Whom do we consider to be a political prisoner?

There is no unified definition of a political prisoner and no integrated list of political prisoners in Russia. We align ourselves with the list worked out by Memorial Human Rights Center, an organization which is highly respected and trusted in Russia and beyond.  

Comprehending a ‘political prisoner’, Memorial uses criteria developed by international human rights activist group:


According to these criteria, a safe kept person is considered a political prisoner if at least any one of these factors takes place:

  • safe keeping was applied only for one’s political, religious or other beliefs, and related to non-violent expression of freedom of thought, conscience and religion, freedom to express thoughts and communicate information, freedom of peaceful assemblies and associations, other rights and freedoms, guaranteed by International Pact on Civil and Political Rights or European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms;
  • safe keeping was applied solely for non-violent activity aimed to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms;
  • applied safe keeping was solely based on the grounds of sex, race, colour, language, religion, national, ethnic, social or family origin, citizenship, sexual orientation and gender identity, wealth status or other attributes, or on the grounds of established relations with communities based on these attributes.

Also, a person imprisoned on the political grounds is considered a political prisoner, if:

  • safe keeping was applied violating the right to a fair trial, or other rights and freedoms, guaranteed by International Pact on Civil and Political Rights or European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms;
  • safe keeping was based either on fabricating evidence of the misdeed charged, or without event or components of misdeed, or when a misdeed was committed by another person;
  • duration or conditions of safe keeping are obviously disproportionate (inadequate) to a misdeed a person is suspected in, charged with, or found guilty;
  • a person is kept safe selectively as to other persons.

According to the criteria used, the following aims of prosecution are considered political grounds:  

  • strengthening or retention of power by public authority;
  • a pressure to give up or to revise one’s public activity.

But even if these conditions are met, a person is not considered a political prisoner, if:

a) committed a violent misdeed against person except for the cases of justifiable defence or emergency;

b) committed a hate crime against person or property, or called for violent actions based on national, ethnic, racial, religious or other attributes.

 

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