Yesterday, on the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, human rights defenders from the Committee against Torture held street pickets in four Russian cities. In Nizhny Novgorod, Ufa and Orenburg the event passed off without incident. As for Yoshkar-Ola, the local Ministry of Justice did not grant permission for the picket, despite having been informed in due time. However, the picket took place. Today, the office of CAT regional branch in Mari El was visited by the police. They took written statements and informed about possible instigating of proceedings against the CAT staff members basing on alleged violation of the Code of Administrative Offences.
A month ago advertising agencies of Yoshkar-Ola refused to place information boards reminding law-enforcement agents about their Oath of Honour in the streets of the city. The decision was explained with unbelievably lame excuses. We are determined to appeal against this unlawful act of the advertisers and the authorities of the city.
In spite of the fact that permission for the picket in Yoshkar-Ola was not granted, six human rights activists came to take part in it. The police officers standing nearby did not react to the event in any negative way.
About fifteen activists came to take part in the event in Ufa. They were demonstrating posters, handing out the Constitution of Russia to passers-by, and telling those who were interested about the activity of the Committee against Torture.
In Orenburg about ten people gathered for the event, including those who had been subjected to torture. They were telling journalists their stories while human rights defenders, as well as in Ufa, were handing out the Constitution and handbills containing information about the Committee, and answered to the question of astonished passers-by: “Is that possible that someone could be tortured in our city?”
The picket in Nizhny Novgorod attracted the largest number of active participants – about thirty. Among them there were not only human rights defenders, but also social activists, our applicants, and prudent police officers from the Centre for Combating Extremism, who were hiding in the shadow and filming the event. We hope, they have not discovered anything extremist.