On December 6th, 2011, during first mass protests against electoral fraud in St Petersburg Filipp Kostenko, a public and human rights activist, employee of ADC Memorial, was arrested and brought to administrative liability. The court sentenced him for a maximum punishment of 15 days of arrest, taking into account not the crime but a paper characterising Filipp which was brought to the court by the workers of the Centre of fight against extremism. It described various forms of protest activities of Kostenko. Filipp used the only means of fight in the terms of arrest and went on a hunger-strike demanding to release all people arrested during the protests.
While Filipp was under detention, the workers of the E centre brought up another administrative case. This time Filipp was accused in “swearing in public” in October 2011, when he came to the police station to give food to his arrested friends. There is no doubt that returning to an old case was caused by the wish to prolongue the detention of Kostenko. In fact, Filipp was not released but given by a couple of guards to another guards. The police car transferred sick after hunger-strike young man to a police station where he spent a night waiting for the trial. He received another maximum punishment of 15 day of imprisonment. In fact, the court just prolonged the arrest after the workers of the E centre said that (the worker of the E centre technically not related to the case was at the court session, probably, to control the right decision).
In these days before the New Year celebrations, investigations on a criminal case against Filipp on vandalism were started again. When Filipp is spending his next 15 days, a mechanism of a criminal prosecution is planned to be used for continuation of the detention. This prosecution is also related to protest activities which the authorities want to show as a crime. In this case the object of “desecration” is an electoral poster of the United Russia party which only confirms the political motivation of this prosecution.
Earlier the employees of the E centre tried to prosecute the activist on Article 319 of the Criminal code of the Russian Federation (“insult of an officer”) for non-violent art protest action against abusive behavior of the police. This case is not finished yet, but the prosecution on an article which does not allow to detain a person is probably not enough for someone. The investigators on the case of vandalism came to the detention centre to Kostenko. The accusation was urgently re-qualified to that part of an article which prescribes arrest, i.e. vandalism. There are no proofs and the accusation in vandalism in regard to electoral poster is absurd: political advertisement cannot be considered a valuable cultural object.
On January 5th, 2012, Filipp Kostenko has to be released. The human rights activists and lawyers insist that this day would be the day of his real release.
The mass protests started in December and readiness of the authorities to have discussions with the civil society show that protest activities is a right but not a crime. Those people who protested before and more actively should be respected and honoured. We should guarantee that “respect” to Filipp will not end in continuation of his detention. We demand the release of Filipp Kostenko and withdrawal of all charges!
Programme Coordinator of ADC Memorial, Stefania Kulaeva
+7-921 9408301, firstname.lastname@example.org
Social defender, Vladimir Kostyushev