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Russian Federation / Georgia: Fear of forcible repatriation / fear for safety

, رقم الوثيقة: EUR 46/005/1998

Guram Absandze and Nemo Burchuladze: Guram Absandze, the minister of finance in former President Zviad Gamsakhurdia's government and Vice-President of the "Georgian Government in Exile", and Nemo Burchuladze, deputy speaker of the Georgian Supreme Soviet during the presidency of Zviad Gamsakhurdia, are apparently facing imminent and forcible repatriation to Georgia after being arrested in Russia, allegedly at the request of the Georgian authorities. If returned to Georgia, AI fears that they would be at risk of grave violations of their human rights.

PUBLIC AI Index: EUR 46/05/98
UA 88/98 Fear of forcible repatriation/Fear for safety 18 March 1998
RUSSIAN FEDERATION/GEORGIAGuram ABSANDZE (_____ ________)
Nemo BURCHULADZE (____ __________)
Guram Absandze, the minister of finance in former President Zviad Gamsakhurdia’s
government and Vice-President of the “Georgian Government in Exile”, and Nemo
Burchuladze, deputy speaker of the Georgian Supreme Soviet during the presidency
of Zviad Gamsakhurdia, are apparently facing imminent and forcible repatriation
to Georgia after being arrested in Russia, allegedly at the request of the Georgian
authorities. If returned to Georgia, Amnesty International fears that Guram Absandze
and Nemo Burchuladze would be at risk of grave violations of their human rights,
specifically torture or ill-treatment.
Guram Absandze has been living in Russia since late 1993 and apparently acquired
Russian nationality in 1996. Earlier attempts by the Georgian authorities to
extradite him reportedly failed because of his Russian citizenship, which the
Procurator General of the Russian Federation is now understood to have revoked.
Guram Absandze is reportedly now applying for political asylum while in detention.
He was reportedly arrested on 17 March by the Russian police in Smolensk Oblast,
where he was living. The Russian Procurator General is reported to have authorized
his extradition the same day, scheduling his extradition for the morning of 18 March.
Guram Absandze was apparently accused of embezzling US$180 million, a charge dating
back to the time of his emigration, as well as treason and “banditism”. He may also
have been accused of helping to organize the most recent assassination attempt against
the Georgian President, Eduard Shevardnadze, in February 1998.
Nemo Burchuladze, who recently travelled to Georgia to take part in negotiations
over the release of UN military observers taken hostage in February by an armed
opposition group, was arrested on 18 March by Bibirevo Regional Police Department
in Moscow. It is believed that he will soon be transferred to the temporary detention
isolator (IVS) of the Moscow Department of Internal Affairs (GUVD). He has reportedly
applied for political asylum.
Amnesty International is calling on the Russian authorities not to extradite Guram
Absandze and Nemo Burchuladze to Georgia, on the grounds that they would be at risk
of serious violations of their fundamental rights, specifically torture or
ill-treatment. In recent years the organization has reported on similar human rights
violations against alleged opposition supporters charged with anti-state crimes,
and in April 1997 the UN Human Rights Committee expressed deep concern about reports
of torture in Georgia.
Amnesty International believes that the forcible repatriation of Guram Absandze
and Nemo Burchuladze to Georgia by the Russian authorities would be contrary to
the Russian Federation’s obligation under international law, in particular the
principle of non-refoulement. One fundamental principle of customary international
law states that: “No one shall be returned to a country where his life and freedom
might be endangered”. The principle is enshrined in Article 33 of the 1951 Geneva
Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, to which the Russian Federation acceded
in March 1993.
The Russian Constitution also provides in Article 63 for the right of a person to
be granted political asylum in the Russian Federation in order to avoid further
persecution at home. Refoulement where there are substantial grounds for believing
the person(s) may be in danger of torture is also a clear violation of Article 3
of the Convention against Torture; and of the norms enshrined in the European
2
Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which was
recently ratified by the Russian parliament, as part of Russia’s obligations on
entering the Council of Europe.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Defendants in a major political trial which ended in Georgia’s Supreme Court in
1995 reported numerous violations of due legal process, and alleged that they were
tortured or ill-treated during interrogation in order to extract confessions. Many
of them were supporters of the political opposition in Georgia, and were accused
of involvement in violent crimes. In a similar case which ended in 1996, political
prisoner Badri Zarandia, who had been charged with treason and banditry, and his
five co-defendants all claimed that they were ill-treated in order to force
confessions.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/express/airmail letters in Russian,
English or your own language:
- urging the authorities to stop the extradition of Guram Absandze and not to extradite
Nemo Burchuladze to Georgia, on the grounds that the human rights record of the
Government of Georgia raises fears that they will suffer serious human rights
violations, specifically torture and ill-treatment, there;
- noting that agreements between countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States
permit Russia to refuse extradition if there are fears that a person whose extradition
is requested will face human rights violations;
-reminding the Russian authorities of their obligations under international law.
APPEALS TO:
1) Procurator General of the Russian Federation
Yuriy SKURATOV
Rossiyskaya Federatsiya, 103793 g. Moskva K-31, Ul. Dimitrovka, d. 15a
Prokuratura Rossiyskoy Federatsii, Generalnomu prokuroru Skuratovu Yu.
Telegrams: Rossiya, 103793 Moskva, Generalnomu prokuroru Skuratovu
Fax: + 7 095 925 18 79 or + 7 095 292 88 48
Salutation: Dear Procurator General
2) The President of Russia
Boris YELTSIN
Rossiyskaya Federatsiya, g. Moskva, Kreml, Prezidentu Rossii Yeltsinu B.
Telegrams: Rossiya, Moskva, Kreml, Prezidentu Yeltsinu
Fax: + 7 095 206 51 73
Salutation: Dear President
COPIES TO:
Russian Minister of Internal Affairs
Col.-Gen. Anatoly KULIKOV, Rossiyskaya Federatsiya
117049 g. Moskva, ul. Zhitnaya, 16
Ministerstvo vnutrennikh del, Ministru Gen.-polk.Kulikovu A.
Fax: + 7 095 230 25 80
Federal Migration Service of the Russian Federation, Tatyana REGENT
Rossiyskaya Federatsiya, 107078 g. Moskva, 1 Basmanniy pereulok, d.3
Federalnaya Sluzhba Migratsii, Predsedatelyu Regentu T.
Fax: + 7 095 261 60 43 / + 7 095 925 80 82
Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Evgeny PRIMAKOV
Rossiyskaya Federatsiya, 121200 g. Moskva, Smolenskaya-Sennaya pl., 32/34
Ministerstvo inostrannykh del, Ministru Primakovu Ye.
Fax: + 7 095 244 1480
and to diplomatic representatives of Russian Federation/Georgia accredited to your
country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your
section office, if sending appeals after 30 April 1998.

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