May 14, 2008

H. E. Vladimir Putin
President of the Russian Federation
The Kremlin
Moscow, Russia
Fax: 011 7 095 206 5173/ 206 6277

Mr. Vladimir Ustinov
Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation
Possiyskaya Federatsiya  103793
Moskva K-31, Ul. B. Dimitrovka, d 15a
Prokuratura Rossiyskoy Federatsii
Generalnomu prokuroru Ustinovu V
Fax: + 7 095 292 88 48

Your Excellency,

On behalf of the 3,400 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our concern over the prolonged detention of co-founder and editor of the newspaper Novy Peterburg, Nikolai Andrushchenko.

According to our information, Andrushchenko was initially sentenced to two months’ pretrial detention on charges of defamation and obstruction of justice on November 24, 2007. However he was not freed on expiry of the sentence, and instead sent to a psychiatric institution. Following that, his detention was extended further until after the Russian presidential elections in March. PEN has since learned that the term has been extended yet again and will not expire until late May. Supporters believe that Andrushchenko’s persecution and imprisonment are the result of Novy Peterburg’s critical reporting of local authorities and its pro-opposition articles in the run-up to the country’s parliamentary elections on December 2, 2007.

PEN believes Nikolai Adrushchenko has been detained in violation of his right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which the Russian Federation is a signatory. We therefore call for his immediate and unconditional release.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Hannah Pakula                                                            
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee                          

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs                                                     

CC:  H. E. Yuriy V. Ushakov,
Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the United States
2650 Wisconsin Avenue,
NW Washington, DC 20007
Fax: (202) 298-5735

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