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Russia: Prominent Human Rights Defender Jailed For A Facebook Post

The Russian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release 77-year-old human rights activist, Lev Ponomarev, who was sentenced today to 25 days in administrative detention for calling for an unauthorized rally, Amnesty International said.

“Lev Ponomarev is one of the pillars of the human rights movement in Russia. With this sentence the Russian authorities have shown their contempt for human rights, punishing a man who has devoted his life to defending them,” said Natalia Zviagina, Director of Amnesty International’s Office in Moscow.

“After speaking out against the injustices suffered by others at the hands of Russia’s so-called justice system, Lev Ponomarev is now its latest victim. For the Russian authorities, Ponomarev’s outstanding contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights equates him to a criminal. By locking him up over a Facebook post, written in support of a peaceful rally, the authorities have shown they will stop at nothing to crush freedoms in Russia.”

For the Russian authorities, Ponomarev’s outstanding contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights equates him to a criminal
Natalia Zviagina, Director of Amnesty International’s Office in Russia

On 2 December, Lev Ponomarev was charged with “repeated violation” of the restrictive Russian law on public assemblies, on account of a Facebook post published in October. The post called for a peaceful rally to show solidarity with young activists arrested under repressive Russian “anti-extremism” and “anti-terrorism” laws. Earlier, in July, Ponomarev had been fined for holding a one-man picket in support of the prosecuted activists, which made this a “repeated offense”.

The prominent human rights defender sought the authorities’ approval for the rally but was arbitrarily denied it. The rally in Moscow scheduled on 28 October was banned and its participants were dispersed by the police.

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