The human rights group Front Line Defenders reports:
Russian Federation – Violent attack against human rights defender Mr Andrei Yurov
On 1 July 2014, at 6:20pm, two men wearing balaclava hoods inflicted several blows and then splashed a green-coloured antiseptic into the face of human rights defender Mr Andrei Yurov. The attack occurred near the Human Rights House in Voronezh. Andrei Yurov was diagnosed with a chemical burn of first degree.
Andrei Yurov is a member of the Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation, and honorary president of the International Youth Human Rights Movement. He is an expert in human rights education and advocacy, and has been the initiator of many human rights and civil society initiatives in Russia and neighbouring countries.
Three days before the attack, the popular human rights festival “City of Rights” organised by the Human Rights House-Voronezh, together with partner organisations, came to a conclusion. During the festival, a number of posters were displayed in public city places in Voronezh. Reportedly the posters were Internet print-outs containing information about the activities of each of the members of the Human Rights House-Voronezh, as well as LGBTI activists of the city. The so-called ‘Group of Changes’ has claimed responsibility for the action, and according to information found on their social network account ‘Vkontakte’, the aim of the action was to “demonstrate the anti-Russian activities of the human rights organisations, as well as to show the existence of a fifth column in the city of Voronezh, which undermines the civil foundations of the state.”
On 25 June 2014, signs with the names of Human Rights House-Voronezh member organisations at the entrance of the organisation’s building were removed or severely bent. On the same day, a banner was placed in the city centre reading “The fifth column in Voronezh. These are traitors, scrum and just freaks! Know their faces!” The banner contained pictures of activists from the Human Rights House-Voronezh, as well as other civil and social activists of the city, including representatives of charity organisations. The ‘Group of Changes’ also claimed responsibility for the action, and witnesses recognised the Group’s active member Mr Alexandr Kaminskij as the one placing the banner.
Front Line Defenders is concerned with the security of human rights defender Andrei Yurov. Evidence shows that the violent attack against him and the harassment campaign against the Human Rights House-Voronezh are motivated by their legitimate and peaceful work for the promotion and protection of human rights in the Russian Federation.
Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in the Russian Federation to:
- Carry out a thorough, impartial and immediate investigation into the attack against human rights defender Andrei Yurov, and into the harassment campaign against the members of the Human Rights House-Voronezh, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;
- Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in the Russian Federation are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.