Russia: Prisoner of conscience Anastasia Shevchenko’s trial starts

The trial of Anastasia Shevchenko, a prisoner of conscience who has spent 17 months under house arrest for her work with an opposition movement, begins today in the city of Rostov-on-Don. Amnesty International reiterates its call for Anastasia’s immediate and unconditional release and an end to reprisals against activists in Russia.

“In the long list of people imprisoned for their views and peaceful activism in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, Anastasia Shevchenko’s case is an emblematic and shameful example. For months she has been deprived of her liberty solely for peacefully expressing her opinion,” said Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Russia Director.

“The Russian government has already stolen 17 months of Anastasia Shevchenko’s life for committing no crime whatsoever. In an unbelievably cruel twist, Anastasia’s teenage daughter died during the early days of her house arrest and Anastasia was not permitted to be with her in her final days.

The Russian government has already stolen 17 months of Anastasia Shevchenko’s life for committing no crime whatsoever. In an unbelievably cruel twist, Anastasia’s teenage daughter died during the early days of her house arrest and Anastasia was not permitted to be with her in her final days
Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International's Russia Director

“We are calling on the Russian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Anastasia Shevchenko. They must put an end to the persecution of civil society and political activists.”

Background

On 17 June, the Oktyabrsky District Court of Rostov-on-Don, in southern Russia, begins its hearing in the case of Anastasia Shevchenko, the former regional Coordinator of the arbitrarily banned Open Russia movement, who is charged with “organizing activity of an undesirable organization.” Anastasia Shevchenko was detained on 21 January 2019 and put under house arrest two days later, where she remains.

Anastasia Shevchenko was the first person to be criminally charged under the law on “undesirable organizations” that came into force in May 2015. The law gives the government the power to ban activities of foreign or international NGOs in Russia, under vaguely defined security pretexts and without any judicial review. This law was deployed to ban the Open Russia movement, founded by exiled critic and former prisoner of conscience Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

If found guilty, Anastasia Shevchenko could face up to six years in prison.