Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation
6 March 2012
Dear Alexander Bastrykin
On 5 March police officers once again detained journalists, who were doing their job and reporting on the rallies in Moscow, although they had all the required ID documents. Certain reporters, moreover, such as Pavel Nikulin of the “Moskovskie novosti (Moscow News) newspaper and Andrei Stenin, a correspondent for the RIA Novosti news agency, were beaten.
We hope that the Investigative Committee will oversee the investigation of these cases which, in our view, would appear to qualify as offences in terms of the latest version of Article 144 of the RF Criminal Code (and, in particular, part 3). It is intolerable that those responsible for law enforcement should enjoy impunity when they break the law.
In this context we would like you to offer an assessment of the actions of your own subordinates who effectively sabotaged the Committee’s direct instructions to check on the facts we presented in our letter to you of 16 December 2011 [concerning arrests and mistreatment of journalists after Duma elections]. We regard the letter the Russian Union of Journalists received from the Tagansky district investigative section in Moscow as nothing short of outrageous and attach a copy of the same for your information.
Chairman, Russian Union of Journalists
4 Zubovsky Boulevard
On 7 December 2011 President Medvedev signed into law an additional third part of Article 144 of the RF Criminal Code, “Obstruction of a journalist in the performance of his or her legal professional duties”. This specified punishment of up to 6 years imprisonment for acts of violence against a journalist, his or her family, destruction of said journalist’s property or threats against the journalist.