Lev Ponomarev: Denunciations are in fashion now

Human rights defender Lev Ponomarev is arrested

Human rights activist and his organization fined 400 thousand rubles

Roskomnadzor again fined Lev Ponomarev, executive director of the For Human Rights movement, and at the same time his organization, in aggregate – 400 thousand rubles. This time – for the publication of material in a personal blog on the website of the radio station “Echo of Moscow”.

Earlier, Ponomarev was fined 100 thousand rubles for an article in Novaya Gazeta. The supervisory authority claims that the materials were not properly labeled in accordance with the law on foreign agents, to which the authorities also include the movement “For Human Rights”.

The law was passed in 2012. Both Russian and international human rights and public organizations are in favor of its abolition. The US authorities condemned the law.

However, Lev Ponomarev is regularly fined and arrested for various reasons. Not so long ago, the 77-year-old human rights activist served a 16-day sentence for reposting a message about an unauthorized rally. And how many times he was even detained, he has already, by his own admission, “lost count”.

In connection with the latest events, the Voice of America Russian Service took an exclusive interview with the Executive Director of the For Human Rights Movement.

Victor Vladimirov: Lev Alexandrovich, how do you explain such increased pressure from the state against you and your organization??

Lev Ponomarev: This is a rather difficult question. On the one hand, I remain an expert with the human rights ombudsmen in Moscow and Russia. We cooperate quite closely with Tatyana Moskalkova (Ombudsman of the Russian Federation – V.V.). In general, it can be understood that there is no common team regarding the need to strangle us or completely stop working with us. It seems to me that this once again shows a split in the actions of different branches of government. Of course, I am, of course, persecuted primarily by security officials and bureaucrats, let’s call them that, from Roskomnadzor. At the same time, I easily admit that the department would not have acted so zealously if they had not received denunciations. Now the fashion for denunciations has gone. Someone in the government remembered this remedy, tested in the Stalinist era, and now they began to actively use it against all those they disliked. But I try to be philosophical about it. In the end, well, they themselves, with their own hands, are doing PR for me.

V.V .: Security officials are a loose concept. Who exactly do you mean?

L.P .: First of all, the FSB. We were one of the first to defend the “Network” and drew public attention to this so-called terrorist organization. We believe that the case against her has been fabricated. Therefore, they began to closely engage in the “New Greatness” business. We were the first to say that the FSB, which is spinning both these cases, was involved in the torture of those under investigation. We also dealt with the persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses, where torture was also recorded. The Investigative Committee is engaged in this area, but the FSB is in charge of it anyway. We consistently defend the followers of Hizb ut-Tahrir. This organization is also considered terrorist in Russia. And this label was glued to her from scratch. These believers have never been involved in any terrorist attacks, and the terms are monstrous. In a word, we are dealing with the most pressing problems. And there is a great suspicion that the FSB, in revenge, is now plotting various intrigues for us. Roskomnadzor in this case is a blind weapon.

V.V .: You said somewhere else that the authorities want to ruin your organization with the help of fines. How are you financing?

L.P .: We collect money by crafting, donations come to us. While we are surviving. We will try to get grants in the West. Since we are foreign agents, we must comply. But, of course, there are difficulties. We have existed for several years on presidential grants. But this year we were deprived of them. Apparently, according to someone’s opinion, we have crossed a certain “red line”. So we are facing a big problem – to find a replacement for Russian money. And Western funds are in no hurry to give us funds.

V.V .: How did all this affect your work??

Lev Ponomarev: Denunciations are in fashion now

L.P .: What is gratifying, the citizens did not treat us worse. People still turn to us for help no less, and maybe even more than before. A lot of letters come from the colonies from prisoners. Another thing is that when we start to interact with officials, they may not answer our letters, neglect us. In this sense, it has become harder to work. As a result, citizens whose rights are violated suffer. The law works against people.

V.V .: What are your next steps?

L.P .: We will appeal to higher courts. True, all hopes are pinned on the European Court of Human Rights. In Russia, it is practically unthinkable to achieve the cancellation of an unfair sentence for “foreign agents”.

V.V .: Recently, it has been possible to obtain a review of sentences in a number of odious cases brought against protesters. Does it make you optimistic?

L.P .: I think now civil society is, if not on the rise, then on the way to it. Society has awakened. Of course, there may be recessions, but the main thing is that there is movement. Of course, this has its own positive. We will do our best to ensure that this is the case in the future..

  • Victor Vladimirov

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