WASHINGTON – Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) and Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Co-Chairmen of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission), issued the following statement on the discovery of toxic mercury pellets found in the car of Karinna Moskalenko, a prominent Russian human rights attorney.
“We are extremely concerned for the safety and well-being of Karinna Moskalenko and her family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this most difficult time,” said Co-Chairmen Hastings and Cardin. Given Ms. Moskalenko’s high profile in the field of human rights, her record of success in challenging the Kremlin on behalf of her fellow Russian citizens, and her work in representing the family of murdered journalist Anna Politkovskaya, this incident is highly suspicious.”
“Ms. Moskalenko must be commended for her bravery and resilience as she faces many challenges in the Russian Federation, which has continued to retreat from the protection of human rights and civil liberties of its citizens. We condemn this poisoning attempt in the strongest possible terms and urge that those responsible are brought to justice for this cowardly act.”
The toxic mercury pellets were found in Moskalenko’s car in Strasbourg, France, where she spends much of her time representing fellow Russian citizens who bring claims against their government at the European Court of Human Rights. The suspected poisoning has made Moskalenko too ill to travel to Moscow for a pre-trial hearing of defendants charged with the murder of Anna Politkovskaya. The hearing was held today in a military court.
Last April, an apartment used by Moskalenko and colleagues to prepare submissions to the European Court was attacked. Prior to that, she fought off an effort by the Moscow Prosecutor-General to have her disbarred in connection with her legal work defending Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
In September 2007, Moskalenko participated in a briefing before the Helsinki Commission on human rights defenders in Russia.