Mikhail Savostin, a Stavropol region resident of oppositionist views, is currently on remand on charges of possessing drugs.
He faces a sentence of up to 10 years’ deprivation of liberty for an alleged offence under Article 228, Section 2, of the Russian Criminal Code (possession and transport of drugs on a large scale without intention to sell).
The car in which Mikhail Savostin and a friend left Mineralnye Vody on the night of 5–6 April was stopped by traffic police officers. According to investigators, when stopped Savostin opened the car door and threw a packet under the back left wheel. When police officers from the Centre for Combating Extremism and the Drugs Control Agency jointly examined the location and, evidently, conducted a body search of Savostin, they found a packet containing 11,69 grammes of marijuana in the back pocket of his jeans. Later, they found the packet allegedly thrown under the car wheel which contained 105,22 grammes of marijuana.
Savostin’s legal representatives insist that the drugs were planted after the law enforcement officers stopped the car, pushed Savostin’s companion to the ground, and forcibly held Savostin’s arms behind his back.
We note indications of the intentional fabrication of evidence in the circumstances of the case. One such indication is that the arrest was carried out jointly by officers from departments with completely different responsibilities: the Centre for Combating Extremism and the Drugs Control Agency. It is difficult to imagine why it was necessary for them to conduct a joint operation if the discovery of drugs had not been planned earlier. Furthermore, the version put forward by the investigators appears improbable and likely to have been invented. The results of evaluations by experts conducted in the case also confirm Savostin’s innocence.
Savostin is a civic and political activist. He is a member of the political council of the Assembly of Peoples of the North Caucasus and head of the movement People’s Veche [Assembly] of Mineralnye Vody. He is active in defence of the rights of business, has organised a demonstration in Mineralnye Vody and stood as a candidate in the 2013 mayoral elections in Zheleznovodsk from the Parnas party, in which he was supported by Boris Nemtsov. Savostin has taken part three times in the annual Free Russia Forum, and was accredited to the fifth Forum in Lithuania on 11–13 April 2018, but was unable to attend since he had already been remanded in custody.
Savostin has regularly faced intimidation by law enforcement agencies in the past, he has been under surveillance, and has received threats. In March 2015 Savostin’s trading company was closed down after inspections by the Ministry for Emergency Situations and the Prosecutor’s Office. This occurred at the time he was seeking to organise a rally in Mineralnye Vody in opposition to the government.
Memorial believes the charges against Mikhail Savostin are based on fabricated evidence and are intended to force him to cease his public activities. We therefore consider him to be a political prisoner and demand his release.
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.
For more information about this case, see here.
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