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Russian WCIP delegates press criminal charges regarding harrassment and attacks

Criminal proceedings are under way regarding the attack on the President of the Saami Parliament of the Kola Peninsula, Valentina Sovkina, lawyer Vitaly Cherkasov had told the Russian news web site “Gazeta.ru”. Sovkina had been attacked on the day when she was scheduled to fly to the UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.

On 19 September she together with a companion had left for the Norwegian town of Kirkenes, from which she was scheduled to fly to New York. As the head of the Saami Parliament reported, her day had started with the discovery, that the tyres of the car which was supposed to bring her to Norway, had been punctured in the night.

After Sovkina and her companions had changed cars and were on the road, they were stopped by the Russian traffic police DPS, which demanded to establish the identity of all passengers. After a long procedure, the driver and all passengers of the car were let go, but later were stopped two more times by DPS and held up for several hours. During one of these stops, the chair of the Saami Parliament was attacked by young man who knocked her to the ground and tried to snatch her handbag (possibly to steal her passport). He failed, however, Sovkina missed her flight to New York. The case filed concerns attempted robbery, in accordance with § 161 of the criminal code of Russia.

Valentina Sovkina explains: "I was questioned by the investigator, I have visited the emergency room and a medical centre in Kirkenes and a forensic doctor in Murmansk, and consulted a lawyer regarding the legal issues. After this, everything seems to have calmed down. I can report that there is some progress: We called the hotline regarding the two complaints, the officer promised to send a representative of the DPS to provide explanations for the extended stops; however no one has come and I have not received any invitation. Further I have received an email notification from the Pechenga district CENTER, informing me that the criminal case has been filed regarding part 3, Art 30 and part 1 Art 161 of the criminal code of the Russian Federation ".

We recall that several other participants were also unable to go to New York on time. Among them was the director of the Centre for Support of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Rodion Sulyandziga. He stated that at the border control at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport intelligence service officers had cut one page from his passport, rendering the document invalid. On September 20, at Sheremetyevo Airport, Anna Naikanchina was prevented from passing through border control in similar fashion. Both participants lodged complaints with the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation.

~IWGIA
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