Alexey Pichugin Acknowledged as Political Prisoner by Renowned Russian Human Rights Group
March 6, 2018
Russian human rights group Memorial Human Rights Center has released its updated list of individuals acknowledged as political prisoners.
Alexey Pichugin, who has been wrongfully imprisoned as a pawn in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s personal vendetta against Yukos and its leadership since 2003, has once more made the list.
The designation of “political prisoner” or “prisoner of conscience” by a renowned human rights group is consequential.
It was the recognition of imprisoned top-level Yukos executives Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev as “prisoners of conscience” by Amnesty International, among others, that helped shine an international light on the Russian government’s wrongdoings in the “Yukos Affair.” Mikhail Khodorkovsky himself credits Amnesty International with having “changed the perception of [his] case in the eyes of governments around the world” and ultimately contributing to his release.
In his recent op-ed for the Wall Street Journal he called on the organization to “put its influence behind a man whose conscience and moral compass compel him to stay true to the truth – of his innocence and the innocence of others – under unrelenting pressure to feed the falsehoods of Mr. Putin’s agenda” and urged the organization to designate Mr. Pichugin “prisoner of conscience.”
Writing for The Hill, Irwin Cotler, Founder and Chair of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, which has also recognized Alexey Pichugin as prisoner of conscience, cited Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari, who had stated that “the prisoner’s worst nightmare is the thought of being forgotten.”
Cotler’s appeal was that
‘[w]e must not forget those arrested by tyrannies around the world who remain imprisoned based on their fidelity to conscience. […]
In every case, Bahari’s words about the political prisoner’s nightmare should serve as our call to action on behalf of the ‘nameless’ ones, whether they are the White Wednesday protesters arrested in Iran or those such as Alexe[y] Pichugin, locked away in distant prisons of the world’s tyrannies. One way to remember them is to recognize these groups of cases and patterns of persecution for what they are – common injustices that demand shared redress. Doing so is essential, for the freedom of these individuals and for the humanity of us all.”
The Memorial Human Rights Center’s designation of Alexey Pichugin – and many others – as political prisoners is an important contribution to the cause of acting on behalf of the ‘nameless ones.’
Source: Memorial Human Rights Center List of individuals acknowledged by Memorial Human Rights Center as political prisoners (not including those persecuted for exercising their right to freedom of religion) as of March 1, 2018, English translation
(click here for the original text in Russian)