21 February 2015, 23:40
Mikhail Savva predicts spread of Krasnodar repressions throughout Russia
The Krasnodar Professor Mikhail Savva has explained, in his interview to the "Caucasian Knot", the reasons that impelled him to emigrate, and commented on the situation in the Krasnodar Territory in connection with the persecution of non-profit organizations (NPOs). He believes that power agents will continue persecuting him; therefore he has no intention to return to Russia, even in the event of revocation of his verdict or amnesty. Besides, as Professor Savva has stated, Russian NPOs may face a "decorative future."
On February 20, Tatiana Churikova, the spokesperson of the Chief Department of the Federal Penitentiary Service (known as FSIN) for the Krasnodar Territory, said that after his departure from Russia Mikhail Savva, who had been sentenced to conditional imprisonment on charges of fraud, was put on the federal wanted list. Mikhail Savva did not disclose the country of his current stay; he answered the questions of the "Caucasian Knot" by e-mail.
Case of "Levados" Centre and continued persecution
"Caucasian Knot" (CK): Was the fear to be attracted to a new prosecution the only reason for your departure, or were there other reasons?
Mikhail Savva (MS): There were no other reasons. I knew that the next investigator's step will be my indictment in the criminal case against the director of the "Levados" Information Centre; thus, given my current conditional sentence, it meant immediate custody, even before the trial.
CK: Why do you think that the development of the case against the Krasnodar "Levados" Centre threatened with your custody?
MS: Actually, the case was initiated with the aim to place me there... But I couldn't afford becoming a victim. The authorities are at war against the thinking part of the nation. By falsifying criminal cases, they capture prisoners of this war. If you get captured, act according to the algorithm: "Survive – get freedom – continue your struggle". That's what I did.
Back in April 2013, four days before my arrest, Elena Shablo, the director of the "Levados", was questioned at the Department of the FSB for the Krasnodar Territory for more than nine hours. They demanded from her to evidence against me – just any evidence, anything. They intimidated her, threatening to imprison her for a long time, that she would never see his child.
CK: Can you tell us what happened during your last interrogation?
MS: During the interrogation on December 25 last year, investigator Tsygankov formulated his questions as follows: "Do you acknowledge that you...", and then, a ready accusation followed. For example, that, as it turned out, I held not all the classes in the course of this project. That is, for him and his curators from the territorial FSB, I was already the accused. A formality remained – to officially charge me. This would have happened at the next interrogation.
Challenging the verdict before the Supreme Court and at the ECtHR
CK: You said that in the near future you were going to appeal against the verdict at the Supreme Court of Russia. Have you done it?
MS: In January, my advocate was to submit a cassation appeal to the Presidium of the Krasnodar Territorial Court. I have no hope for justice in the Krasnodar Territory, and in Russia as a whole; but I'll go through all the instances.
CK: Are you going to complain to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR)?
MS: Yes, in the near future, a complaint to the ECtHR will be submitted. Given such violations, as in my case, the ECtHR has always cancelled sentences of national courts. For example, the charge against me was based on the testimony of one person; and the court gave no chance to me and my advocate to interrogate him. Moreover, this person is not a witness, who can be charged for perjury, but a co-accused one, who won't be punished for false testimony. And this is just one example. There were pretty plenty of other violations.
CK: Will you return home, if the Supreme Court cancels the verdict?
MS: No, I will not go back, even in case of verdict revocation or amnesty. The reason is that in Russia criminal cases are opened "on a click", without the event and attributes of a crime. They may acquit you under one case, and immediately put you in jail under a new one. These people are sure of their impunity; they act arrogantly and cynically. I may come back, only when they stop political repressions in my country.
CK: Do you hope for acquittal by the Supreme Court of Russia?
MS: No, I don't. As I said, the chances at the Supreme Court are minimal – it is also a part of the uniform investigative-judicial conveyor...
CK: Have you already applied for political asylum?
MS: Yes, I've asked for asylum.
CK: What do you think about possible persecution of your colleagues in connection with your case?
MS: Now, Elena Shablo, my colleague in the non-profit sector, is under blow. In fact, she has been taken a hostage; and I'm their target. I think this list will not be complemented with members of other organizations.
CK: Your trial received a great resonance: the Human Right Watch stood in your defence, as well as the Human Rights Council under the President; you were recognized as a political prisoner. Do you have now support from human rights organizations and in what form?
MS: Yes, I have it; in the form of legal aid, which is very important for me. And this is also a moral support, which generally can not be estimated. I am grateful to everyone who has supported me and my family.
Future of NPOs in Kuban (Krasnodar Territory) and in Russia
CK: In one of your speeches you treated the Krasnodar Territory as a demonstrative territory, "where the employees of the so-called 'law enforcement bodies' master their new methods of political repressions to be used later throughout Russia." What future do you expect for NPOs in the Krasnodar Territory and in Russia as a whole?
MS: A decorative future. Currently, in the Krasnodar Territory, they "demolish" the NPOs, which, according to the so-called "law enforcers" may, at least theoretically, become consolidation centres of civil activeness. They are destroyed, so that they never become potential foci of resistance to the pressure of the current regime. Only those organization are preserved, which for some reason are considered as safe. After my case, their loyalty is ensured by one more instrument – threats to open criminal cases on charges of misuse of governmental grants. Almost all of them received such grants. And I know that several NPO leaders received such threats in the course of my trial. Formally, the NPO sector will exist, but only as an appendage of those in power...
The interview with Mikhail Savva was organized by Anna Gritsevich, a "Caucasian Knot" correspondent.
February 20, 2015.
Full text of the interview is available on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’.