#PutinKills Olga Romanova

Sep 23 2015

As a part of the #PutinKIlls awareness campaign, we would like to tell you about ordinary people who became victims of Putin’s regime in Russia. One of the tragedies that happened during Putin’s presidency was the terrorist attack on the Nord-Ost opera in Moscow. And here is the story of one of the victims – Olga Romanova

Olga Romanova, 26, entered an occupied hall full of terrorists where there were about a thousand hostages.

Olga Romanova voluntarily went to the terrorists. Or rather, to the hostages – to comfort them, as they were paralyzed by the fear of death. She shouted from the doorway with a clear message: «Don’t be afraid of them, get out of here right now»! Then to the terrorists: «Immediately release them all»!  She was taken to the foyer and shot down.

Olga went to the theatre at night – to stop the criminals. She went with the intention of saving the children and all those caught up in this calamity. Her family tried to stop her. And they heard in response: «Someone must stop them. I will»!

What she did changed the situation dramatically. After murdering Olga Romanova, the terrorists began to release children and pregnant women.

The Moscow Nord-Ord theatre siege was the seizure of the crowded Dubrovka theatre on October 23, 2002 by around 40-50 armed Chechen terrorists who claimed allegiance to the Islamic militant movement in Chechnya. They took around 800-900 hostages and demanded the withdrawal of Russian forces from Chechnya and the end of the Second Chechen War. The Nord-Ost siege was led by Movsar Barayev.

After a two-and-a-half day siege and the execution of two female hostages, Spetsnaz from Federal Security Service Alpha and Vega Groups, supported by a Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs SOBR unit, pumped an undisclosed chemical agent into the building’s ventilation system and raided. All attackers were executed; over 130 hostages died including nine foreigners, due to adverse reactions to the gas.

Some estimates have put the civilian death toll at more than 200 names on the list. Some former hostages and relatives of the victims claim that the death toll from the chemical agent is still being kept secret.

#PutinKills – because the rescue operation wasn’t properly carried out and caused so many deaths, the authorities didn’t provide the medical assistance needed in a timely manner and didn’t conduct the proper investigation of that terrorist attack, and as usual Putin’s regime lied and spread disinformation and used the tragedy to curtail civil rights covering it with the war with terrorism.

Olga Romanova, 26, entered an occupied hall full of terrorists where there were about a thousand hostages.

Olga Romanova voluntarily went to the terrorists. Or rather, to the hostages – to comfort them, as they were paralyzed by the fear of death. She shouted from the doorway with a clear message: «Don’t be afraid of them, get out of here right now»! Then to the terrorists: «Immediately release them all»!  She was taken to the foyer and shot down.

Olga went to the theatre at night – to stop the criminals. She went with the intention of saving the children and all those caught up in this calamity. Her family tried to stop her. And they heard in response: «Someone must stop them. I will»!

What she did changed the situation dramatically. After murdering Olga Romanova, the terrorists began to release children and pregnant women.

The Moscow Nord-Ord theatre siege was the seizure of the crowded Dubrovka theatre on October 23, 2002 by around 40-50 armed Chechen terrorists who claimed allegiance to the Islamic militant movement in Chechnya. They took around 800-900 hostages and demanded the withdrawal of Russian forces from Chechnya and the end of the Second Chechen War. The Nord-Ost siege was led by Movsar Barayev.

After a two-and-a-half day siege and the execution of two female hostages, Spetsnaz from Federal Security Service Alpha and Vega Groups, supported by a Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs SOBR unit, pumped an undisclosed chemical agent into the building’s ventilation system and raided. All attackers were executed; over 130 hostages died including nine foreigners, due to adverse reactions to the gas.

Some estimates have put the civilian death toll at more than 200 names on the list. Some former hostages and relatives of the victims claim that the death toll from the chemical agent is still being kept secret.

#PutinKills – because the rescue operation wasn’t properly carried out and caused so many deaths, the authorities didn’t provide the medical assistance needed in a timely manner and didn’t conduct the proper investigation of that terrorist attack, and as usual Putin’s regime lied and spread disinformation and used the tragedy to curtail civil rights covering it with the war with terrorism.

Free Russia Foundation’s Press Release on Submission of Article 15 Communication to the International Criminal Court

Oct 06 2020

On 21 September 2020, the Free Russia Foundation submitted a Communication to the International Criminal Court Prosecutor’s Office (in The Hague, Netherlands) seeking accountability for Crimean and Russian authorities concerning international crimes perpetrated during Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea. The Communication was prepared in cooperation with Global Rights Compliance and Center for Civil Liberties and is based on a focused inquiry conducted over the past year. In our inquiry, we documented crimes as part of a systematic, planned attack by the Russian state against civilians and groups in Crimea in order to discourage them from opposing the illegal occupation of Crimea and to force their departure from the peninsula. Crimes against civilians included unlawful arrests, beatings, torture, enforced disappearances, and other inhumane acts causing severe mental and/or physical pain. In particular, the crimes targeted the Crimean Tatars, a native ethnic group who had only recently returned to their homeland, having previously been forcefully and brutally displaced by the Soviet Union in 1944.

One of the principal coercive acts was the illegal detention and concomitant violence before, during, and after the imprisonment of political prisoners. Most of those detained were arrested by Russian and Crimean authorities on terrorism charges, but it was their legal, pro-Ukrainian advocacy that led to their imprisonment. In addition, trials of those arbitrarily detained were conducted in wholesale disregard of their fair trial rights. For example, some of those illegally imprisoned were denied a speedy trial, access to independent lawyers, and the opportunity to defend themselves against their arrest in a courtroom.

In order to force those illegally detained to confess to crimes they did not commit, Russian and Crimean authorities also perpetrated acts of torture and cruel or degrading treatment, the levying of additional charges against them, even more inhumane prison conditions, denial of communications with their families and threats made against them, enforced disappearances, and even, in at least one case, a mock execution.

Other inhumane acts include “punitive psychiatry” and the denial of adequate prison conditions, including the following: (i) feeding people inedible food or, at times, no food at all; (ii) facing severe overcrowding in prisons; (iii) denial of regular water supply; (iv) threats of assault against them by prison cellmates; and (v) adding pork to food – prohibited for observant Muslims. Further, medical attention was systematically inadequate or denied for many individuals.

Concerning acts of torture, it was perpetrated by different Russian authorities, including the FSB. Allegations include the use of electric shocks in an effort to get an accused to confess. One was beaten in the head, kidneys, arms and legs with an iron pipe. With another, fingers were broken. Still another endured spinal bruises and having a plastic bag placed over his head to the point of unconsciousness. Further, threats of sexual violence against a detained man were made. Murder as well. Hands were broken, teeth were knocked out in still another.

Trials were largely held behind closed doors for illegitimate reasons, and many of the witnesses were secret not only to the public but also to the Accused. Further, credible allegations exist that, at times, there were FSB or other agents in the room, silently instructing witnesses what to say and how the judges should rule. This adds credence to words, according to the Kyiv Post, heard by Arsen Dzhepparov from a senior FSB lieutenant who stated “I will prove by all possible – and impossible – means that [an Accused is] guilty – even if he isn’t guilty”.

Concerning the crime of persecution, nearly all of these deprivations of fundamental rights were carried out with discriminatory intent. Specifically, these groups were targeted due to their political view – namely, by peacefully opposing the illegal occupation of their country. Some were targeted on ethnic grounds or religious grounds on the basis of their Crimean Tatar background.

War crimes, another group of crimes punished at the ICC, were also perpetrated in addition to or in the alternative to the crimes against humanity. This includes the crime of torture, outrages against personal dignity, unlawful confinement, wilfully depriving protected persons of the rights of a fair and regular trial, and the transfer of the occupying power of parts of its population into the territory it occupies or the deportation of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory.

All these crimes had the ultimate objective of the criminal enterprise – the removal of pro-Ukrainian elements out of Crimea and the annexation of Crimea into the Russian Federation without opposition, including the installation of pro-Russian elements, which include the emigration of more than 70,000 Russians, the illegal imposition of Russian law in the occupied territory, forcing Russian nationality on many Crimeans, and the appropriation of public property.

Ultimately, we hope that all the information gathered by the ICC in the context of its preliminary investigation will lead the ICC to investigate mid- to high-level Russian and Crimean officials on this basis. The international community expects responsible global leadership that follows the rule of law and expects it – no matter the situation – to be respected, especially from a state that is a permanent member of the UN Security Council. When this fails to happen, the international community must demand accountability. We hope that an investigation can be opened and responsible officials of the Russian Federation will be investigated. After an investigation that conforms to international best practices, responsible persons should be charged with the systematic perpetration of international crimes.

Novichok Use Implicates Putin’s Government in Navalny’s Poisoning

Sep 02 2020

Today, the German government has announced that Russian pro-democracy leader Alexey Navalny was poisoned by Novichok. Novichok is a deadly nerve agent developed by the Soviet government chemical weapons program and used on several occasions by the Russian government to kill its critics in the recent years.

To restate the obvious, Novichok is a poison that can only be accessed with the authority of the Kremlin. Therefore, today’s announcement by German officials  directly implicates the Kremlin and Putin in the high-profile assassination attempt on Navalny.

The choice of Novichok was not just a means  to silence Mr. Navalny, but a loud, brazen and menacing message sent by Putin to the world: dare to criticize me, and you may lose your life.

The announcement by the German government of its intent to formally notify the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (‘OPCW’) of the use of Novichok against Navalny is a meek bureaucratic half-measure that fails to acknowledge the extraordinary threat to human life posed by Putin’s regime everywhere. Taken together with Angela Merkel’s promise earlier this week to help Putin finish his Nord Stream 2 pipeline despite an international outcry amounts to condoning the poisoning and normalizing it into a new modus operandi where Putin’s murders go unpunished. Free Russia Foundation urges the leaders of the EU, its Member States and the U.S. Government to take an urgent and drastic action to punish the perpetrators of this heinous crime not only to serve justice, but to establish a powerful deterrent against new attacks by Putin’s regime globally.

Free Russia Foundation Statement on Kremlin’s Interference in Elections in Georgia

Aug 26 2020

We are deeply concerned with information recently distributed by the well-respected authoritative source Center “Dossier.” According to “Dossier,” the Kremlin is using Russian political expert Sergey Mikheev and consulting company “Politsecrets” to manipulate Georgian society, distribute disinformation and anti-democratic narratives, undermine Georgia’s Western aspirations, and interfere in free and fair elections in Georgia scheduled for October 2020.

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Civic Solidarity Platform Appeal with Regard to the Recent Events in Belarus

Aug 12 2020

INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY SHOULD REACT IMMEDIATELY AND STRONGLY TO RIGGED PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS AND MASSIVE VIOLENCE OF SECURITY FORCES AGAINST PEACEFUL PROTESTORS IN BELARUS More