Photo: Wikimedia Commons
They include multi-millionaire and former Yukos owner Leonid Nevzlin, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in what he claims is political persecution, Olga Romanova, founder of Rus Behind Bars, an NGO whose goal is to provide legal and humanitarian assistance to citizens facing Russian investigations and the penitentiary system, lawyer defending political prisoners Ilya Novikov, and others.
Russia has been repeatedly accused of exploiting the Interpol system to achieve political goals. The latest such incident is Italy’s arrest of Ukrainian theater director Yevhen Lavrenchuk on Russia’s extradition request to Interpol.
Open letter to Interpol Commission
- We the undersigned are deeply concerned by the invasion of the Russian Federation into the sovereign territory of Ukraine;
- We view this action as an escalation of a long-established Putin’s repressive regime of kleptocracy;
- We note the brutality with which peaceful protesters against the war in Ukraine are being beaten and detained in the Russian Federation;
- We further note the lack of the fundamental right of freedom of speech and media censorship in the Russian Federation;
- We are deeply concerned that the Russian Federation will escalate the persecution of any and all political opponents;
- We fear that the Russian Federation will use Interpol as a tool to aid in the prosecution of any and all of its political opponents who openly criticize Putin’s Regime, as it has done previously;
- We are concerned that the Russian Federation will continue to fabricate cases in order to prosecute its political opponents and vocal critics of the Putin regime;
- We believe that the Russian Federation will use and abuse the Interpol system in order to lodge red notices and diffusion orders based on falsified claims and arrest warrants issued for politically motivated fabricated cases;
- We are also incredibly concerned by the calls by the ex-President of the Russian Federation, Mr. Dmitry Medvedev to bring back capital punishment.
Given the above concerns, we demand that Interpol places an incredibly high burden of proof on any and all future Red Notice and Diffusion order requests submitted to the system by the Russian Federation. All those requests must be placed under intense scrutiny in order to prevent Putin’s authoritarian regime to continue to abuse it as a tool to persecute his political opponents abroad.
Failing the above we ask that the Russian Federation be excluded from the Interpol system up and until such time that it can definitively prove that the motivation behind such requests is not of oppressive political nature.
Co-signatories: Olga Romanova, Ilya Novikov, Dmitry Fedyunin, Boris Royter, Margarita Kuchusheva, Organization Rus Behind Bars.
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Tags: Interpol, open letter, Russia-EU relations, Russian opposition