Aleksandr Vladimirovich Konovalov

Aleksandr Vladimirovich Konovalov?

Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation
ul. Zhitnaya, d.14
119991 Moscow GSP-1
Russian Federation
Email: [email protected]
http://www.minjust.ru/

Dear Minister,

I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human rights defender and Freelance journalist.

?

I would like to draw your attention to the following case.
On 7 July 2015, investigative officers searched the office of the movement Golos along with the apartments of its three employees – Mr Grigoriy Melkonyants, Mr Roman Udot and Ms Tatyana Troynova, and confiscated all technical equipment.

Golos is a movement for the protection of voter rights, and organises civil monitoring of elections all over Russia. It was founded in July 2013 by active participants of the movement’s predecessor – Association Golos, whose activity was stopped due to unprecedented pressure from the Russian authorities. Before its closure, the Association, which critically reported about violations during the 2012 elections, was fined 300,000 roubles (approximately ?7500) for refusing the ?foreign agent? label under Russia’s widely criticized ?Foreign agents? law and was forcedly included in the list of foreign agents. Currently, Golos prepares the monitoring of the elections which will take place in different regions of Russia in September.

On 7 July 2015, at approximately 12 pm, investigative officers arrived in the office of the movement and started searching. They examined and subsequently confiscated all the documents as well as the computers and other electronic devices of the movement. These actions appear to be aimed at freezing the activities of the movement. The information and documents confiscated by the officers, if not returned later, might be completely lost.

Previously, at 7 am on the same day, investigative officers searched the apartments of Golos members, its co-chairman Grigoriy Melkonyants, project manager Roman Udot and executive director Tatyana Troynaya. During the search, computers and other electronic devices were seized. During the raid of Melkonyants’s apartment his lawyer, Ms Olga Gnezdilova, was refused access to the apartment by investigative officers and was therefore not able to talk to her client face-to-face.

According to Olga Gnezdilova, the raids are based on an order issued by the Samara Court, and carried out by Mr Tomchik, senior case investigator of the Investigative Committee of Khimki ?ity (Moscow Region). These searches are related to the open investigation against the head of Golos’s branch in the Volga Region, Ludmila Kuzmina, who was accused of tax evasion in 2015. In February her apartment, along with her car, were raided and seized by the police.

Golos has been intensively harassed by the authorities since the law on foreign agents entered into force in 2012. Moscow City Court opened an investigation against the movement and its head, Liliya Shibanova. The court ruling imposing fines on Association Golos and its head Ms Liliya Shibanova for violation of ?Foreign agents? law, was based on Golos’ involvement in political activity during their advocacy project on the new Electoral Code. They were also accused of receiving foreign funding, namely the prize money attached to the 2012 Andrei Sakharov Freedom Award. However, the prize money was never placed in the NGO’s bank account as Golos declined to accept it. The advocacy project on the new Electoral Code also ended in December 2010, more than one year before the ?foreign agents? law came into effect in November 2011. The court ruling therefore appears ill-founded. Although the investigation was closed in November 2014 as foreign funding accusations could not be confirmed, the Russian Ministry of Justice refused to exclude the organisation from the foreign agents list. ?

I express my grave concern at the searches at the premises of of Golos and at the apartments of its members Grigoriy Melkonyants, Roman Udot and Tatyana Troynaya, and at the confiscation of their equipment and documents, which I believe to be directly linked to their peaceful and legitimate preparation for the monitoring of upcoming elections in Russia.

I urge the authorities in Russia to:

1. Immediately return the documents and electronic devices confiscated during the raid of the apartments of Grigoriy Melkonyants, Roman Udot and Tatyana Troynova, as well as those seized from the office of Golos, as they are manifestly not linked to any criminal activity;

2. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Russia are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.

Sincerely,

William Nicholas Gomes

Human Rights Defender & ?Freelance Journalist

Twitter @wnicholasgomes

Email: [email protected]

www.facebook.com/williamnicholasgomes


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