their state. Since 2014, the world has seen that Vladimir Putin has undermined Ukraine’s sovereignty and any attempts at anti-war protest in Russia through military force, repressive legislation, false statements, and massive state propaganda. Despite all the suffering inflicted on Ukraine, Putin has failed to achieve this goal: Ukrainians continue to show fortitude and determination to defend their country at any cost, and Russian anti-war resistance continues despite repression.

We consider any attempts to tear away Ukrainian territory through so-called “referendums” categorically unacceptable and call on state institutions and international human rights organizations to join the demand for an immediate end to the war and the liberation of the occupied territories. Any war brings suffering to humanity and endangers peace. We will not allow a totalitarian dictatorship to prevail and we will continue to fight for Ukraine’s independence and Russia’s democratic future.

Free Russia Foundation announces the appointment of Vladimir Milov as Vice President for International Advocacy

Sep 01 2022

September 1, 2022. Washington, DC. Free Russia Foundation announces the appointment of Russian politician, publicist, economist, and energy expert Vladimir Milov as FRF Vice President for International Advocacy.

In her announcement of Vladimir’s new role, Natalia Arno, President of Free Russia Foundation, remarked: “I am delighted to welcome this distinguished Russian civil society leader to our team. I am certain that Vladimir will become our force multiplier and make a profound contribution to FRF’s mission, including strengthening civil society in Russia, standing up for democracy defenders who oppose war, both inside and outside the country, building coalitions and mobilizing supporters. Vladimir Milov’s professional skills and extensive experience in human rights advocacy will help us come up with effective and innovative approaches to combat the authoritarian regime and repression that the current Russian government has unleashed against citizens of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.”

Vladimir Milov was born on June 18, 1972. From 1997—2002 he worked in government agencies, more than 4 years of which were in senior positions, from assistant to the Chairman of the Federal Energy Commission to the Deputy Minister of Energy of Russia.

Vladimir Milov has bravely and publicly called out the authorities for monopolizing the economy, and encroaching into public and political life of Russian citizens. Milov’s profile as an opposition leader rose thanks to his joint project with Boris Nemtsov. The report titled “Putin. Results,” condemned the activities of the Russian government during Putin’s presidency. In 2010, Mr. Milov headed the Democratic Choice movement, which later served as the basis for the creation of a political party with the same name.

In 2016, Mr. Milov became an associate of the unregistered presidential candidate Alexei Navalny. On May 11, 2017, he began hosting a weekly segment on the economy, “Where’s the Money?” on the NavalnyLIVE broadcast on YouTube.

In April of 2021, he left Russia for Lithuania amidst persecution of Alexei Navalny’s organizations. In February of 2022, he categorically condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On May 6, 2022, the Russian Ministry of Justice added Vladimir Milov to the list of media outlets considered as “foreign agents.” Vladimir Milov is a regular guest expert for the world’s leading media outlets — CNN, CNBC, The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal.

Kara-Murza faces a new charge as the Kremlin cracks down on its opponents

Aug 04 2022

Russian pro-democracy politician Vladimir Kara-Murza, who’s been in jail since April for allegedly spreading “disinformation” about the Russian military, now also stands accused of “carrying out the activities of an undesirable organization,” which names Free Russia Foundation in the newly filed charge.

Free Russia Foundation, unconstitutionally designated as an “undesirable” organization by the Russian government in June 2019, did not organize an event on political prisoners in Moscow in 2021. FRF does not have any presence or programs inside Russia. Additionally, FRF has never conducted any work in the State of Arizona.

FRF strongly condemns the new charges brought against Vladimir Kara-Murza by Russian authorities and demands the dropping of all charges against him and calls for his immediate release.

“All actions of the Kremlin directed against Russian opposition politicians and activists have nothing in common with establishing the truth. They are instead aimed solely at getting rid of opponents of Putin’s regime,” FRF President Arno stated.

Free Russian Foundation and Boris Nemtsov Foundation launch “Russians for Change” fundraising campaign

Jul 25 2022

Russia is not Putin. We are Russia.

We aim at sharing this message with our friends around the world — therefore, in cooperation with Boris Nemtsov Foundation we are launching “Russians for Change” fundraising campaign.

We are going to be telling the stories of active pro-democracy anti-war Russians who have not lost their hope. US nationals also participate in this campaign: Francis Fukuyama, investigative journalist Casey Michel, and alumni of Boris Nemtsov Foundation media school.

Thank you for your donation:

The Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom honors the political legacy of Boris Nemtsov, a Russian liberal opposition politician assassinated in Moscow in 2015. It promotes freedom of speech and education along with the vision that Russia is a part of Europe.