Intergroup writes to EU embassy in Russia about Nikolai Alekseev’s arbitrary arrest

The Intergroup wrote urgently to the EU Delegation in Moscow, after learning that Nikolai Alekseev, a prominent human rights defender, was stopped from boarding Swiss International Air Lines flight LX1337 by the Russian border police and arrested seemingly without charges.

Nikolai AlekseevAfter passing passport control at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport, Mr Alekseev’s boarding pass was cancelled and his luggage unloaded from the plane upon a request from Russian authorities. He was taken into custody around 19:00 MSD, and has not yet been released.

Through brief contacts in the night, Mr Alekseev informed trusted sources that he was not charged with any offence. He appears to be under pressure to cancel a planned protest against Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, and withdraw a pending case against the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights concerning their violation of freedom of assembly obligations.

Russian authorities have so far refused to provide any information as to whether or not Mr Alekseev was in their custody, in which facilities he was detained, or what he was charged with.

7 Members of the European Parliament, including Intergroup Presidents and Chairwoman of the Human Rights Subcommittee Heidi Hautala, wrote to the EU Delegation to the Russian Federation in Moscow, who are following up on the case.

These worrying developments come as this month’s St Petersburg Queer Culture Festival, which received our support as well as this of the British General-Consulate and the Swedish Embassy, saw their booked venue cancel abruptly following threats from Russian police forces.

Update (1) at 16:30 CET: High-level diplomats in the EU Delegation to the Russian Federation are closely following the case.

Update (2) at 18:35 CET: Nikolai Alekseev is said to be free, and in Minsk. This is yet to be confirmed officially.

Update (3) Monday 20 September at 09:36 CET: Nikolai Alekseev has been released and wrote an extensive account of his arrest on UK Gay News. The Intergroup is privately following up on reactions from EU diplomats in Moscow.