Harassment of Human Rights Defender: Criminal Case against Anastasia Denisova
- Concise biography
- Facts of the case: preceding incidents of harassment
- Circumstances under which a criminal case was initiated and violations during the investigation.
- What is the reaction of human rights organizations?
- What assistance is needed?
Who is Anastasia Denisova?
Anastasia Denisova is a human rights defender, civil activist, specialist in the sphere of counteraction against xenophobia. Anastasia is the head of Krasnodar krai non-governmental organization Youth Group for Tolerance “ETHnICS”, member of Coordinating Council of International network – Youth Human Rights Movement, employee of Human Rights Center “Memorial” and Analytical Center “SOVA”, participant of “GROZA”movement.
A. Denisova is an expert in counteraction discrimination based on racial or national bias, and in defence of ethnic minorities and foreign students rights. She has regularly been invited as a speaker on the role of youth in combating hate crimes within the framework of OSCE/ODIHR meetings. She has also been involved in testing and monitoring educational projects of Directorate on Youth of Council of Europe.
After military conflict in the Southern Caucasus in 2008 Anastasia became the member of peacekeeping initiatives, first and foremost Georgian-Russian Civil Dialogue (http://ge-ru.civildialogue.org). She has more than once visited countries of the Southern Caucasus and non-recognized states.
Facts of the case: preceding incidents of harassment
Harassment of Anastasia Denisova and NGO “ETHnICS” in Krasnodar krai has been put into practice since 2007.
January 2007 – The launch of three simultaneous check-ups of "ETHnICS": Krasnodar Tax Inspection №1, Krasnodar regional Department of Federal Registration Service and commercial bank “Kuban Credit”. As a result of a tax check-up there was delivered an unjust demand to pay more than 140 thousand rubles as a fine on income tax evasion from the received charity contribution. NGO “ETHnICS” has been defending its rights for two years in courts and as a result won in all arbitration proceedings, but was able to re-open its bank account only in December 2009.
August 2009 — Anastasia Denisova while coming back from Abkhazia with her friend photojournalist, was groundlessly stopped at the Russian border for more than 6 hours and subjected to questioning. During the questioning a person, who refused to introduce himself, kept asking questions about her human rights activities.
September 2009 – Defamation campaign against several regional NGOs, including "ETHnICS", was launched in the regional newspaper "Kuban News", which is founded by Krasnodar krai administration. Meaning to make use of the right to reply, described in the Federal law on mass media, the head of NGO “ETHnICS” and her colleagues forwarded an open letter to the editor of the newspaper in support of civil society of the region. The chief editor Evgeniy Khomutov refused to publish the letter without any further explanation.
October 2009 — Prohibition on behalf of the Krasnodar airport security agent to take Anastasia's laptop as cabin luggage on board the plane. The groundless prohibition ensued Anastasia's inability to take part in the OSCE/ODIHR Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw, including the failure to act as a speaker at the side event devoted to Georgian-Russian Civil Dialogue.
Circumstances under which a criminal case was initiated and violations during the investigation.
In February 2010 there was initiated a criminal case against Anastasia Denisova and brought charges on:
- Article 146 part 3, paragraph D of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation – “Illegal use of objects of copyright or neighbouring rights (non-licensed software) by a person with the use of his official position - shall be punishable with deprivation of freedom for a period up to six years with the fine up to 500 000 roubles”.
- Article 273 part 1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation – “Creation of computer viruses for the introduction of changes to existing programmes, which knowingly leads to the unsanctioned destruction, blocking, modification, or copying of information, the disruption of the work of computers, computer systems, or their networks, and also the use or dissemination of such viruses or machine-readable media with such viruses – shall be punishable with deprivation of freedom for a period up to 3 years with the fine up to 200 000 roubles”.
Criminal case is:
centered around examination of computer equipment which do not belong either to Anastasia Denisova or NGO “ETHnICS” and which were confiscated with the violations of the Russian Federation legislation.
- based on expert report, which validity is doubtful because it increases the cost of the software in order to make amount of loss fit into the sum limits of the article 146 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (other problem points of the expert report: http://expert-pirate.livejournal.com/307.html, http://habrahabr.ru/blogs/Legal_advice/85658/ detailed analysis of the expert institution “Criminal Experts’ Union”, which appears in some other controversial cases, see http://antirao.ru/wiki/soyuz-kriminalistov-moo)
- Article 273.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation is mentioned in the case because of on one of the computers there was found a key generator. The program itself does not install anything and does not modify any software program, and theoretically does not fall under the Article 273, paragraph 1.
- Expert found the connection between these computers and NGO “ETHnICS” in the following way: he found text files which contain the name of the Organization. If the Organization is mentioned in some files it means that computers were used in its activities and therefore the head of the Organization used the programs with the use of his/her official position. Apparently, following this logic if your computer contains some files with the name YUKOS, it proves that your computer was used in YUKOS activities.
The investigation itself abounds with procedural irregularities.
What is the reaction of human rights organizations?
Most human rights organizations think that the reason for Anastasia Denisova’s persecution is her activities as a human rights defender and consider this criminal case as one of the several harassment incidents which have occurred lately.
Krasnodar Krai as well as North Caucasian regions is considered to be one of the complex regions from the point of view of attitude towards human rights defenders and activities of independent civil organizations. See detailed information about different harassment incidents in the report “Human rights defenders’ harassment and persecution in Krasnodar krai in 2009 –beginning of 2010. (available upon request on solidarity-Denisova@yhrm.org).
What has been done?
- There has been created a group of solidarity with Anastasia Denisova. She has been supported by HRC “Memorial”, Center “Sova”, Moscow Helsinki Group, Association “Agora”, Youth Human Rights Movement, etc.
- Some international organizations have made a statement on Anastasia Denisova’s case, such as “FrontLine” organization, The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH/OMCT), etc.
- Situation in Krasnodar Krai in the context of human rights defenders’ harassment was discussed at the meetings of The Civil Society Institutions and Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation, first of all in the context of Anastasia Denisova’s and NGO “ETHnICS” persecution. At the Council Meeting on November 23, 2009 the President D. Medvedev asked for additional information about the situation in Krasnodar. See http://kremlin.ru/transcripts/6074;
- On October 22, 2009 the Special UN Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders forwarded a special appeal to the authorities of the Russian Federation about the cases of harassment of Anastasia Denisova, and included the description of the case into its report on 13th Session of UN Human Rights Council.
- A number of human rights organizations of Russia have prepared open letters to the branches of Microsoft corporation in Russia with an inquiry about the role and stance of this corporation and its representatives in cases of human rights defenders' and civil activists' harassment, and in the case of Anastasia Denisova in particular.
See more information about the recent news on Anastasia Denisova's case here: http://denisova.yhrm.org/
What assistance is needed?
forward an appeal to the Krasnodar krai Prosecutor's office with the copy to the General Prosecutor's office and demand an immediate termination of criminal proceedings against Anastasia Denisova for the lack of corpus delicti (available upon request on solidarity-Denisova@yhrm.org)
disseminate information about this case and cases of persecution of other human rights defenders in Krasnodar krai
visit Krasnodar to take part in the court trial on Anastasia Denisova's case
forward appeals to Microsoft and Corel corporation and demand to make public their stance on criminal proceeding against human rights defenders and civil activists under the pretext of the protection of author's rights of these companies, on their behalf and through their representatives beholding power of attorney.
See more information here: http://denisova.yhrm.org/en/content/how-we-can-help