Memorial demands his immediate release.
Aleksandr Shumkov, a Ukrainian citizen from the city of Kherson serving in the Ukrainian armed forces, has been charged with committing a crime under Article 282.2 (Section 2) of the Russian Criminal Code (taking part in activities of an extremist organisation) on the grounds that, allegedly, he is a member of Right Sector, an organisation banned in Russia.
Shumkov has been formally held on remand since 6 September 2017. However, there is reason to believe that by that time he had already been deprived of liberty on the territory of Bryansk region. It is well-known that the Ukrainian police, in the course of their investigation into the disappearance of Shumkov, established that he had crossed the border with Russia at the Bachevsky checkpoint on 23 August 2017 in a car together with three other persons. At the present time, Ukrainian law enforcement agencies are establishing the identities of the individuals involved in the abduction of Shumkov in case No. 12017230040005547 concerning a suspected crime under Article 146 (Section 1) of the Ukrainian Criminal Code (unlawful deprivation of liberty or abduction of a person).
The activities of Right Sector have been banned on the territory of Russia by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation. However, Aleksandr Shumkov, according to the charges, took part in the organisation only on the territory of Ukraine, the country of which he is a citizen.
The sole point in the current charges is Shumkov’s participation in the Right Sector organisation. The assertion that Shumkov, in becoming a member of Right Sector, acted against the interests of Russia is baseless and in principle cannot be proved.
We have studied the ruling of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation concerning the ban on Right Sector and we find that its arguments do not stand up against criticism. The ban is based on conjecture and unverified assertions, including a fake document, the so-called “Appeal by Dmitry Yarosh to Doku Umarov,” the authorship of which Right Sector has denied. We consider that a ruling of this kind cannot be the basis for a criminal prosecution.
In addition, although Article 282.2 of the Russian Criminal Code provides a formal definition of the crime (to be convicted, it is enough to be a participant in a banned group), we wish to point out that to constitute a crime, according to the Russian Criminal Code, an act must be dangerous to society. Shumkov has not been charged with any dangerous activities. The investigating authorities do not explain precisely how the activities of Right Sector in Ukraine and Shumkov’s participation in the organisation, could bring about a “violent change in the foundation of the constitutional order and the violation of the integrity of the Russian Federation, the undermining of the security of the state.”
Consequently, we believe that Shumkov has been deprived of liberty without having committed any actual crime. The struggle with Right Sector is a kind of contemporary Russian “witch hunt.” It is part of a political campaign directly related to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.
Memorial Human Rights Centre does not know how the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation explains the entry of Shumkov onto Russian territory, nor how it interprets the motives upon which he acted in doing so.
Memorial considers Shumkov to be a political prisoner and demands his immediate 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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