WASHINGTON – The leaders of the United States Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe today condemned a police raid in Moscow on the Glasnost Foundation, a prominent human rights organization headed by former Soviet political prisoner Sergei Grigoryants. According to The Moscow Times, masked commandos led by a police lieutenant broke down a door to the Glasnost Foundation office and forced a dozen people inside, including a 10-year-old child, to lie on the floor for 40 minutes and then left the scene without explanation. A police official purportedly in charge of patrols in the precinct later told the Times that he knew nothing about the raid. The Foundation has been critical of Russia’s policies in the Chechen conflict.
Commission Chairman Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ) and Ranking Member Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD) denounced the police raid. “Once again,” said Smith, “the Moscow police, like Ivan the Terrible’s Oprichniki have swept down to terrorize some people who have offended the powers that be. Mr. Putin can talk until he’s blue, or perhaps red, in the face about democracy and rule of law, but this latest action against the Glasnost Foundation demonstrates the hollowness of his words. The Russia that was moving toward democracy, appears to have detoured, under the guise of ‘law and order’ and ‘stability,’ toward a ‘thugocracy.’”
“This attack on the Glasnost Foundation is extremely disturbing,” said Hoyer. “Either President Putin approves of the trampling of his citizens’ civil rights, or he has lost control of the law enforcement authority in his country. Civil liberties in Russia seem to be dying the death of a thousand police raids.” concluded Hoyer. Sergei Grigoryants is a journalist and literary critic who spent nine years in labor camps and prison during the Soviet era. After his release from prison in 1987, he founded the first openly-published independent journal in the Soviet Union, Glasnost. He is founder and chairman of the Glasnost Foundation for the development of civil society in Russia. The foundation has convened a series of conferences on the theme “KGB: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.”