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Turkmenistan: Russian Citizen Andrey Zatoka will Stand Trial on October 29
Turkmenistan: Russian Citizen Andrey Zatoka will Stand Trial on October 29
October 26, 2009

The trial of Andrey Zatoka, well-known Turkmen environmentalist and Russian citizen, has been scheduled for October 29. The fabricated charges of intentionally inflicting moderate bodily harm to a drug addict with three previous convictions were made against A. Zatoka on Friday night, and the date for his trial had already been set on Saturday.

October 27 is a state holiday in Turkmenistan—Independence Day. Therefore, October 25 to 28 are non-working days; the trial against the environmentalist will be held on the first working day after Independence Day.

Friends of Andrey, his colleagues in Russia and around the world, and the suspect himself, assert that the conflict that was the cause of his detainment was provoked by the authorities themselves in order to throw the respected scientist and civil society advocate behind bars.

“The efficiency of Turkmenistan’s law enforcement system in the days leading up to the holidays is an indication that the court decision in the ‘case’ has already been made. The holiday should keep outside disturbances from civil society to a minimum. Furthermore, the obvious calculation is that representatives of other governments will send their congratulations to the leadership of Turkmenistan on Independence Day, rather than letters of criticism and demands to free the environmentalist,” stated Svyatoslav Zabelin the Co-Chair of the International Socio-Ecological Union (SEU).

Nevertheless, just as the authorities of independent Turkmenistan aim to quickly condemn Andrey Lyvovich Zatoka, the international campaign to defend him is picking up speed. The international environmental organization Crude Accountability has appealed to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and to Turkmenistan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Rashid Meredov to act for A. Zatoka’s immediate release. And the International Socio-Ecological Union has appealed to the President of Russia to defend the rights of Russian citizen Andrey Zatoka.

Over the weekend, representatives of World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace and the International Socio-Ecological Union appealed to Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They demanded that the head of Russia’s foreign policy agency take the “Zatoka case” under his personal control and quickly provide consular assistance to the arrested.

Andrey Zatoka, himself, has written to Igor Blatov, Ambassador of the Russian Federation in Ashgabat, requesting support. Andrey writes that his case is not simply a special case, but “a definite tendency and expression of the latent policy of pressuring Russian citizens out of Turkmenistan.” In his appeal to the Russian Ambassador in Turkmenistan, Andrey states, “Up to this point, the pressure was relatively mild, but if situations like mine remain without reaction, and Russian citizens remain without protection, many may soon follow me”.

The list of signatures in support of Andrey Zatoka is steadily growing. By Monday morning, more than two hundred respected organizations and private citizens had signed on, and the list is continually growing. If you would like to add your voice in support of the unjustly charged A. Zatoka, please leave your comments here. (Translator’s note: This site is collecting comments primarily in Russian, but other languages are also welcome.)

A group of environmentalists and friends of Andrey Zatoka have submitted an application to hold a demonstration in his defense in front of the Embassy of Turkmenistan in Moscow on Tuesday, October 27, from 11-12:00 am. A response is expected from the Prefecture of Moscow’s Central District on Monday afternoon.

On Sunday morning, Andrey Zatoka’s wife, Evgeniya, arrived in Ashgabat from Russia. She feared for her safety, but decided to go in order to support her spouse in this difficult moment. Nothing unusual transpired as she went through passport control and customs in the Ashgabat airport. By evening, she was already in Dashovuz.

Translated by Crude Accountability