Last week, the Khimki hostages, Maxim Solopov and Alexei Gaskarov, were released from police custody on their own recognizance by the Khimki municipal court.
The fact that we secured their release is important, but it is still not a complete victory. We must redouble our efforts and continue our campaign because:
* The criminal case against Alexei and Maxim has not been closed. If they are tried and convicted, they could face up to seven years in prison.
* Prosecutors have now formally charged Alexei and Maxim (with disorderly conduct) and are demanding that the activists be returned to jail pending trial.
* Prosecutors have now added other social activists to the list of possible defendants and suspects in their investigation of the July 28 demonstration in Khimki. If charged and convicted, these activists could also receive lengthy terms in prison.
* The law enforcement officials responsible for the coercion and torture of witnesses during the course of the investigation have not yet been charged or punished for their actions.
* In the recent past, there have been cases in Russia where an accused person has been released pending trial (the same procedure that led to the release of Maxim and Alexei last week) only to later wind up behind bars again with a hefty prison sentence. For example, the Siberian trade union activist Valentin Urusov was released on his own recognizance after an appellate court overturned his conviction (on a fabricated drugs possession charge) in May 2009, but in June of the same year the original lower court reaffirmed its verdict and sentenced him to six years in prison. A higher court later reduced this sentence only to five years.
Therefore, we must force the Russian authorities to drop all charges and close their criminal investigation.
As before, we call on you to join us in the struggle for Alexei and Maxim’s freedom. That is why we renew our appeal for you to join us in the International Days of Action scheduled for November 12–15, when we will be demanding that the authorities close their criminal case and free Alexei and Maxim unconditionally.
Campaign for the Release of the Khimki Hostages
Telephone: +7 (915) 053-5912