Kasparov, Gudkov Meet With Estonian MEP

Kristiina Ojuland and Garry Kasparov. Source: DelfiOn Monday, leading Russian oppositionist Garry Kasparov held an unofficial meeting with Estonian European Parliament Deputy Kristiina Ojuland in Tallinn to discuss political issues in Russia and a resolution on murdered lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in particular.

Ojuland, a member of the Liberal Democrats, is in charge of presenting a report to the European Parliament in September on an EP resolution that threatens visa and asset freezes against the Russian officials involved in Magnitsky’s death if they remain unprosecuted by the Russian judicial system. Kasparov and other oppositionists at the meeting emphasized the importance of this resolution at a time when the Putin regime has accelerated the persecution of activists in Russia.

Having just been arrested, tried, and acquitted of spurious administrative charges of holding an unsanctioned rally, as well as having been falsely accused (but not even charged) with biting a police officer, Kasparov was a prime example of the kind of persecution discussed during the meeting. At the same time, Kasparov’s acquittal was almost unprecedented among cases against Russian oppositionists, and he stressed that international lawmakers needed to provide leverage to help ensure that lawbreakers, such as those responsible for Magnitsky’s death, actually pay a price.

Aside from Kasparov’s case and the high-profile case of the punk group Pussy Riot, other recent repressive moves by the Putin regime include the conviction of Other Russia activist Taisiya Osipova, who was sentenced to eight years in prison, and a search by Russia’s Investigative Committee of blogger Aleksei Navalny’s parents’ business. Additionally, a Moscow court has upheld the legality of a raid on Navalny’s own apartment back in May, despite the fact that the warrant had a different address on it than the one police actually searched and confiscated computers and other materials from. Disturbingly, all three of these events occurred on Monday. A court upheld searches of oppositionists Ilya Yashin’s and Boris Nemtsov’s apartments earlier. All these cases clearly show that Kasparov’s acquittal was an isolated event.

Another oppositionist present at the meeting with Ojuland was A Just Russia deputy Dmitry Gudkov. He discussed the possibility that Gennady Gudkov – his father and another deputy from the same party – could be kicked out of the State Duma for allegedly illegally profiting from a business. He denies any wrongdoing and insists that the charges are politically motivated because of his support for the wave of mass anti-governmental rallies over this past winter.

Ojuland agreed. “We believe that this is a political process, and not something criminal. How can European Parliamentarians help their colleague in this situation? This Thursday, for example, at the interregional meeting of European Parliament deputies with State Duma and Federation Council deputies in St. Petersburg, we can put this issue on the agenda and hear about what exactly happened and what kind of legal basis there is for the case against Gudkov,” she said.

Despite the fact that this is a domestic Russian issue, Ojuland noted, it’s possible for the European Union, and the European Parliament in particular, to collegially try to help Gudkov.