June 1, 2021
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin
President of the Russian Federation
Ul. Ilyinka, 23
Fax: +7 495 9102134
Dear President Putin:
The Committee of Concerned Scientists is an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers, and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world.
We write to express our concern over the arrests of student journalists Armen Aramyan, Vladimir Metyolkin, Natalya Tyshkevich, and Alla Gutnikova for publishing a now-deleted video on January 23rd, 2021. The video documented the recent rallies protesting the imprisonment of the opposition politician Aleksei Navalny. It questioned the warnings that teachers gave about possible repercussions for participating in these rallies, called on authorities to stop intimidating protestors, and called on students to peacefully assemble. The video contained no illegal content; it only encouraged young people to express their opinions.
On April 14th, 2021, the Moscow police raided both the offices and the apartments belonging to the staff of the Russian student magazine DOXA. Members of the staff have been charged in the “involvement of minors in the commission of acts that pose a danger to the minor’s life” (Article 151.2 of the Criminal Code), which can result in up to three years in prison. The students are under house arrest for at least the next two months. They are unable to use the internet. Communication and visits are limited to immediate family, lawyers, and law-enforcement agencies. They are only allowed to go outside for two hours in the morning — a restriction that can cause psychological harm.
These students represent the future of journalism in Russia. These arrests threaten to derail that future and decrease the quality of journalism, which will most certainly result in an increase in corruption in Russia.
We are concerned that these arrests are part of a recurring pattern of arresting Russian academics and students who engage in peaceful, lawful protest.
We write to urge you to ensure that these students are treated fairly, especially considering their age. We further urge that whatever legal proceedings are held in this case meet international standards for fair trials. If these students broke no laws, they must be released immediately and unconditionally.
Thank you for your attention to this serious matter. We will be closely following developments in this case.
Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich, Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists
Ambassador Anatoly Antonov
Embassy of the Russian Federation
2650 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20007
Phone: 1 (202) 298-5700 I Fax: 1 (202) 298-5735