Frontline Defenders today protested the harassment and arrest of Konstantin Golova, an environmental and human rights activist in Tolyatti, which is about 600 miles east of Moscow. Golova has been labeled an “extremist” for his activism, including work on behalf of human rights for LGBTI people. This is the report from Frontline Defenders:
Russia – Human rights defender Konstantin Golava facing charges
On 14 May 2015, the bank accounts of human rights defender Mr Konstantin Golava were frozen following events of the 13 May 2015, in which investigators searched the premises of the human rights defender in Tolyatti, and summoned him for questioning on charges of extremism.
Konstantin Golava is a human rights defender who works to promote LGBTI and environmental rights. In 2012 he joined the human rights movement “Avers”, which supports the LGBTI community in Russia through legal and psychological consultation. In January 2013, he founded the non-governmental organisation “Alternative (civilian) service”, which provides advice and support on issues connected to military service, which is mandatory for Russian men between the ages of 18-27.
On 14 May 2015, the Federal Financial Monitoring Service of the Russian Federation arbitrarily included Konstantin Golava on the “list of active extremists”. His bank accounts were subsequently frozen. The labelling of the human rights defender as an “extremist” precludes him from applying for employment. The decision followed the arrest of the human rights defender at his flat on 13 May 2015, by Tolyatti’s Centre for Combating Extremism. He was detained for questioning following his arrest before being released. He now faces charges under Article 282 of Russia’s Criminal Code (Incitement of National, Racial, or Religious Enmity) in connection with statements he published on the Russian social network website “Vkontakte” in 2014. Investigators stated that “the suspect published textual and graphic content, which according to expertise contain linguistic and psychological indication of humiliation based on belonging to Russian nationals, who are citizens of Russia”.
Earlier on the day of his arrest, Golava’s apartment was searched, and technical equipment, including the laptops of the human rights defender and his family, were confiscated. Court proceedings against the human rights defender are scheduled to begin in two months time. Golava will be obliged to undergo psychological and psychiatric examinations before its commencement.
Golava has previously faced harassment as a result of his human rights work. In 2013 he was dismissed from his job at the Chance Youth Centre, after having been asked to stop his work for the advancement of LGBTI rights, particularly through mass and social media, and warned of the possibility of his dismissal in the case of his refusal.
Front Line Defenders expresses its concern at the searching of Konstantin Golava’s apartment, his summons on fabricated charges, and attempts to undermine his name and work through defamation, as it believes these acts of harassment be directly related to his legitimate work in the defence of human rights.
Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Russia to:
1. Immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Konstantin Golava, as Front Line Defenders believes they are solely motivated by his legitimate work in defence of human rights;
2. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Russia are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.
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