29 Mar 2018 13:41

Council of Europe calls on Russia to investigate attack on Memorial's Dagestan head, punish the guilty

MOSCOW. March 29 (Interfax) - Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muiznieks has condemned the attack on Sirazhutdin Datsiyev, the head of Memorial in Dagestan.

"Yesterday the head of the Human Rights Centre Memorial in Dagestan, Mr. Sirazhutdin Datsiev, was attacked on the way to his office in Makhachkala. I firmly condemn this violent assault against a member of Memorial. It is the latest of a succession of attacks in recent months targeting - human rights defenders working in the North Caucasus," Muiznieks said in his statement, which was shared with Interfax on Thursday.

"The Russian authorities have the obligation to ensure a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders. Thus far, I have not received any information about progress in investigating these violent attacks, nor about adopting measures to protect the victims, their family members and their colleagues," the statement said.

"The environment for human rights defenders in the North Caucasus remains dangerous. Regrettably, the inaction by the authorities only worsens this climate, because it gives the impression that violence against defenders will be tolerated and go unpunished. I therefore call on the Russian authorities to take swift action to investigate and punish those responsible for the attack against Mr. Datsiev," the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner said in his statement.

"More generally, the continuing attacks against those working in the field of human rights in the North Caucasus show the urgency of taking decisive steps to ensure defenders' safety. As I have emphasized before, such steps should include the adoption of a specific legal framework, of a comprehensive public policy and a national action plan, as well as a fully functional rapid response mechanism for protecting human rights defenders. In addition, the authorities should adopt an awareness-raising policy and promote the legitimacy and the work of human rights defenders," the statement said.

Datsiyev was attacked by unknown individuals on Wednesday.

Memorial said Datsiyev had left his residence at go to work around 9:30 a.m.

"There was a Lada Priora with shaded windows not far from his residence. As he passed by the car, he heard steps behind him and then was hit on the head with an unknown object. He fell and could not turn his head, although he did not lose consciousness, and therefore could not see the attacker," the press service said.

A witness told Datsiyev he had been attacked by a man who got out of the Priora. The man then ran back to the car, got into it, and left. Memorial said the attack was connected to Datsiyev's work.