Investigate Attacks Against Human Rights Defender

Target: Russia President Vladimir Putin

Goal: Investigate arson attack on human rights defender Igor Sazhin and his family

In early February 2014, human rights defender Igor Sazhin’s apartment was attacked by an unknown assailant. Video from Sazhin’s apartment building shows that the man set the rug outside his family’s apartment ablaze after dousing it with what was presumably fuel. Despite Sizhan filing a complaint with the police immediately afterward, the police claim the attempted arson was not a crime and refuse to investigate.

This attack is likely related to anti-human rights and anti-internationalist sentiment in the region. Sazhin is a founding member of the Komi Human Rights Commission, which has been consistently targeted by the ultra-nationalist group Northern Frontier. In May 2013, Northern Frontier attacked a meeting of the Human Rights Commission. In addition, they have posted the names and addresses of many local human rights defenders, including Sazhin.

Though Sazhin’s family escaped injury, there is no assurance that the victims of Northern Frontier’s next attack will be so lucky. The ultra-nationalist group must be told that any violent actions are unacceptable. When the police take no action even though there is a video proving the crime, it sends a clear message that officials are willing to tolerate violence against human rights defenders.

The police need to immediately open an investigation into this arson attack. In addition, President Putin should decry any violent political actions as deplorable. Without this official response, human rights defenders across Russia will be in implicitly acceptable targets for ultra-nationalists.

Tell Putin to take these actions.


Dear President Vladimir Putin,

Attacks on human rights defenders are not uncommon in any country. However, when the police do not investigate these attacks, the violence is implicitly authorized. Like anyone else, human rights defenders deserve the equal protection of the law.

Police have refused to investigate an arson attack against Igor Sazhin that was likely sparked by ultra-nationalist sentiment in the region. Northern Frontier, an ultra-nationalist group, has attacked Sazhin in the past and published his name and address on their website. This attack must be decried and investigated.

For these reasons, I urge you to call for investigation into the arson attack against Igor Sazhin and his family in the Komi region. The people of Russia must understand that politically-motivated violence is not a tactic that the government allows.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: SchuminWeb via Wikimedia Commons

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