Russia: Troubling criminal libel charges against Nikolai Alexyev

Friday, August 23, 2013

Georgiy Mamedov, The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Canada
Embassy of the Russian Federation
285 Charlotte Street
Ottawa, ON
K1N 8L5

Dear Ambassador,

I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world.

CJFE is deeply troubled by the recent request of Russian state Duma members Yelena Mizulina and Olga Batalina to initiate a criminal case against journalist and human rights defender Nikolai Alexyev. CJFE understands Mr. Alexyev to be the subject of a criminal libel case relating to remarks made on his Twitter account criticizing Ms. Mizulina and Ms. Batalina for their support of a ban on disseminating “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” to minors. Mr. Alexyev reportedly faces a substantial fine on the grounds of insulting a representative of authority.

A long time vocal advocate for the protection of LGBT rights in Russia, Mr. Alexyev has faced government persecution for his activism in the past. With the Russian government’s widespread crackdown on dissent through its recent controversial anti-gay laws, CJFE is concerned that the climate for free expression is worsening in Russia.

As freedom of speech is guaranteed in the Russian Constitution, Mr. Alexyev should not be targeted for exercising this right. CJFE urges the government of the Russian Federation to drop the criminal libel charges against Nikolai Alexyev.

We thank you for your attention and I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,
Arnold Amber, CJFE President

Cc: John C. Sloan, Canadian Ambassador to the Russian Federation;
The Honourable John Baird, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs