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Report of Agora International ‘Political Searches: The Phantom of Inviolability’

Agora International Human Rights Group presents report "Political Searches: The Phantom of Inviolability".

Report of Agora International ‘Political Searches: The Phantom of Inviolability’
Report of Agora International ‘Political Searches: The Phantom of Inviolability’

Early in the morning, when your whole family is still asleep, your doorbell rings. ‘Who is it,’ you ask, and the answer is: ‘Your downstairs neighbours, you’ve flooded us.’ You rush to open the door, and in storms a crowd of masked special forces soldiers accompanied by an investigator, a State-controlled TV cameraman and pre-brought attesting witnesses. Half-dressed, the householder is sprawled on the floor, face down (or, alternatively, seated on a chair and ordered to look down) and is told that he is suspected of extremism and his home will now be searched. Using a smartphone is not allowed, and a lawyer, whom some of the occupants manages to phone by some miracle, is told off. Following a long argument, the lawyer is after all admitted to the scene – just in time for the filling in of the search report.

After the massive-scale protest actions against the rigging of the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2011-2012 and the ensuing Bolotnaya Square case, not a single week would pass without news that some of the grassroots activists has been taken in for questioning after a home search.

Political opponents are not the only ones exposed to a particular risk. Law enforcers called on journalist Pavel Nikulin after his interview with a young man who left to fight in Syria appeared in the journal The New Times under the title ‘Heading for Jihad from Kaluga’. The ring at the door of video blogger Alexei Pskovitin (co-author of the Nemagia channel on YouTube) came after he posted a video criticising banker Oleg Tinkov and had a criminal case for defamation instituted against him.

The searches took hours and came complete with the smashing of home furnishings and seizing electronic devices and data storage media. Even copies of the Moloko Plus almanac, T-shirts, badges and stickers were confiscated from Nikulin.

The home raids of a journalist and a blogger could hardly be justified by the need to find any materials relevant to the investigation. These were clear acts of intimidation (and, in the case of Nikulin, also an attempt to get hold of his information sources). Searches are being readopted as a means of exerting pressure and a way to find a technical pretext for an actual criminal prosecution.

Documents for download

Full version of Agora's report ‘Political Searches: The Phantom of Inviolability’ download (0.55 Mb)



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More than 50 lawyers work for Agora International Human Rights Group
Natasha Dobreva
Lawyer, Sofia (Bulgaria)
Andrey  Lepehin
Andrey Lepehin
Lawyer, Chelyabinsk
Rushana Kamalova
Rushana Kamalova
Lawyer, Kazan
Sergey Petryakov
Sergey Petryakov
Lawyer, Kazan - Cheboksary
Svetlana Sidorkina
Svetlana Sidorkina
Lawyer, Moscow

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