I’m appealing to you following an attack which took place on March 2, 2014 against the participants of a series of peaceful pickets on Isakiyevskaya square. People took to the streets to express their concerns about the situation in Crimea, to denounce entry of Russian troops to the territory of the Ukraine, to call for peace. These were peaceful people, many of them aged, some with children. But present on the square were also aggressive men with orange and black ribbons – they attacked people, confiscated and tore apart their posters, assaulted peaceful picketers, spat at them and used force and violence. Activities of these people were coordinated and lead by the deputy of the Legislative Assembly Vitaly Milonov. At the start of the picket I stood away from the protesters as was required by a police officer who asked to keep 50 meter distance from the picket. Milonov pointed at me, thus giving an order to his assistants as to whom they should attack next. Following this a large and fearful man in black with a ribbon on his sleeve ran onto me, grabbed my poster, tore it into pieces and threw it into a garbage bin. This, undoubtedly, was an act of violence which caused both moral and material damage to me.
I was also witness to how posters of other protesters were torn apart, to people being beaten, pushed and insulted. All of this took place in the face of numerous police officers and even procurator’s officials, as people were trying to draw their attention to the illegal activities of Milonov and those who assisted him, but in vain.
In the end it was us who were detained, not those who purposefully initiated massive breaches of public order, although we committed no legal offenses.
It is because of this that I appeal to you, the deputies and colleagues of Milonov, and not the police. I would like to ask you to qualify his behavior and decide whether these actions of stirring up his goons at peaceful protesters are compatible with him being a deputy of the Legislative Assembly.
This letter is open to be signed by those wishing to do so.
Press report in “Novaya Gazeta” (in Russian)
Statement by human rights ombudsman of the Russian Federation (in Russian)