#Human Rights
UN, EU, European Parliamant, President Putin, State Department, Navi Pillay, OHCHR

APRIL 28, 2013 -- Russian opposition activist Alexei Gaskarov has been detained by police in Moscow for his alleged role in the May 6 riots on Bolotnaya Square in the Russian capital, Russia’s Investigative Committee said on Sunday.

Gaskarov, a member of the opposition’s coordinating council, is accused of having led a group of active participants in the mass unrest on Bolotnaya Square, according to the investigators.

"During a scuffle on Bolotnaya Square, Gaskarov himself used violence against a policeman, disturbing his work to detain persons with aggressive behavior," the Investigative Committee said.

Investigators have videos and witnesses' testimony supporting the accusations, the committee said adding that the eyewitnesses have recognized Gaskarov as an offender.

Over 650 people were detained at a May 6, 2012 rally on Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square on the eve of Vladimir Putin’s inauguration to a controversial third presidential term as police clashed with protesters.

Most were soon released, but a case soon followed into what the investigators called mass riots. The probe is ongoing. The riot allegations are hotly disputed by the opposition, which blames the police for provoking the clashes and claims the case is political.

The ‘March of Millions’ opposition protests in Moscow on May 6 2012 turned into a bloody standoff between demonstrators and riot police. Countless witnesses reported police brutality, as well as plain-clothes agents provocateurs, as being the main culprits in the physical scuffling.

Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have noted with alarm what they regard as a systematic clampdown on Russia's civil society, beginning with restrictions on the right of assembly introduced in June 2012.

Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch notes: "The crackdown on civil society that we are witnessing in Russia today is absolutely unprecedented. It started in full swing after the return of Vladimir Putin to the Kremlin."

Gaskarov is scheduled for his first appearance before a judge on Monday, April 29. The pending trials of several other activists who took part in last May's opposition rally on Bolotnaya Square are looming. Like the recent trial of Pussy Riot members and the currently ongoing trial of opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, these trials are widely understood to be nothing more than politcally-motivated show trials.

UPDATE: On April, 29 The Basmanny court of Moscow agreed to the recommendation of the investigation requesting that Alexei Gaskarov be placed into custody as a pretrial restraining measure. Alexei is charged with crimes under part 2 of article 212 of the RF Criminal Code (participation in mass riots) and part 1 of article 318 (use of violence against representatives of the authority). As a result of the court's decision, he is to remain detained for a minimum of two months up to June 28.

For more information on this case please visit this webpage created to support Mr. Gaskarov and secure his freedom: http://gaskarov.info/

Information is available in several languages, see the flags on the right-hand side to choose.

We the undersigned demand the immediate and unconditional release of Aleksei Gaskarov as well as other activists who are being prepared for trial on charges relating to last May's "March of Millions" opposition rally.

We further demand that the government of the Russian Federation fully comply with its human rights obligations under international law and cease all forms of repression against Russia's civil society.

GoPetition respects your privacy.

The Free Aleksei Gaskarov, Russian Opposition Activist petition to UN, EU, European Parliamant, President Putin, State Department, Navi Pillay, OHCHR was written by John S. Burke and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.