‘Our countries are governed by the rule of the gun, not the rule of the law…’
On 6 October the head of the Human Rights Center Viasna Ales Bialiatski and the lawyer Uladzimir Labkovich attended the trial, held on the lawsuit of the president of the Chechen Republic Ahmat Kadyrau for protection of his honor and dignity from the Russian human rights organization Memorial. Bialiatski and Labkovich were present at the trial as observers of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH).
After the kidnapping and murder of the well-known Chechen human rights defender Natalya Estimirova the head of Memorial Oleg Orlov said: ‘I am sure I know who is guilty of the murder of Natasha Estimirova. We all know that man. His name is Ramzan Kadyrov, it’s the president of the Chechen Republic. Ramzan has posed threats to Natalya, insulted her and considered her a personal enemy. We don’t know whether it was him who made the order or it was made by his close friends in arms to please their boss. And the president of Russia Medvedev seems to be satisfied having a murderer on the position of the head of a subject of the federation. Memorial also decided to stop the human rights activities in Chechnya due to the practical impossibility to continue them there.
At the trial the members of Memorial voiced the facts and testimonies that precisely demonstrate the fearful atmosphere ruling in Chechnya nowadays. Memorial is convinced that with the consent of Moscow the present Chechen authorities established in the country a violent authoritarian regime that suppresses all manifestations of other-mindedness and uses violence and terror. Civil activists are killed there, ordinary citizens are tortured and their houses are burnt.
Though Tverskoy court of Moscow did punish Memorial with a fine and obliged it to disprove Orlov’s statement, Memorial seems to have won a moral victory.
The Belarusian observers, who were personally acquainted with Natalya Estimirova, used the opportunity to compare the repressive methods that are used in Belarus and Russia and concluded that, though the Belarusian authorities use different reprisals, the results of the confrontation between the authorities and the civil society are virtually the same. There is a great level of fear in our countries. The authorities completely ignore the rights of the citizens of Chechnya and Belarus, covering themselves with declarative statements. Our countries are governed by the rule of the gun, not the rule of the law.
A special report will be prepared on the results of the trial monitoring.