October 23, 2009
The International Socio-Ecological Union (SEU) is advocating in defense of environmentalist Andrey Zatoka, who was detained in Turkmenistan several days ago. The authors of the statement have appealed to Dmitry Medvedev, President of the Russian Federation, asking that he protect the rights of the detainee, who holds Russian citizenship.
In the appeal, the SEU calls the actions of Turkmenistan’s power structures in regards to Zatoka “legally unbridled”. The text further says, “We demand that the President of Russia use the full extent of his authority as the head of this great power to defend the rights and interests of one of its citizens. Enough of beautiful words! It is time to shift our attention to the matter before us now of Russians suffering unjustly, wherever they may be!”
Andrey Zatoka was detained in a market in the city of Dashoguz on October 20. According to information from Fergana.ru, his detainment was a result of a set-up. The information agency reported that an unknown man attacked the environmentalist and then police officers standing nearby detained Zatoka and accused him of assault and battery.
Fergana.ru notes that, according to several sources, Zatoka was attacked by Abdulbek Kazakov, who has several previous convictions and is known by the nickname “Alyoshka, the drug addict”. According to the information agency, contrary to the claim made by the investigation that the environmentalist had ostensibly broken Kazakov’s hand, on the very day after this incident, Kazakov was seen washing cars, with his supposedly broken hand.
On October 23, Zatoka’s initial detention period will expire. At that point, he must either be freed or officially charged (however, the information agency notes that the detention period can be prolonged by the Public Prosecutor).
Andrey Zatoka’s colleagues believe that the set-up was organized by representatives of the power structures.
A few years ago Andrey Zatoka was detained at the airport under similar circumstances and accused of hooliganism. He was later charged with the illegal storage of a weapon and the illegal extraction of snake venom. Zatoka himself stated that the results of the investigation on which the charges were based were erroneous or obviously false. The vial that allegedly contained snake venom was surreptitiously placed among his belongings, according to Zatoka, (while he was under administrative arrest on charges of hooliganism).
Environmental and human rights organizations advocated in support of the environmentalist at that time. A letter requesting that Zatoka’s rights be protected was sent to then President Vladimir Putin. As a result, Zatoka was given a three year suspended sentence and released. He later stated that Turkmenistan’s special services had continued to follow him (his statement was published by “Chronicles of Turkmenistan”).
Translation by Crude Accountability