British lawyer barred from entering Russia to monitor trial of the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society in Nizhny Novgorod
Joint Statement by the Moscow Helsinki Group and the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights
Moscow, Vienna, 15 November 2005. British human rights expert Prof. Bill Bowring was scheduled to monitor the trial of Russian-Chechen Friendship Society leader Stas Dimitrievsky in Nizhny Novgorod, but was refused entry to the Russian Federation without explanation.
Upon arrival at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, Professor Bowring was questioned by the FSB for more than four hours during which time his passport was withheld, and finally refused entry despite the fact that all his papers were reportedly in order and he had a valid Russian visa. A representative of the Ombudspersons Office of the Russian Federation, who called authorities at the airport, was told that the Russian Federation has full discretion over whom to admit.
The Moscow Helsinki Group and the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights commented: "Expert international observers help ensure that trials take place in accordance with the international standards to which Russia is committed as a member of the Council of Europe and the OSCE. The rights of Russian citizens are not served by keeping them out."
In June 2005, Professor Bowring had traveled to Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod on behalf of the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) to write a report on “The situation concerning the actions of state bodies in relation to the Society for Russian-Chechen Friendship". Additionally he is the academic coordinator of the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC) in London, an organisation that assists individuals, lawyers and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) within the Russian Federation to take human rights cases to the European Court of Human Rights.
In the 14 November hearing on the de-registration-case against the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society (RCFS), the judge refused the Ministry of Justice in its civil action to liquidate the RCFS (see the following RCFS statement).
Two trials are scheduled for Wednesday, 16 November 2005, concerning the case against Stanislav Dmitrivsky, Director of Russian-Chechen Friendship Society (RCFS), who has been charged under article 282 of the criminal code inciting hatred or enmity on the basis of ethnicity and religion", and the complaint filed by the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society (RCFS) against the federal tax inspection office in the region of Nizhniy Novgorod who allegedly began a series of unauthorized withdrawals from their bank account on 26 August 2005.