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Cablegate: Sokolov Hearing Postponed

VZCZCXRO4671
RR RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHPOD RUEHVK
DE RUEHYG #0070 3031256
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 301256Z OCT 09
FM AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1380
INFO RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 1023
RUEHLN/AMCONSUL ST PETERSBURG 0603
RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK 0613
RUEHYG/AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG 1417

UNCLAS YEKATERINBURG 000070

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR/RUS M PILZ HARBIN
DRL S CORKE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM RS SOCI
SUBJECT: SOKOLOV HEARING POSTPONED

REF: A. YEKAT 30 B. YEKAT 55

Sensitive but unclassified. Not for Internet distribution

1. (SBU) On October 28, Vice Consul and Pol/Econ assistant
attended a procedural hearing at Sverdlovsk regional court for
imprisoned human rights activist Aleksey Sokolov. A former
prisoner turned activist, Sokolov was arrested on May 13 in the
run-up to the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization,
which took place in June. The ostensible reason for Sokolov's
arrest was new information, all coming from prison informants,
implicating Sokolov is a series of old crimes. (see reftels)
The October 28 hearing could have either resulted in formal
charges, an extension of the investigation period, or Sokolov's
release. The judge canceled the hearing at the last minute and
rescheduled it for November 18th. In the meantime, Sokolov's
lawyer told us on October 30 that the prosecutor had found the
case against Sokolov sufficient to warrant a criminal trial.
The lawyer expects that the trial will take place in the next
few weeks.


2. (SBU) Sokolov's previous hearings had been closed to the
public and we were surprised to find that no media of any kind
appeared at the court to cover this first public hearing. We
were joined at the courthouse by a Consul from the German
Consulate, Sokolov's wife, his attorney, and another prisoner
rights activist who spent time in Soviet gulag system. The
presence of international observers was unusual enough to
illicit a snide response from court bailiff who spoke
dismissively to Sokolov's attorney about our presence.


3. (SBU) According to the judge, the hearing was canceled due
to the late notification regarding Sokolov's desire to
participate in the hearing via video conference. Sokolov's
attorney ridiculed the justification and said that he had filed
the request on time. He said that Sokolov has participated in
all of his court hearings and alleged that authorities were
making it impossible for Sokolov to file the necessary documents
from prison.


4. (SBU) Sokolov's wife was very appreciative of the
Consulate's presence. She said she felt that international
attention on her husband's case was helping to insure his safety
in prison. She asked that the Consulate again send a
representative to the next hearing.

SANDUSKY

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