Memorial has concluded that this prosecution is politically-motivated.
Memorial Human Rights Centre has recognized three residents of Kaliningrad, charged in the case of the Baltic Vanguard of the Russian Resistance (henceforth «BARS," its Russian acronym) as political prisoners. Aleksandr Vladimirovich Orshulevich (born 26 November 1988) is charged with an offence under Article 282.1, Section 1, of the Russian Criminal Code (creation of an extremist group), while Igor Romanovich Ivanov (born 17 June 1996) and Aleksandr Arkadievich Mamaev (born 24 December 1960) have been charged under Section 2 of the same Article (participation in an extremist group). The defendants have been held on remand since 27 May 2017.
According to the investigators, as set out in the protocol opening the criminal case, the accused were members of an extremist group that aimed at «the violent seizure of power in Kaliningrad region by means of a series of extremist crimes intended to achieve, among other things, the exit of Kaliningrad region from the Russian Federation and its independent existence as a member of the European Union." Those charged were allegedly preparing to achieve these global aims by the imprinting of slogans of an extremist nature on objects by means of stencils (according to the defence, these stencils were planted during the searches).
Memorial has studied the materials of the criminal case, to which we have access, and has concluded that this prosecution is politically-motivated : those in public office wish by means of this prosecution to remain in power and to force critics of those in authority to cease their public activity. There is no evidence that the defendants committed any crime, and they have been remanded in custody for no other reason than their non-violent exercise of the freedoms of peaceful assembly, association, expression, conscience and religion, in violation of the right to a fair trial and other rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Russian Constitution, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Deprivation of liberty is clearly a measure not proportionate to the actual actions with which Orshulevich, Ivanov and Mamaev have been charged.
The investigation in the case has been conducted with gross violations, and part of the evidence may have been falsified. According to relatives, in particular Orshulevich’s wife, Vanda, at the time of the searches and arrests, law enforcement officers planted stencils with extremist slogans and cans of spray paint, and at the same time did not allow the accused to contact their lawyers. Orshulevich himself asserts that after his arrest a plastic bag was put over his head and he was tortured. The right to legal defence of the accused has been systematically violated.
So far as Aleksandr Mamaev (who, as a priest, is called Father Nikolai) is concerned, the defence asserts that he was not a member of BARS at all, despite the fact that he gave them spiritual guidance. As a monk and priest of the Russian (Rossiiskaya) Orthodox Church, he has been fiercely critical of the Russian (Russkaya) Orthodox Church and Patriarch Kirill, something which, in the opinion of the Kaliningrad activists, could have been one of the reasons for his prosecution. Taking into account that the investigation has charged Mamaev with allegedly being the «spiritual leader of BARS," it is possible to assert that he is being prosecuted in order to stop the lawful religious activity of a religious structure that represents an alternative to the Russian (Russkaya) Orthodox Church. The investigation has not accused Mamaev and Ivanov of any illegal actions apart from taking part in BARS, which was a legal political organization, and allegedly preparing to draw extremist slogans on the asphalt.
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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