The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in the Russian Federation.


Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources, including the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society (RCFS), of the arbitrary arrest and administrative detention of Messrs. Victor Chirikov, activist of the movement “Solidarity”, Aleander Onufrienko and Ms. Valery Semergei, members of the Gelendzhik Human Rights Center, all supporters of the Campaign for the Defence of the Khimki Forest, in the Moscow region1.

According to the information received, on August 27, 2011, at around 5:00 pm, Messrs. Victor Chirikov, Aleander Onufrienko and Ms. Valery Semergei were stopped by the police while they were walking along the Bzhid river during a demonstration held near the summer residence of the Governor of the Krasnodar region, in the framework of actions carried out in different parts of the country in support of the Campaign to Defend Khimki Forest, organised by environmental organisations, including the NGO Ecological Watch in the North Caucasus. While they had been approached and were discussing with the police, a person dressed in civil clothes approached Mr. Chirikov and hit him in the face. When Mr. Chirikov asked the police officers to stop him, he found out that the police officers were subordinated to the person that hit him. The three defenders were subsequently arrested and brought to the Dzhubga police office where they were placed in detention.

During the night of August 28, 2011, they were brought before a court. The hearing took place in closed session and ended at 11:00 pm. Mr. Victor Chirikov was sentenced to 15 days of administrative detention – the maximal punishment in Russia for administrative offence – on the charge of “disobedience to the licit requests of the police officers”. Mr. Aleander Onufrienko and Ms. Valery Semergei were sentenced to five days of administrative detention on the same charge. Mr. Victor Chirikov lodged an appeal.

On August 30, 2011, the Tuapse District Court upheld the sentence against Mr. Viktor Chirikov after he filed a complaint on his arrest and administrative detention. As of issuing this urgent appeal, all three defenders are still detained in a cell of the Department of Interior Affairs in the Tuapse region. Mr. Aleander Onufrienko and Ms. Valery Semergei are expected to be released soon.

The Observatory strongly condemns the above-mentioned acts of harassment against Messrs. Victor Chirikov, Aleander Onufrienko and Ms. Valery Semergei, as they seem to only aim at sanctioning their human rights activities in favour of a sound and healthy environment, and all the more as supporters of the Campaign for the Defence of the Khimki Forest have already been subjected to similar acts of intimidation in the past.


Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Russian Federation, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Messrs. Victor Chirikov, Aleander Onufrienko and Ms. Valery Semergei, as well as all the activists defending the Khimki forest and all human rights defenders in the Russian Federation;

ii. Order a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into the circumstances of the above- mentioned attacks in order to identify those responsible, bring them to trial and apply the penal and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law;

iii. Put an end to any act of harassment - including at the judicial level - against them as well as against all human rights defenders in the Russian Federation, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities;

iv.Comply with the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, especially:

- its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,

- and Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

v. Comply with the provisions of the Declaration of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on the protection of human rights defenders and the promotion of their activities, and in particular With Article 2.i), in which the Committee calls on member States to “create an environment conducive to the work of human rights defenders, enabling individuals, groups and associations to freely carry out activities, on a legal basis, consistent with international standards, to promote and strive for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms without any restrictions other than those authorised by the European Convention on Human Rights;

vi. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by the Russian Federation.


Mr. Dmitri Medvedev, President of the Russian Federation, Ilinka Str, 23, Moscow, 103132, Moscow, Russian Federation, Fax:+ 7 495 606 5173 / 630 2408.

Minister of Internal Affairs, Mr. Rashid Nurgaliev, ul. Zhitnaya, 16, 117049 Moscow, Russian Federation, Telegram: Rossiia, 117049, Moskva, Fax: + 7 495 637 49 25 Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Sergey Lavrov, Smolenskaya-Sennaya pl, 32/34,

121200 Moscow, Russian Federation, Telegram: Fax:+ 7 495 644 2203 Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations in Geneva Av. de la Paix 15, CH-1211, Geneva 20, Switzerland, e-mail :, Fax: +4122 734 40 44 Embassy of the Russian Federation in Brussels, 31-33 boulevard du Régent, 1000

Brussels, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 513 76 49.

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of the Russian Federation in your respective country.

*** Geneva-Paris, September 1, 2011

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

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