Tag Archives: Memorial Anti-Discrimination Center

January 19: Anti-Fascist Marches in Moscow and Petersburg

19jan.ru/english/an-appeal-from-the-january-19-committee-2012

An Appeal from the January 19 Committee

Three years ago, on January 19, 2009, we lost our friends Stanislav (Stas) Markelov and Anastasia (Nastya) Baburova, who were gunned down in broad daylight in downtown Moscow. After many protest actions, marches, rallies, and speeches by activists and ordinary citizens shocked by this violence, Nikita Tikhonov and Yevgenia Khasis, themselves the unfortunate victims of the neo-Nazi narcotic, have been convicted of the murders and sentenced to life and eighteen years in prison, respectively. Events have come full circle and the criminals have been punished, but we continue to remember how sincere lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova were in their anti-fascist convictions. We are aware of their absence on a daily basis, when hundreds of activists, people from various movements and of different ideological hues, require an uncompromising lawyer to defend them and an engaged journalist to cover their cases and their campaigns. So for the third year in a row, on the day when they were murdered, the coldest day of the year, we will take to the streets in an anti-fascist march to remind our fellow citizens and ourselves of the need for each of us to continue our daily struggle with fascism. We must be extremely vigilant in order to recognize fascism in ordinary things: fascism mimics and constantly changes its guises without altering its essence.

There are changes, however, that only a blind man would not notice. Three years ago, the neo-Nazis switched from the indiscriminate slaughter of immigrants to targeted, more “effective” political assassinations: this is how we lost Fyodor Filatov, Ivan Khutorskoi, Stas, and Nastya. After Tikhonov and Khasis were sent to prison, ultra-rightists were on the verge of tucking their tails between their legs, but a year ago, in response to the unlimited callousness and corruption of the courts and the police, we were treated to the monstrous, senseless riot on Manezh Square in Moscow. A year later, in December 2011, during the mass protests against the rigged parliamentary elections, we once again saw extreme right-wingers trying to appear more respectable at meetings of protest organizing committees and on the podium at protest rallies.

They scream that it is time we stopped “feeding” the North Caucasus, although it is not the most federally subsidized region of our country: the problem is caused by the local authorities there, who embezzle all available resources and suppress dissenters. The neo-Nazis stuff immature minds with demagoguery about immigrants, but if their fellow “national-democrats” came to power in Europe and began kicking out ethnically and religiously “inferior” Russia, what would they say? They criticize the regime, but many of them are always willing to serve it for a small fee by breaking up opposition rallies and attacking environmentalist protest camps. It is the neo-Nazis who will support the current regime if it is faced by the real threat of a democratic revolution demanding freedom and equality for all. Along with other opposition forces, they are against anti-extremist laws, but they want to abolish them only in order to insult other ethnic groups with impunity and play them off each other. It is not immigrants and “aliens” who threaten a mythical “indigenous majority,” but rather an ultra-right minority that threatens the majority of people in Russia. The “Russian question” is not the issue, but corruption and an unjust social order that enables some people to suppress, exploit and gag others, regardless of their ethnicity and religion. Nationalism is an obligatory element in this society. The anti-fascist cause is an inherent part of the struggle for genuine democracy, for the right to vote, to speak and be heard for everyone now deprived of this right. Baburova and Markelov proved this with their lives and their deaths.

Please join us on January 19, 2012, at 19:01, on Nikitsky Boulevard, for a rally in memory of Stas and Nastya involving social and civic activists and musicians.

We will never forget, we will not forgive! Russia for everyone willing to work and live honestly!

***

The January 19 Committee is a public anti-fascist initiative involving people from various walks of life – workers and teachers, lawyers and journalists, artists and filmmakers, musicians and sociologists. The January 19 Committee was formed in autumn 2009 in memory of anti-fascist lawyer Stanislav Markelov and anti-fascist journalist Anastasia Baburova, who were murdered in downtown Moscow on January 19, 2009. The January 19 Committee will hold its third annual civic march against neo-Nazi terror on January 19, 2012.

More information:
Telephone: +7 968 836 9877, +7 919 970 0060
Web site: http://19jan.ru
LiveJournal blog: http://january-19th.livejournal.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/groups/393549975496/

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City Refuses to Approve Commemorative Rally
By Sergey Chernov
The St. Petersburg Times
January 18, 2012

The city authorities have refused to authorize an annual anti-fascist march and rally in memory of the slain anti-fascists Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova due to be held on Thursday, Jan. 19, allowing only a “picket” on the largely deserted Ploshchad Sakharova on Vasilyevsky Island.

Human rights lawyer Markelov and journalist Baburova were shot dead in downtown Moscow on Jan. 19, 2009, and the date has been marked with vigils and rallies across Russia since then. Other anti-fascists, such as Nikolai Girenko, Timur Kacharava, Ivan Khutorskoi and Alexander Ryukhin, who were also killed by neo-Nazis, are commemorated as well.

Stefania Kulayeva, the program director of Memorial Anti-Discrimination Center, said City Hall refused to issue a permit on purely technical grounds, just as it did last year.

According to the law on public assemblies, applications must be submitted to the authorities from 15 to 10 days before the event, but because of New Year and Christmas celebrations, City Hall was closed from Jan. 1 through Jan. 9.

Kulayeva said she applied on Jan. 10, the first working day of 2012, but received a refusal the following morning on the grounds that the application was too late. Last year, she said she applied on Dec. 31, just before the holidays, and a refusal was issued on the grounds that the submission had been made too early.

She pointed out that the Jan. 19 march in Moscow has been authorized. “We didn’t choose this date, they could have issued a permit, especially if they did not need more than one day to give us a refusal,” she said.

Nevertheless, Kulayeva said the protesters are planning to gather at 6 p.m. near Gorkovskaya metro, the closest station to Ploshchad Sakharova, and walk together to the site for security reasons, as threats against participants have appeared on neo-Nazi web sites. The event, which will feature a slide show, will be held at 7 p.m.

Under Russian law, picketing is defined as a form of stationary public assembly that does not use sound amplifying equipment. Only posters and other forms of visual agitation are allowed.

Kulayeva said that she received multiple phone calls from City Hall officials and police officers Tuesday, who warned her against holding an unauthorized march.

“It appears that the commemoration of human right activists and anti-fascists such as Markelov is highly undesirable for the authorities,” she said.

Markelov, 34, and Baburova, 25, were shot and killed by a masked man in downtown Moscow after they left a press conference at the Independent Press Center.

Despite international outcry over the killings, neither Prime Minister Vladimir Putin nor President Dmitry Medvedev reacted or offered their condolences to the families of the slain activists.

Interfax quoted a Foreign Ministry official who said that the murders were “artificially politicized and used, with dishonest intentions, to discredit Russia.”

In November 2009, Nikita Tikhonov and his partner Yevgeniya Khasis, described as extreme nationalists, were arrested in Moscow and charged with the double murder. The investigators said the FN/Browning M1910 semi-automatic pistol that was used in the double murder was found in their apartment during a search.

In May 2011, Tikhonov was sentenced to life imprisonment, while Khasis as an accomplice was sentenced to 18 years in a penal colony.

According to the January 19 Committee in Moscow, commemorative events for Baburova and Markelov will be held in 20 Russian cities, including Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg, Petrozavodsk, Ufa and Omsk, as well as in Ukrainian cities and in Berlin and Paris.

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Petersburg Court Rejects Filipp Kostenko’s Appeal

Kostenko Loses Release Appeal
By Sergey Chernov
The St. Petersburg Times
December 28, 2011

An appeals court on Monday refused to free Filipp Kostenko, who after serving 15 days in prison was sentenced to another 15 days last week in what his lawyer describes as a “political reprisal.”

Originally, Kostenko, an activist and employee of the human rights organization Memorial Anti-Discrimination Center, was arrested amid spontaneous protests against electoral fraud near Gostiny Dvor on Dec. 6. The following day, the court sentenced him to 15 days imprisonment for an alleged failure to follow a police officer’s orders, the maximum punishment for such an offence.

On Dec. 21, Kostenko was not released after serving his term. As around 20 friends were waiting for him outside the prison on Zakharyevskaya Ulitsa, upon leaving his cell he was detained again by officers from the counter-extremism agency Center “E”, who took him to a police precinct, his lawyer Olga Tseitlina said.

Kostenko’s political views have been described as anarchist and anti-fascist, which would make him a “person of interest” to Center “E”.

The arrest was made on the basis of the fact that Kostenko did not appear in the court for a prior alleged offense, although at the time he was actually in custody.

This other case involved charges that Kostenko allegedly used foul language when bringing food parcels to arrested friends on Oct. 16.

During the hearing the following day, Judge Yelena Yermolina did not agree to summon the police officers on whose reports the sentence was based to testify as witnesses and be cross-examined, according to Tseitlina.

The testimonies of defense witnesses were dismissed by Yermolina, who said that she trusted the police officers’ reports.

In doing so, Yermolina deprived Kostenko of the right to a fair court hearing, which is a fundamental violation of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, of which Russia is a signatory, Tseitlina said.

“The entire prosecution is based on the policemen’s reports,” she said. “If a prison term is a possible punishment [for a crime], one of the fundamental rights is to examine the witnesses who testify against you.”

Tseitlina described the charges as “absurd.”

“Why should Kostenko come to a police precinct and swear in public?” she asked.

“Also, it was 11 p.m., with nobody around, so how could he have disturbed the peace? If we look at judicial practice, such an offense is never punished that strictly. Usually, it is punished with a fine.”

For the first 16 days of his detention, Kostenko held a hunger strike, which led to deteriorated eyesight. He ended it when the people who were in prison with him on the same charges were released.

“This is revenge, political reprisal and a measure to stop Kostenko from his protest activities,” Tseitlina said.

“Even if we allow that Kostenko did use foul language – which is not the case, because he’s not that type of person – the punishment is disproportionate. And we cannot rule out that something like this will happen when he is released next time.”

In a recent statement, Memorial described the continued detention of Kostenko as “obviously politically motivated.”

“For all intents and purposes, [the state] is continuing to persecute Kostenko for his involvement in protest actions,” it said.

Tseitlina would not give the expected date of Kostenko’s release, but said that he would see in the New Year in custody.

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Petersburg Activist Filipp Kostenko Sentenced to Another 15 Days in Jail

memorial.spb.ru

The Persecution Continues: Filipp Kostenko Sentenced to Another 15 Days in Jail

December 22, 2011

On December 22, Judge E.K. Yermolina of the 153rd Judicial Precinct [in Saint Petersburg] sentenced Filipp Kostenko, an activist and employee of the human rights organization Memorial Anti-Discrimination Center, to another fifteen days of administrative arrest. For his involvement in mass protests against the rigged elections, Kostenko had already served fifteen days in jail, but in violation of procedure he was not released [as scheduled, on December 21].

As we have previously reported, the decision for Kostenko’s compulsory delivery to court was sent to the administration of the detention facility [where he was serving his first sentence] a few minutes before his anticipated release. This decision was made due to the fact that Kostenko had failed to appear in court [on December 9], although at that time he was serving fifteen days of administrative arrest.

This time, the activist was charged under Article 20.1.1 (petty disorder) for allegedly using foul language two months ago, on October 16, outside the 43rd Police Precinct. According to witnesses, on this day Philip had brought food parcels for detainees [at the precinct]. He was arrested and taken into the precinct building, although he had not disturbed the peace. There are a number of witnesses who can confirm this, and a video of his arrest also exists.

The court hearing lasted four hours, including recesses. An officer from the Extremism Prevention Center [Center “E”] was in attendance as a “spectator” the entire time, and from the very outset there was the sense that the most adverse ruling was a preordained outcome. For no reason at all, the judge rejected all motions made on behalf of the defendant, including motions to give the defense adequate time to prepare its case and to call witnesses. The judge granted only one motion by the defense: to admit V.V. Kostyushev, a professor at the Petersburg branch of the Higher School for Economics, as a public defender.

Because, in the court’s opinion, there were no grounds for “not trusting the reports filed by police officers that Filipp Kostenko had disturbed the peace by expressing a clear disrespect for society, which was accompanied by swearing in a public place,” the judge also rejected a motion to summon the [arresting] officers to verify their testimony and cross-examine them. In contrast to the reports filed by the police officers, the oral testimony of defense witnesses, who personally appeared in court, was not acknowledged as credible by the judge.

Despite numerous procedural violations, the lack of any real evidence (except for the evidence of the police reports, which Judge Yermolina found “compelling”), and an energetic defense, it was obvious to all present that the judge would give Kostenko the maximum possible sentence. The judge was not even troubled by the presence in the courtroom of numerous spectators and journalists (who, incidentally, were strictly forbidden from photographing anything or even making audio recordings).

Consequently, Judge Yermolina sentenced Kostenko to another fifteen days of arrest, and he has again been delivered to the detention facility at Zakharievskaya, 6. In the coming days, his attorney will file an appeal against this decision, as well as filing a new complaint with the European Court of Human Rights in connection with this new, illegal arrest (a violation of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights) [see below].

After this latest court decision was announced, Kostenko ended his sixteen-day hunger strike because all those detained during the post-election demonstrations in Saint Petersburg had been released, with the exception of Kostenko himself.

In the absence of an independent and impartial judiciary, the continued detention of Filipp Kostenko is obviously politically motivated. For all intents and purposes, [the state] is continuing to persecute Kostenko for his involvement in protest actions.

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Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights reads as follows:

1.In the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law. Judgement shall be pronounced publicly but the press and public may be excluded from all or part of the trial in the interest of morals, public order or national security in a democratic society, where the interests of juveniles or the protection of the private life of the parties so require, or the extent strictly necessary in the opinion of the court in special circumstances where publicity would prejudice the interests of justice.

2.Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.

3.Everyone charged with a criminal offence has the following minimum rights:

(a) to be informed promptly, in a language which he understands and in detail, of the nature and cause of the accusation against him;

(b) to have adequate time and the facilities for the preparation of his defence;

(c) to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing or, if he has not sufficient means to pay for legal assistance, to be given it free when the interests of justice so require;

(d) to examine or have examined witnesses against him and to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on his behalf under the same conditions as witnesses against him;

(e) to have the free assistance of an interpreter if he cannot understand or speak the language used in court.

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From a report on the hearing published on Free Voina:

Oleg Vorotnikov comments:

[Filipp] is one of the rare few who never use profane language at all.

Leonid Nikolaev, who also attended the hearing, reports:

The judge was biased. It was obvious from the beginning. Everyone was shocked by the incredibly rude manner in which she conducted the hearing. At one point, a defense attorney pleaded that [Filipp] was unable to participate in the hearing due to poor health (because of his 15-day hunger strike). In response, the judge inquired whether it was the jail personnel who starved him, or if he did it on his own accord. This is a gross violation of the procedure. The judge is only supposed to take into account the defendant’s present condition, not the reasons that caused it. [Filipp] was definitely unfit to participate in court proceedings. He was weak, did not ask questions nor make motions to the court, and when giving his testimony, he could barely stand.

The last witness of the defense was this pleasant, very civilized fellow. He somehow managed to induce rage in the judge even before he had a chance to open his mouth. She was incredibly pushy with him, especially because whenever she demanded something from him, he replied with “all right”. For some reason, she chose to interpret that as though he was making a judgement on whether her demands were right or wrong. The poor fellow almost got thrown out of the courtroom because of this.

I kept looking for a way for [Filipp] to escape. At one point the guards got distracted, so I suggested that he go downstairs, hop on my bike and get out of there. Turned out he was too weak for that. Damn hunger strike.

When the judge left the room after announcing her decision, the public started expressing its outrage out loud. Suddenly the judge barged back in and commanded the court guards to “write them up”. The guards grabbed a frail girl, activist of the Parents of St. Petersburg movement, and took her away. They are writing her up right now, and chances are she will be in jail with [Filipp] before the end of the day.

The arrested girl is Leda Garina, a film director and a friend of [Filipp]. She is reported to have been released after being fined 1000 RUB (30 USD).

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Petersburg “Law Enforcement” Continue to Persecute Activist Filipp Kostenko

Filipp Kostenko on the tenth day of his hunger strike

memorial.spb.ru

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

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www.avaaz.org/en/russias_corruption

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.

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Russia, The Land of Opportunity: A Migrant Labor Board Game

Russia, The Land of Opportunity board game is a means of talking about the possible ways that the destinies of the millions of immigrants who come annually to the Russian Federation from the former Soviet Central Asian republics to earn money play out.

Our goal is to give players the chance to live in the shoes of a foreign worker, to feel all the risks and opportunities, to understand the play between luck and personal responsibility, and thus answer the accusatory questions often addressed to immigrants – for example, “Why do they work illegally? Why do they agree to such conditions?”

On the other hand, only by describing the labyrinth of rules, deceptions, bureaucratic obstacles and traps that constitute labor migration in today’s Russia can we get an overall picture of how one can operate within this scheme and what in it needs to be changed. We would like most of all for this game to serve as a historical document.

Olga Zhitlina

You can download a .pdf file of the game here: Russia, Land of Opportunity Board Game

Russia, The Land of Opportunity: A Migrant Labor Board Game

The game is designed for adults and children of secondary school age.

From 2 to 6 players

The characters, situations, and monetary amounts (fines, payments, bribes, etc.) are not fictional. Any resemblance to actual events is not coincidental. Each year, thousands of people are victimized by the system outlined here.

Rules

To play you need dice, counters, paper and pens.

The dice should have two sets of numbers from 1 to 3. If you have regular dice numbered 1 to 6, and you roll a 4, 5 or 6, subtract three from the number you have rolled.

Instead of counters, you can use any small object – coins, SIM cards or buttons.

Have paper and a pen handy to write down your income and expenses.

Spaces and Moving around the Board

Each space represents one move.

The diamond-shaped spaces are required. You must pass through them in the direction indicated by the arrows.

The square- and rectangular-shaped spaces are playable. You move around the board by throwing a die: the number you roll determines the number of spaces you move forward. If the number you roll is greater than the number of playable spaces in front of you, you must go to the next required (diamond-shaped) space.

If there is a dice symbol in front of the space where you are located, roll a die and move along the arrow marked with the number that the corresponds to the number you have rolled.

If there is a circle symbol in front of you, you must yourself choose one of the spaces indicated by the arrows.

If you land on a space marked Police:

  • and you have a valid work permit, speak Russian, and know your rights, you are released and free to make your next move;
  • and you have a valid work permit, but you do not speak Russian, then you must skip one turn and pay 1,000 rubles;
  • and you have an invalid work permit, you skip one turn and pay 3,000 rubles;
  • and you have a fake entry/exit stamp in your passport, you must go to the space marked Prison.

If you land on a space marked FMS (Federal Migration Service) Raid:

  • and you have a valid work permit and speak Russian, you skip one turn;
  • and you have a valid work permit, but do not speak Russian, you skip one turn and pay 5,000 rubles;
  • and you have a fake work permit, you skip one turn and pay 5,000 rubles;
  • and you have a fake entry/exit stamp in your passport, you go to the space marked Prison.

Actors, Agencies, and Documents

Migration Card. A document confirming that the migrant (or foreigner traveler) has crossed the Russian Federation border. It is filled in, for example, on board an airplane or at an airport upon arrival. It is valid until the newly arrived migrant goes through the registration procedure.

Registration (notification of arrival). Migrants must register at their place of residence in the Russian Federation. Registration is valid for ninety days.

Work Permit. A document confirming that a migrant has the right to work for a specific legal entity in a particular job as stipulated by the foreign labor recruitment quota. By law, work permits can be issued only by the Federal Migration Service. A yearlong work permit entitles the migrant to obtain a residence permit for the entire period (and thus not have to exit and re-enter the country every ninety days).

Private Employment Agencies. The “services” provided by such agencies are widely advertised, for example, in the Tajik media. These agencies promise to provide migrants with all necessary documents and find them work in Russia. They are renowned for engaging in fraud, cheating migrants, and exposing them to the risk of ending up as virtual slaves or being overworked.

Foremen. (In Russian, “brigadiers.”) The foreman is the leader of a group of migrant workers. He or she is someone who has already been to Russia, or a friend or relative. The foreman handles the processing of documents, and finds and organizes work and housing for the migrants, for which services he or she takes a cut from the total income earned by the “brigade.”

Middlemen.  In Petersburg, there are a numerous semi-legal intermediary firms that offer migrant workers such services as processing of work permits and residence permits, and assistance in passing medical board exams. In reality, they often issue fake documents or simply take money for their services without providing any documents at all. While migrants wait for these documents, the residence registration period usually expires and they find themselves living in Russia illegally. However, sometimes these firms do arrange for legal work permits, which indicates that these firms have unofficial connections with the Federal Migration Service, the only government agency authorized to issue such documents. Ninety percent of migrants make use of the services of such intermediaries.

Outsourcing (Outstaffing) Companies. These are employment brokerage firms engaged in the hiring of foreign workers for lease to large companies (retail chains stores, petrol stations, etc.). Formally, these firms are the migrant worker’s legal employer and they pay him or her a wage from the commissions received from the real employer. As a result, the legal relationship between employer and employee is violated. This scheme allows large companies to evade taxes, save on social benefit payments, and exploit migrant workers by introducing a long working day (up to sixteen hours a day) with no sick leave and holidays, and a system of illegal fines (for imaginary “disciplinary” violations). Outsourcing companies dispose of the wages of thousands of people as they wish. It is typical for them to pay employees not every thirty days, but every forty-five days. The amount of back wages they owe to workers constantly grows, and it is not paid out when workers are dismissed.

Diasporas.  Fraternal associations of people from the same region, country or ethnic group. Diaspora leaders may offer mediation services for a fee.

Human Rights Groups. These organizations offer pro bono legal assistance to migrants and monitor the human rights situation in general.

Migrant Detention Centers. Special facilities for persons subject to expulsion or deportation from the Russian Federation due to loss of identity documents. Migrants can be held in such facilities for up to a year.

“Legal Services.” A form of corruption practiced by Interior Ministry (police) and Federal Migration Service officials on migrants awaiting expulsion or deportation. For a certain “fee” (that is, a bribe ranging from 30,000 to 70,000 rubles), corrupt officials offer to simply release the migrants or the chance to “appeal” the decision to expel them.

Russia, The Land of Opportunity board game was designed by:
Andrei Yakimov (human rights consultant, concept development)
Olga Zhitlina (idea, concept development)
Alexander Lyakh, Galina Zhitlina (board game design)
David Ter-Oganyan (drawings)
Tatyana Alexandrova, Nadezhda Voskresenskaya (graphic design)

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Olga Zhitlina and Andrei Yakimov (Memorial Anti-Discrimination Center, Saint Petersburg) will present Russia, The Land of Opportunity, discuss the realities behind the game, and play with all comers at Cafe-Club Artek (Mokhovaya ul., 27/29) in Petersburg tonight at 8:00 p.m. The evening will also include a screening of two videos by the Factory of Found Clothes (Natalya Pershina-Yakimanskaya aka Gluklya and Olga Egorova aka Tsaplya), Utopian Unemployment Union No. 1 and Utopian Unemployment Union No. 3, both of which involve contemporary dancers and migrant workers.

The evening is part of the series of actions around the world coordinated by Immigrant Movement International, Queens Museum of Art, and Creative Time in New York to mark December 18, International Migrants Day.

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Free Filipp Kostenko!

Filipp Kostenko

memorial.spb.ru

December 9, 2011

On December 6, 2011, Filipp Kostenko, a social activist and an employee of the Memorial Anti-Discrimination Center, was arrested during the ongoing mass protests in Saint Petersburg. Currently in custody in the pre-trial detention facility at Zakharievskaya, 6, Kostenko has gone on hunger strike to protest his sentence.

Earlier, on November 25, Kostenko was arrested during a one-person picket at the Consulate of the Republic of Belarus to demand the release of the Belarusian human rights activist Ales Belyatsky and other political prisoners in Belarus. Although  he observed all the legal requirements for such a picket, he was then likewise charged with disobeying police. The case, however, never came to trial, because there was no evidence of any wrongdoing.

On December 7, Judge Kuznetsov of the 203rd Judicial Precinct gave Kostenko the maximum possible sentence – fifteen days of administrative arrest, which by law should be applied only in “exceptional cases.” As stated in the court’s decision, Kostenko was convicted of disobeying police, namely, for refusing “to obey an order to cease participating in a demonstration.” Sentencing Kostenko to the maximum term of the harshest possible punishment [in this case] is clearly disproportionate [to his alleged crime]. It is obviously a repressive measure aimed at preventing the activist and civil rights advocate from exercising his right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

It is unreasonable to detain people who peacefully protest violations during elections. The Memorial Anti-Discrimination Center deems it unacceptable and contrary to international norms to prosecute anyone exercising their right to peaceful assembly. The unhindered exercise of this right is particularly important in tandem with the right to free elections in a democratic society: it is a condition for guaranteeing free expression and an effective tool for protecting the right of citizens to free elections in the event of violations of this right. As Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg has noted in light of the current situation, “Freedom of assembly is extremely important, especially after an election, and this right is protected under the European Convention on Human Rights. Arresting people and sentencing them to prison only because they took part in demonstrations contravenes the European Convention. “

In its December 5 statement, Amnesty International likewise recognized all those people arrested and sentenced during the current peaceful protests as prisoners of conscience and demanded their immediate release. (“They are prisoners of conscience and they must be released immediately.”)

In addition to the unreasonable and disproportionate punishment for what was essentially a peaceful action, the Memorial Anti-Discrimination Center also expresses grave concern about conditions in the detention facility at Zakharievskaya, 6. Earlier, in a case that the Memorial Anti-Discrimination Center brought before the European Court of Human Rights, the conditions of detention at this facility were recognized by the court as inhumane and in violation of international norms.

Filipp Kostenko has gone on hunger strike to protest what he considers an unjust sentence and demand the release of all those arrested during the current peaceful demonstrations. One other detainee, Viktor Demyanenko, sentenced to ten days’ administrative arrest on a similar charge, has joined the hunger strike.

Memorial Anti-Discrimination Center demands that the authorities cease persecuting people for the peaceful exercise of their rights, respect international standards guaranteeing the right to freedom of assembly and fair elections, and free wrongfully detained and convicted persons, including social activist and civil rights advocate Filipp Kostenko.

Photo courtesy of Free Voina.

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