February 25, 2008

Ponomarev since Chicago: Another activist criminalized

Since Lev Ponomarev visited CEERES at The University of Chicago, he has generated a lot of press, as well as ire back home. Unfortunately, this ire has led to Putin's government bringing criminal charges against him. It saddens me to have to reprint the text of the announcement I received this morning:

Russian authorities today brought criminal charges against Lev Ponomarev, head of the All Russian Movement for Human Rights, accusing him of slandering General Yuri Kalinin, head of the Russian prison system. The charges result from accusations made by Mr. Ponomarev that Russia's prison system is inhumane and that, in some prisons, prisoners are routinely tortured and otherwise severely abused. In addition to the criminal charges, Mr. Ponomarev's travel documents were revoked and he was told he would be arrested if he attempted to leave the country.
It appears that today's charges and the travel restriction are reprisals for his recent trip to the United States, where he was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post and Philadelphia Inquirer and gave public lectures on prison conditions and human rights in Russia at Harvard, Columbia, NYU, University of Pennsylvania, University of Chicago and Boston University. While in the United States, Mr. Ponomarev also had a number of other meetings with foundations, academics, human rights groups as well as the Department of State and NSC in Washington. He returned to Moscow a week ago, 15 February.

In addition, I'm posting here other articles related to his visit in the U.S. and return to Russia:

"Holding Medvedev to his words", Washington Post, 2/25

Announcement of charges against Mr. Ponomarev [in Russian]:

"Putin's Political Prisoners" in Wall Street Journal, 2/19, Opinion by Bret Stephens

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