Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation
April 27, 2017
Remarks by spokesperson Maria Zakharova:
10 years since Tallinn’s Bronze Night and Dmitry Ganin’s death
April 27 marks 10 years since the tragic events known as the Bronze Night took place in Tallinn when the monument to the Soldier Liberator was dismantled and the nearby remains of the Soviet soldiers who liberated the Estonian capital from the Nazis were exhumed despite repeated protests from the Russian side and in outrageous violation of the norms of international law and basic human moral principles. The street protests of those who tried to protect the memorial were put down by force.
That night’s events are still painful to remember for our compatriots and all those who care about the great exploit of the soldiers who sacrificed their lives to secure peace in Europe as it is today. Every year, hundreds of people come to pay tribute to the perished soldiers and the Bronze Soldier, which were moved to the war cemetery in Tallinn. The Immortal Regiment procession is organised, and a guard of honour protects the memorial.
We are extremely concerned about the way the Estonian authorities are conducting the investigation into the murder of Dmitry Ganin, a Russian citizen who died in the protests of April 2007. After 10 years of inaction, the Estonian law-enforcement bodies are clearly seeking to drop the case, citing the expiry of its period of limitation. They are also ignoring the Russian Investigative Committee’s proposals to provide legal assistance.
Such an approach is unacceptable. We demand that the Estonian side take all possible measures to identify the culprits behind the Russian citizen’s murder, and to hold them responsible.
Anniversary of the May 2 events in Odessa
May 2 marks three years since the tragic events in Odessa, in which dozens of people died and hundreds were injured at the hands of thugs behaving like fascists. I regret to say that those responsible for that inhuman crime have not been punished yet and that the investigation has stalled in the face of the tacit indifference of the West and international human rights institutions. Just compare it with the storm of indignation, especially in EU parliamentary circles, that erupts over a visit by a European politician or a public figure or a member of parliament, for example, to Syria. A tidal wave erupts there. The man is humiliated to such a degree that he is ready to admit to anything, that he is an agent of every secret space agency, and to turn himself in to all authorities. He is utterly humiliated by the stream of media attacks.
We have seen nothing of this kind over the past three years from the West in terms of demands to investigate the Odessa events. Let me repeat that this tragedy was not just a political rally, or the dispersal of demonstrators or mistreatment of people. People were burnt alive, and they were not servicemen but civilians who were defending their right to a dignified life.
The inaction of the Kiev authorities and the pure connivance of their external sponsors are fuelling radical sentiments in Ukraine. It is troubling that more and more often we hear extremist forces say that they intend to disrupt memorial events, and make threats against those who have not forgotten the victims of the Odessa tragedy.
Let me stress that the authorities, who have halted the investigation, are not the ones coming under pressure but rather those who witnessed the events and still care about the search for truth.
We are calling on Kiev to ensure law and order in Odessa in the coming days and swiftly handle any provocations by nationalist radicals.
Sadly, we are often right about these things. Once again we would like to warn our Ukrainian colleagues that condoning, inciting and nurturing radicals will come back to bite you hard. I will not even say “the day will come” – it has, in fact, already come.
The situation around Konstantin Yaroshenko
We were baffled to learn that the US authorities had decided against granting Russian citizen Konstantin Yaroshenko’s request to hand him over to Russia under the 1983 Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. As is common knowledge, our compatriot was abducted by US secret service agents in Liberia in 2010. He was forcibly and secretly taken to New York and sentenced to a 20-year prison term for alleged involvement in a drug transportation plot, of which there was no real hard evidence.
[He was also tortured. His poor health is related to the beatings and torture he endured from U.S. authorities, the lack of medical treatment for his injuries, and his continued poor treatment in the prison where he is being held which could be considered torture.(1)]
Regrettably, Washington’ latest preconceived decision is evidence that the US authorities are still unprepared to remove numerous irritants in bilateral relations, which have been created by the Obama administration. We have to state that this approach will not contribute to normalising the dialogue between Russia and the United States. It is also plain to see that [Washington] is disregarding the humanitarian factors, given that Konstantin Yaroshenko is facing serious health problems, something that we have repeatedly indicated to the US side and did our best to enable this Russian citizen to be given the required medical aid, particularly when his health deteriorated.
As is only natural, we will continue to insist on this Russian citizen being brought home. We will work actively to see that Konstantin Yaroshenko receive the medical aid he rightly deserves, of which he is deprived in the US prison. We intend to continue taking all possible steps to defend his rights and legitimate interests.
The situation around Roman Seleznev
On April 21, a Washington district court sentenced Russian citizen Roman Seleznev to 27 years imprisonment. He was accused of wire fraud and stealing and selling credit card data.
First of all, we emphasise again that Roman Seleznev was illegally and forcibly transported from the Maldives in 2014 by US law enforcement, which actually amounted to the kidnapping of a Russian citizen. We think that the US actions of this kind are a gross violation of international law and demand that this criminal practice be immediately discontinued.
It is also clear that the US justice failed to take into account Seleznev’s acknowledgement of his guilt and his readiness to cooperate with the investigation. Neither were the humanitarian aspects of the case taken into consideration: he is a disabled victim of a 2011 terrorist attack in Morocco and has to take medication and remain under the care of physicians.
His defence attorney is planning to appeal.
The Russian Foreign Ministry continues to track events involving Roman Seleznev and take the necessary steps to render him consular and legal assistance.