Russia: Violence against Greenpeace activists amid ongoing assault on freedom of association
Responding to the violent attack last night by masked men on activists from Greenpeace Russia and Environmental Watch for the North Caucasus camp in Krasnodar Region (Southern Russia), Amnesty International said:
“The violent attack on Greenpeace and Environmental Watch activists who came to Krasnodar Region to help extinguish forest fires takes a step further the ongoing assault on the right to freedom of association in Russia. Whoever is behind this vicious act, it clearly happens in the context of reprisals and smear campaigns against independent civil society organizations which have been orchestrated by the authorities. Failure to investigate this incident promptly and effectively, and to protect the activists from further violence would be akin to official acquiescence in this attack,” said Sergei Nikitin, Head of Amnesty International’s office in Russia.
Volunteer fire-fighters and activists from Greenpeace Russia and Environmental Watch for the North Caucasus had come to Krasnodar Region to train local activists and jointly help extinguish forest fires. On the night of 8 September, a group of around eight masked men armed with batons, knives and rubber-bullet pistols attacked the site where they were camping. Several activists were injured, and two had to be hospitalised. The assailants also damaged their tents and slashed their vehicles’ tyres and broke their windscreens.
On 8 September a group of men dressed as Cossacks (uniformed paramilitaries who are often involved informally in local policing), prevented the activists from visiting the base camp used by the Ministry of Emergencies personnel. The Cossacks told them to leave the region. The activists had also received anonymous threats, and their campsite was vandalised with graffiti.
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