One more year passed by. Those responsible for the attack on a bus with our colleagues have not been found yet.
On March 9, 2016 people in masks attacked the bus with Russian and foreign journalists and human rights activists. The people beat the driver and the passengers, burned down the bus and stole all the equipment.
At that time our colleagues got hurt - Russian journalists Egor Skovoroda (Mediazona), Aleksandra Elagina (The New Times), freelance photographers Anton Prusakov and Mikhail Solunin, Sveriges Radio's correspondent Maria Persson Löfgren and Norwegian Fagbladet's journalist Øystein Windstad. Some of them were seriously injured, got psychological traumas and suffered from PTSD.
After the incident, a group of journalists decided to found an independent union for collaborative protection of their rights and interests. We specifically call
March 9 the birthday of our union.
Now four years passed, but the "bus story" remains uninvestigated. Last year we wrote that the authorities tried to close the case, that the investigation "went on" after the Swedish embassy's outcry over a Swedish citizen being injured in the incident. The lawyers signed a gag order, though the investigation is not being carried out. The legal status of the investigation has remained the same, but there are still no results. According to the lawyer for the human rights group AGORA, Andrey Sabinin, he's not being informed of the procedural decisions, but is occasionally informed when some of the victims are interviewed. "In this situation, the investigation can drag on for years," he says.
In September 2019 some of the victims filed a complaint to the ECHR. They insist that Russian authorities hold the people who attacked the bus responsible. The police had been observing the group of journalists from March 7 onward and had searched them multiple times without legal cause.
In the complaint to the ECHR, victims point out violations of three articles of the European Convention on Human Rights such as Article 3 (The prohibition of torture), Article 10 (Freedom of expression) and Article 13 (Right to an effective remedy). In January the ECHR registered the complaint.
Russian authorities have made attempts to drop the case of the March 9, 2016 attack amidst many other infamous cases. For example, our colleagues Abdulmumin Gadzhiev, Svetlana Prokopieva, Ruslan Maisigov, and others have been illegitimately persecuted, while repressive laws and measures aimed against mass media and journalism have been enacted. We will not let these crimes against journalists be forgotten.
The Journalists' and Media Workers' Union declared
2020 a year of freedom of speech.