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Russia must investigate claims that MP's assistant tortured after Ukraine abduction

Claims that a Russian opposition MP’s assistant was abducted in Ukraine and forced to return to Russia where he has alleged he was tortured or otherwise ill-treated must be investigated, Amnesty International said today in a letter to the Russian Federation Prosecutor General.

Leonid Razvozzhayev, an assistant to Russian opposition MP Ilya Ponomaryov, was reportedly interrogated by Russia’s Investigations Committee on 22 October, three days after his abduction from Ukraine, which followed his approach to the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees Office in Kyiv to seek asylum.

His abduction took place on the same day he was put on a Russian “wanted list” in connection to a criminal case against him and two others - the leftist front activist Sergei Udaltsov and his assistant Konstantin Lebedev - on charges of plotting mass disturbances.

Confessions and testimonies were allegedly extorted from Razvozzhayev through unlawful means of interrogation while he was in police custody in Russia and used to incriminate him, Lebedev and Udaltsov. Razvozzhayev made the allegations on a video subsequently posted on the internet as he was escorted by police from a Russian court on 21 October. The next day it was announced that the Investigation Committee would investigate the allegations.

In its letter to the Russian authorities, Amnesty has underlined the fact that Russia is party to several treaties which prohibit torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Amnesty International Europe and Central Asia Deputy Programme Director David Diaz-Jogeix said:

“Allegations that Leonid Razvozzhayev was abducted by Russian Federation government agents and tortured or subjected to other forms of ill-treatment are extremely disturbing and the Russian Federation must ensure such allegations are promptly, thoroughly, effectively and independently investigated.

“Any official found to have sanctioned or conducted such acts must be held accountable. In addition, while it is not clear what role Ukraine has, if any, in this incident, a determination of Ukraine’s involvement should be made by an independent and impartial investigation.

“Amnesty International is concerned that the investigation by the Investigation Committee into these allegations will not be effective and independent, given that the allegations are against the Committee itself.”

Leonid Razvozzhayev and Konstantin Lebedev are reported to have been denied access to their lawyers, with Razvozzhayev being allocated a new lawyer reportedly not of his own choosing to replace the one he and his family had contracted earlier.

David Diaz-Jogeix added:

“Amnesty International emphasises that the alleged denial of access of the lawyers to their clients constitutes a violation of Russian criminal procedure and of the right of Leonid Razvozzhayev and Konstantin Lebedev to legal counsel of their own choice and this must be rectified.

“Such actions call into question whether the authorities intend to conduct the trial of Leonid Razvozzhayev, Konstantin Lebedev and others accused in connection with this criminal case, in line with international fair trial standards.”

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