05 September 2009, 23:00
In Moscow, unknown persons gather information about "Memorial" employees
On September 3, certain strangers, who presented themselves as tax inspectors, came to the registration addresses of Oleg Orlov, chairman of the Board of the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial", and Alexander Cherkasov, a member of Board, and tried to find out details of their life.
In the evening on September 3, a neighbour told Mr Orlov's mothers that about 4:00 p.m. on that day somebody called at the door. She saw an Asian-looking man of middle age, who presented himself as "an employee of the tax inspection". The neighbour talked with the man. He showed her some papers and asked about the persons who actually lived in the apartments on their floor, and whether apartments were leased by someone.
The visitor paid special attention to the apartment, where Oleg Orlov is registered and asked about Orlov himself. The neighbour told nothing particular. As it was found out later, the same man also addressed same questions to another neighbour on the same floor, as the HRC "Memorial" reports.
On the following day, September 4, Mr Orlov called the district tax inspection. There, he was told that no inspectors ever go for holding this sort of interrogations, and advised him to address the militia.
In the morning on September 3, a woman called at the door of the apartment, where Alexander Cherkasov is registered. His mother opened the door. The visitor presented herself as an employee of tax inspection. She had some papers in hands and asked, whether anyone from among the neighbours was engaged in illegal entrepreneurship.
According to Mr Cherkasov's mother, the woman knew the names and surnames of the residents of different adjacent apartments. Since "the woman looked decent", the mother, without asking for documents, let her in to show that the apartment is not used for entrepreneurial activity. When asked about Alexander Cherkasov's occupation, his mother said that he is engaged in "research activities".
On September 4, Mr Cherkasov addressed the tax inspection. He was told at the department of cameral checks that no employees of the inspection were sent on the eve to his address.
"In the context of recent threats addressed to human rights organizations and their employees, and attacks on human rights activists both in Moscow and in other regions of Russia, the HRC "Memorial" expresses its concern of the fact that unknown persons, having informed false data about themselves, were gathering information about the employees of the Centre," runs the statement of the "Memorial".