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Russia: Threat of criminal prosecution facing human rights defender Mr Igor Kalyapin and Joint Mobile Group members
On 7 July 2012, Mr Igor Kalyapin was called for questioning by the Investigative Committee of Northern Caucasus Federal Region in the town of Yessentuki and threatened with prosecution.
This is the third time that he has been threatened with criminal proceedings. Igor Kalyapin is Chairman of the Interregional Committee Against Torture, and founder and President of the Joint Mobile Group (JMG), which was established by human rights NGOs in November 2009 following the murder of human rights defender Ms Natalya Estemirova in Chechnya. The JMG received the Front Line Defenders Award in April 2011 for their work in investigating torture and disappearances in Chechnya.
As part of his work with the JMG, Igor Kalyapin represents Mr Islam Umarpashayev, who in 2009 was abducted, tortured and unlawfully deprived of his liberty for four months at a Chechen Special Police Task Force base. Igor Kalyapin has taken part in several investigative activities as the legal representative of his client, and in May 2011, he signed a non-disclosure statement in regard to preliminary investigation materials. On 2 July 2012, he travelled to the town of Yessentuki to participate in the ongoing investigative activities in relation to this case.
On 7 July, at the questioning, he was presented with a report prepared by an officer of the Federal Security Service in Nizhny Novgorod which contained analysis of a number of articles published in the mass media. Some of these articles included pieces written by Ms Elena Milashina, an investigative journalist reporting on Chechnya in the Novaya Gazeta newspaper; “Caucasian hounds” by Ms Svetlana Reiter which appeared in Esquire magazine and which was awarded the 2011 Best Publication Prize by Independent Media Publishing House; and “The Chechen Diary”, first published in Igor Kalyapin's blog and then on the website of the Committee Against Torture. The publications cover crimes allegedly committed by the Chechen police, including torture and abduction, and the inactivity of law enforcement bodies in investigating these allegations.
The report concludes that there is evidence to suggest that the crime of “disclosure of data of preliminary investigation,” punishable under Article 310 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, has been committed. Igor Kalyapin claimed that any information provided by him was aimed at drawing media and public attention to the crimes committed in Chechnya and to the clear reluctance of the authorities to investigate crimes committed by Chechen law enforcement agents and bring those responsible to justice. Igor Kalyapin denied having disclosed essential information or the results of any preliminary investigation.
Igor Kalyapin received an official inquiry from the Special Investigative Department to provide the names, addresses and other contact details of all JMG members who have carried out work in Chechnya since May 2011.
Intimidation of the JMG and other human rights defenders working in Chechnya has recently increased. On 1 June 2012, the JMG members were summoned to a meeting by the Chechen President Mr Ramzan Kadyrov, which was conducted in a threatening manner. President Kadyrov declared that the JMG members “hate Chechens and come to just earn money” (see http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/ru/node/18593). On the morning of 5 April 2012, Elena Milashina was attacked and beaten (see http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/ru/node/17940). In January 2012, Mr Anton Ryzhov, a member of the JMG, was detained by the transport police on his way from Chechnya to Nizhny Novgorod, and his computer and other digital devices were seized (see http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/ru/node/17118).
Front Line Defenders condemns the intimidation of Igor Kalyapin and other JMG members, and views these actions as part of an ongoing campaign aimed at discrediting and intimidating the human rights defenders in relation to their work in documenting and investigating human rights violations in Chechnya.