Russian Human Rights Leader Detained for Second Time in Two Weeks

By Ricardo Zamora
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

MOSCOW, Russia – Russian human rights leader, Lev Ponomarev, 69, has been sentenced to administrative detention for the second time in two weeks.  The ruling came down yesterday after the Tverskoi District Court of Moscow found him guilty of “disobeying police orders.”  The city court handed Ponomarev the same verdict on August 25 for his first arrest, which came on August 22.  Ponomarev missed a scheduled meeting with senior member of the US National Security Council, Michel McFaul, today due to the sentence.

William Burns, the United States Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs who attended the meeting, was critical of the ruling.  “I should note that it is regrettable that Lev Ponomarev, who was supposed to be at the meeting, was not able to attend,” he said in remarks to the Interfax News Agency.  “The freedom of assembly is very important to the United States and very important for any democratic society.

The new ruling arises from Ponomarev’s participation in a peaceful anti-government protest, called “A Day of Rage,” in Tverskaya Square on August 12.  The hearing was delayed until yesterday due to health complications which sent Ponomarev to the hospital shortly after the August 12 arrest.

“A Day of Rage” was a rally where protesters demanded the resignation of Moscow’s mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, for interfering with freedom of assembly.  During the demonstration, two other individuals were arrested and charged with the same offense. While Ponomarev was undergoing medical treatment, those individuals served 3- and 4-day sentences, respectively.

Russian authorities allege that Ponomarev had “obstructed pedestrian traffic” by standing in the street while he spoke with journalists.  Other police officers added that Ponomarev resisted arrest by pushing an officer and stepping on the foot of another.

Ponomarev testified that officers treated him harshly, dragged him away, and threatened to hit him.  The Court found a video recording of the events to be inadmissible as evidence.

“We need to create a name-and-shame blacklist of judges and to make these public,” Ponomarev said.  He plans to appeal the ruling.

For more information, please see:

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH – Russia: Release Human Rights Defender – September 8, 2010

THE OTHER RUSSIA – U.S., Amnesty Intl. Criticize New Arrest Sentence for Ponomarev – September 8, 2010

ROBERT AMSERTDAM – Interview with Lev Ponomarev – August 30, 2010

Author: Impunity Watch Archive