#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 Calls for Urgent and Concrete Steps to Stop Putin’s Global Assassination Campaigns

Feb 11 2021

Vladimir Kara-Murza, a prominent Russian pro-democracy advocate, was closely tracked by an FSB assassination squad when he suffered perplexing and near-fatal medical emergencies that sent him into coma in 2015 and 2017, establishes a new investigation by the Bellingcat group

Documents uncovered by Bellingcat show that this is the same assassination squad implicated in the August 2020 assassination attempt on Alexey Navalny and whose member has inadvertently confirmed the operation in a phone call with Navalny.   

Bellingcat has also established the FSB unit’s involvement in the murder of three Russian activists, all of whom died under unusual but similar circumstances. 

Taken together, these independent nongovernment investigations establish the fact of systemic, large-scale extrajudicial assassinations carried out by Putin’s government against its critics inside and outside of Russia, including with chemical weapons banned by the Chemical Weapons Convention. 

Free Russia Foundation calls on the international community to formally investigate and prosecute Putin’s government for these crimes. 

Free Russia Foundation calls on the Biden Administration to direct the FBI to release investigation materials surrounding the assassination attempts against Vladimir Kara-Murza that have been denied to him thus far. 

Free Russia Foundation calls on the international community to articulate measures to compel Russia to free Alexey Navalny from his illegal incarceration where his life remains in dire danger. 

Free Russia Foundation condemns in strongest terms today’s court sentence announced to Alexey Navalny

Feb 02 2021

Continued detention of Navalny is illegal and he must be freed immediately. Suppression of peaceful protests and mass arrests of Russian citizens must stop, and the Kremlin must release all those illegally detained and imprisoned on political motives. Free Russia Foundation calls on the international community, the US and European leadership, to move beyond expressions of concern and articulate a set of meaningful instruments to compel the Kremlin to stop its atrocities.

Free Russia Foundation demands Navalny’s immediate release

Jan 17 2021

On January 17, 2021, Putin’s agents arrested Alexey Navalny as he returned to Russia from Germany where he was treated for a near-deadly poisoning perpetrated by state-directed assassins.

Navalny’s illegal arrest constitutes kidnapping. He is kept incommunicado from his lawyer and family at an unknown location and his life is in danger.

Free Russia Foundation demands his immediate release and an international investigation of crimes committed against him by Putin’s government.

The European Court of Human Rights Recognizes Complaints on Violations in “Ukraine v. Russia” as Admissible

Jan 14 2021

On January 14, 2021, the European Court of Human Rights published its decision on the case “Ukraine v. Russia”. The Grand Chamber of the Court has recognized complaints No. 20958/14 and No. 38334/18 as partially admissible for consideration on the merits. The decision will be followed by a judgment at a later date.

The case concerns the consideration of a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights related to Russia’s systematic administrative practices in Crimea. 

The admissibility of the case is based on the fact that, since 2014, the Russian Federation has exercised effective control over the territory of Crimea, and, accordingly, is fully responsible for compliance with the norms of the European Convention on Human Rights in Crimea. The Court now needs to determine the specific circumstances of the case and establish the facts regarding violations of Articles of the Convention during two periods: from February 27, 2014 to March 18, 2014 (the period of the Russian invasion); and from March 18, 2014 onward (the period during which the Russian Federation has exercised effective control over Crimea).

The Court has established that prima facie it has sufficient evidence of systematic administrative practice concerning the following circumstances:

  • forced rendition and the lack of an effective investigation into such a practice under Article 2; 
  • cruel treatment and unlawful detention under Articles 3 and 5; 
  • extending application of Russian law into Crimea with the result that, as of  February 27, 2014, the courts in Crimea could not be considered to have been “established by law” as defined by Article 6; 
  • automatic imposition of Russian citizenship and unreasonable searches of private dwellings under Article 8; 
  • harassment and intimidation of religious leaders not conforming to the Russian Orthodox faith, arbitrary raids of places of worship and confiscation of religious property under Article 9;
  • suppression of non-Russian media under Article 10; 
  • prohibition of public gatherings and manifestations of support, as well as intimidation and arbitrary detention of organizers of demonstrations under Article 11; 
  • expropriation without compensation of property from civilians and private enterprises under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1;
  • suppression of the Ukrainian language in schools and harassment of Ukrainian-speaking children under Article 2 of Protocol No. 1; 6 
  • restricting freedom of movement between Crimea and mainland Ukraine, resulting from the de facto transformation (by Russia) of the administrative delimitation into a border (between Russia and Ukraine) under Article 2 of Protocol No. 4; and, 
  • discriminating against Crimean Tatars under Article 14, taken in conjunction with Articles 8, 9, 10 and 11 of the Convention and with Article 2 of Protocol No. 4 to the Convention.

Cases between states are the rarest category considered by the ECHR. Almost all cases considered in Strasbourg concern individuals or organizations and involve illegal actions or inaction of the states’ parties to the Convention. However, Art. 33 of this Convention provides that “any High Contracting Party may refer to the Court the question of any alleged violation of the provisions of the Convention and its Protocols by another High Contracting Party.” In the entire history of the ECHR since 1953, there have been only 27 such cases. Two of them are joint cases against Russia, both of which concern the Russian Federation’s aggression on the territory of its neighboring states, Georgia and Ukraine.

New Year’s Blessings to All

Dec 30 2020

While 2020 gave us unprecedented challenges, it created transformative changes in the way we work and communicate. The hours of Zoom calls seemingly brought us all closer together as we got a glimpse into each other’s makeshift home offices along with interruption by kids and the family pets. Remote work also made us appreciate human interactions, in-person events and trips much more!

As 2020 comes to an end, we want to especially thank our supporters who continued to believe in our mission and the value of our hard work, and we hope the coming year brings all of us progress and growth for democracy throughout the world. We’d also like to thank our partners and staff in the U.S. and abroad, and we know how hard everyone has worked under difficult world changes to achieve so many of our objectives this year.

We send our best wishes to all who have stayed in the fight for democratic reforms and for the values of basic human rights. We look forward to a new year with the hope of many positive changes to come.

– Natalia Arno and the Free Russia Foundation team.