Russia: No Democracy if Constitutions are violated. The Rule of Law is essential for the right to life

Statement of the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty

On 31 May 2011, the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty together with the members of ANNAVIVA held a demostration in Rome in solidarity with the Russian activitsts of Strategy 31, who, for two years now, have gathered, or sought to gather, in the centre of Moscow, in Triumfalnaya Square, and outside Gostiny Dvor in Saint Petersburg on the 31st of each month that has 31 days to highlight Art. 31 of the Russian Constitution, which protects the right to freedom of assembly.

Since January 2010, the Strategy-31 actions have spread from Moscow, to some other 70 Russian cities. Both in Moscow and in St. Petersburg local authorities refused to grant permission for rallies on the scheduled date. Law-enfrocement agencies threatened earlier on that day that they would detain all participants adding that the police would also act harshly against protesters. From what we have been able to gather, we have reasons to believe that that excessive violence used by the police against protesters was deliberate, if not planned, and that policemen acted in accordance with precise orders, meaning that that the abuses reported from Moscow and Saint Petersburg were sanctioned by police superiors.

According to other Russian sources, on May 31, 60 two people were detained in Moscow, including members of the Strategy 31 steering committee. Most of them have been charged with participation in an unauthorized rally while members of the action Steering Committee have been accused of its organization. Courts are pending.

Knowing how things works in Russia, we are extremely concerned with police brutality against protesters in Saint Petersburg, where 50 people were detained. Alexandra Kachko had her arm broken while in custody. She was taken to hospital from police station N2 of Saint Petersburg Admiralteyskiy district. Maxim Gromov was beaten up by policemen of police station N.43 who then threatened him with a criminal case instituted against him. It happened despite evidences of numerous witnesses that Maxim Gromov was subjected to cruel treatment without any grounds. Maxim Gromov's whereabouts after being moved to another police station were not disclosed intil late afternoon of June 1 when his lawyer found him in hospital with brain concussion.

What happened on May 31st unfortunately confirms the progressive strangling of the freedoms of assembly and expression in the Russian Federation. We urge Russian authorities to allow the constitutional rights of all persons in Russia to be ejoyed.

We call on the Russian authorities to immediately start investigations into cases of police abuses against peaceful protest and take all the responsible to account.

We also call on international organizations to closely monitor the situation as it is now emerging as a pattern of activities in violation of all the major international human rights instruments ratified by the Russian Federation.