Death threats and defamation campaign against human rights defender Alexandra Dvoretskaya

On 31 January 2014, human rights defender Ms Alexandra Dvoretskaya received a message on VKontakte, a social networking site, threatening her with death. The threat followed another incident the previous day, 30 January 2014, when dozens of defamatory posters were affixed to her door and throughout the apartment block where she lives in Simferopol.

The posters accused her of being “a traitor” for supporting the EuroMaydan protests and of being responsible for those who died during the protests in Kiev.

Alexandra Dvoretskaya is the director of the Crimean Human Rights Centre Deistviye (Action). The organisation monitors the human rights situation in Crimea, investigates cases, provides support to victims of human rights abuses and free legal assistance, carries out awareness-raising activities and is engaged in investigative journalism.

On 31 January 2014, Alexandra Dvoretskaya received a threatening message on social networking site “VKontakte”, which read: “Will you be killed any time soon? We are placing bets here… Say hi to Mandela and Yeltsin, will you do that, traitor?”

A day before that, on 30 January 2014, dozens of defamatory posters were affixed to her apartment door and throughout her apartment block. The posters read: “Your neighbour Alexandra Dvoretskaya is a traitor of Crimea, she supports EuroMaydan. The death of people killed [during the protests] is on her conscience. She receives money from international organisations which are funded by USA intelligence services. She did training on extremism in USA.” This came a day after Deistviye had published an offer of free legal assistance to EuroMaydan protesters who were victims of police abuses on their website.

The threats and defamation against Alexandra Dvoretskaya and her organisation started in 2013 and intensified after the start of the mass protest movement in late November 2013. That month, news articles appeared on online news websites and blogs accusing the organisation of corruption and of receiving foreign funding.

On 30 November 2013, defamatory slogans were found written under the windows of the residence of Alexandra Dvoretskaya’s parents. Her parents also received letters by individuals impersonating Alexandra Dvoretskaya’s friends containing false information on her sexual life and accusing her of “immoral behaviours”, such as having sexual relations with and prostituting herself to foreigners and foreign donors.

The organisation filed complaints on all these instances of intimidation, however it is reported that no investigation has been carried out by the police.

Front Line Defenders is concerned about the death threat and smear campaign against Aleksandra Dvoretskaya and believes that they are directly linked to her legitimate and peaceful human rights work.

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