Target: President Vladimir Putin
Goal: Drop all charges against Russian protesters in the Bolotnaya case
Twenty-seven Russian protesters were charged with mass riot when they demonstrated against President Vladimir Putin’s inauguration on the eve of the event. A panel of independent experts deem the charges “inappropriate” and “disproportionate,” and many experts on the right to freedom of assembly believe that these protesters were not conspirators or planning to harm the country in any way.
On May 6, 2012, tens of thousands are of protesters gathered in Bolotnaya square in central Moscow to demonstrate. Many Russian citizens believe that Putin is an illegitimate leader, brought to power by a corrupt system and a rigged election. On the day of the protest, several protesters clashed with police, resulting in twenty-nine police and fifty-five protesters reportedly being injured. Witnesses claim that the clashes were sporadic and the injuries were minor. However, the Russian government claimed that the violence was planned and was part of a conspiracy to destabilize the country. Authorities then charged these protesters with mass riot.
In Russian law, mass riot entails the the person was involved in violence, pogroms, destruction of property, use of firearms, or armed resistance against authorities. The twenty seven protesters caught and arrested have been charged with various degrees of mass riot. Ten of the protesters have been behind bars for a year, twelve are currently on trial, two have been sent to prison, and one is facing indefinite psychiatric detention. Eleven of the protesters have fled the country, nine are living in exile, one was forcibly returned to Russia, and another who fled has committed suicide.
The Russian government should not have the power to silence its people. These citizens obviously felt that their leader gained power through illegitimate means. The people should also have the right to freedom of assembly, which wasn’t granted to them. These charges desperately need to be dropped as they violate an inherent human right. Sign this petition and help free these citizens.
Dear President Vladimir Putin,
I demand that all charges be dropped against the twenty seven protesters involved in the Boloytnaya case. These citizens were merely expressing their contempt over your election and were not conspiring to anything. Their actions were not meant to destabilize the country, but to express their thoughts and opinions. All humans have the inherent right to freedom of assembly and freedom of speech. However, by charging these protesters – your citizens – with conspiracy, you are stripping them of their rights.
These charges are extremely outrageous, especially since they prompted several protesters to flee the country. Obviously the government is threatening them much more than they have threatened the government. This is not morally justified, and I hope you realize that.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Yuli Weeks