NEW YORK, NY -- Seven adherents of the Falun Gong were arrested without grounds in Moscow on Saturday at 3:30pm local time, sources in Russia report, at the behest of Chinese officials on the eve of a visit by Chinese Communist Party leader Hu Jintao. Police allegedly were pressured into the move following the arrival in Moscow of a Chinese delegation of 80 some members. At least one Russian police officer told witnesses the arrests were made due to “complaints” by the Chinese Embassy. The Falun Gong adherents report also having their passports seized, in contravention of Russian law. The seven were said to have been carefully adhering to the country’s laws regarding demonstration, each acting individually and spread out on grounds opposite the Chinese Embassy in Moscow. Also arrested at the scene was one television cameraman, Alexey Podsonny, who is affiliated with New Tang Dynasty Television.
“This is yet another installment in a deeply disturbing pattern: wherever China’s communist rulers travel, we see arbitrary arrests, even violence, and the stifling of free speech,” said Information Center spokesperson Ms. Gail Rachlin Saturday. “It’s bad enough that China’s regime shows an utter disregard for rule of law in its own nation. But to see them coercing others into similarly shameful displays—this is utterly disgraceful.”
Local law in other democratic countries has fallen prey to Chinese communist machinations in recent years. In Argentina in December of 2005, local Falun Gong demonstrators were physically assaulted by Chinese agents—still wearing delegation ID tags—in conjunction with a diplomatic exchange. (news) In South Africa in June of 2004, suspected hired thugs opened fire on and severely wounded would-be Falun Gong protestors during a visit by high-ranking Chinese official Zeng Qinghong. (news) In January of 2004, 11 American and European Falun Gong members were arrested for exercising their constitutional rights of protest during a visit by Hu Jintao to the French capital. (news) In June 2002, dozens of Falun Gong members from around the world were detained in Iceland during a visit by Jiang on orders, as with the above, from communist Chinese officials. (news)
The Information Center is calling for the immediate release of the seven Russian detainees and reminds Russian officials of the long-term consequences of abusing the law to curry favor with China’s communist rulers.