Kirov activist who spoke out against the war is a political prisoner
The Human Rights Project ‘Support for Political Prisoners. Memorial,’ in accordance with international criteria, considers Richard Rouz [also transliterated in some sources as ‘Rose’], who is an activist from Kirov, a political prisoner and his wife Maria Rouz a victim of an unlawful politically motivated prosecution. Criminal charges were brought against them for anti-war publications on social networks. Richard and Maria Rouz are being prosecuted for exercising the right to freedom of expression and in order to intimidate opponents of the war against Ukraine in Russia.
We demand that Richard Rouz be immediately released from custody and that all criminal charges against Richard Rouz and Maria Rouz be dropped.
We stress that Article 207.3 of the Russian Criminal Code is unlawful in nature and has been created as a means of censorship and repression to be used against critics of the authorities and must be rescinded. Any prosecutions based on Article 207.3 are unlawful and must be stopped.
Who are Richard and Maria Rouz and what are the charges against them?
Richard and Maria Rouz are well-known political activists in Kirov. Richard Rouz has repeatedly taken part in local protests. In 2018 he was fined 20,000 roubles for participating in the protest ‘He’s not our tsar!’ In January 2021 he was summoned to the Centre for Combating Extremism for a ‘prophylactic’ interview.
On 14 April 2022 Maria and Richard Rouz were detained by officers of the Kirov region branch of the Federal Security Service [FSB]. The two were charged with public dissemination of information known to be false about the use of the Russian armed forces motivated by political hatred (Article 207.3, Part 2, Paragraph ‘d’, of the Russian Criminal Code).
According to the investigation, the couple published a range of various posts on social media, as well as photographs and videos of an insulting and defamatory nature about the Russian army, including ‘distributing to an unlimited circle of people’ photographs of murdered Ukrainians from the town of Bucha in Kyiv region.
At present Richard Rouz is being held in Kirov Remand Centre No. 1 while Maria Rouz is subject to a ban on certain activities. Both Richard and Maria Rouz face up to ten years’ imprisonment if convicted. Law enforcement agencies are threatening to take their young son away from them and remove their parental rights.
Why do we consider Richard Rouz a political prisoner and Maria Rouz a victim of a politically motivated prosecution?
We are certain that Article 207.3 of the Russian Criminal Code concerning dissemination of information known to be false about the actions of the Russian army, under which Richard and Maria Rouz are being prosecuted, contradicts the Russian Constitution, Russia’s international commitments and fundamental principles of law.
The right to freedom of expression is guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 29 of the Russian Constitution. The restrictions on freedom of expression introduced by Article 207.3 of the Russian Criminal Code are essentially a form of censorship.
In practice, Article 207.3 enables prosecution for the expression of any opinions about the actions of the Russian armed forces. In the course of an armed conflict, it is often not possible to establish the accuracy of information disseminated by various sources. It is even less possible to establish whether or not it is known that information is false.
The timing and context of the introduction of Article 207.3 into the Russian Criminal Code – after the beginning of large-scale Russian military aggression against Ukraine – allow us to assert that this article was created specifically as a means to prosecute critics of the Russian authorities, among whom are Richard and Maria Rouz.
More information about the prosecutions of Richard and Maria Rouz and the position of the Human Rights Project are available on our Telegram channel.
Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner or as a victim of a politically motivated prosecution does not imply the Human Rights Project ‘Support for Political Prisoners. Memorial,’ agrees with, or approves of, their views, statements, or actions.
How can you help?
You can write to Richard Rouz (all letters must be written in Russian) at the following address:
In Russian: 610004, г. Киров, ул. Мопра, д. 1, СИЗО-1 УФСИН России по Кировской области, Роузу Ричарду Ричардовичу, 1985 г. р.
In English: Richard Richardovich Rouz (born 1985), Remand Centre No 1 of the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service for Kirov region, 1 Mopra Street, Kirov, 610004.
You can also send money to Richard Rouz via Federal Penitentiary Service. Money (in Russian to Роузу Ричарду Ричардовичу, 1985 г. р.)
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