Russian Professor in Latvia Faces 17 Years in Prison for Being an International Observer in a Russian Presidential Election

On February 7th another session of the Vidzemsky District Court of Riga was held concerning the case of the indictment of human rights defender and professor Aleksandr Vladimirovich Gaponenko. The professor is charged under three articles of the Criminal Law of Latvia: incitement of ethnic strife (part 1 of article 78), actions against the constitutional order (part 2 of article 80), and state treason (article 80 prima facie). During the trial, the human rights defender accused by the authorities testified. He published the text of his speech in court on his Facebook page.

It follows from the text that the Prosecutor-General’s Office considers his posts on his Facebook page, speeches during radio broadcasts, scientific articles, monographs, analytical reports, and scripts for documentaries to be criminal, as they were anti-militaristic and anti-Nazi. The authorities were also displeased by numerous statements made by the Professor at OSCE sessions, in letters to the United Nations, the Council of Europe, and heads of European countries, and an appeal to the International Criminal Court, which expressed disagreement with the actions of the authorities to eliminate Russian schools, force assimilation, and deprive the Russian residents of the Republic of citizenship.

Separately there are episodes criticizing the marches of legionaries of the Waffen SS troops in Riga. This criticism is recognised as actions carried out in Russia’s geopolitical interests. The human rights defender justifies the argument that he merely recounted the content of the resolutions of the UN General Assembly and the European Parliament against the glorification of Nazism in the world, referring specifically to Latvia.

The most important episode in the charge of undermining the constitutional order of Latvia is participation as an international observer in the Russian presidential election. His guilt is proved by the presence in the materials of the criminal case of the invitation signed by the Chairman of the State Duma of Russia Vyacheslav Volodin.

The Russian professor faces up to 17 years of imprisonment on all counts.

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