Free Russia Foundation Launches #NoToWar Campaign

On the Day of Russian Constitution

Dec 12 2015

The constitution of “New” Russia was adopted on December 12, 1993. To mark the twenty-second anniversary of our country’s fundamental law, the authorities have decided to adopt several initiatives that are directly destroying some of the constitution’s articles and provisions.

At present the fundamental law, which is the supreme legal force and the foundation of legislation, is purely declarative and bears no relation to the Russian state’s actual legislative practice.

It is interesting to open the constitution and simply read the articles from it to anyone who understands today’s realities of the state.

Article 3
2. The people shall exercise their power directly, and also through the bodies of state power and local self-government.

Article 4
2. The Constitution of the Russian Federation and federal laws shall have supremacy in the whole territory of the Russian Federation.

Article 7
1. The Russian Federation is a social State whose policy is aimed at creating conditions for a worthy life and a free development of man.

Article 14
1. The Russian Federation is a secular state. No religion may be established as a state or obligatory one.
2. Religious associations shall be separated from the State and shall be equal before the law.

Article 19
1. All people shall be equal before the law and court.

Article 29
1. Everyone shall be guaranteed the freedom of ideas and speech.
2. The freedom of mass communication shall be guaranteed. Censorship shall be banned.

Article 31
Citizens of the Russian Federation shall have the right to assemble peacefully, without weapons, hold rallies, meetings and demonstrations, marches and pickets.

And now I want to name three names. Three people held under Article 212.1, which was adopted as recently as 2014. This article is in direct contradiction to Article 31 of the constitution.

Ildar Dadin

Ildar Dadin was sentenced to three years imprisonment for repeated violations of the rules of holding rallies. This is the first sentence in Russia under article 212.1 of the Criminal Code. In other words, Dadin repeatedly disturbed public order, which is questionable given that most of his administrative punishments are for solo pickets, which even by today’s realities in Russia do not require any approval. In practice, the police use provocateurs to remove pickets. The provocateurs approach the person picketing unnoticed, and the picket ceases to be solo. Both end up in the police van- but they let the provocateur go.

The case materials show that several of the administrative offences, for which Dadin had already been punished, have suddenly become a criminal case. The prosecutor asks for two years, and the judge helpfully gives him 3.3 years in prison.  This is about the same as being jailed for repeated parking offences, having already paid the parking fines.

Vladimir Ionov

The Preobrazhensky Court in Moscow will sentence the activist Vladimir Ionov on December 16. Ionov is accused under Article 212.1- repeated violations at rallies. He has been under house arrest since February 3. It is indicated that he took part in the protests of January 10 and 15, as well as those on March 21 and May 11, 2015.

The prosecution is asking for Ionov to be sentenced to a three-year suspended sentence. Also, the prosecutor is asking the court to assign Ionov probation, ban him visiting places of mass gatherings and travelling outside of the city of Lyubertsy in the Moscow region, where he lives.

For the protest on January 10, 2015, when Ionov stood on Manezhnaya Square near the Kremlin with a picket in support of the French satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo”, the court fined him 20 000 rubles (US$ 280). On January 15, Ionov was detained at a protest at which another 12 people were taking part.  The court then handed him a fine of 150 000 rubles (US$ 2,120) for a “repeated” violation. A key episode in this case was a protest in support of Ukrainian pilot, Nadezhda Savchenko, on May 11 at the “Matrosskaya Tishina” detention facility where she was being held.

On June 26 court bailiffs blocked Ionov’s pension card for the non-payment of administrative penalties. He is virtually deprived of his pension.

At the time of writing this article, the seventy-six-year-old opposition activist Ionov has been hospitalized with a preinfarction syndrome and is in intensive care.

Mark Galperin

Mark Galperin is a regular participant in the solo pickets on Manezhnaya Square and a moderator of protest groups on social networks. After Ionov, he became the second defendant to be arrested under Article 212.1. He is threatened with five years imprisonment. Here is one of the episodes in the case: Galperin was detained on March 23 as a result of a provocation at a solo picket on March 21. Two unknown people approached Galperin with placards, but they were later nowhere to be seen among those detained at the Tver police department. So this scheme had already been worked out with the provocateurs, who help the police detain political activists under formal pretexts.

 

And on Friday, the State Duma approved at its second, third and final readings, a law that gives the Federal Constitutional Court the right to recognize the enforcement of international court decisions in Russia as impossible if they violate the supremacy of the Russian Constitution, RIA Novosti reports. In other words, from now on activists can no longer even appeal to international courts or the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) since these institutions’ decisions would not be recognized by Russia anyway.

Due to this, those wrongfully convicted under Russian law have lost their last hope for justice. This is yet another step towards Russia’s self-isolation, by way of repression and degradation. One more indicator that the constitution is simply a tribute to the “democratic vogue”, a decorative document that developed states are “supposed to have”. But no one in power thinks to look back on its articles during the decision-making process.

The Russian justice system has remained at the level of Stalinist repressive principles, operating according to denunciations, arresting people on trumped-up charges, and turning back the clock to the worst period of Stalinism. The USSR’s economy was built on two pillars: prisoners’ labor and the sale of raw materials and minerals abroad. Now we see that oil prices are moving steadily downward, and there is no indication that they will begin to increase in the near future. This means that once again slave labor will be necessary, once again the repressive machine will make money through the supply of prisoners in new GULAGs. Our task is to prevent it.

by Ekaterina Ponomareva

At present the fundamental law, which is the supreme legal force and the foundation of legislation, is purely declarative and bears no relation to the Russian state’s actual legislative practice.

It is interesting to open the constitution and simply read the articles from it to anyone who understands today’s realities of the state.

Article 3
2. The people shall exercise their power directly, and also through the bodies of state power and local self-government.

Article 4
2. The Constitution of the Russian Federation and federal laws shall have supremacy in the whole territory of the Russian Federation.

Article 7
1. The Russian Federation is a social State whose policy is aimed at creating conditions for a worthy life and a free development of man.

Article 14
1. The Russian Federation is a secular state. No religion may be established as a state or obligatory one.
2. Religious associations shall be separated from the State and shall be equal before the law.

Article 19
1. All people shall be equal before the law and court.

Article 29
1. Everyone shall be guaranteed the freedom of ideas and speech.
2. The freedom of mass communication shall be guaranteed. Censorship shall be banned.

Article 31
Citizens of the Russian Federation shall have the right to assemble peacefully, without weapons, hold rallies, meetings and demonstrations, marches and pickets.

And now I want to name three names. Three people held under Article 212.1, which was adopted as recently as 2014. This article is in direct contradiction to Article 31 of the constitution.

Ildar Dadin

Ildar Dadin was sentenced to three years imprisonment for repeated violations of the rules of holding rallies. This is the first sentence in Russia under article 212.1 of the Criminal Code. In other words, Dadin repeatedly disturbed public order, which is questionable given that most of his administrative punishments are for solo pickets, which even by today’s realities in Russia do not require any approval. In practice, the police use provocateurs to remove pickets. The provocateurs approach the person picketing unnoticed, and the picket ceases to be solo. Both end up in the police van- but they let the provocateur go.

The case materials show that several of the administrative offences, for which Dadin had already been punished, have suddenly become a criminal case. The prosecutor asks for two years, and the judge helpfully gives him 3.3 years in prison.  This is about the same as being jailed for repeated parking offences, having already paid the parking fines.

Vladimir Ionov

The Preobrazhensky Court in Moscow will sentence the activist Vladimir Ionov on December 16. Ionov is accused under Article 212.1- repeated violations at rallies. He has been under house arrest since February 3. It is indicated that he took part in the protests of January 10 and 15, as well as those on March 21 and May 11, 2015.

The prosecution is asking for Ionov to be sentenced to a three-year suspended sentence. Also, the prosecutor is asking the court to assign Ionov probation, ban him visiting places of mass gatherings and travelling outside of the city of Lyubertsy in the Moscow region, where he lives.

For the protest on January 10, 2015, when Ionov stood on Manezhnaya Square near the Kremlin with a picket in support of the French satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo”, the court fined him 20 000 rubles (US$ 280). On January 15, Ionov was detained at a protest at which another 12 people were taking part.  The court then handed him a fine of 150 000 rubles (US$ 2,120) for a “repeated” violation. A key episode in this case was a protest in support of Ukrainian pilot, Nadezhda Savchenko, on May 11 at the “Matrosskaya Tishina” detention facility where she was being held.

On June 26 court bailiffs blocked Ionov’s pension card for the non-payment of administrative penalties. He is virtually deprived of his pension.

At the time of writing this article, the seventy-six-year-old opposition activist Ionov has been hospitalized with a preinfarction syndrome and is in intensive care.

Mark Galperin

Mark Galperin is a regular participant in the solo pickets on Manezhnaya Square and a moderator of protest groups on social networks. After Ionov, he became the second defendant to be arrested under Article 212.1. He is threatened with five years imprisonment. Here is one of the episodes in the case: Galperin was detained on March 23 as a result of a provocation at a solo picket on March 21. Two unknown people approached Galperin with placards, but they were later nowhere to be seen among those detained at the Tver police department. So this scheme had already been worked out with the provocateurs, who help the police detain political activists under formal pretexts.

 

And on Friday, the State Duma approved at its second, third and final readings, a law that gives the Federal Constitutional Court the right to recognize the enforcement of international court decisions in Russia as impossible if they violate the supremacy of the Russian Constitution, RIA Novosti reports. In other words, from now on activists can no longer even appeal to international courts or the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) since these institutions’ decisions would not be recognized by Russia anyway.

Due to this, those wrongfully convicted under Russian law have lost their last hope for justice. This is yet another step towards Russia’s self-isolation, by way of repression and degradation. One more indicator that the constitution is simply a tribute to the “democratic vogue”, a decorative document that developed states are “supposed to have”. But no one in power thinks to look back on its articles during the decision-making process.

The Russian justice system has remained at the level of Stalinist repressive principles, operating according to denunciations, arresting people on trumped-up charges, and turning back the clock to the worst period of Stalinism. The USSR’s economy was built on two pillars: prisoners’ labor and the sale of raw materials and minerals abroad. Now we see that oil prices are moving steadily downward, and there is no indication that they will begin to increase in the near future. This means that once again slave labor will be necessary, once again the repressive machine will make money through the supply of prisoners in new GULAGs. Our task is to prevent it.

by Ekaterina Ponomareva

Free Russia Foundation Condemns Expansion of Charges Under the Politically-Motivated Criminal Prosecution of Vladimir Kara-Murza and Demands His Immediate Release

Oct 06 2022

Today, Russian media outlets have reported that new charges of high treason (Article 275 of the Russian Criminal Code) have been filed against opposition politician, human rights activist, and journalist Vladimir Kara-Murza.

Vladimir Kara-Murza’s attorney Vadim Prokhorov confirmed that the charges of state treason have been filed against the politician on three counts. They allege speeches criticizing the Russian authorities at public events in Lisbon, Portugal; Oslo, Norway; and Washington, DC. According to the lawyer, the speeches, that indeed took place, posed no threat to the security of Russia, on the contrary, they were aimed at protecting the interests of Russia and its citizens and at correcting the current catastrophic situation.

The pro-democracy leader faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. Vladimir Kara-Murza has pleaded not guilty.

Natalia Arno, president of Free Russia Foundation, in her comments on the new charges expressed outrage at the illegal prosecution of Kara-Murza.  “Charges of state treason for public speeches are absurd especially with regards to Vladimir, who is globally recognized as a true patriot of Russia and revered for his work in defense of the interest of the Russian people and democratic principles.”

Arno noted that Vladimir Kara-Murza served as Foundation’s Vice President, but was relieved from that position on August 3, 2021. “This decision was made by our board in recognition of the fact that Vladimir had been spending most of his time working in Russia, that was his main focus and his plan,” she explained.

The Foundation considers the criminal case against Vladimir Kara-Murza fabricated and politically motivated, a retribution for his work in support of human rights and his courageous quest against Putin’s autocracy.

“It has been absolutely clear from the very beginning that the detention and persecution of Kara-Murza is part of the wider campaign by the Russian authorities to punish and suppress any dissent,” said Natalia Arno.

“Today, accusations of discrediting the Russian military and participating in activities of an undesirable organization have been further inflated by charged of high treason, one of the most severe criminal offenses that can send a person to prison for decades. Vladimir Kara-Murza is a Russian patriot who has fought for many years for a prosperous future for his country. For this, the Kremlin tried to kill him twice, but, having failed to achieve its aim, arrested him and is now persecuting him on false charges that could lead to years of unjust imprisonment.

This is a tragic case  that shows us the ways Vladimir Putin’s dictatorial regime is suppressing all opposition in order to sow fear among Russians and remain in power at any cost. For years, Vladimir Kara-Murza has been one of the most consistent and determined advocates of democracy and human rights in Russia. His bogus arrest only underscores the importance of the idea of justice for the people of Russia and Ukraine, who have suffered too long from the actions of the Kremlin kleptocracy.” Free Russia Foundation, which supports Russian activists, journalists, and human rights defenders, considers the charges against Vladimir Kara-Murza unjust and politically motivated, and calls for his immediate and unconditional release. We demand the Russian authorities to stop manipulating the law to achieve false, illusory goals that destroy the very foundations of democracy and international security.

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.