Journalist Andrei Nekrasov must not become another political prisoner
It has been already a month since journalist Andrei Nekrasov is imprisoned.
On July 15, oppositional blogger and journalist from Udmurtia was put in prison in Nicosia, Cyprus, in connection with Russia’s request on his extradition. Nekrasov is well-known in Udmurtia for his investigations of corrupt practices of the regional bureaucracy and functionaries from the ruling party.
In 2008 Andrei Nekrasov began collaborating with local independent newspaper Den (Day), where he was in charge of journalist investigation of corruption and embezzlement of public funds by the officials in the Udmurt Republic.
In early 2009 two FSB (Federal Security Bureau) officers attempted to recruit Andrei Nekrasov threatening him to replace his probation by actual imprisonment in case of his refusal. To avoid this Nekrasov had to leave his position at the newspaper and continue his collaborate with the paper as a freelance reporter.
In 2010, Andrei Nekrasov founded public movement Svoi Dom (My House) which protested against destruction of houses in Izhevsk by the developers connected with local authorities. He got numerous threats for these activities.
In 2011 Andrei Nekrasov began publishing newspaper Izhevsky Nabludatel (The Izhevsk Observer), and became its Editor-in-Chief. Despite gaining popularity and a sizeable readership, the newspaper did not function long. In 2012 it was closed because of financial difficulties emerging due to pressure on advertisers which led to their termination of their cooperation with the paper.
In 2012, Andrei Nekrasov was nominated candidate to the State Council of Udmurtia by the YABLOKO party. He was not elected.
In 2013, Andrei Nekrasov and his colleagues created an independent trade union in the Izhmash plant (of the Kalashnikov consortium). The key demand of the trade union was minimum wage amounting to 10,000 roubles (about 250 euro at the time). Andrei Nekrasov highlighted the demands in independent press and on his blog.
Shortly after due to a provocation Nekrasov was accused of blackmailing and extortion from Mr. Konstantin Bousygin, then CEO of Izhmash and head of Rosgranitsa Border Guards at present.
The investigation of the case has been controlled by the Federal Security Service. It began with a search in the office of the Den newspaper. At the time, Andrei Nekrasov was a witness in the case. Notwithstanding his witness status, and without being presented charges he was detained, publicly handcuffed, and taken to the local FSB office where FSB officers tried to obtain a confession with the help of “physical pressure”.
If the Cypus Justice agrees to his extradition, he may be subject to imprisonment up to 15 years due to two criminal cases that have all signs of fabrication.
The start of extradition proceedings is scheduled for 13 August.
Such respected international organisations as Reporters without Borders and French Russie Liberte publicly spoke in defence on Nekrasov.
We are appealling Minister of Interior of Cyprus Mr Socrates Hasicos with a request to ensure an impartial investigation of the case in accordance with EU standards and to take into account the Andrei’s application for political asylum due to persecution and threats against him in Udmurtia.
We hope that on 13 August Andrei Nekrasov will be released from the Cyprus prison and will not be subject to politically motivated extradition.
Chair of the YABLOKO party