Memorial says Konstantin Saltykov, a participant in the “Voters’ Strike,” is a political prisoner

11.09.2018

We call for his immediate release.

Konstantin Saltykov, a second-year student at the faculty of history and politics of Moscow City University and a supporter of Aleksei Navalny, has been charged with the offence of using violence against a public official (Article 318, Section 1). If convicted, he may face a sentence of up to five years’ deprivation of liberty. On 28 February 2018 Saltykov was remanded in custody. In fact, his custody had begun on 28 January 2018 when he was jailed for 30 days under administrative law.

On 28 January a national protest action, the «Voters’ Strike» took place, calling for a boycott of the upcoming presidential elections in which the opposition politician Aleksei Navalny was not allowed to take part. In Moscow, the protest was held in the city centre on Tverskaya Street. There were no violations of public order and, on the whole, no arrests of participants. However, when Navalny appeared on Tverskaya Square, almost immediately the police took steps to arrest him.

Konstantin Saltykov was one of the volunteers working with Navalny’s team. He walked next to Navalny and was indignant at the arrest and tried to prevent it. However, he himself was arrested and, according to Polina Nemirovskaya, coordinator at Open Russia’s human rights project, he was assaulted in a police van.

According to the investigation into the case, during the opposition protest on 28 January Saltykov allegedly caused two police officers moral harm, physical pain and minor bodily injuries. One of the officers suffered a bruise on the thigh, while a second received a bruise and a graze on his shoulder blade. We do not know all the arguments and evidence of the defence. However, it is already possible to say there are grounds to doubt Saltykov committed any actions whatsoever with regard to the police officers. Taking into account that the video recording of Navalny on 28 January confirms that the aggressive actions were initiated by the police, and not the suspect or other persons on the video, it is all the more absurd to state that any actions whatsoever of the protesters in this situation could be purposeful and pre-planned.

The people who gathered on Tverskaya Street did not display any aggression and there were no reasons to stop them expressing their opinion. The police can, and are obliged, to protect the right of citizens to express their opinions while ensuring their security. Therefore, we consider that the actions of Saltykov in any case must be assessed from the point of view of the possibility of the lawful resistance of citizens to the illegal actions of police officers. The attempt to prevent the unlawful arrests may, objectively considered, be lawful.

It is highly likely that the prosecution of Saltykov is politically motivated. According to media and human rights activists attending the trial, the prosecutor and judge used reports of the Police Anti-Extremism Centre, according to which Saltykov allegedly volunteered with the headquarters of the Voters’ Strike campaign led by Aleksei Navalny and was a member of the opposition organisation Protestnaya Moskva [«Protest Moscow»], as arguments in favour of remanding Saltykov in custody. The investigation into Saltykov is being led by the investigator Mr Talaev, who previously worked on the criminal prosecution of such politically motivated cases as the Initiative Group for a Referendum «For Responsible Government» and Petr Miloserdov, whose defendants Memorial has recognised as political prisoners.

We should point out that the criminal prosecution of persons who sought to prevent the arrests of other participants in opposition rallies and marches (arrests which are almost always unlawful) is part of the general unlawful practice of restrictions on the exercise of rights provided under Article 31 of the Russian Constitution on freedom of assembly.

Memorial Human Rights Centre considers Konstantin Saltykov to be a political prisoner and calls for his immediate release.

We demand that those public officials guilty of violating the rights and freedoms of participants in the protest of 28 January and other peaceful rallies be brought to justice.

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.

Funds to support the legal defence of Konstantin Saltykov are being collected by Open Russia’s human rights project at Yandex. Money wallet 410015485740704 and Sberbank card No. 4276 3801 2805 3662: http://pravo-or.org/donation.

Программа: Поддержка политзэков

Салтыков Константин Матвеевич родился 3 февраля 1998 года, на момент задержания проживал в Москве, студент II курса факультета истории и политики МГПУ, сторонник Алексея Навального.

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