Open letter to the Chairman of the Public Chamber of the Orenburg region

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18 June 2020

Dear Aleksandra Georgiyevna!

Native of Totskoye settlement of the Orenburg region, who graduated from the Orenburg branch of the Moscow State Juridical University, human rights defender with nine years of experience, Sergey Babinets, is addressing to you.

In April and May, my colleagues and I applied to you for recommendations, as we want to take part in a new composition of the Public Monitoring Committee (PMC). Despite the fact that there is not a single word about PMC and the convicts’ rights in the Report of the Chamber that you’re heading, I’m sure you know what it is.

Several days ago, answering the questions of journalists “Echo of Moscow in Orenburg” you said that you would not recommend us, claiming that the Committee Against Torture members were foreign agents, who want to create an uproar.

You failed to provide any other “compromising” circumstance, despite the fact that our lawyers are always in the focus of attention of the Orenburg region law-enforcement agencies.

At first, the Committee Against Torture never was a foreign agent. No matter conspiracy theorists want, we do not execute orders of Uncle Sam or Queen Elizabeth II and we are not employed by MI-6, Mossad or CIA. Instead, Chairman of the Committee Against Torture Igor Kalyapin is a member of a Council under President Vladimir Putin and came to Orenburg to monitor the governor’s elections. You must remember how in September you treated us to tasty cakes in your office. It’s a pity you didn’t ask us about being a foreign agent then. Kalyapin and I, we would have answered to all the questions of your concern.

Secondly, about the money “from abroad”. We do not receive any rubles or dollars in the Committee Against Torture. We work in a Russian commercial firm, which pays taxes properly and does not have any problems with the regulatory authorities. We are ordinary members of the Committee Against Torture, in the same manner as any other citizen who may be a member of a crochet society, for example.

Thirdly, a few words about “uproars”.

I don’t understand why you call an “uproar” our desire that the law is observed in penal institutions?

Uproars, without quotation marks, start when in penal colonies or outside, the law is trampled defiantly and with impunity and when citizens do not have a possibility to defend their rights precisely in accordance with the law.

That is why you should not lay the blame on somebody else, because some people torture, others do not investigate these atrocities, but, allegedly, it’s us who are creating an “uproar” – the ones who are trying to fight it and tell about it to the society.

But, if you really want, I will also be using this term.

Being members of the PMC, in the period of 2014 to 2017, my colleagues Timur Rakhmatullin, Albina Mudarisova and Vyacheslav Dyundin created uproars many times:

– submitted 85 applications with regard to violations of the convicts’ rights and the PMC members’ rights;
– won 10 trials in favor of the PMC and successfully insisted that the actions of the officers of penal institutions who did not provide the PMC with access to the penal colonies, are declared illegal;
– ensured that former head of penal colony-settlement No.11 Filyus Khusainov, who used the convicts’ labor in his personal purposes and who, together with his deputy, was convicted for committing violent actions of sexual character and abuse of office;
– ensured that former head of Investigative Temporary Detention Facility No.2 Evgeny Shnaider and Head of the Operational Department of this institution Vitaly Simonenko, who beat up three convicts, one of whom, Vladimir Tkachuk, died, having succumbed to injuries, are convicted.

For a long time, for each of these cases the Investigative Committee refused to perform an effective investigation, but my colleagues created various “uproars” within the limits of the law: gathered evidence, appealed against illegal rulings, went to personal appointments, and etc. Only after that we ensured that the criminal cases are opened and the guilty are punished.
Dear Aleksandra Georgiyevna!

We are open for any forms of dialogue (discussion at the round table, face-to-face meetings, even a meeting for a cup of tea together is fine). But under circumstances, I think that the most appropriate form would be an open discussion in the form of a debate. We will talk about the work of the Committee Against Torture and the observance of rights of residents of Orenburg who suffered from torture. I leave the right of the site selection with you.

Regards,
Head of the Orenburg branch of the INGO “The Committee Against Torture” Sergey Babinets