Stop financing of Moscow – St. Petersburg (section 15 – 58 km) toll motorway construction!
Thomas Mirow, President EBRD
Eric Rasmussen, Director, Corporate Sector/Head of Office
Sue Barrett, Director of Transport Team
One Exchange Square
London EC2A 2JN
Switchboard: +44 20 7338 6000
Central fax: +44 20 7338 6100
Dear ladies and gentlemen,
It is known to us that your company (bank) plans to take part in financing of Moscow – St. Petersburg (section 15 – 58 km) toll motorway construction in Russia. From the name of our organization we request you very seriously to abandon your participation in this project, because it threatens to your bank both financial and reputation losses.
As a result of Moscow – St. Pete motorway construction Khimki forest should be destroyed, which is a valuable nature territory near Moscow with unique oak groves, a source, sphagnum bogs and wild animals.
This project violates Russian legislation, because the road can go another way without making harm to the wood. Under present project the road specially goes by a circuitous way towards Khimki forest, deviating from its direct way, because the aim is to use in the future the forest land for commercial building.
Already for three years Russian civil society is waging struggle for Khimki forest preservation, which is involving serious dangers and scandals. Journalist Mikhail Beketov, who has published in his newspaper inquiries of corruption and articles in defense of Khimki forest, has become a victim of an attack in November 2008 and is disabled for the rest of his life. Other activists have received numerous threats.
Since August 2009 the suit on unlawfulness of Moscow – St. Pete motorway project is under trial in European Human Rights Court. In February 2010 the Constitutional Court of Russian Federation ruled out that European Human Rights Court’s verdicts are now obligatory for execution in Russia. If EHRC finds road construction through forest unlawful, it can lead to stoppage of already begun building.
Besides, the precedent with Khimki forest is very important for Russia’s natural resources preservation. Today Russian forests are destroyed with disastrous speed. Your refusal to finance environmentally dangerous and corruption friendly project will be a signal to all other investors of Russian projects and will contribute to inculcation of modern, environmentally clean technologies in Russia. Russia is the largest country in the world, rich in forests and fresh water resources, it plays a substantial role in environmental balance of the whole planet. So it’s very important to stop destruction of nature in Russia.
On March 1 representatives of the public brought in the action to the Supreme Court of Russia requesting to recognize unlawful Russian Government’s ordinance 1642-r on transfer of Khimki forest lands to transport lands. This trial showed visually the impossibility for citizens to defend their lawful rights in Russian court. The court didn’t take into consideration the fact of federal legislation breach. The Russian Government has transferred Khimki forest lands in contradiction to Federal Law # 172, according to which use of forest-park lands for capital construction is forbidden, if there are alternative ways to place the object of construction. The plaintiffs showed the court official documents with description of alternative routes for the road, but the court displayed total lack of will to defend the law and didn’t take the documents into consideration. Facts of documents’ forging and strange story of dual legal status of Khimki forest-park in official documents also didn’t attract the court’s attention.
So a precedent emerges of not only breach of citizens’ right for favorable environment, but also of ostentatious ignoring of public opinion, which hinders formation of civil society in Russia.
We attract your attention to the fact that Moscow – St. Pete motorway project is illegal and environmentally dangerous and needs revision with public’s and experts’ participation. It’s harmful to finance the project in its present form.
We ask you to inform us about your decision.
of the All- Russia Public Movement “For Human Rights”
Declarations and appeals to international organizations
Human rights defenders approach the Council of Europe over the beating up of demonstrators in St Petersburg on 3 March
Human rights defenders have sent a letter to Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammerberg asking that the Council of Europe look into the flagrant violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms during the events in St Petersburg on 3 March 2007. These violations particularly concerned freedom of peaceful assembly and security of person guaranteed by the for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
Given the need to respond swiftly by approaching international institutions, signatures have not been gathered although we are convinced that such a petition would receive wide support.
To the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner
Dear Mr Hammerberg,
We are writing to you in connection with grave violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms during the events in St Petersburg on 3 March 2007. These violations particularly concern freedom of peaceful assembly and security of person guaranteed by the European Convention.
In accordance with current legislation, a group of members of the public, including a deputy of the Legislative Assembly of the city, notified the St Petersburg authorities of their plan to hold a demonstration a nd procession on 3 March, called the “March of those in disagreement [Marsh niesoglasnykh].
A previous march analogous to this had been announced in Moscow in December 2006, however the city authorities there, in violation of Russian legislation, prohibited the demonstration, surrounding Triumph Square with military troops and cars, and physically preventing the demonstrators from moving onto central (Tverskaya) Street. The court hearing into the appeal against the ban on the demonstration was scheduled with a delay of three months.
The authorities were planning to act in the same fashion in St Petersburg. The organisers of the march had notified the authorities in advance that on Saturday 3 March at 12.00, their supporters would be moving along Suvorovsky Avenue to Proletarian Dictatorship Square where the Governor’s residence Is located and would be holding a rally there. The procession and rally were to be of a totally peaceful nature and were aimed at publicly expressing dissatisfaction with the policy being followed by the City Administration, as well as with the policies of the federal authorities.
In contravention of Russian legislation, this demonstration was prohibited by the city authorities and the form of the protest action was changed from a demonstration to a rally, and also moved to a railway station square far removed from the centre.
At the same time the mass media controlled by the authorities circulated false and defamatory information about the planned procession and rally. Loudspeakers were used in the metro telling passengers that a nationalist “Russian march” was being planned. The Governor Valentina Matviyenko publicly stated that the demonstration had been banned. She called the organizers rabble rousers and threatened to apply police measures against participants in the banned demonstration.
Riot police [OMON] units were brought into St Petersburg from several neighbouring regions. It was specifically these units which acted with particular brutality during the events which followed. Both in the city and in other regions, law enforcement officers threatened potential participants in the demonstration, demanding that they sign documents agreeing not to take part.
On 3 March hundreds of people began gathering in the place originally announced – outside the Concert Hall “Oktyabrsky” which had been cordoned off since early morning by hundreds of OMON officers. Several dozen people were detained already at the approaches to the gathering place. Ways onto Suvorovsky Avenue were blocked, and as a result the demonstrators made their way along Nevsky Prospect where they were constantly subjected to attacks, beating and detention by the police and OMON officers. Dozens of people were detained and beaten up, including Deputy from the St Petersburg Legislative Assembly from the “Yabloko” Party Sergei Gulyaev who has deputy immunity.
During the brutal detentions and beating, participants in the demonstration, many of whom are not young, needed medical aid, yet the police actively obstructed attempts to provide such assistance.
We are convinced that such actions by the St Petersburg City Administration and the law enforcement agencies are in flagrant violation of the Russian Federation’s commitments to ensure civil rights. Experience of persecution of those taking part in entirely legal events – the conference “Other Russia” (Moscow, July 2006), the Second Russian Social Forum (St Petersburg, July 2006), the “March of Dissenters” (Moscow, December 2006) – has shown that the Russian Prosecutor and courts are not capable of defending the legitimate rights of participants in public actions who have suffered as the result of gatherings being forcibly dispersed and of being detained.
We are therefore compelled to ask you to raise the issue of this grave violation of human rights in St Petersburg on 3 March 2007 at the Council of Europe. We would ask that you investigate the s ituation and present the Council of Europe with detailed information about the violations of the law and human rights by the St Petersburg City Administration and the law enforcement agencies in unlawfully dispersing a rally and procession of members of the public warned about in accordance with the law. We would stress that we are only speaking of the events which have received the greatest coverage however there have been dozens of similar actions in dispersing or prohibiting demonstrations, albeit on a smaller scale, over recent years.
We would also ask you to raise with the Council of Europe the systematic nature of violations of the right to freedom of assembly and gatherings in the Russian Federations and the police action used against the opposition. We call upon the Council to appoint a PACE special rapporteur to look into this issue.
Ludmila Alexeeva, Head of the Moscow Helsinki Group
Lev Ponomaryov, Executive Director of the All-Russia movement “For Human Rights”
Emma Polyakova, Co-Chair of the human rights organization “Soldiers’ Mothers of St Peterburg”
Boris Pustyshev and Yuriy Vdovin, St Petersburg human rights organization “Civic Control”
Alexsaner Vinnikov, movement “Russia without Rasism”
Ernst Chernyi, “Ecology & Human Rights”
Rev. Gleb Yakunin, Public Committee for the Protection of Freedom of Conscience
To the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council,
to the Governments of the countries of the European Union,
to the European Parliament,
to the European Commission,
to Secretary General of the Council of the European Union
Dear Mesdames and Sirs,
We, representatives of Russian human rights organizations, consider it necessary to address to you in connection with actions of two representatives of authority invested by huge power in Republic Bashkortostan - the subject of the Russian Federation. We speak about the President of Republic Bashkortostan Mister Murtaza Rakhimov and Minister of Internal Affairs of Republic Bashkortostan the general - lieutenant of militia Rafail Divaev.
We are convinced that they should be forbidden the countries of the European Union in view of their share of the responsibility for rough and mass infringements of human rights on the territory to which their imperious competence is distributed, namely - Republic Bashkortostan (Bashkiria) as part of the Russian Federation. Our appeal is based on the precedent created in connection with the interdiction to distribute entry visas to high-ranking officials from Byelorussia.
We call to address to authorities of the Russian Federation with the request to pay immediate attention to situation in Bashkiria and to allow the international bodies to take part in the control of the trial course of the circumstances as all other ways of restoration of validity and the law, applied inside Russia, have shown small efficiency.
There exist numerous certificates how actions or, on the contrary, default of direct official duties on the part of the President of Republic Bashkortostan of mister Murtaza Rakhimov and of Minister of Internal Affairs in the Government of Republic Bashkortostan, the general - lieutenant of militia Rafail Divaev influenced on infringements of fundamental civil rights and freedom of the population of Bashkiria.
We are convinced that the deviation from principles of democracy and the right taking place in Bashkiria stand out even on the common background of the extremely adverse situation in these areas of the Russian Federation as a whole and is a scandalous call to those noble principles which are proclaimed by the European Union and to those obligations which have undertaken the countries - participants.
We pay your attention only to some events. Other facts and texts of documents are given in the applied book “At the breaking point”.
First of all, the question is about criminal encroachments upon rights of c itizens on the part of employees of militia of Bashkiria, subordinated to minister Divaev.
Basically these actions are connected to excess of official powers, illegal activity, and also corruption. We believe that it is the natural result of the atmosphere of permissiveness and absence of control on the part of the heads of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Republic Bashkortostan.
During the last years the set of checks of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Bashkiria has been carried out under letters and applications of citizens, on inquiries of deputies of all levels. The checks were carried out as by forces of the Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Procuracy General of Russia so by forces of the non governmental public organizations. As the result of work of the commissions many facts about which people wrote in their applications have found confirmation, besides, new numerous infringements of rights and freedom of citizens, the facts of corruption in activity of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Bashkiria have been revealed.
It is necessary to ascertain that today many inhabitants of the republic are refused in the right to demand careful and objective investigation of cases of the encroachment on their rights, freedom and property. The growing stream of complaints and applications of citizens in federal bodies is caused by impossible settlement of questions illustrated in them at the local level. For last ten years a system of total ignoring of citizens’ applications has been created in the republic. Thus no critical attitude of the government bodies of Republic Bashkortostan to the problem of observance of human rights is seen in activity of the militia, as the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the republic is the top part in the vicious system of impunity.
The information that there are wild medieval violation of peoples’ dignity in the system of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Bashkiria, all the same has become common property and appeared in press.
In 2003 some Bashkirian human rights organizations started to carry out wide monitoring and their own investigations. The practice of the last years has shown that infringements of constitutional laws and freedom of a person in Republic Bashkortostan have a system character and steady dynamics of quantitative growth.
Here is one of characteristic examples. Late at night of June, 15, 2000, a driver of a dump-body truck Rafael Yunusov was taken from home by an employee of Beloretsky police station, the senior lieutenant Buranov to find out circumstances, ostensibly, connected to his work. For four days Rafael was beaten with sticks and legs by several militiamen under Azat Buranov, they tried to get Yunusov to plead guilty of another's crime. In four days, the Assistant of the Procurator released the arrested person, seeing the absurdity of accusations. On June, 20 2000, Yunusov was at once examined and put in hospital where he had stayed for 24 days with the diagnosis of brain concussion and a sharp craniocerebral trauma. On the day of hospitalization he wrote the application to the Procuracy of the town of Beloretsk where he told what had happened to him in militia torture chambers. A criminal case No.3903695 under the Art. 286 of the CC of the Russian Federation was brought on the fact of beating, its investigation had been repeatedly stopped. The militiaman Buranov threatened with punishment, openly promised in the presence of witnesses, “I shall kill him all the same. I shall take him out in a forest and mutilate him there so, that you will not identify him”. On September, 30, 2000, Yunusov’s tormented body was found on the suburb of the town of Beloretsk. With all this going on Rafael Yunusov’a death has not been investigated yet, though the criminal case on the fact of his beating reached court and the captain Buranov received a suspended sentence of five years.
Here are some more examples.
On August, 7, 2001, militia employees of Tuymazinsky police station Kamaletdin ov and Karimov in their study No.18, together with three employees of militia not established by the investigation used violence with application of special means against the citizen Shaymukhametov and severely beat him.
On March, 5, 2002, a young girl Svetlana Karamova, carrying a title “’Ms. of the town of Sterlitamak”, was brutally killed. The death found her on the way home. The girl was outraged, long beaten before her death and then she was drowned. The parents of the victim have been insisting on carrying an investigation for several years, but criminals have not been established and have not carried punishment up to now yet.
During the last years Svetlana’s parents addressed to various departments with the requirement to carry out a careful investigation and to make criminals answerable according to the law. But the parents began to get warnings, if they do not stop, there will follow physical violence.
On May, 29, 2002, the body of a fifteen-year-old schoolgirl Elena Aleksandrova, hung up on a tree was found in a coppice not far from the settlement Iglino. The criminal case was brought only after three months after the girl’s death. Iglinskaya District Procuracy carried out the investigation of the case. The Procurator engaging in disclosing of the crime was dismissed. Soon the criminal case was stopped. It was connected with suspicions of the Iglinsky Regional administration head Ishakov’s son’s participation in villainy. The victim’s parents have not been able to get renewal of the investigation.
On November, 4, 2002, employees of Ishimbayskaya police station took away from the yard of Dmitry Ovchinnikov’s house. The material about his tort was fabricated. Ovchinnikov (he used to be a healthy, strong guy) was brought home dead from the police station after 5 days. The diagnosis was heart deficiency. A Sergey Minchenko was engaged in Ovchinnikov’s interrogation.
On June, 13, 2003, in the apartment No.70 of the Dom 130 on the street Mira of the town of Birsk, there was killed Natalia Selina, a militiaman, senior lieutenant Valery Selin’s wife. Under pressure of the heads of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Bashkiria this murder was recognized committed on domestic ground, and then qualified as a suicide. The position of the Procuracy causes some questions. Selina’s parents and human rights advocates repeatedly addressed to various instances, and twice were at the minister Rafail Divaev’s reception, they repeatedly were in the Office of the Procuracy of Bashkiria on the fact of Natalia’s murder, however, no answer was received. The investigation insists under the pressure of the heads of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Bashkiria that suicide was accomplished as a result of negligent storage of a fowling piece contrary to actual circumstances of an affair.
September, 5, 2003. The chief of the department 6 of the police station Galimov, being on leave, invited a young guy Alexander Mel'nikov, ostensibly for conversation in Ishimbaysky police station. Mel’nikov was a witness in a criminal case. Militiamen Abdrashitov and Fakhretdinov used violence. They chained Alexander in handcuffs, and took away his personal things. The chief of the criminal investigation department Lutfullin withdrew Mel’nikov in his study where he began to demand changing evidence given before as the witness in the criminal case. During the interrogation Lutfullin got his pistol, began to threaten with it and then he fired a shot at the bottom part of Mel’nikov’s face and then, with the purpose to hide a crime, he fired a control shot at the occipital area of Mel’nikov’s head. The murderer was sentenced to 9 years of imprisonment. But other accomplices of this given crime have not carried any punishment.
In half a year, on February, 24, 2004, in the very Ishimbaysky police station, the employee of criminal investigation department Sharafutdinov brutally beat citizens Gimranov and G aliev in his study, forcing to evidence. He used people chained in handcuffs as a live punching bag and stroke blows in boxing gloves. The sadist must have pursued two purposes: to beat out the necessary evidence and not to leave traces of violence. However, he did not estimate the force of the blows, the father of five children Gimranov died of the received traumas in two days.
In September, 2003 employees of militia of Oktyabrsky police station of the town of Ufa Timargaliev, Mamleev and Ionov were getting citizens Lebedev’s and Khayrullin’s evidence in the study. The detained citizens were being severely beaten to give evidence necessary to the investigation. But it seemed not enough, the detained people were given a serious argument against which it was difficult to object, they were tied, and were given no opportunity to breathe, and Lebedev and Khayruillin were tortured with electric current to make them even more talkative.
The so-called special action of the riot squad in Blagoveshchensk on December, 10-14, 2006 became a completely outstanding fact even on the common background of lawlessness. There was “a punishment” of the whole town, event inconceivable even to present, not democratic, Russian measures. The beating of the town was and it is already the fact which took place in Europe of the XXI century.
This large-scale action of intimidation was carried out under the personal order of the Minister of Internal Affairs of Republic Bashkortostan, general Divaev and under the control of his assistant Smirnov in Blagoveshchensk (it is on the territory of Bashkiria, but overwhelming majority of its population are ethnic Russians), the rights and freedom of hundreds citizens were broken and violated during it.
Carrying out the minister’s order, by different estimations about 1000 citizens were illegally delivered in a local police station and in a so-called filtrational point. Result of these criminal acts of employees of militia of Bashkiria is hundreds of people were beaten and humiliated. The Procuracy has officially recognized as victims only 341 people. Victims were pressured upon in different forms to compel them to change their evidence.
We see special danger in corruption, it being the phenomenon extremely dangerous for legal order and the civil society.
The general Divaev addressed to the Chairman of the Government of Republic Bashkortostan Baydavletov with the petition to render assistance and support to the fund “National House of Social Protection », headed by a Fomichev, on August 16, 1999 in his letter No. 33/2127.
The geography and scope of activity of this Fund impress. All countries from Spain up to India are specified in reports practically, but the sums, returned to the enterprises and the budget, are not specified. According to experts, the scale of “withdrawals” through the Fomichev’s structure makes not less than 140 million US dollars. The reality of this figure confirms the fact that Фомичев has received notarially certified obligation to repay the sum of 3,253,684 US dollars just from one individual, the inhabitant of Yekaterinburg Voronin on July, 21, 2000.
On May, 6, 2000, Mister Fomichev once again addresses to the Minister of Internal Affairs Divaev with the letter of the following content: “Dear Rafail Uzbekovich, a number of foreign firms - debtors have expressed voluntary desire to pay off their debt as assignation of jewels (emeralds) through the firm “Diotima” to the sum of 50 million US dollars. In this connection I ask your sanction to accept jewels on storage through the Finance Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs RB or the Investigatory Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs RB as there have been brought criminal cases concerning some foreign firms.”
Joint business of the criminal community was unexpectedly interrupted on February, 15, 2001 by employees of FSB of Republic Bashkortostan. Fomichev was arrested for purchasing and sellin g of 150 thousand counterfeit US dollars, and also for selling of the counterfeit bill of the Sberbank (Savings Bank) of the Russian Federation with face value of 25 million rubles. A criminal case No.18/24409-01 was initiated according to the given fact on February, 16, 2001. On June 29, 2004, the panel of judges of the Supreme Court RB ascertained during the cassation consideration of the given criminal case that Fomichev initiated the import of large amount of false currency in the republic and used it in the bargain on delivery of black oil under covering of cooperation with the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Bashkiria. It is marked in the prejudication that such an extremely dangerous crime representing threat to the normal monetary circulation was revealed only due to vigilance of citizens. The panel of judges of the Sureme Court RB sent to the address of the Minister of Internal Affairs of Russian Federation Nurgaliev prejudication, having pointed out to rough miscalculations and incompetent activity of the heads of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic Bashkortostan revealed by consideration of the Fomichev’s and others’ criminal cases. However, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation has left without consideration the prejudication of the panel of judges of the Supreme Court RB.
In 2003, the Accounting Chamber of the Russian Federation made check of the activity of the Ministry of Property Relations of Republic Bashkortostan regarding maintenance of receipts of not tax incomes of the federal budget and the control of reliability, completeness and efficiency of their transfer to the federal budget in 2002-2003.
As the result of the given check there were revealed scandalous facts of excess of the official power by the President of the Republic Bashkortostan Murtaza Rakhimov, assignments of federal and republican property and money resources. The result of “ the swindle” with shares of the enterprises of the petrochemical complex of the republic Bashkortostan, being in federal and republican property, means in the sum of hundreds of million dollars had been stolen.
The materials of the Accounting Chamber of the Russian Federation and additional materials collected during the check carried out by employees of the Main Administrative Board of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia in Privolzhsky Federal Okrug were sent to the Procuracy. The Procurator initiated a criminal case No.32418 under the Art. 165 Para.3 of the CC of the Russian Federation on the fact of an illegal privatization of the petrochemical complex of the Republic Bashkortostan the result of which has been the damage to the state in the sum of more than 13 billion rubles.
The given examples convince that authorities of Bashkiria have created a system for which horrifying scale of infringements of human rights and corruption penetrating everywhere is characteristic. Cruelty, cynicism and the level of impunity of these crimes can’t help causing the proper response of the world community.
From our part, we address to the governments of the states of the world, the Council of Europe, the European Union, the representatives of human rights and humanitarian organizations of all the world, to representatives of mass media and also to all people not indifferent to destiny of victims from the above described crimes with the request not to ignore the events.
We hope that misters Rakhimov and Divaev will be forbidden the countries of the Council of Europe.
L.M. Alekseeva, the Chairman of the Moscow Helsinki Group
L.A. Ponomarev, the All-Russian Movement “For human rights”
G.A. Satarov, the President of the Fund “Indem”
K.V. Kabanov, the Chairman of “National Anticorruption Committee” (NAC)
10.07.2006 Unlawful Arrests Russian Social Forum Activists
In connection with the G8 meeting, Another Russia Forum is going to be convened tomorrow in Moscow. Sergey Kovalev, Karinna Moskalenko and Lev Ponomarev among other human rights activist will make their presentations there.
However, the domestic authorities have already taken several steps in order to interfere with these plans. We have information that in many regions people going to Moscow for participation in the Forum were arrested under different pretexts, including those who were already on trains and on planes. Among the arrested were several citizens of Germany. These people are beaten and otherwise ill-treated.
Thousands of participants have been under surveillance of police and special services.