Stop intimidation of human rights activists in North Caucasus | Den norske Helsingforskomité

Stop intimidation of human rights activists in North Caucasus

Stop intimidation of human rights activists in North Caucasus

In Ingushetia on 6 November, armed security servicemen carried out a raid in the offices of the human rights organization MASHR and in the private home of the organization’s head Magomed Mutsolgov. The masked men removed large amounts of documents, office computers and even the children’s iPad.

– This is another example of the impunity for human rights violations in North Caucasus, and again we see that the authorities aim to denigrate human rights defenders in the eyes of the general population, says Lene Wetteland, head of the Russia department of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee.

According to the court’s order that was presented to Mutsolgov, he is accused of discrediting regional authorities on order from Georgia, Ukraine and Syria, for distributing discrediting materials online, and frequently organizing anti-state seminars. Mutsolgov denies any such activity and says they will find nothing illegal in the documents or in his activities.

His only concern is the amount of photos and documents from his beneficiaries that were also confiscated with the rest of the equipment from the office. In a public statement on the website Caucasian Knot, Mutsolgov urges the officers to respect their promise and the law and refrain from publishing any of the confiscated materials online.

The raid took place few days after Mutsolgov, who also heads the Public Monitoring Commission to prisons in Ingushetia, criticized the regional authorities for hindering the commission’s work.

Harassment of activists, lawyers and journalists in Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan have become commonplace. Combined with derogatory statements by regional leaders and restrictive federal legislation, human rights defenders are under great pressure which in consequence harms their beneficiaries – the ill-fated population of the North Caucasus.

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee urges the Russian Federation to respect Human Rights Council Resolution 25/18 of 28 March 2014, emphasizing the important role that individuals and civil society institutions, including non-governmental organizations, groups and national human rights institutions, play at the local, national, regional and international levels in the promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.