“Any attempts to rock the situation with democratic slogans, to destabilize the state and split society, will be stopped.” — Dmitry Medvedev, Annual Address to the Federal Assembly, Moscow, November 12, 2009
This morning (November 12) Alexander Lashmankin, founder and correspondent of the Samara Civil Rights Information Agency Svoboda, was stopped by FSB (Federal Security Service) officers near the entrance to his building. They presented him with a summons to report to Investigator A.N. Vospinnikov at the Samara Region FSB Directorate at 3:00 p.m. on November 12.
The same thing happened to Liudmila Kuzmina, a well-known civil rights activist and chair of Golos, a public organization for the defense of voter’s rights. Kuzmina likewise received an invitation to the FSB Directorate. In the invitation she was handed it was stated that she was being asked to give testimony in connection with an investigation into whether Lashmankin’s LiveJournal blog contained calls to commit extremist activity. Kuzmina was invited by Investigator A.S. Polstyanov of the 1st Department of the Samara Region FSB Directorate. Maxim Kalach, a journalist with the newspaper Samarskaya Gazeta, also received a summons. The civil rights activists have decided not to talk to FSB investigators.
The persecution of civil rights advocates and journalists in Samara Region began when two former officials from Rosoboroneksport (the state company for defense exports) came to power — Governor Vladimir Artyakov and I.K. Mironov, head of the Samara Region government’s department of public safety. Mironov had once been in charge of the Party organization in the Fifth Directorate of the Soviet KGB, which engaged in the persecution of dissidents. During the Yeltsin era, he was head of the investigative department of the agency for the defense of the Constitution.
The Samara Civil Rights Information Agency Svoboda has in the past published reports about Governor Artyakov’s misdeeds. For example, the agency published information about an appeal made by Valery Karlov, chair of the Civic Initiative movement, demanding that Governor Artyakov be dismissed and brought up on criminal charges for his misuse of the region’s budget. [Specifically, Karlov accused the governor of using large amounts of money from the budget to pay for weekly charter flights to Moscow, where he resides.]
And so now Svodoba editor Lashmankin has been summoned to the FSB.
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