Stanislaw Dmitrievsky and Bill Bowring

Re: Stanislaw Dmitrievsky and Bill Bowring

To: President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin

From: Charles B. Davison, member of LRWC

Date: 2005-11-22

I am writing to you at this time concerning the situation of Mr. Bill Bowring, who is a well-known and highly respected British lawyer known for his work on human rights cases and causes throughout Europe. I understand that Mr. Bowring was denied entry to Russia when he arrived there on November 15, 2005. He had a properly-issued visa which ought to have permitted him to enter the country, but instead he was detained for four hours at the international airport Sheremetyevo-2 and then informed that he would not be permitted entry.

Mr. Bowring was planning to attend the trial of Stanislaw Dmitrievsky as an observer, and we assume that it was because of these intentions that he was refused entry. We understand Mr. Dmitrievsky is facing charges connected with his publication of the statements of two Chechen separatist leaders in which they called for a peaceful conclusion to the conflict between Russia and those in Chechnia who seek independence. The criminal proceedings against Mr. Dmitrievsky would appear to be but one part of an on-going campaign of harassment and intimidation directed at him and organizations of which he is a member or supporter, including first and foremost, the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society.

We understand that your country is facing a tremendous challenge concerning your relationship with the Chechen Republic. We also appreciate that you have suffered the horrendous results of terrorist activities committed by certain supporters of Chechen independence.

However, we also understand that you strive to present the Russian Federation as a country which is committed to the ideals and principles of democracy and freedom. One very important element of a society which is free and democratic is that its court system operates in public, subject to internal and international scrutiny and examination. Your country has recognized these principles by agreeing to such international conventions as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which, in Article 14(1), ensures the rights of accused persons to trials and other proceedings in public (Article 12(1) also permits all those lawfully within a country, freedom of movement within those borders.) Preventing an international observer such as Bill Bowring from attending court proceedings simply to watch, to listen and to learn what is taking place before your courts, is contrary to these fundamental ideals and principles.

We therefore call upon you to immediately intervene in this situation and to ensure that Mr. Bowring is granted immediate entry to Russia so that he may attend and observe the judicial proceedings in question. We also ask you to ensure that Mr. Bowring is free from any effort to restrict his activities or to limit his privacy while he is in Russia.