October 4th, 2010

Letters of support for Oleg Mavromatti


Please send all letters of support to:

Nikola Kazakov
President of the State Agency for Refugees
1618 Sofia; Ovcha Kupel residential district
21-A Montevideo St
with the Council of Ministers
tel: (359 2) 955 99 05
fax: 02/955 94 76
e-mail: saref@spnet.net

The letters should be sent by FAX and snail mail.
Please ALSO send a scanned copy of the letter to our email: bori999@gmail.com,
We NEED to have this copy of all letters because they are our evidence of the public support for Oleg. If we don't have a copy they can be thrown out or destroyed by the addressee and we can't proof we have your support.

Please sign the letter not only as a person, but if you are a representative of organization please state it and your occupation. Put some contact details: email and address, telephone is not necessarily needed if you don't want to put it down.
But these letters should look as official as possible and up on the front it should be stated who you are, or what organization you are representing.

Bellow is an example letter. You can personalize it – stating that you know Oleg or his works from somewhere, you have been working with him or something like that. You should state that the censorship in Russia is increasing and the international community has to pay attention to it.

The most important is that you REQUEST that the State Agency of Refugees grants Oleg Mavromati a refugee status, because he is prosecuted for his believes and his basic right of freedom of expression has been violated.

We greatly appreciate your letters and efforts to help and support Oleg in this hard moment!

The President of the
Nikola Kazakov
1618 Sofia; Ovcha Kupel residential district
21-A Montevideo St
with the Council of Ministers
tel: (359 2) 955 99 05
fax: 02/955 94 76
e-mail: saref@spnet.net

your name and occupation
the name of an organization and
the names of people who will sign it
will be bellow.
Bellow you should state also your email at least



Dear Mr. Nikola Kazakov,

I am contacting you with the request to grant the status of a refugee to the Russian artist Oleg Mavromati, because he is prosecuted for his believes and his basic right of freedom of expression has been violated.

Oleg Mavromati is an internationally exhibiting artist, his works have been shown at places like Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver; Museum of cinema, Moscow; Central house of artists, Moscow; Stockholm Cultural Centre, Stedeljick Museum, Amsterdam etc. He is included in the Encyclopedia of Russian cinematography (2002) and the Encyclopedia of Russian Actionism 1990-2000 (2008).

The prosecution against him for the piece “Do Not Believe Your Eyes,” which was a scene from the film “Oil on Canvas” he was shooting in 2000, is unfair and is a direct violation of the basic human right of freedom of expression. The freedom of artistic expression is an integral part of the freedom of speech. Any violation of this basic freedom is against the constitution of Russia and any other country that claims to be democratic. The freedom of speech is integral part of democracy.

Mavromati is prosecuted under the article 282 from the Russian criminal code and he is facing 3-5 years in prison. His life is in danger in the prison, because of the informal relations between the prisoners, particularly cruel against the ones who seem differ from the majority, which consists of criminals. Mavromati has been already getting life threats.

It is important to state that Mavromati's case is not isolated. There is a regular violation of freedom of speech and expression in Russia. There is a chain of prosecutions and trials against artists and cultural producers and the pressure against intellectuals is escalating.

Two artists prosecuted under the same article 282-Avdej Ter-Ogonian and Oleg Yanushevsky-already received refugee status in Czech Republic and the United Kingdom.

The 282 /B is the law successfully used to convict other artists, curators and journalists - most recently in July 2010 despite the wide support of the Russian and international art community, the court found guilty the organizers of the exhibition Forbidden Art, 2007 at the Sakharov Museum, Moscow.

The international community is not indifferent to the increasing censorship in Russia and prosecutions under the article 282, which actually has to prevent discrimination of difference. As a follow up to the chain of trials against Russian artists and cultural workers Amnesty International had made the following statement:

“Putting artists and curators on trial for their art or for organizing an art exhibition, their right to freedom of expression, as enshrined in international law and the Russian Constitution, has been compromised. Art is a form of communication and of expressing views. It can provoke or please and often has more than one meaning. Freedom of art is an integral part of freedom of expression, limitations to which are set forth in international law. Neither Russian, nor international human rights law permit freedom of expression to be restricted or prohibited simply on the grounds that some people find the views expressed offensive or disagreeable. Moreover, laws forbidding incitement to hatred should not be used to limit freedom of expression in order to protect or support a particular religious group or point of view as such. Rather, they should seek to limit forms of expression which have the potential to cause harm to individuals and which are incompatible with the underlying values of human rights.”

On the basis of all this, it is obvious that Mavromati's application for a refugee status proofs to have strong reasons, and most importantly this is his only way to escape unfair prosecution that endangers his life and personal freedom.

Please take into account all the complexity of Mavromati's case and grant him the status of a refugee. This will be a just resolution of his case and a step in support of democracy and freedom, in accordance to the values of contemporary free and peaceful society.

Best regards:

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