Democracy & Justice

Five Italian Activists Taken Into Custody by Russian Police

Five Italian activists from civil society organizations were arrested yesterday by police in Ninzhny Novogorod, Russia, as they took part in an exchange project on the role of civil society.

by Ilaria Giacomi
Three activists from Antigone, a Liberties member organization, and the presidents of Arcigay and A Buon Diritto, Italian organizations committed to advocating for civil rights, were arrested yesterday and released after several hours in police custody.

Italian consular authorities in Russia and the minister of foreign affairs were alerted immediately after the arrests in order to assist the human rights advocates and mediate with the police.

Told to leave

The activists were always free to communicate and were treated respectfully. They were individually interviewed by the police and asked to sign a report of the arrest.

Released after a few hours, they have been accused of administrative violations related to the purpose of their stay in Russia, and they were recommended to return to Italy quickly, in order not to prolong their wrongful stay.

Russian NGOs closely monitored

The activists were arrested in Ninzhny Novogorod, while in a meeting at the headquarters of the Regional Public Monitoring Commission, the civil society body for monitoring places of detention. The meeting had been organized by another NGO, Man and Law, which is working in partnership with Antigone on a project of exchange of practices and cooperation with Russian civil society.

The purpose of the project is to foster advocacy and commitment for civil rights in Russia through empowering local organizations with good practices from other countries.

Unfortunately, Russian civil society organizations have a very hard time getting heard and are hardly tolerated by the government, which closely monitors their activities and those of their partner organizations.

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