WASHINGTON, DC - Responding to today's arrests in Sochi, Russia, Steven W. Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA, said:
"Amnesty International is relieved all nine activists and journalists, including Nadya and Masha of Pussy Riot, have been released. However, they should never have been arrested in the first place. The fact that the Russian authorities continue to intimidate and harass human rights defenders on the doorstep of the Olympics speaks volumes about how much work remains to be done.
“Amnesty is deeply concerned that the human rights situation in Russia will only worsen when the international spotlight is no longer focused on the Sochi Olympics. The prosecution of people such as Russian journalist Elena Klimova charged under Russia's homophobic anti-LGBTI law, and Yevgeny Vitishko, an environmental activist arrested as he prepared to travel to Sochi, are a clear sign of things to come.
“Amnesty activists are also pushing for the release of protesters detained on Moscow's Bolotnaya Square on May 6, 2012, seven of whom are prisoners of conscience, including peaceful protester Mikhail Kosenko, who was confined to a mental institution for forcible psychiatric treatment.
“We will not stand down as long as Russian authorities and governments everywhere continue to abuse human rights. Amnesty will continue to campaign for human rights in Russia after the Olympic spotlight fades.”
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million members in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth, and dignity are denied.