To the Chairman of Government of Russian Federation Vladimir Putin
Krasnopresnenskaya naberzhnaya., 2, Moscow 103274
Members of Human Rights House Network call upon the Russian government to take immediate steps to strengthen freedom of expression and opinion in the Russian Federation in relation with the case of two Russian art curators, Andrey Erofeev and Yuri Samodurov, who organized an exhibition “Forbidden Art 2006”.
Tagansky district court of Moscow found the organizers of the exhibition in Sakharov Museum “Forbidden Art 2006”, former museum director Yury Samodurov and former director of the Department of High Technologies of Tretiakov Gallery Andrey Erofeev guilty of inciting religious hatred and enmity. Samodurov has been sentenced to pay a fine of 200’000 rubles and Erofeev has been sentenced to a fine of 150’000 rubles.
According to the charges held against them, Andrei Erofeev and Yury Samodurov organized an exhibition, “presenting pictures humiliating and insulting Christian groups”. The judge at the Tagansky court ruled that Mr. Erofeev and Mr. Samodurov had “committed actions aimed at inciting hatred and enmity.”
RRCHR thinks the mere fact of bringing the case of the kind before court is wrong and expresses disagreement with the court’s decision. Guilty verdict violates constitutional right of a citizen to expression and opinion and predetermines censorship in the country. Freedom of expression and opinion shall not be restricted or prohibited simply on the grounds that some people find the views expressed offensive or disagreeable. Russian and international law protects freedom of expression and opinion exactly to guarantee that those who hold views considered as disagreeable can hold them.
The cases of Andrey Erofeev and Yury Samodurov symbolize the permanent restrictions on freedom of expression and opinion in the Russian Federation. These restrictions concern journalists, human rights defenders, opposition members, and art and culture people. The undersigning organizations call upon the Russian authorities to take immediate measures to strengthen freedom of expression and opinion in the Russian Federation.
By calling for these measures, we call upon the authorities to fulfil their international obligations, and fully implement the Concluding observations issued by the United Nations Human Rights Committee in 2009 (UN Doc.: CCPR/C/RUS/CO/6) and the two following recommendations made during the United Nations Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review in 2009:
· By Austria: “Create an environment, inter-alia through a legislative framework, that promotes rather than restricts the right to freedom of assembly and that encourages citizens to express their diverse views”
· By Slovakia: “Promote the rights of human rights defenders to freedom of expression, association and assembly.”
Russian Research Centre for Human Rights
Human Rights House Sarajevo (on behalf of the following NGOs):
– Association of Female Citizens “Renaissance”
– Foundation CURE
– Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina
– Regional Co-ordinator for Youth Groups
– Serb Civic Council – Movement for Equality – The Council of the Sarajevo Canton
– Woman and Society Centre