2012/01/03 7th Berlin Biennale: Newsletter
Political Prisoner Taisiya Osipova
ANOTHER FRIEND OF VOINA SENTENCED TO 10 YEARS OF PRISON
On December 29th, 2011, after having waited 13 months in prison in Smolensk expecting a sentence, Taisiya Osipova, a 27 years old opposition activist, was made to wait another 12 hours in the court building. Then she was sentenced – to 10 years of prison.
Taisiya Osipova is a political activist of the oppositional party “Other Russia” and the wife of Sergey Fomchenkov, a member of the executive committee of “Other Russia”. They have a five-year old daughter, Katrina.
According to reliable sources, the criminal case of Taisiya Osipova has been trumped up and does not contain objective evidence. The sentence was read in the absence of the media and the public, a practice completely contrary to the Russian rule of open trials.
Taisiya Osipova was arrested in November 2010 in Smolensk, after the police broke into her house and supposedly discovered suspicious money and five parcels with white powder.
Normally, such police break-ins require the presence of neutral witnesses. In this case, the police seems to have selected the witnesses beforehand, making a planting of the evidence possible.
Members of the police force openly expressed towards Taisiya Osipova that they were mainly interested in her husband Sergei Fomchenkov. She was given the prospect of avoiding criminal punishment if she would cooperate.
Many Human Rights organizations, like the Committee for the Civil Rights and for Human Rights in the Smolensk region, the Committee for Children’s Rights of the Smolensk region, the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia and others, tried to protect Taisiya Osipova by stressing that neither the public nor the prosecutor’s office nor the Commissioner can reliably prove Osipova’s involvement in drug trafficking.
The whole charge is based on the testimonies of the witnesses of the break-in. These witnesses are classified as “top secret” and did not appear in court, making it impossible for the defense to disprove their allegations. In addition, the court under Judge Dvoryanchikov ignored a number of proven inconsistencies in the case.
Since Taisiya is suffering from a number of serious diseases, like pancreatitis and diabetes, the overly hard sentence means death for her. There was no initiative to transfer her to a prison hospital or to give her a normal medical examination.
In addition to the above charges, both Taisia Osipova and her husband Sergei Fomchenkov are being investigated with the aim to remove their parental rights over their daughter Katrina. This removal of parental rights has no legitimate reason and should be perceived as way to put pressure on Fomchenkov in connection with his political activities.
Before the trial of December 29th, there have been attempts from human rights organisations all over the world to interfere with the case. Defense attorney Svetlana Sidorkina’s complaint regarding the case of Taisiya Osipova has been accepted by European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The complaint was filed under application number 41366/11 and has been classified as urgent.
The World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) in Geneva has demanded a prompt medical examination and treatment for Taisiya Osipova, as well as her release in the absence of valid legal charges.
As it turns out now, none of these appeals did help.