Andrey Yurov, a prominent human rights defender, attacked in Russia
The attack took place around 6.20 p.m. on 1 July near Human Rights House in Voronezh. Andrey was attacked by two unknown men in balaklavas, who hit him several times and poured brilliant green antiseptic into his eyes, causing a light chemical burn. According to doctors, there is no grave threat to his life of health.
Andrey Yurov is a member of the Council for development of civil society and human rights attached to the President of Russia.
The incident happened three days after the end of a large city festival of human rights and civic initiatives that was co-organized by local human rights defenders from Human Rights House-Voronezh. The festival attracted a lot of audience, received much support and was broadly highlighted in the local media.
At the same time, during the event there were several incidents aimed at discrediting human rights defenders. A local group called “Group of changes” put some posters with news from web-site of Voronezh Human Rights House and the Youth Human Rights Movement and with information about local LGBT-groups. According to the information on their page in VKontakte, a social network, this action was aimed at “demonstrating the anti-Russian activity of human rights defenders and NGOs and showing that there is ‘the 5th column’ in Voronezh, that aims at ruining the civil foundations of the State”. Their leader Alexander Melyakin is known in Voronezh in relation to provocative actions against human rights defenders.
On the next day, 25 June, boards with titles of organization that reside in the Human Rights House – Voronezh were damaged, and looked as if someone tried to tear them down.
On the same day a poster that said “Fifth column in Voronezh. They are traitors, scums and freaks – know their faces” appeared in the centre of Voronezh. The “Group of changes” accepted responsibility for this action as well. The poster contained photos of members of the Human Rights House – Voronezh, as well as of other civic activists, and representatives of charities and NGOs that deal with support to large families, children with disabilities, students. The poster was put by Alexander Kaminskiy, an active member of the “Group of changes”, who is also a member of several pro-governmental organisations and one of coordinators of the Headquarters of united actions in support of Vladimir Putin in Voronezh.
4pera.ru website that often publishes critical articles about local human rights defenders published information with the title “The Group of Changes revealed faces of enemies” and admitted they received a press release about the action from Kaminskiy.
On 25 March 2014 Kaminskiy together with two more men tried to break into rooms of the Human Rights House – Voronezh and filmed the attack. The human rights defenders called the police and compiled a complaint, but there has never been any reactions from law enforcements to the incident.