Suren Gazaryan. Photo: online newspaper www.kasparov.ru

18 January 2014, 01:28

Suren Vladimirovich Gazaryan

Suren Gazaryan is an activist of the public organization "Ecological Watch for Northern Caucasus", who was fighting for the preservation of the environment of the Krasnodar Territory, despite being persecuted by law enforcers.

Biography and social activities

Suren Gazaryan was born on July 8, 1974, in Krasnodar.1

In 1996, Suren Gazaryan graduated from the Kuban University (specialization "Biology"), and in 2001, he completed his postgraduate studies at the Institute of Ecology and Evolution named after A. N. Severtsov of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), where he defended his thesis.

In the period from 2004 till 2012, Suren Gazaryan worked at the Institute of Ecology of Mountain Territories of the Kabardino-Balkarian Scientific Centre of the RAS. More than 60 of his scientific papers were published.

Since 1999, Suren Gazaryan is engaged in ecological activities. In 2004, he became a member of the public organization "Ecological Watch for Northern Caucasus", and since 2007, he is a member of its Board. He took an active part in the campaigns against the construction of Olympic facilities in Sochi and against the construction of roads to residences of the Presidential Administration in the Caucasian reserve and the reserve of "Bolshoi Utrish".2

Suren Gazaryan writes blogs in "Live Journal" (gazaryan-suren, with 1500 subscribers) and in "Twitter" (Suren_Gazaryan, with 8000 subscribers).

Prosecutions

Criminal case on fence of "Governor Tkachov's summer cottage"

On February 27, 2011, in the territory of land plot on the Black Sea shore near the Blue Bay, not far from the village of Djubga, next to the villa, allegedly belonging to Alexander Tkachov, the head of the administration of the Krasnodar Territory (the so-called "Governor Tkachov's summer cottage"), a group of ecologists, including Suren Gazaryan, held a protest action called a "picnic". Suren Gazaryan and three other ecologists were detained, and on February 28, 2011, the magistrate court of Tuapse pronounced the verdict of guilty under Article 19.3 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation "disobedience to militiamen". Suren Gazaryan was sentenced to seven days of administrative arrest. On the same day, Suren Gazaryan and three other arrested ecologists went on hunger strike "against militia and judicial tyranny."

On November 13, 2011, a group of activists, including Suren Gazaryan, conducted an environmental inspection of the territory of the state-owned forest fund, adjacent to the alleged summer cottage of Alexander Tkachov, Governor of the Krasnodar Territory, located not far from the village of Divnomorsky.

The activists claim that to enter the territory of the forest fund, which is to be open to the public by law, they dismantled one of the sections of the fence constructed around the territory that included the land plots of Governor Tkachov and citizens Storozenko and Krivneva and about seven hectares of state-owned forest fund, access to which should be open to all citizens of Russia in accordance with the Forest Code. During the inspection, the ecologists revealed that during the construction of the fence, builders cut down dozens of trees, including Pitsynda pine, a plant listed in the Red Book of Russia.

On November 21, 2011, the criminal case was instituted on the fact of dismantlement of the fence under Part 1 of Article 167 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (intentional destruction or damage of property, if these acts have caused significant damage).

On March 1, 2012, officials from the Investigating Division of the Department of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) for the Tuapse District informed Suren Gazaryan and Evgeny Vitishko that they had been involved in the criminal case as suspects.

In February 2012, at the prosecutors' request, the case was reclassified to a heavier Part of the same Article (same acts committed out of hooligan motives, by arson, explosion or other generally dangerous method or resulted in death of a person or other serious consequences). According to investigators, the actions of Suren Gazaryan and Evgeny Vitishko "inflicted damage to the company 'Kapitel-2' amounting to about 119,000 roubles."

On March 13, 2012, Suren Gazaryan and his advocate Viktor Dutlov were detained in the territory of the forest fund when they were collecting evidence in the case, near the so-called "Governor Tkachov's summer cottage of " in Blue Bay. On March 14, the court found them guilty under Article 19.3 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation "disobedience to lawful order of a policeman" and sentenced them to 10 days of administrative arrest.

On April 9, 2012, Suren Gazaryan and Evgeny Vitishko were charged with inflicting damage to the fence near the object, which the ecologists believe to be the summer cottage of Alexander Tkachov, Governor of the Krasnodar Territory.

On May 15, the Tuapse court started the trial against Suren Gazaryan and Evgeny Vitishko in the case of inflicting damage to the fence near the forest fund not far from the "Governor Tkachov's summer cottage."

On June 20, 2012, the Tuapse District Court found Suren Gazaryan and Evgeny Vitishko guilty and sentenced them to three years of conditional imprisonment with a probation period of two years.3

On July 2, the defence of Suren Gazaryan and Evgeny Vitishko filed an appeal against the verdict of the Tuapse District Court. On August 8, the Court of Appeal of the Krasnodar Territory upheld the decision of the Tuapse District Court.

Criminal case on attack on guard of "Putin's summer cottage"

On August 26, 2012, ecologist Suren Gazaryan was detained in the village of Divnomorsky of the Krasnodar Territory during the public inspection of the so-called "summer cottage of Russian President Vladimir Putin". Several hours later, he was released from the OVD (Interior Division) with the decision to institute criminal proceedings; however, the ecologist was immediately re-detained together with three activists who conducted a picket in his support. Later, all the detainees were released.

In late August 2012, the criminal case was instituted against Suren Gazaryan on suspicion of threatening to murder a guard of the "Putin's summer cottage".

On December 15, 2012, Suren Gazaryan claimed being put on the federal wanted list at the request of an investigator from Gelendzhik.

In late December 2012, Suren Gazaryan left Russia, since he feared for a verdict of guilty and appealed to the Estonian authorities for political asylum. 4

On June 11, 2013, the Estonian authorities granted the motion filed by Suren Gazaryan.

Awards

On March 1, 2013, Suren Gazaryan was nominated for the Netizen Award, established by the organization "Reporters without Borders" (RWB).

On April 9, 2013, Suren Gazaryan became one of 10 winners of the contest "Hero of the Caucasus-2012" conducted by the "Caucasian Knot". During voting to determine the first among the heroes, Suren Gazaryan suggested his supporters to cast their votes in favour of Sapiyat Magomedova, an advocate from Dagestan, and she gained the majority of votes 43.4%.

On June 6, 2013, Suren Gazaryan became one of the winners of the annual National Environmental Award. Suren Gazaryan won in the category "Environment and Civil Society".

Sources:

1. "Gazaryan Suren Vladimirovich". The website of the International Organization "Memorial", May 4, 2012.

2. "Gazaryan Suren Vladimirovich". The website of the "Central Election Committee" of the Coordinating Council of the Russian opposition.

3. Two ecologists sentenced for inscriptions "Sanya is a thief" and "This is our forest" made on the fence of the "Governor Tkachov's summer cottage". NEWSru.Com, 21.06.2012.

4. Ecologist put on the wanted list on the case of "Putin's summer cottage" left Russia. NEWSru.Com, 21.12.2012.

 

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