Target: Judge Konchakov of the Dzerzhinsk City Court
Goal: Thank the Dzerzhinsk City Court for Refusing to Ban Activist’s Book
The Dzherinsk City Court recently rejected an attempt by the Nizhny Novgorod Prosecutor’s Office to ban the book International Tribune for Chechnya, a work by well known war crimes activist Stanislav Dmitrievsky. The book called for a fair trial of those implicated in war crimes during the Chechnyan conflict, and was targeted by authorities on the basis that it was “extremist,” despite only recommending standard legal procedure. This decision is a huge step forward for human rights and the campaign against censorship in Russia and deserves international support.
International Tribune for Chechnya, while not extremely popular with a wider audience, proved very controversial for its suggestions. Since its publication, Dmitrievsky has been stalked, attacked, and has even been a victim of arson. These acts were believed to be the work of Dmitrievsky’s enemies in the local police force, and have been somewhat tenuously linked to authorities in the area. It is hoped that this decision will silence Dmitrievsky’s critics and stop these violent attacks.
Dmitrievsky’s book was published several years ago. Had the decision to ban it been upheld, Russian authorities would have been forced into a costly campaign to eradicate it. Also, under Russian censorship law, Dmitrievsky would have been forced to remove all mentions of it from his website. The cost of enforcing such a sentence likely contributed to the City Court’s decision.
The City Court’s decision is not only a huge victory for Dmitrievsky, but for all those who were victimized during the Chechnyan conflict. It also marks a small but very important victory for free speech in Russia, which has been under attack from a variety of parties in recent years. For all of this, the small Dzerzhinsk city court deserves acclaim and international support.
Dear Judge Konchakov,
The Dzherinsk City Court recently rejected an attempt by the prosecutor’s office to ban Stanislav Dmitrievsky’s work, International Tribune for Chechnya from store shelves. The work’s bold suggestion to investigate and prosecute guilty parties for war crimes during the Chechnyan conflict have been extremely controversial, and the attempts to ban it are par for course for the greater body of the Russian government.
What is surprising is the decision of the City Court to stand up for the author’s rights and reject the petition to ban the work. This is a hugely important step for free speech in Russia, as well as a deeply meaningful gesture for all of those victimized during the Chechnyan conflict. We write in support of the court’s decision, and with the hope that the court will continue to hold the same values in the future.
[Your Name Here]
Image Credit to Edouard Hue via Wikimedia Commons