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Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Congress of the intelligentsia appealed to Putin about the “Spring package”

Russian Congress of intelligentsia appealed to the President Vladimir Putin about the so-called anti-terror “package of Spring”- due to the fact that, in the opinion of the signatories of the appeal adopted by the state Duma amendments are “repressive” character. The document was signed by Irina Prokhorova, Lyudmila Ulitskaya, Lyudmila Alexeyeva, Leonid Gozman,Lev Ponomarev and others — they are asking the President not to sign the “anti-terrorist package”.

photo: Natalia Gubernatorova

“APPEAL of the Congress of INTELLECTUALS TO Vladimir PUTIN

Mr President!

I appeal to You as the guarantor of human rights in Russia with a request not to sign the adopted on 24 June the State Duma a package of amendments to the laws “On amendments to certain legislative acts of the Russian Federation regarding the establishment of additional counter-terrorism measures and public security” and “On amendments to the criminal code of the Russian Federation and the Criminal procedural code of the Russian Federation regarding the establishment of additional counter-terrorism measures and public security”.

In our opinion, the bills of Spring – Ozerov not so much contribute to the fight against terrorism in Russia, but reinforce the restriction of the rights and freedoms of citizens and is aimed at dehumanization of the legislation of the Russian Federation.

Note the most repressive provisions of these documents.

1. Non-information (not informing about the crime). For the first time in post-Soviet Russia the criminal code of the Russian Federation introduced a penalty for failure to inform about the crime. Under the threat of deprivation of liberty for a term up to 1 year citizens have to report about the impending attack, armed rebellion and other crimes, including an extremist nature. The list named over a dozen offences, and the wording of some of them is blurred.

It is obvious that this article again, as it was in the USSR, opens the possibility for the epidemic of denunciations and selective prosecution for not informing about cancelled another crime, which was condemned by the Russian society. Back to that in modern conditions will lead to reprisals not only political but also economic considerations, the split in society and growth in him of suspicion.

2. The extension age limits of criminal responsibility. The new amendments significantly increase the list of crimes for which criminal responsibility from 14 years. For example, it is now proposed to judge 14-year-olds for non-information, including in their family (except immediate), as well as for participating in mass riots. It is obvious that 14-year-old is not as competent to understand the legal intricacies. This measure degumaniziruet legislation and opens the door to repression against the minor or the emergence of new “Pavlik Morozov,” forever prisoners society.

3. Tougher penalties for extremism. The bills increase the punishment for crimes of an extremist orientation – increased fines and terms of imprisonment. In our society presently there is an active discussion of existing norms and practice in this area. Now Russian citizens are being persecuted for dissent under the guise of fighting extremism in the form of promotion of enmity and hatred. New package of laws legitimized the situation.

For example, the article on the riots, a new item: “declination, recruitment or other involvement in their organization, for which the maximum punishment provided for a period of 5 to 10 years. This means, for example, that not only the applicants of the peaceful rally, but even those who simply campaigned for the participation, can be sentenced to long terms in the case if within this action provocateurs will be able to arrange local disturbances.

Or another example, at present, artificially fabricated dozens of criminal cases against Internet users for “shares”.

On the background of what civil society says about the inadmissibility of such a practice, the new amendments allow to expand and increase the punishment. To qualify these amendments only as an increased political repression.

4. Phone records and Internet messages, the access of security forces to this data. According to the norms of accepted bills, the operators are obliged within six months to keep the content of all phone calls and Internet messages, and for 3 years to store information about them (for the Internet). These requirements have caused great dissatisfaction in the society and regarded by the citizens as a violation of their constitutional right to privacy, and Telecom operators – as the destruction of their businesses due to the huge costs for their implementation. From the point of view of interference in private life, are such comparisons as if the mail was opened all the letters, removed copies of them and kept six months. In addition, due to the fact that it regularly “leaked” the database to law enforcement agencies, it is clear that it will “leak out” and correspondence with such a long shelf life.

5. Missionary. The bills toughen regulations in the religious sphere. Introduced unjustified restrictions on missionary activities, in connection with which many denominations are already sounding the alarm. Reasonable is the prohibition on missionary work only for those organizations whose activities are banned in Russia (e.g., LIH). The tightening of the law in relation to the entire missionary work is unjustified and unduly restrictive of freedom of conscience in Russia.

6. Note among other things that we consider unacceptable increase in the notice period of the prosecution to conduct investigations without a court order with one day (as previously) to three days (article 165, section 5 of the code of criminal procedure). And also, unjustified toughening of punishment under article “organization of illegal migration (article 322.1 of the criminal code) is exclusively in the form of deprivation of liberty for a term up to 5 years. The practice of application of this article in recent years have shown the ambiguity and subjectivity of its enforcement.

Mr. President, please, pay Your attention to the fact that in the process of adopting “anti-terrorism” package of amendments was observed flagrant violation of the rules governing legislative activity.

First, the Council on human rights under the President of the Russian Federation, promptly examined these bills, recommended to reject the entire package in connection with violations of the Constitution and laws of the Russian Federation. In addition, the Council proposed to hold jointly with the Public chamber of the Russian Federation the discussion of the package of amendments Spring – Ozerova, as required by Russian legislation. However, this did not happen.

Secondly, the bills were accepted and worked out in a hurry that did not contribute to their quality. In connection with sharp criticism in society, some of the provisions adopted in the first reading (restriction of departure of citizens of Russia in connection with the warning of law enforcement agencies, as well as the deprivation of Russian citizenship across a broad range of crimes), was at the last stage removed from these documents. Instead, a hastily introduced new items, which are generally not discussed in a number of specialized committees of the State Duma and in the society as a whole. All this was done within one to two days. In such a rush, the bills could not be affected.

The package of amendments Spring – Ozerov adopted by the State Duma, have caused the protest by civil society and widely discussed in the media and on social networks.

Please, Mr. President, in view of the significant shortcomings of bills and hectic procedure of their adoption, not to sign the “anti-terrorist” package of Spring – Ozerov.

Konstantin Azadovsky, a cultural historian

Lyudmila Alexeyeva, chair of Moscow Helsinki Group

Boris Altshuler, member Moscow Helsinki Group

Mikhail Arkadiev, conductor, pianist

Valery Borschev, member of Moscow Helsinki Group

Alexander Verkhovsky, head of Information-analytical center “SOVA”

Elena Volkova, cultural studies

Svetlana Gannushkina, chair of “Civil assistance”

Valentin Gefter, Director of the Institute of human rights

Leonid Gozman, public and political figure

Sergey Lukaszewski, Director of the Sakharov Center

Leonid Nikitinskiy, journalist

Lev Ponomarev, head of the all-Russian public movement “For human rights”

Irina Prokhorova, publisher

Yuri Ryzhov, academician of RAS, Ambassador extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation

Natalia Taubina, Director of the Foundation “Public verdict”

Ludmila Ulitskaya, writer

Ernst Black, Public Committee to protect scientists

Those wishing to support this appeal can do so on the website of the Congress of the Intelligentsia on the link — https://nowarcongress.com/petitions/594.”

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