Human Lives Human Rights: A court in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don has ordered the arrest of a journalist after he made a post on Facebook for “smart voting”- the voting strategy of jailed Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny ahead of parliamentary elections.
Igor Khoroshilov, who is also a member of the local election committee, was detained on September 10 while on his way to work and charged with public dissemination of the symbols of an extremist organization following his Facebook post about Navalny’s Smart Voting strategy.
Earlier this year, Russia declared Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation an “extremist” organization in what critics say is an attempt to quash opposition to the Kremlin.
Navalny, who is serving a jail term on charges he says are bogus, has called on his supporters to vote against candidates from the ruling, pro-Kremlin United Russia party in this month’s parliamentary elections.
The Kremlin has carried out a sweeping crackdown on the opposition heading into the September 17-19 vote amid concerns United Russia could fail to win the two-thirds majority needed to rubber-stamp legislation.
Some opposition politicians have been barred from running for parliament for spurious reasons, while others have left the country amid fear of detention. Journalists and bloggers have also been harassed.
Feliks Berkovich, Khoroshilov’s lawyer, said he was illegally denied access to his client at the police station in Rostov-on-Don.
The lawyer also said his client has the right to immunity during the election season as a member of the election committee.
He said the arrest of his client was “ordered” by the authorities.
Rights Groups React
Responding to his arrest human rights groups say: This is a blatant violation of the right to freedom of expression. Anyone should be able to express their views about the upcoming parliamentary election and candidates. The Russian authorities’ attempts to silence any dissent – be it on the streets, in the independent media or social media – have reached the point of absurdity.”
“This arrest shows the authorities are determined to shut down public support for prisoner of conscience Aleksei Navalny and his “smart voting” campaign.
“Igor Khoroshilov must be released immediately and unconditionally. The authorities must stop their shameless persecution of Aleksei Navalny’s supporters and other dissenters.”