For Immediate Distribution
Home of Russian opposition activist and Magnitsky Justice campaigner Natalia Pelevina is raided in Moscow
29 April 2015 – The Moscow home of Russian opposition activist Natalia Pelevina was raided by police operatives and investigative committee detectives on April 17 2015. Pelevina is an outspoken supporter of the Magnitsky Justice Campaign, who worked closely with murdered opposition leader Boris Nemtsov and current opposition leader Mikhail Kasyanov, seeking to have more names added to the US Magnitsky list.
In a raid similar to the 2008 arrest of whistleblower lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, Russian officials stormed Pelevina’s apartment with a search warrant signed by Judge Artur Karpov, the same judge who refused lawsuits from the family of Sergei Magnitsky to appeal the decision not to investigate Magnitsky’s murder.
According to Pelevina, “my phone was ripped out of my hand and I wasn’t allowed to call my lawyer. [The search] went on for hours, anything technical was confiscated along with money, passports, and papers.”
Natalia Pelevina was then taken to the Russian Investigative Committee for interrogation, which was led by Major General of Justice Rustam Gabdullin. She was interrogated for four hours, during which time she became a suspect accused of organizing and financing the Bolotnaya street riots of May 2012, under Article 212, part 1 of the Russian Constitution.
“Needless to say none of it is true and I had nothing to do with the 6 of May events, and wasn’t even on Bolotnaya that day,” said Pelevina.
Pelevina was due to fly to Washington DC this week, to join members of US Congress and prominent Russian activists in a symposium honouring the memory of Boris Nemtsov, who was gunned down outside the Kremlin in February this year. Because her passport and money were seized, she is now unable to leave Moscow, and Bill Browder, leader of the Magnitsky Justice Campaign, will be taking her place on the panel.
Bill Browder will also be testifying at a hearing on the Global Magnitsky Act at the House Committee on Foreign Affairs today. (http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/hearing/subcommittee-hearing-global-magnitsky-human-rights-accountability-act)
“Natalia Pelevina is a long time friend of the Magnitsky Justice campaign, whose only ‘crime’ was to speak out against the repression and corruption of the Putin regime,” said Bill Browder.“That she is now being persecuted for a crime she did not commit, as Sergei Magnitsky was, is clear and sinister evidence that the Putin regime is a police state, intent on stamping out the voices of dissidents.”
Judge Artur Karpov has a history of persecuting dissidents. On 28th February 2014 he sanctioned the house arrest of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny (http://pravo.ru/news/view/102312/), and he also sanctioned the 2012 arrests of Bolotnaya square activists (http://bolotnoedelo.info/participants/butchers/652/karpov-artur).
He is the same judge that refused a lawsuit from Magnitsky’s mother seeking to end the posthumous proceeding against her son in March 2013, and a lawsuit from Magnitsky’s colleague, Jamison Firestone in May 2013, seeking to compel the Russian Investigative Committee to investigate the tax officials who approved the fraudulent $230 million tax refund. In 2011 he also refused the lawsuit from Magnitsky’s mother seeking to compel the Russian Investigative Committee to investigate the torture and murder of her son.
Sergei Magnitsky’s house was raided by Interior Ministry officials in 2008, after he uncovered a $230 million fraud committed by corrupt government officials and testified against those involved. He was arrested during the raid, tortured in pre-trial detention for a year in an effort to get him to retract his testimony, and was eventually killed in prison in 2009.
For more information, please contact:
Magnitsky Justice Campaign