31 Oct 2019 14:52

Rights activist reports attempt to search Memorial office in Perm

PERM. Oct 31 (Interfax) - Law enforcement agencies have attempted to search the Perm office of the public organization Memorial and the residence of its head Robert Latypov, Pavel Chikov, the head of the international human rights group Agora, wrote on his Telegram channel on Thursday.

According to Chikov's information, officials from the E Center and investigators from the police and the Investigative Committee tried to search the local Memorial office and Latypov's residence in connection with a criminal case involving illegal tree felling.

"They brought a search warrant on which different addresses were stated. The lawyer demanded that the search be stopped on those grounds, which was done," Chikov said.

Chikov said the search attempt is connected to a criminal case involving an expedition organized by Memorial, whose officials, in cooperation with volunteers, planned to carry out beautification work on the memorial for repressed Lithuanians and Poles in the village of Galyashor, Perm Territory. After the activists cleared the memorial site from tall weeds, a criminal case was opened based on illegal felling of trees.

"The local authorities had resisted the Memorial expedition to the settlements of Galyashor and Velva-Baza, Perm Territory, from the very start: Valery Klimov, the head of the Kudymkarsky district, officially denied Memorial assistance with the organization of the expedition," the report said.

The press service for the Interior Ministry's Main Directorate for the territory has confirmed to Interfax that investigative actions are being taken.

According to the agency, the police and forest officers discovered an instance of illegal tree felling 2.5 km from the settlement of Velva-Baza on August 10. A criminal case was opened based on illegal felling of trees.

In the meantime, the Perm Civic Chamber has reported searches in Memorial's Perm branch. According to public activists, the search warrant was signed on October 25, 2019, by a judge of the Kudymkarsky City Court of the Perm Territory.

The Perm Civic Chamber reported that the Natural Resources Ministry of the Perm Territory fined the local Memorial 200,000 rubles and Latypov was fined 50,000 rubles in October for violations found in the clearing of garbage and dry trees of the Polish-Lithuanian cemetery in the abandoned settlement of Galyashor, Kudymkarsky district, where repressed people from Poland and Lithuania were settled in the 1940s.

The expedition also involved five citizens of Lithuania, at least three of which have been fined, the rights activists said.

Alexei Shardakov, an attorney for the international society Memorial, told Interfax that the organization intends to appeal the search of its Perm office and have everything that was seized returned. Police officers seized electronic media and documents during the searches, Shardakov said. The damage in the case amounts to 80,000 rubles, he said.

The Russian Presidential Human Rights council has asked the prosecutors of the Perm Territory to look into the legality of the searches at Memorial's Perm branch. The Human Rights Council said the investigative actions were uncivil.

The Perm territorial division of the international historical-educational, human rights, and charity society Memorial was founded on December 12, 1988. The organization was founded at a meeting of citizens who are rehabilitated victims of political repression. Memorial now has over 3,000 members, it has 17 branches in the cities and districts of the Perm Territory, and is one of the largest public organizations in the region.