The incident occurred on March 13 in Moscow Sheremetyevo airport, when the executive director of «7x7», a board member of the Komi Memorial Human Rights Commission Pavel Andreev returned from the Czech Republic (he was a guest of the One World documentary film festival) to Russia.
According to him, he intended, as well as other passengers, to go through a passport check-point. Normally it takes a few minutes, but that day it extended to an hour.
“I had waited my turn. As usual, they took the passport, began to scan. And then the passport woman told me that I need to wait a bit and gave my passport to her colleague. The colleague went away with it. I was asked to sit on a chair. At that time, I remembered a story that was recently told by Leonid Zilberg (founder of «7x7»). About two weeks ago he was stopped in the same way twice. He was examined by FSB,” Pavel Andreev said.
A few minutes later a man approached to the member of the online-journal, whom he described as "a low, heavily-built, bald and wearing a jacket". He wondered whether Pavel Andreev was checked in the same manner during the departure to the Czech Republic, and was very surprised to hear a negative answer.
About 10 minutes later another employee of OSN-1 Panyuk (according to the nametag) invited the executive director of «7x7» to talk to a special room. He noted that his heads asked him to capture fingerprints of Pavel Andreev and take saliva for DNA testing.
“If it happened somewhere in Russia, I would quietly go home, since I have the right to refuse this procedure. And here I was without a passport, between the borders, and there was no choice, so I had to agree with everything,” Pavel Andreev said. “Then I asked a clarifying question why they checked me. The phrase was: “The authorities said that you are in some database”. After that there was a series of questions: about what I did in Prague, my nationality, where I work, etc. It took about ten minutes. The man took down all the answers without enthusiasm. It was evident that he writhed out the questions.
When the conversation ended and they were going to let him go, "a tight, bald man in a jacket" asked his colleague whether he asked Pavel Andreev questions about the "Memorial". As he didn’t ask anything about it, the conversation extended to 20 minutes.
“Their questions were rather commonplace: what kind of society it is, how long ago it was organized, where the office is, what people do, whether there are politics and entrepreneurs in the organization, where the money comes from. It looked like a conversation with idiots. But an experience of talking to the police points to the fact that it was a special pattern of behavior. The main goal is to pull the nerves. All this took about 20 minutes. And when we walked out, I asked the reason. And the “jacket” answered that it’s an upgrade due to the Olympics. But I said that the Olympics are over. Then he joked that the World Football Cup is ahead. I asked him to answer seriously. And here is his verbatim phrase: "While your society ("Memorial" — author’s note) won’t be closed, it will always be like that. You can be checked in airports and railway stations". After that, he said that another time I can say that I was already checked in Sheremetyevo, not to lose time,” Pavel Andreev said.
The executive director of «7x7» associated this check with his professional and human rights work. He noted that he wasn’t selected for the conversation at random, but because his name is in a special base, and one of the investigators asked about the membership in the "Memorial":
“There is a possibility that this is some kind of a local initiative. Apparently, FSB had a request to send the lists of active people, and I was added to some base. But it should be understood that the Czech Republic is the 15th country I visited. Before that, I passed the border dozens of times but never faced something like that. I think it's more related to my work in the online-journal and our coverage of the situation in Crimea. And this is a pressure wave on the media. That is some kind of a symbolic action, a clear psychological effect to make me reconsider my activity,” Pavel Andreev said.
In the near future lawyers of «7x7» will make an official request to the FSB Frontier Service to ascertain the reasons of these actions towards Pavel Andreev.
Photo: Maxim Polyakov
Maxim Polyakov, «7x7»