Amnesty International is concerned for the welfare of Anton Filimonov, aged 16, currently being held in a prison in the Belarusian capital, Minsk. Anton Filimonov has heart and kidney problems, and Amnesty International is concerned that further detention in the absence of appropriate medical treatment will seriously affect his health. The organization is also concerned that his arrest may be a pretext and that the real reason for his detention is to pressurize him into confessing to the murder of his mother or to force him to incriminate other relatives, and that he may be being subjected to psychological pressure and ill-treatment while in detention.
Anton Filimonov was detained on 27 December 2005 with four other people, including a 22-year-old neighbour, by police from the Pervomaiskii police department in Minsk. The five young people had allegedly produced Belarusian bank notes on a home computer and were arrested while trying to buy cigarettes with the falsified bank notes from a street vendor. All were detained at Pervomaiskii police station for two days and then on 30 December four of the detainees were released, but Anton Filimonov remained in detention. On 30 December Anton Filimonov was accused according to Article 221 Part 1 of the Criminal Code for the falsification of currency. He is currently being held in investigation-isolation prison (SIZO) No. 1.
Anton Filimonov was diagnosed in 2002 with a displaced kidney and a heart defect; conditions which both require medication. His doctors have advised Anton Filimonov that loss of weight could worsen his kidney condition. He has reportedly lost 7kg since being in detention, and his grandparents have not been allowed to give him the medication that he was taking. His relatives report that he has not received any medical care while in detention and they also reported that he fainted sometime between 6 and 12 February. In view of his state of health, Amnesty International is calling for Anton Filimonov to be released on bail in accordance with Article 9 (3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Amnesty International is also calling for his release in accordance with Article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Belarus is a state party, and which states that a child should be detained only "as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time".
Furthermore, Amnesty International is also concerned that Anton Filimonov has been interrogated by investigators concerning the murder of his mother and not on the charge of falsifying bank notes. Anton Filimonov's mother, a critical and outspoken journalist named Veronika Cherkassov, was murdered in October 2004 in her apartment. Nobody was charged with the murder and on 19 November 2004, her stepfather, Vladimir Meleshko, and son, Anton Filimonov, were declared suspects in the case. On 18 April 2005, the allegations against the stepfather and son were dropped on the basis that there was no evidence to connect them to the murder. Following his arrest in December 2005, Anton Filimonov told his grandparents that police officers visited him on 28, 29, 30 and 31 December and 1 January 2006, both at the police station and the SIZO where he was later transferred, and exerted psychological pressure upon him to confess to the murder of his mother. When he refused to do so they tried to make him incriminate his grandfather. On 3 February 2006, Anton Filimonov's grand-parents received a letter from V. M. Matsel', Director of the Department for Monitoring of Investigations in the General Procuracy, confirming that investigators carried out "activities" relating to the murder of his mother. On 17 February 2006, during a press conference regarding levels of crime in the Republic of Belarus the Deputy General Prosecutor, Vadim Pruss, denied this and stated that Anton Filimonov was being held for the falsification of bank notes.
TAKE ACTION NOW!
Please write appeals to arrive as quickly as possible to the Belarusian authorities, in Belarusian, Russian, English or your own language:
* calling for the immediate release of Anton Filimonov with appropriate bail conditions to ensure that his health does not deteriorate any further;
* reminding the Belarusian authorities of their obligations under:
(i) article 37 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Belarus is a state party, which states that, "The arrest, detention of imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time", and
(ii) article 9 (3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Belarus is a state party;
* asking for clarification of the reasons for Anton Filimonov's detention, expressing your concern that he has been interrogated regarding the murder of his mother when he was detained on charges of falsifying currency.
Please send your appeals to:
Procurator General of the Republic of Belarus
Petr P. MIKLASHEVICH
ul. Internatsionalnaia, 22
220050 g. Minsk
Fax: +375 (172) 26 41 66
Salutation: Dear Procurator General
Minister of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Belarus
Vladimir V. NAUMOV
Ministerstvo vnutrennikh del
ul.Gorodskoi Val, 4
220615 g. Minsk
Fax: +375 (172) 26 12 47
Salutation: Dear Minister
and to diplomatic representatives of Belarus accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat on: + 44 (0)20 7413 5795, or your section office, if sending appeals after 30 March 2006