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Urgent Statement by the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation

23 August 2018
Urgent Statement by the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation

Today, Riga City Vidzeme Suburb Court has changed the measure of restraint to activist of the Headquarters for the Protection of Russian Schools Alexander Gaponenko. He has been released from custody.

High Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation Tatiana Moskalkova has repeatedly appealed to Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović, Chairman of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Seong-Phil Hong and called upon the international community and the Latvian ombudsman to defend the detained activist.

"I was very pleased with the news that Alexander Gaponenko was released. This means that the Latvian authorities have heard the opinion of the Russian ombudswoman, all those indifferent citizens of Russia and Latvia, who demanded the release of a man whose only guilt was that he supported preserving Russian-speaking schools and protecting the rights of Russian children, including their right to receive education in the mother tongue," the High Commissioner said.

"His arrest and charges against him of "activities directed against the state independence of Latvia, sovereignty, territorial integrity, state power and non-constitutional structure", as well as inciting national hatred and assistance to a foreign state in activities against Latvia are politically charged. I am convinced that the actions directed against the activist contradict the fundamental principles of democracy, violate the rights of national minorities, including the right to freedom of speech, expression and dissemination of information," Tatiana Moskalkova said.

The High Commissioner hopes that the Latvian authorities will respond to the claims of national minorities and stop violation of their fundamental rights and freedoms.

"However, I note that the case of Alexander Gaponenko is not complete. Next week the court will determine a new measure of restraint to Mr. Gaponenko. According to the advocate of the human rights activist, Alexander Gaponenko will be banned from leaving the country," the High Commissioner noted.

"We continue monitoring the case of Alexander Gaponenko, as well as protection of human rights and freedoms of the Russian-speaking minority of the Republic of Latvia," Tatiana Moskalkova concluded.

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