ALDE Party President: “We call upon the authorities to immediately release the activists”
The ALDE Party regrets to learn that for the second time in a matter of weeks, Sergei Mitrokhin the leader of YABLOKO, ALDE Party Member in Russia, has been arrested by authorities while participating in peaceful public events.
On Saturday 12 December, the date the Russian Constitution was adopted by referendum in 1993, 12 persons in total including YABLOKO leader Sergei Mitrokhin and other YABLOKO activists Anton Antonov-Ovseyenko, Grigory Semyonov, Stanislav Belyansky and Igor Bakirov were arrested by police while peacefully commemorating Russian Constitution day in Pushkin Square.
Previously, on Saturday 7 November, Mr Mitrokhin was suddenly arrested by the police as he was participating in an annual remembrance event in Moscow. He was released later the same day, but still faces the threat of long-term imprisonment for alleged violations of several Russian laws.
Participants of the commemoration at the weekend held a poster with the slogan “Respect Our Constitution!” recalling that of Soviet human rights activists who came on this very square 50 years ago on 5 December 1965. During the commemoration activists took turns, passing the poster from one person to another and as such the action should not be considered as a mass action (group protests need formal permission from authorities, which are regularly denied, although no such consent is needed for single-person protests).
Mr Mitrokhin and his four colleagues are accused of defiance to the lawful orders of police (Article 19.3 of the Administrative Violations Code). They face arrest for up to 15 days but the judge has the right to impose a fine or acquit. The YABLOKO leader insists that he has not violated the law. They are due to appear before Tverskoy Court in Moscow this afternoon.
Responding to the latest arrest, ALDE Party President Hans van Baalen MEP said: “This is once again yet another example of opposition parties in Russia continuing to face heavy and undue pressure when attempting to conduct activities and exercise their rights as citizens. We are saddened that Russia continues to ignore its commitments under European and International Human Rights agreements, and routinely seeks to persecute its own citizens when they peacefully demonstrate in favour of democracy. The ALDE Party will continue to support YABLOKO, as well as other liberal actors in Russia, in their fight for a free, prosperous and democratic Russia, and we call upon the authorities to immediately release these activists.”
ALDE Party Vice President Ilhan Kyuchyuk added: “the recent detention of the leader of Russian liberal party Sergei Mitrokhin must be considered a crime against democracy, civil society and human rights. European liberals in the ALDE Party stand firmly behind YABLOKO and their leader because their struggle is the right one: the struggle for freedom and human dignity.”