Friday, October 29, 2010

November 12–15, 2010: New International Days of Action We Demand that the Russian Authorities Close the Khimki Case and Drop All Charges

Global action day 2.0

November 12–15, 2010: New International Days of Action
We Demand that the Russian Authorities Close the Khimki Case and Drop All
Charges against Alexei Gaskarov and Maxim Solopov

In late October 2010, Russian social activists Alexei Gaskarov and Maxim
Solopov were released from police custody on their own recognizance by the
Khimki Municipal Court. They had been arrested a day after a protest in
defense of the Khimki Forest on July 28, 2010. Now they are free pending
trial, but the criminal case against them has not been closed. They have been
formally charged with disorderly conduct, and if convicted, they could be
sentenced to up to seven years in prison. The dates of their trials have not
been set, but meanwhile prosecutors are demanding that Alexei and Maxim be
returned to police custody. Aside from Alexei and Maxim, there are two other
people who have been charged in the case, and prosecutors might bring charges
against even more people in the very new future. Since Alexei and Maxim were
arrested in late July, police investigators have been stubbornly fabricating
arrest protocols, evidence, and eyewitness testimony and using force to
extract statements from the hundreds of people they have hunted down and
detained. What will happen to all these thick case files filled with
fabrications? They will form the basis of the prosecution’s case in court.
And so the fact that Alexei and Maxim have now been released from jail is not
the end of the battle but a signal that we must continue to act decisively on
their behalf. We will not allow the authorities to cover up the illegal
destruction of the forest and the persecution of its defenders with the
soiled robes of counterfeit justice. We will force the authorities to close
the Khimki Case and drop charges against all activists!

Why do the Russian authorities insist on turning activists into criminals and
demanding prison sentences for them? For the same reason that they have
either not launched or halted investigations into the near-fatal beating of
journalist Mikhail Beketov, the murder of newspaper worker Sergei Protazanov,
and the numerous attacks on Khimki residents. The policemen who beat up
environmentalists defending the forest and arrested people participating in
legal pickets have not been punished. The police investigators who tortured
witnesses in the Khimki Case have not been punished. Can we expect fair
trials for Alexei and Maxim when we have witnessed lawlessness and injustice
so many times? Khimki judges have on numerous occasions shown all of us that
we cannot count on their respect for the law and common sense. We demand that
the case be closed!

The protest action that took place in Khimki on July 28, 2010, was a response
to the lawlessness and violence perpetrated against local residents,
journalists, and activists. It was a highly emotional response to the fact
that all previous protests had not just been ignored by the authorities but
had been cruelly suppressed. As a result of this protest, the Russian
authorities began heeding the voice of the forest’s defenders. The campaign
to defend the forest caught this gust of hot July wind and continued to act
using other means. The authorities must end their persecution of the people
who took part in this protest and the forest defenders. All charges against
Alexei Gaskarov, Maxim Solopov, and other activists must be dropped.

What You Can Do

1. During the international days of action on November 12–15, 2010, hold
eye-catching protest actions in your cities at official political and
cultural events organized by the Russian authorities as well as outside
Russian Federation embassies and consulates. Demand to meet with official
Russian representatives and give them your petitions. Any Russian company,
product or event can be a successful occasion for your protests.

2. Send faxes to the Khimki Municipal Court (+7-495-572-8314), the Moscow
Region Prosecutor’s Office (+7-495-621-5006) and the President of the Russian
Federation (+7-495-606-2464), demanding that the case be closed and all
charges against Alexei Gaskarov, Maxim Solopov, and other activists dropped.

3. Continue to send letters to such international organizations as the Council
of Europe, the European Parliament, and the UN, asking them to investigate
the abuses by Russian authorities and intervene in the case. You can find
contact information for these organizations here.

4. Work to get articles published in your local and national media that will
inform the broader public about the case of the Khimki hostages and the new
threats to civil liberties and the rule of law in Russia. Invite neighbors,
friends, and colleagues to your solidarity actions in support of Alexei and
Maxim, and ask them to join you in demanding that this fabricated criminal
case be closed.

Send information about your solidarity actions as well as copies of letters,
faxes, and media publications to our e-mail address:

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