The Karlovy Vary kleptocracy guide

Jan 31 2017

When communicating with Czechs we often hear that Karlovy Vary is a Russian city, and that the population is nearly 90% Russian. The locals have been calling this city “Ivanovka” for a long time, so The Municipal Scanner project decided to investigate how true this nickname is.

The project team checked all the addresses of Karlovy Vary through the Czech real estate registry and found the owners. Some objects are owned by legal entities and required additional verification from the Czech trade registry.

Here are our findings. Only about 50-60% of the city is Russian rather than 90%. Many of the names, in fact, are Russified versions of other nationalities, such as Ukrainians, Azerbaijanis, Kazakhs, and Kyrgyz. The project also looked into citizens with political connections, state contacts, and corruption charges.

Here’s the alternative guide to the city.

During the checks, the project team found that some real estate owners in Karlovy Vary also own property in Prague, Marianske Lazne, Rimov and other cities. We mapped them as well. In total, there are 238 objects on the map, which belong to 132 owners. These objects can be a house, part of the house, hotel or apartment. Each object has a link to the owner profile.

There are very different people in our guide.

The Mun. Scanner sent a statement to the prosecutor’s office regarding the Russian officials and deputies, who, in their opinion, are breaking the law and will update you as news comes in.

Russia

Alexander Postrigan – Head of the Klin district, a region of Moscow for 22 years (1992-2014). The Klin district is a hub for the gaming industry in Moscow’s suburbs. Igor Chaika, son of the General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation, promised to turn Klin into the “Salzburg of Moscow Region”. Postrigan has owned the company since 2006 and also owns an apartment in Karlovy Vary. His daughter and son in law have also acquired the four-star hotel “Venus” in Karlovy Vary. It was also found that their Czech business went ahead and in 2014 acquired a gorgeous resort in Slovenia, consisting of 4 four-star hotels.

Svetlana Tyagacheva – the wife of the former president of the Russian Olympic Committee and the head of the urban settlement Dedenevo of Moscow Region owns and operates a Czech company, which has an apartment in Karlovy Vary on its balance. According to Russian legislation, Tyagacheva violates anti-corruption restrictions.

A deputy of the Krasnodar Region’s Legislative Assembly of the United Russia party Alexander Fendrickov has been in the regional parliament since 2007. He and his wife bought their first apartment in Karlovy Vary in 2012 and a second in 2014. However, he did not indicate real estate in the Czech Republic in his anti-corruption declarations of 2014 and 2015.

The Torosyan brothers, Igor and George, own three multi-story buildings in the most expensive district of Karlovy Vary through a legal entity. Igor Torosyan is Chairman of the local branch of A Just Russia in the Tuapse region of Krasnodar Region and previously was a deputy in the Legislative Assembly. Georgy Torosyan is the deputy of the district council of the Tuapse district in the Krasnodar Region since 2008 from the party “United Russia”.

David Adamia’s family (Adamia is the Head of the St. Petersburg Governor’s Office) owns two apartments in Karlovy Vary. Adamiya transgressed the law, since he is already working as civil servant but continued to own and operate the Czech legal entities.

Former vice-governor of St. Petersburg Vasily Kichedzhi now acting as Rector of the Academy Stieglitz, owns an apartment next to the Old Town Square in Prague. He also is the owner of the hotel in Prague 4.

A United Russia deputy of the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly Igor Vysotsky owns an apartment through his wife in the most expensive district of Karlovy Vary.

The Chairman of the Transport Infrastructure Development Committee of St. Petersburg Sergei Harlashkin owns an apartment in Karlovy Vary.

In 2013, a member of the Federation Council from United Russia, the head of the Interregional Coordination Council Vyacheslav Timchenko prudently transferred his Czech company to his daughter, who became the new owner. The company holds a cottage in the south of the Czech Republic on its balance sheet.

Vila Lutzow (built in 1854) in Karlovy Vary belongs to Gennady Lakhov, who headed the transport department of Rosvooruzhenie in the 90s.

Artem Butov, the head of a group of military factories in the Tambov region, along with his relatives, owns an apartment in Karlovy Vary and Prague.

Iraida Landarenko and Tatiana Poroskun own apartments in Karlovy Vary. Both women are involved in the case of fraud for an interpreter for the judicial department in Moscow and the Moscow region. Iraida Landarenko, arrested in absentia, is wanted.

Abesalom Gulordava owns apartment in Karlovy Vary. Gulordava is a figurant of the criminal case of fraud with government contracts in Moscow, is on the international wanted list.

There is an apartment In Karlovy Vary owned by Yuri Bakanov, Chief Engineer at “Kubangazprom” whom the media called the author of schemes of Tsapkov gang money laundering in the village of Kushchevskaya.

Alexei Levin, who opened Putin’s monuments in 2015, is co-owner of the four-star spa hotel in Karlovy Vary. Another co-owner is the daughter of the late chief of the Moscow metro, Gaev.

The “Russian village” is legendary place in Karlovy Vary. There were many scandals connected with this place, as the owner cut down relict Slavkov Forest. In 2010, the owner changed and Russian-language media in Czech modestly wrote: “Now land has been passed into the hands of VikaS Trade, s.r.o., which is owned by the 74-year-old Muscovite Alla Smirnova registered in the “Russian village”.  80-year-old Alla Smirnova is the wife of Conrad Smirnov, KGB Chairman Yuri Andropov assistant. And her sons worked for a long time in team with Sergei Stepashin (director of the FSB, the Interior Ministry, the chairman of the Chamber of Accounts), engaged in the official Putin residence renovating in the early 2000s.

Ukraine

Several current and former deputies of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine from the Party of Regions were detected In Karlovy Vary: Igor Sharov owns 4 apartments in Prague and Karlovy Vary, Vladimir Oleynik, who is wanted in Ukraine as well as Yuri Voropaev, Irina Berezhnaya.

Volodymyr Kozak, ex-Party of Regions MP and ex-Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine has an apartment In Prague.

Sergey Kharchuk, the deputy of Kiev city council from the “Self-Help” faction, owns an apartment in Karlovy Vary. However, he has not indicated ownership of the Czech company in his declaration.

Former Prosecutor of the Crimea Republic Vyacheslav Pavlov resigned at the beginning of the annexation and bought a stake in the Czech company in March 2015, which owns the hotel “Saint Michael” in the suburb of Karlovy Vary.

Azerbaijan

Azerbaijani elite have a long history of settling in Karlovy Vary. Even in 2012, OCCRP wrote about the diaspora’s assets in this city. A house that formerly belonged to the youngest daughter of Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev is now owned by Mahir Rafiev – the chief of the Main Department of taxpayer service of the Azerbaijan Taxes Ministry.

Arif Pashayev, the father of Ilham Aliyev’s wife, owns an apartment and hotels in Karlovy Vary.

There are Apartments in Karlovy Vary owned by the Pashazadeh brothers. Allahshukur Pashazadeh is Grand Mufti of the Caucasus, Javanshir Pashazadeh is Azerbaijani MP since 2005. He is a member of the Standing Committee on Human Rights.

The Aliyev brothers own apartments in Karlovy Vary. Adil Aliyev is a member of parliament since 2005, Muarram Aliyev is Presidential Adviser on Defence of Azerbaijan.

Kazakhstan

Relatives of the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, put down roots in Karlovy Vary long ago. Kairat Boranbaev and Zelina Katranova own assets. According to publications in the media, Nazarbayev has repeatedly taken vacations in Karlovy Vary. Nazarbayev invited Leonid Kuchma to rest at the villa “Ahlan” after the “Orange Revolution”

Others:

The former Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan, leader of the party “Ar-Namys” Felix Kulov left marks In Karlovy Vary.

Not only political but also economic swindlers find refuge in the Czech Republic. For example, Felix Ikonnikov – a famous member of the Russian financial pyramid MMM-2011, owns a house in the tourist center of Karlovy Vary.

More information on the Municipal Scanner project could be found here.

 

The project team checked all the addresses of Karlovy Vary through the Czech real estate registry and found the owners. Some objects are owned by legal entities and required additional verification from the Czech trade registry.

Here are our findings. Only about 50-60% of the city is Russian rather than 90%. Many of the names, in fact, are Russified versions of other nationalities, such as Ukrainians, Azerbaijanis, Kazakhs, and Kyrgyz. The project also looked into citizens with political connections, state contacts, and corruption charges.

Here’s the alternative guide to the city.

During the checks, the project team found that some real estate owners in Karlovy Vary also own property in Prague, Marianske Lazne, Rimov and other cities. We mapped them as well. In total, there are 238 objects on the map, which belong to 132 owners. These objects can be a house, part of the house, hotel or apartment. Each object has a link to the owner profile.

There are very different people in our guide.

The Mun. Scanner sent a statement to the prosecutor’s office regarding the Russian officials and deputies, who, in their opinion, are breaking the law and will update you as news comes in.

Russia

Alexander Postrigan – Head of the Klin district, a region of Moscow for 22 years (1992-2014). The Klin district is a hub for the gaming industry in Moscow’s suburbs. Igor Chaika, son of the General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation, promised to turn Klin into the “Salzburg of Moscow Region”. Postrigan has owned the company since 2006 and also owns an apartment in Karlovy Vary. His daughter and son in law have also acquired the four-star hotel “Venus” in Karlovy Vary. It was also found that their Czech business went ahead and in 2014 acquired a gorgeous resort in Slovenia, consisting of 4 four-star hotels.

Svetlana Tyagacheva – the wife of the former president of the Russian Olympic Committee and the head of the urban settlement Dedenevo of Moscow Region owns and operates a Czech company, which has an apartment in Karlovy Vary on its balance. According to Russian legislation, Tyagacheva violates anti-corruption restrictions.

A deputy of the Krasnodar Region’s Legislative Assembly of the United Russia party Alexander Fendrickov has been in the regional parliament since 2007. He and his wife bought their first apartment in Karlovy Vary in 2012 and a second in 2014. However, he did not indicate real estate in the Czech Republic in his anti-corruption declarations of 2014 and 2015.

The Torosyan brothers, Igor and George, own three multi-story buildings in the most expensive district of Karlovy Vary through a legal entity. Igor Torosyan is Chairman of the local branch of A Just Russia in the Tuapse region of Krasnodar Region and previously was a deputy in the Legislative Assembly. Georgy Torosyan is the deputy of the district council of the Tuapse district in the Krasnodar Region since 2008 from the party “United Russia”.

David Adamia’s family (Adamia is the Head of the St. Petersburg Governor’s Office) owns two apartments in Karlovy Vary. Adamiya transgressed the law, since he is already working as civil servant but continued to own and operate the Czech legal entities.

Former vice-governor of St. Petersburg Vasily Kichedzhi now acting as Rector of the Academy Stieglitz, owns an apartment next to the Old Town Square in Prague. He also is the owner of the hotel in Prague 4.

A United Russia deputy of the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly Igor Vysotsky owns an apartment through his wife in the most expensive district of Karlovy Vary.

The Chairman of the Transport Infrastructure Development Committee of St. Petersburg Sergei Harlashkin owns an apartment in Karlovy Vary.

In 2013, a member of the Federation Council from United Russia, the head of the Interregional Coordination Council Vyacheslav Timchenko prudently transferred his Czech company to his daughter, who became the new owner. The company holds a cottage in the south of the Czech Republic on its balance sheet.

Vila Lutzow (built in 1854) in Karlovy Vary belongs to Gennady Lakhov, who headed the transport department of Rosvooruzhenie in the 90s.

Artem Butov, the head of a group of military factories in the Tambov region, along with his relatives, owns an apartment in Karlovy Vary and Prague.

Iraida Landarenko and Tatiana Poroskun own apartments in Karlovy Vary. Both women are involved in the case of fraud for an interpreter for the judicial department in Moscow and the Moscow region. Iraida Landarenko, arrested in absentia, is wanted.

Abesalom Gulordava owns apartment in Karlovy Vary. Gulordava is a figurant of the criminal case of fraud with government contracts in Moscow, is on the international wanted list.

There is an apartment In Karlovy Vary owned by Yuri Bakanov, Chief Engineer at “Kubangazprom” whom the media called the author of schemes of Tsapkov gang money laundering in the village of Kushchevskaya.

Alexei Levin, who opened Putin’s monuments in 2015, is co-owner of the four-star spa hotel in Karlovy Vary. Another co-owner is the daughter of the late chief of the Moscow metro, Gaev.

The “Russian village” is legendary place in Karlovy Vary. There were many scandals connected with this place, as the owner cut down relict Slavkov Forest. In 2010, the owner changed and Russian-language media in Czech modestly wrote: “Now land has been passed into the hands of VikaS Trade, s.r.o., which is owned by the 74-year-old Muscovite Alla Smirnova registered in the “Russian village”.  80-year-old Alla Smirnova is the wife of Conrad Smirnov, KGB Chairman Yuri Andropov assistant. And her sons worked for a long time in team with Sergei Stepashin (director of the FSB, the Interior Ministry, the chairman of the Chamber of Accounts), engaged in the official Putin residence renovating in the early 2000s.

Ukraine

Several current and former deputies of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine from the Party of Regions were detected In Karlovy Vary: Igor Sharov owns 4 apartments in Prague and Karlovy Vary, Vladimir Oleynik, who is wanted in Ukraine as well as Yuri Voropaev, Irina Berezhnaya.

Volodymyr Kozak, ex-Party of Regions MP and ex-Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine has an apartment In Prague.

Sergey Kharchuk, the deputy of Kiev city council from the “Self-Help” faction, owns an apartment in Karlovy Vary. However, he has not indicated ownership of the Czech company in his declaration.

Former Prosecutor of the Crimea Republic Vyacheslav Pavlov resigned at the beginning of the annexation and bought a stake in the Czech company in March 2015, which owns the hotel “Saint Michael” in the suburb of Karlovy Vary.

Azerbaijan

Azerbaijani elite have a long history of settling in Karlovy Vary. Even in 2012, OCCRP wrote about the diaspora’s assets in this city. A house that formerly belonged to the youngest daughter of Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev is now owned by Mahir Rafiev – the chief of the Main Department of taxpayer service of the Azerbaijan Taxes Ministry.

Arif Pashayev, the father of Ilham Aliyev’s wife, owns an apartment and hotels in Karlovy Vary.

There are Apartments in Karlovy Vary owned by the Pashazadeh brothers. Allahshukur Pashazadeh is Grand Mufti of the Caucasus, Javanshir Pashazadeh is Azerbaijani MP since 2005. He is a member of the Standing Committee on Human Rights.

The Aliyev brothers own apartments in Karlovy Vary. Adil Aliyev is a member of parliament since 2005, Muarram Aliyev is Presidential Adviser on Defence of Azerbaijan.

Kazakhstan

Relatives of the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, put down roots in Karlovy Vary long ago. Kairat Boranbaev and Zelina Katranova own assets. According to publications in the media, Nazarbayev has repeatedly taken vacations in Karlovy Vary. Nazarbayev invited Leonid Kuchma to rest at the villa “Ahlan” after the “Orange Revolution”

Others:

The former Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan, leader of the party “Ar-Namys” Felix Kulov left marks In Karlovy Vary.

Not only political but also economic swindlers find refuge in the Czech Republic. For example, Felix Ikonnikov – a famous member of the Russian financial pyramid MMM-2011, owns a house in the tourist center of Karlovy Vary.

More information on the Municipal Scanner project could be found here.

 

Criminal operations by Russia’s GRU worldwide: expert discussion

May 06 2021

Please join Free Russia Foundation for an expert brief and discussion on latest criminal operations conducted by Russia’s GRU worldwide with:

  • Christo Grozev, Bellingcat— the legendary investigator who uncovered the Kremlin’s involvement, perpetrators and timeline of Navalny’s assassination attempt. 
  • Jakub Janda, Director of the European Values Think Tank (the Czech Republic) where he researches Russia’s hostile influence operations in the West
  • Michael Weiss, Director of Special Investigations at Free Russia Foundation where he leads the Lubyanka Files project, which consists of translating and curating KGB training manuals still used in modern Russia for the purposes of educating Vladimir Putin’s spies.

The event will take place on Tuesday, May 11 from 11 am to 12:30pm New York Time (17:00 in Brussels) and include an extensive Q&A with the audience moderated by Ilya Zaslavskiy, Senior Fellow at Free Russia Foundation and head of Underminers.info, a research project on post-Soviet kleptocracy

The event will be broadcast live at: https://www.facebook.com/events/223365735790798/

  • The discussion will cover Russia’s most recent and ongoing covert violent operations, direct political interference, oligarchic penetration with money and influence; 
  • GRU’s structure and approach to conducting operations in Europe
  • Trends and forecasts on how data availability will impact both, the Kremlin’s operations and their investigation by governments and activists; 
  • EU and national European government response and facilitation of operations on their soil; 
  • Recommendations for effective counter to the security and political threats posed by Russian security services. 

YouTube Against Navalny’s Smart Voting

May 06 2021

On May 6, 2020, at least five YouTube channels belonging to key Russian opposition leaders and platforms received notifications from YouTube that some of their content had been removed due to its being qualified as “spam, deceptive practices and scams”. 

They included: 

Ilya Yashin (343k YouTube subscribers)

Vladimir Milov (218k YouTube subscribers) 

Leonid Volkov (117k YouTube subscribers)

Novaya Gazeta (277k YouTube Subscribers) 

Sota Vision (248k YouTube Subscribers)

Most likely, there are other Russian pro-democracy channels that have received similar notifications at the same time, and we are putting together the list of all affected by this censorship campaign. 

The identical letters received from YouTube by the five account holders stated:

“Our team has reviewed your content, and, unfortunately, we think it violates our spam, deceptive practices and scams policy. We’ve removed the following content from YouTube:

URL: https://votesmart.appspot.com/

YouTube has removed urls from descriptions of videos posted on these accounts that linked to Alexey Navalny’s Smart Voting website (votesmart.appspot.com).

By doing this, and to our great shock and disbelief, YouTube has acted to enforce the Kremlin’s policies by qualifying Alexey Navalny’s Smart Voting system and its website as “spam, deceptive practices and scams”. 

This action has not only technically disrupted communication for the Russian civil society which is now under a deadly siege by Putin’s regime, but it has rendered a serious and lasting damage to its reputation and legitimacy of Smart Voting approach. 

In reality, Smart Voting system is not a spam, scam or a “deceptive practice”, but instead it’s a fully legitimate system of choosing and supporting candidates in Russian elections who have a chance of winning against the ruling “United Russia” party candidates. There’s absolutely nothing illegal, deceptive or fraudulent about the Smart Voting or any materials on its website.

We don’t know the reasons behind such YouTube actions, but they are an unacceptable suppression of a constitutionally guaranteed freedom of the Russian people and help the Kremlin’s suppression of civil rights and freedoms by banning the Smart Voting system and not allowing free political competition with the ruling “United Russia” party. 

This is an extremely dangerous precedent in an environment where opposition activities in Russia are being literally outlawed;  key opposition figures are jailed, exiled, arrested and attacked with criminal investigations; independent election campaigning is prohibited; and social media networks remain among the very few channels still available to the Russian opposition to communicate with the ordinary Russians.

We demand a  swift and decisive action on this matter from the international community, to make sure that YouTube corrects its stance toward Russian opposition channels, and ensures that such suppression of peaceful, legal  pro-democracy voices does not happen again. 

FRF Lauds New US Sanctions Targeting the Kremlin’s Perpetrators in Crimea, Calls for Their Expansion

Apr 15 2021

On April 15, 2021,  President Biden signed new sanctions against a number of officials and agents of the Russian Federation in connection with malign international activities conducted by the Russian government.

The list of individuals sanctioned by the new law includes Leonid Mikhalyuk, director of the Federal Security Service in the Russian-occupied Crimea.

A report issued by Free Russia Foundation, Media Initiative for Human Rights and Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union in December 202, identified 16 officials from Russian law enforcement and security agencies as well as the judiciary operating on the territory of the Ukrainian Crimean Peninsula currently occupied by the Russian Federation. These individuals have been either directly involved or have overseen political persecution of three prominent Crimean human rights defenders – Emir-Usein Kuku, Sever Mustafayev and Emil Kurbedinov.

Leonid Mikhailiuk is one of these officials. He has been directly involved and directed the repressive campaign in the occupied Crimea, including persecution of innocent people on terrorism charges and massive illegal searches. The persecution of Server Mustafayev was conducted under his supervision. As the head of the FSB branch in Crimea, he is in charge of its operation and all operatives working on politically motivated cases are his subordinates. 

Within the extremely centralized system of the Russian security services, Mikhailiuk is clearly at the top rank of organized political persecution and human rights violations.

Free Russia Foundation welcomes the new sanctions and hopes that all other individuals identified in the report will also be held accountable.

Joint Call of Parliamentarians on the condition of Alexei Navalny in prison

Apr 08 2021

April 8, 2021

We, the undersigned, are shocked and troubled by the most recent news of Alexei Navalny’s condition in prison. 

Russia’s leading opposition figure is reported to suffer severe back pain with losing sensitivity in parts of his legs. It is no more than six months since he survived a vicious poisoning attack with a nerve agent that has long-term crippling effects on his health. In prison, he is systematically denied any medical treatment. On top, prison guards wake him up every hour at night, a practice amounting to torture by sleep deprivation according to his lawyers. This is why medical experts called on the Russian authorities to allow Mr. Navalny’s treatment and why he himself now resorted to a hunger strike. Let’s not forget: Mr. Navalny’s incarceration itself is a travesty of justice – he was formally sent to prison for not checking in with Russian authorities on a fabricated case (as confirmed by European Court of Human Rights) when he was recuperating in Germany from poisoning and subsequent coma.

Russian authorities with its secret services tried to kill Alexei Navalny last August, they may now be attempting the same, in a slower, even more cynical way. 

Europe has offered Alexei Navalny a place to recover from the attempt at his life. Specialized labs in Germany, France and Sweden confirmed the assassination attempt used Novichok, an internationally banned chemical weapon. Angela Merkel personally met Mr Navalny in hospital and many other Western leaders expressed their solidarity after the poisoning attack. We need to intervene again. 

We urge Russia to immediately allow medical treatment of Alexei Navalny and release him from prison. We call on the EU Council as well as EU member states’ leaders to reach out to Russian authorities to request the immediate release of Alexei Navalny, which was mandated by European Court of Human Rights’ decision in February 2021. In addition, we demand the EU Council task EU ambassador to Russia to conduct, together partners from the UK, Canada and the US, a visit of the prison facility and meet Alexei Navalny. It is critical now that Alexei Navalny’s fate became the symbol of injustice many thousands face because of increasing brutality of Russian regime against its own citizens. 

In December 2020, the EU launched its Global Human Rights Sanction Regime modelled on so-called Magnitsky Act. This law has been inspired by one Sergei Magnitsky, a brave Russian lawyer who was tortured to death in prison in 2009 – he was systematically denied treatment when he developed a serious medical condition. We still can act now in case of Alexei Navalny so we avoid commemorating later.

Marek HILSER, Senator, Czech Republic

Andrius KUBILIUS, MEP, EPP, Lithuania

Lukas WAGENKNECHT, Senator, Czech Republic

Žygimantas PAVILIONIS, MP, Lithuania

Miroslav BALATKA, Senator, Czech Republic

André GATTOLIN, Senator, France

Mikulas BEK, Senator, Czech Republic 

Nicolae ŞTEFĂNUȚĂ, MEP, Renew, Romania

David SMOLJAK, Senator, Czech Republic 

Petras AUŠTREVIČIUS, MEP, Renew, Lithuania

Tomas FIALA, Senator, Czech Republic 

Liudas MAŽYLIS, MEP, EPP Lithuania

Zdenek NYTRA, Senator, Czech Republic 

Dace MELBĀRDE, MEP, ECR, Latvia

Jan SOBOTKA, Senator, Czech Republic 

Matas MALDEIKIS, MP, Lithuania

Jiri RUZICKA, Senator, Czech Republic 

Bernard GUETTA, MEP, Renew, France

Jaromira VITKOVA, Senator, Czech Republic 

Rasa JUKNEVIČIENĖ, MEP, EPP, Lithuania

Petr OREL, Senator, Czech Republic 

Tomasz FRANKOWSKI, MEP, EPP, Poland 

Miroslava NEMCOVA, Senator, Czech Republic

Hermann TERTSCH, MEP, ECR, Spain

Premysl RABAS, Senator, Czech Republic 

Aušra MALDEIKIENĖ, MEP, EPP, Lithuania

Ladislav KOS, Senator, Czech Republic 

Attila ARA-KOVÁCS, MEP, S&D, Hungary

Sarka JELINKOVA, Senator, Czech Republic

Erik MARQUARDT, MEP, Greens, Germany

Pavel FISCHER, Senator, Czech Republic

Pernille WEISS, MEP, EPP, Denmark

Helena LANGSADLOVA, MP, Czech Republic

Roberts ZĪLE, MEP, ECR, Latvia

Jan LIPAVSKY, MP, Czech Republic

Klemen GROŠELJ, MEP, Renew, Slovenia

Pavel ZACEK, MP, Czech Republic

Riho TERRAS, MEP, EPP, Estonia

Ondrej BENESIK, MP, Czech Republic 

Miriam LEXMANN, MEP, EPP, Slovakia

Frantisek KOPRIVA, MP, Czech Republic 

Sandra KALNIETE, MEP, EPP, Latvia

Petr GAZDIK, MP, Czech Republic 

Jerzy BUZEK, MEP, EPP, Poland

Tomas MARTINEK, MP, Czech Republic 

Janina OCHOJSKA, MEP, EPP, Poland

Jan BARTOSEK, MP, Czech Republic

Eugen TOMAC, MEP, EPP, Romania

Jan FARSKY, MP, Czech Republic

Ivan ŠTEFANEC, MEP, EPP, Slovakia

Roman SKLENAK, MP, Czech Republic

Krzysztof HETMAN, MEP, EPP, Poland

Frantisek VACHA, MP, Czech Republic

Ivars IJABS, MEP, Renew, Latvia

Marek VYBORNY, MP, Czech Republic

Franc BOGOVIČ, MEP, EPP, Slovenia

Zbynek STANJURA, MP, Czech Republic

Radvilė MORKŪNAITĖ-MIKULĖNIENĖ, MP, Lithuania

Petr FIALA, MP, Czech Republic

Raphaël GLUCKSMANN, MEP, S&D, France

Vít RAKUSAN, MP, Czech Republic

Juozas OLEKAS, MEP, S&D, Lithuania

Jaroslav VYMAZAL, MP, Czech Republic

Assita KANKO, MEP, ECR, Belgium

Adela SIPOVA, Senator, Czech Republic

Radosław SIKORSKI, MEP, EPP, Poland

Róża THUN UND HOHENSTEIN, MEP, EPP, Poland

Javier NART, MEP, Renew, Spain

Andrzej HALICKI, MEP, EPP, Poland

Alexander ALEXANDROV YORDANOV, MEP, EPP, Bulgaria

Ondřej KOVAŘÍK, MEP, Renew, Czech Republic

Andreas SCHIEDER, MEP, S&D, Austria

Leopoldo LÓPEZ GIL, MEP, EPP, Spain

Sergey LAGODINSKY, MEP, Greens, Germany

Antonio LÓPEZ-ISTÚRIZ WHITE, MEP, EPP, Spain

Marketa GREGOROVA, MEP, Greens, Czech Republic

Lolita ČIGĀNE, MP, Latvia

Marko MIHKELSON, MP, Estonia

Renata CHMELOVA, Czech Republic

Bogdan KLICH, Senator, Republic of Poland

Transatlantic Interparliamentary Statement on Unprecedented Mass Arrest of Russian Pro-Democracy Leaders on March 13, 2021

Mar 25 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 25, 2021

Contacts:
Honourable Irwin Cotler, PC, OC, OQ, Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights
+1 514.735.8778
Natalia Arno, Free Russia Foundation
+1 202.549.2417

TRANSATLANTIC INTERPARLIAMENTARY STATEMENT
On unprecedented mass arrest of Russian pro-democracy leaders on March 13, 2021

“We, the undersigned members of the foreign affairs committees of legislatures around the world – the duly elected democratic voices of our constituents and countries – unreservedly condemn the unprecedented mass arrest of Russian pro-democracy leaders. 

A violation of the Russian constitution and of the country’s international legal obligations, these unjust and arbitrary arrests are an assault on the last bastion of the Russian democratic movement. United in common cause, we call for an end to Putin’s punitive persecution and prosecutions of Russian civil society leaders, the release of all political prisoners, and the imposition of targeted Magnitsky sanctions against Russia’s architects of repression.

The crimes perpetrated by Putin’s regime against the Russian people and against the international community have been deadly and are well-documented. Left unchecked, its internal repression has often morphed into external aggression. Wars, murders, theft, embezzlement, nuclear blackmail, disinformation, election interference — they are so numerous and now so well-known, that we feel no need to enumerate all of them in this letter. Under the cover of Covid restrictions, we have seen a further intensification of these trends.

Last year, Putin’s regime illegally amended the Russian constitution, executing a constitutional coup, allowing Putin to stay in power indefinitely and thereby formalizing the Russian transition to authoritarianism. 

In January, he arrested Aleksey Navalny, who was punished with a nearly three-year prison term for not meeting his parole obligations because he was out of the country convalescing from a state-sponsored assassination attempt. Putin then brutally suppressed the nation-wide protests that emerged in Navalny’s support, arbitrarily arresting thousands, and launching criminal prosecutions against them.

On March 13th, security services entered a perfectly lawful Congress of elected municipal deputies and detained nearly 200 people for not adhering to the Kremlin’s command of how to interact with local constituents. In today’s Russia, disagreeing with Putin is not tolerated, and those who do find themselves in jail or worse.

Some of those detained included elected leaders like Ilya Yashin and Maxim Reznik, pro-democracy reformers Andrey Pivovarov and Anastasia Burakova, and popular politician Vladimir Kara-Murza. Mr. Kara-Murza is a top public intellectual and opposition leader whose transformative work on behalf of the Russian people has had a global resonance. His vision and values – eloquently conveyed with a uniquely compelling moral clarity and commitment, often before our respective legislatures – led to his earlier being targeted by the regime for assassination, attempts on his life that he survived twice. The work of such courageous leaders continues to be a source of inspiration in our pursuit of collective peace, security, and dignity for all.

For a society to succeed it must have a set of principles and values that guides it. Most notably, this includes a legal system that honors the rights of all its people and not solely for those who deem themselves leaders and the sycophants who profit from them.

Sadly, these recent developments demonstrate yet again that only Putin’s criminality and impunity prevail in Russia today. The way the regime runs its politics is indistinguishable from the way it runs its foreign policy and its business dealings. To indulge such malign behavior by the Kremlin toward those it disagrees with is to encourage its corrosive behavior in all these other areas.

The democracies of the world have a choice: maintain a normal relationship with a rogue state, continuing to send the message that its treatment of its own citizens is to be overlooked, and its malicious activities are to be condoned. Or, sending a clear and compelling message: that until the Kremlin reverses its troubling trajectory, the current status quo will be unacceptable. This includes targeted sanctions against Putin and his corrupt and criminal cronies – such as canceling access to our banking system, business ties, and safe harbor in our best neighborhoods and schools – ensuring that they cannot enjoy the liberties in our countries that they deny their compatriots in theirs. 

For the sake of a free Russia and a free world, we trust democracies will make the right choice.”

Rasa Jukneviciene, Member of the European Parliament

Andrius Kubilius, Member of the European Parliament

Miriam Lexmann, Member of the European Parliament

Pavel Fischer, Chairman of the Committee of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security of the Senate of the Czech Republic

Marko Mihkelson, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament of Estonia

Richards Kols, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Seimas of the Republic of Latvia

Žygimantas Pavilions, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania

Bogdan Klich, Senator, Chairman of the Foreign and European Union Committee of the Senate of the Republic of Poland

Eerik Niiles Kross, Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament of Estonia

Emanuelis Zingeris, Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania

Benjamin L. Cardin, Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation; Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission)

Bill Keating, Member of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Relations and Chair of the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment

Brian Fitzpatrick, Member of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Relations

Kimberley Kitching, Senator, Chair of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee, Deputy Chair of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee, Parliament of Australia

Chris Bryant, Member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee of the UK Parliament

Bob Seely, Member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee of the UK Parliament