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Charges against Andrei Borovikov, an environmental activist from Arkhangelsk, must be dropped, Memorial says


We believe Andrei Borovikov to be a victim of an unlawful, politically-motivated prosecution

Memorial Human Rights Centre considers Andrei Borovikov, an activist in the ‘Pomorye Is Not A Rubbish Dump’ environmental movement, to be a victim of an unlawful, politically-motivated prosecution. We demand that the charges against him be dropped immediately. The environmental activist has been charged under Article 212.1 of the Russian Criminal Code (repeated violation of the regulations for organising or conducting public assemblies, rallies, demonstrations, marches or pickets; punishable by up to five years’ deprivation of liberty) for taking part in a protest against the construction of a landfill site in Shiyes, near Arkhangelsk, on 7 April 2019.

On 2 May 2019 a court imposed pre-trial restrictions on Borovikov banning specific actions. The activist was forbidden to attend large-scale public events, cooperate with those who organised or participated in the 7 April 2019 protest, and to use telephones, the Internet or the postal system.

According to the decision initiating the criminal case against Borovikov, on at least three occasions within 180 days he had received penalties for violating Article 20.2 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation (violation of the regulations for organising or conducting public assemblies, meetings, rallies, demonstrations, marches or pickets):

  • The incidents in question were Borovikov’s participation in the ‘He’s Not Our Tsar’ demonstration in May and the protest against the increase in the pensionable age in September 2018. Two of the three violations of the law cited related in practice to a single protest on 9 September 2018, divided by the police and the courts into two: a demonstration and a rally. Since the authorities had not responded within the necessary time-frame to a notification by the organisers regarding a rally planned for 9 September 2018, then the rally should have been considered to have had official permission. Therefore, initially, the court did not find Borovikov’s participation in this rally an administrative offence. Only on the second occasion, after the court decision finding the inaction of the Arkhangelsk authorities unlawful had been quashed, was an administrative penalty for the alleged offence imposed on Borovikov.
  • Furthermore, on 7 April 2019, when the protest against the construction of a landfill site in Shiyes took place in Arkhangelsk, it was the 194th day after the entry into force of the first of the administrative court judgments in the case against Borovikov. Therefore, even from a purely formal point of view, there is no evidence of an offence in the activist’s actions.

It is much more significant, however, that Borovikov is being prosecuted for taking part in peaceful public events, for the non-violent exercise of his rights to freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and of information. The very fact of prosecution under Article 212.1 of the Russian Criminal Code is reason enough for such an assertion. This article violates fundamental legal principles and constitutes an unjustified limitation on the right of assembly that is impermissible in a democratic society and contradicts Article 31 of the Russian Constitution, Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and the case law of the European Court of Human Rights. Moreover, the initiation of the criminal prosecution is also in violation of rulings of the Russian Constitutional Court since Borovikov’s actions caused no harm to health, property, the environment, public order or security, or other values protected under the Constitution, and presented no threat to them.

The political nature of Borovikov’s prosecution is also shown by the fact that the peaceful public events in which he took part were characterised by opposition to the current government.

Although Borovikov at present remains at liberty, and cannot be called a political prisoner, prosecution under Article 212.1 of the Russian Criminal Code represents a special danger to society and is in violation of the constitutional protection given to peaceful assembly. For these reasons we consider it necessary to publish our assessment of the criminal prosecution of Borovikov.

For more information about the case of Borovikov, see here.

Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner, or of a prosecution as politically motivated, does not imply that Memorial Human Rights Centre shares or approves the individual’s views, statements or actions.

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Программа: Поддержка политзэков

Боровиков Андрей Владимирович родился 15 мая 1988 года, живёт в Архангельске; экоактивист, участник движения «Поморье – не помойка», координатор областного штаба Алексея Навального.