Wednesday, November 02, 2005

RCFS Under Threat

The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights notes that the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society (RCFS) is under severe risk of being destroyed by Russian authorities. Its Director Stas Dimitrievsky faces a prison term. In its statement, the Federation includes a reminder that
In March and April 2004, the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society (RCFS), together with the Nizhny Novgorod Society for Human Rights (NNSHR) (re-)published two articles on the Chechen conflict, Aslan Maskhadov’s open letter to the European Parliament and Akhmed Zakaev’s appeal to the people of Russia. Both articles advocated a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

In January 2005, in the aftermath of the Beslan tragedy, the authorities initiated criminal and administrative procedures against the RCFS, carried out by the prosecutor’s bodies, the Ministry of Interior, the tax inspection and the Ministry of Justice. These measures were clearly politically motivated and aimed at destroying the RCFS, one of the few independent and critical voices in Russia vis-√†-vis the policy of the Government in the North Caucasus.

The main target of the campaign of the Russian authorities is once again the freedom of speech, particularly on topics like Chechnya. It shall serve as a warning against all NGOs that they too could be persecuted any time, if they act in a way not liked by the Kremlin, for example by accepting foreign money for what the Kremlin regards as “political activities”. Russian President Vladimir Putin has again warned this summer that this is not tolerable for him.
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