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April 11, 2006

Sentence of Russian Human Rights Activist Affirmed

New York – Today, a court in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, upheld the February 3 conviction and sentence of Stanislav Dmitrievsky, a prominent human rights activist. Under Russian law, the prosecution and the defense had the opportunity to appeal the conviction before the sentence came into effect. The prosecution demanded an increase in the sentence placed upon Dmitrievsky, while the defense requested a reversal of the conviction.

“It is regrettable that in today’s Russia, the right to speak out peacefully on human rights will not be upheld by the courts,” said Maureen Byrnes, Executive Director of Human Rights First. “This court decision will further disrupt the work of the RCFS and send a chilling message to anyone in Russia who dares to speak out against human rights violations in Chechnya and the North Caucasus.”

Dmitrievsky, the managing director of the Russian Chechen Friendship Society (RCFS) and editor of the newspaper Pravozaschita (Human Rights Defense), was convicted on February 3, 2006, of “inciting ethnic hatred.” He was convicted under article 282, part 2b of the Russian Criminal Code, which is a law intended to control religious and nationalist extremists who incite hate crimes and violence against minority groups.

Under a law signed by President Putin on January 10, 2006, which will come into effect later this month, Dmitrievsky will be barred from managing the activities of RCFS and serving as editor-in-chief of Pravozaschita as a result of his conviction.