After fifteen days of jail and a hunger strike, Filipp Kostenko, employee of the Memorial Anti-Discrimination Center, a human rights organization, has not been released: the persecution against him continues
December 21, 2011
On December 21 at 7:30 p.m., the fifteen days of administrative arrest to which Filipp Kostenko, an activist and Memorial Anti-Discrimination Center employee, was sentenced after he was detained during protests against vote rigging in the [recent Russian parliamentary] election, expired, but Kostenko was not released as scheduled.
Kostenko was arrested for taking part in mass protests after the parliamentary elections. In protest, the activist went on hunger strike, demanding the release of all people detained during the protests. The hunger strike lasted all fifteen days he was in jail. His lawyers appealed the decision to arrest him, but the judge turned down the appeal. At the same time, a complaint was filed with the European Court of Human Rights and has already been registered.
At the time scheduled for Kostenko’s release, colleagues, friends, and journalists were gathered outside the detention center at Zakharievskya, 6. Eyewitnesses report that Center “E” [anti-“extremism”] police entered the building right at the time Kostenko was to be released. When Kostenko was not released at the time stipulated by the court, his lawyer went into the building to find out why. It turned that the decision had been made to immediately re-detain the hunger-striking activist and transport him to a police precinct for compulsory delivery to court on another administrative [misdemeanor] charge. Thus Kostenko has found himself back in jail, this time in a police precinct, until his new court hearing.
The compulsory delivery decision was made by Judge E.K. Yermolina for failure to appear in court on December 9 (that is, when Kostenko was already serving a fifteen-day sentence at the Zakharievskaya, 6 detention facility, a fact well known to law enforcement officials). This decision cannot be regarded as anything other than a deliberate plan to continue persecuting him.
The new court hearing is scheduled for December 22 at 10:50 a.m. in Judicial Precinct No. 153 at Bolshaya Raznochinnaya, 23. Kostenko has been charged with petty disorder for allegedly using foul language on the Petrovskaya Embankment on October 17 of this year.
The continued detention of Filipp Kostenko is obviously politically motivated: for all intents and purposes, it is retaliation for his activism and involvment in protests. In these circumstances, given his continuing hunger strike and the danger that he will be given yet another unjust jail sentence, Filipp Kostenko is in vital need of support from the public and attention from independent media.
Photo courtesy of Free Voina
It’s outrageous – after flagrant vote-rigging and decades of corruption, the crooks-in-chief are throwing anti-fraud leaders into the jails they should be sitting in themselves.
The government is terrified of mass public protest. They know their credibility is at its lowest after blatantly rigging the election and are responding with the usual dirty tactics: mass arrests, blocking critical websites and filling the streets with troops. Despite this heavy-handedness, Putin has to appear responsive to the public in the run-up to presidential elections – and if we raise a massive outcry now, we can press him to release these brave activists and demonstrate that the cry for accountability has only just begun.
Let’s build a massive petition to show that our movement can’t be jailed or silenced.
When we reach 20,000 signers, we’ll deliver our call to free the protest leaders to Putin and broadcast it on major Russian media. Add your voice for their freedom now, and forward widely.
Editor’s Note. Sign the Avaaz petition here. It’s not that this will help our comrade Filipp that much, but it certainly cannot hurt. If you forward this petition to your friends and colleagues, make sure to forward this information about Filipp’s plight as well. If you need any information about his case or where to address your protests and calls for his immediate release, please write to us at the address indicated in the sidebar.