Freedom to Igor Zhitenev!

Freedom to the eco-prisoner Igor Zhitenev!

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Igor Zhitenev, a Cossack from the Novokhopersk Voronezh region, has been arrested and is currently kept in jail in Russia.
For about two years Igor Zhitenev had been fighting among the eco-activists and tens of thousands of local citizens against the extraction of nickel in the agricultural region near the famous nature reserve Khoper and the Khoper river in Central Russia.
The criminal case in which Igor Zhitenev appears was started on November 22, 2013. Hi has been charged with racketeering for money the nickel extraction company LLC Mednogorsky Copper and Sulfur Plant in a organised criminal group; the charges that can lead to 7-15 years of imprisonment. Everyone who knows Igor and his situation believes the accusation being absurd and illegal.
LLC Mednogorsky Copper and Sulfur Plant that obtained the license for nickel mining in this region is registered in a Cyprus offshore. Its recurring law infringements – including those of land legislation — have been detected. Thus, the decision of nickel mining in this central agricultural region of Russia was taken without any respect of the local residents’ and independent experts’ opinion – the fact that provoked the continuous and massive protests of the first.
Law infringements are accompanied by constant agressions towards the local residents and activists both from the company and from the local authorities, notably the human rights violations: restrictions of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, house checks of activists, the pressure on public sector employees (including dismissal from the job), and finally — criminal cases.
In May 2013 Igor Zhitenev was severely beaten by the guards hired by the LLC Mednogorsky Copper and Sulfur Plant. He suffered serious injuries and took a long time medical treatment. The criminal investigation on this injuries was not started by the police, despite many evidences.
Zhitenev’s health, seriously worsened after this trauma, is aggravated by the present conditions of his detention.
The criminal case files and the available recordings show that the LLC Mednogorsky Copper and Sulfur Plant has been trying to bribe the protesters against nickel mining on Khoper. Thus, the deputy director of the plant personally proposed money to Igor Zhitenev trying to burk the insident when the latter was beaten by the company’s guards.
Igor Zhitenev’s lawyer considers the charges against Zhitenev to be illegal: the case files contain evidences that Zhitenev was declining the money offers from the LLC Mednogorsky Copper and Sulfur Plant, but these evidence up to now seems to be not taken into account by the investigators. Local activists consider this criminal case as a tool to intimidate the anti-nickel local movement.
The general charges on this case are presented against «unidentified persons» who tried to «racketeer for money» the Mednogorsky Plant. Activists and human rights defenders have serious reasons to consider the presence of a corruption element in conducting this case and a fix-up between Mednogorsky LCC and the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, the eventual goal being to discredit the broad popular movement opposed to a nickel mining in the Black Earth soils.
Igor Zhitenev’s friends and colleagues know him as a decent and honest man, a patriot of his homeland and consider him a victim of provocation and pressure.
We demand to end the prosecution of Igor Zhitenev and stop the attempts implement the strategically fatal plan of nickel mining in Black Earth soils – the mining plan to which a huge number of local residents of the region are radically opposed.

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