Russia: Sochi Migrant Workers Targeted For Expulsion

A Pataxo Indian takes part in the first day of  the National Indigenous Mobilization protest in Brasilia, Brazil, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013. The protest is against a proposed constitutional amendment known as PEC 215, which amends the rules for demarcation of indigenous lands. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace Internationals executive director, called the charges an assault on the principle of peaceful protest. Any claim that these activists are pirates is as absurd as it is abominable, he said in a statement. It is utterly irrational, it is designed to intimidate and silence us, but we will not be cowed. Those charged with piracy Wednesday include Kieron Bryan, a British videographer who was documenting the protest, and Dmitri Litvinov, an activist with Swedish and American citizenship, as well as the ships doctor and cook. The captain, Peter Willcox, is an American who was captain of Greenpeaces Rainbow Warrior when it was blown up by French security agents in 1985 during a journey to protest French nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific. Naidoo called the arrests the most serious threat to Greenpeaces peaceful environmental activism since that time. In an interview on Ekho Moskvy Radio on Wednesday, Shevchuk, the rock singer, dismissed the piracy charges as ridiculous. The whole world knows Greenpeace, he said. Greenpeace is the organization that helped save the Antarctic . . . and penguins and scientists live there happily. And what about saving whales? Then he said he had a secret to reveal: He had planned to sail with the ship himself. He had even bought warm clothes. He had a ticket to Norway, where he would have met the ship. At the last minute, he said, family reasons prevented him from going.

During this period Sochi had faced three days of intense storms including heavy rains and high winds. Detainees were allowed to buy food from a food stand for station employees located in the courtyard, but not all of them had money. Popkov told Human Rights Watch that when he spoke to the duty police officer and asked for permission to provide legal counsel to these men, the officer repeatedly and aggressively claimed, There are no men in the courtyard. Popkov filed a complaint with the prosecutors office about the arbitrary detentions and the refusal to allow detainees to access a lawyer. He has yet to receive a response. Popkov said that contrary to Russian police regulations, none of the people he saw held in the shed on September 24 had been registered in the police log, which must list each detainees name, time of arrival, and reason for detention. They are working very hard to hide what they are doing, Popkov told Human Rights Watch. The police were lying to my face, saying no one is there, while I saw myself: people are sitting there in the cold, without anything. The authorities should acknowledge the names of all people held in the courtyard at the central district police station and ensure that they have access to legal counsel and adequate food and shelter, Human Rights Watch said. Abusive detention of migrants as Olympics leaders visit Popkovs discovery of the shed coincided with the IOCs final inspection visit to Sochi to assess preparations for the games from September 24 to 26. In a September 26 press conference in Sochi, IOC Coordination Committee Chairman Jean-Claude Killy contended that the preparations for the games were really magnificent. These abusive sweeps were happening right under the noses of the IOC during its inspection yet the IOC was totally silent about them, Buchanan said. That suggests there is something seriously wrong with the way these inspections happen. Under Russian law, police may detain people for up to three hours without charge in order to establish their identity. After three hours, police must bring charges against a detainee, and, after 48 hours, detainees must be brought before a judge to authorize further detention. Authorities must also provide individuals in custody with immediate access to a lawyer and give them food, water, reasonable medical care, and accommodations that are not excessively cold or hot and with a place to rest. International law provides similar protections. Popkov and Semyon Simonov, head of the Memorial Human Rights Centers Migration and Law Programs Sochi Office, also visited the Sochi central district police station together on September 18, after receiving calls from people as police were detaining them and from relatives or friends of the detained. Simonov estimated that he saw approximately 200 people in custody in the police station courtyard even as it was raining. Several of the relatives, friends, and employers of the detained gathered outside the station asked Popkov to provide legal counsel to specific individuals in custody.