Protecting human rights for decades on end, Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor has always focused on the imperative of forming systemic approaches to problems of foreign nationals and stateless persons in the Republic of Armenia. In the context of this mission, the Organization has recently had a huge volume of work protecting rights of the Russian Federation citizens who have been subjected to political persecution by the RF law enforcement, and have somehow managed to cross the RF border and come to Armenia. However, they often feel the impact of illegal criminal prosecution entailing from political persecution of the RF law enforcement even in the Republic of Armenia, manifested in various restrictions of their rights.
Over the last six months, around thirty Russian Federation citizens have applied to HCA Vanadzor requesting support to protect their rights and restore their violated rights. All of the aforementioned citizens were provided with oral or written legal support, as well as legal representation in the Republic of Armenia domestic instances and the European Court of Human Rights. In the majority of those cases, criminal proceedings and prosecution initiated in the RF have been grounds for legal restrictions in the RA. In particular, those citizens have had their right to movement limited, which, according to lawyers of HCA Vanadzor, amounts to gross violation of foreign nationals’ rights by the sovereign Republic of Armenia. Thus, HCA Vanadzor has been initiating all the necessary measures to eliminate those violations.
There is a noteworthy pattern whereby in almost all cases the Russian Federation uses criminal proceedings as a tool for political persecution, since the majority of Articles under which citizens are charged in criminal cases have been added to the RF Criminal Code after 24 February 2022, i.e., the war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine; those Articles aim to suppress and silence citizens’ anti-government statements and anti-war positions. Below are the main Articles under which citizens were charged:․
Article 280 of the RF Criminal Code: Public Appeals for the Performance of Extremist Activity / edited on18․03․2023․/,
Article 207.3 of the RF Criminal Code: Public dissemination of knowingly false information about use of Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, performance of their powers by state authorities of the Russian Federation, provision of support by volunteer units, organizations or individuals in performance of tasks assigned to the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation/ edited on 25.03.2022/
Article 239 of the RF Criminal Code: Establishment of a non-commercial organization infringing on personality and rights of citizens /edited on 29.12.2022․/
Article 360 of the RF Criminal Code: Assault of threat of assault on persons or institutions under international protection /edited on 28.04.2023․/ , etc.
Noteworthy, the mentioned Articles, as well as most of the other ones, are not enshrined in the RA Criminal Code, thus an action comprising corpus delicti of the listed Articles is not considered a crime under the RA legislation, which makes even more apparent the unlawfulness and illegality of restrictions imposed by the RA on persons for actions not considered subject to criminal prosecution. Therefore, it is no coincidence that this was one of the essential legal grounds for eliminating relevant restrictions or preventing extradition.
It should be recorded that extradition of politically persecuted and other RF citizens by the RA will lead to a violation of the absolute right to be free from torture by the RA, since fundamental human rights are not protected in the RF, and after extradition there are reasonable risks that they will be subjected not only to torture and degrading treatment, but even summary execution, about which there are numerous facts.
It should be noted that we have formed close collaboration with the RA Human Rights Defender in this sphere, and have jointly reached essential changes in the RA Police conduct: as a rule citizens used to be detained when crossing the RA border based on the RF decision on declaring those persons wanted.
Speaking of results achieved, it should be mentioned that within a short period of time, due to persistent efforts of HCA Vanadzor, legal restrictions have been eliminated in non-contentious phase for 7 citizens who have a status of accused in criminal proceedings initiated due to their political positions in the RF, as a result of which movement restrictions (prohibition of crossing the RA border) were imposed on them; after that they had the opportunity to avail themselves of humanitarian visas granted by other countries and freely leave the RA state border. RF requirement to extradite one citizen was rejected and she has already left the RA together with her minor child. In several other cases, RF citizens groundlessly detained in the RA were immediately released due to rapid response and measures initiated.
Applications have been filed with the court for 9 citizens claiming to either eliminate restrictions imposed or (in case restrictions have already been eliminated) recognize use of restrictions unlawful and claim for compensation for damage later. 4 other cases are in the preparation stage, while HCA Vanadzor lawyers and advocates carry out consultative or legal protection in non-contentious phases in more than a dozen cases, pursuing the essential idea that the sovereign Republic of Armenia governed by the rule of law should not implement unlawful requirements of a state internationally recognized as an aggressor and massively violate human rights as a result, and must implement activities stemming from the imperative of safeguarding and protecting human rights and freedoms.
* At the same time, Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor hereby notes that all foreign nationals or stateless persons, who have been subjected to persecution in their countries due to their beliefs and are currently facing the legal risk of extradition or restriction of their rights by the RA, can apply to the Organization to get free legal aid.
To get free legal aid, the mentioned persons can call HCAV lawyers at