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Russians curious who is to blame for death of opposition activist Dolmatov

January 30, 2013, 16:19 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila

Russians are trying to find an answer to the question who is to blame for the death of opposition activist Alexander Dolmatov, reported to have taken his own life in a deportation center in the center of the Netherlands. Dolmatov’s tragedy remains in the focus of mass media and public attention. Many tend to blame the incident on the Dutch and Russian authorities.

Alexander Dolmatov was found dead at a deportation center in Rotterdam on January 17. Several days before his death he was denied political asylum in the Netherlands.

The activist of the unregistered party Other Russia was involved in the case that had been opened over rioting in Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square on May 6, 2012. After the criminal proceedings were launched and some activists arrested Dolmatov made a decision to leave the country and seek political asylum in the Netherlands. His family and friends say that before that there had been searches and tailing.

In the Netherlands Dolmatov was first taken to a refugee center in Amsterdam, where he asked for asylum. His request was rejected and a local lawyer contacted him with an offer to draft an appeal. According to the available information shortly before his death Dolmatov’s behavior had changed dramatically. He refused to see his lawyer and the latter had to make a decision to file an appeal on his own. The lawyer said that his client had committed several attempts at suicide, he turned to the police and by mistake was brought to the deportation center near Rotterdam. Shortly afterwards he was found dead.

Currently the Dutch authorities are investigating the circumstances of the affair.

According to one version Dolmatov felt depressed and committed suicide precisely because he had been denied asylum and brought to the deportation center. In Russia, Dolmatov was a defense enterprise employee, and for that reason he was of interest to the Dutch secret services, the man’s mother, Lyudmila Doronina, said with certainty. She argues that the Russian authorities are partially to blame, too. But it is the Dutch who must have done something to a would-be political emigrant, she suspects.

“In Russia he was a leading project designer at the OJSC Tactical Rocket Weapons Corporation. Now it is pretty clear to all that the Dutch secret services took interest in him,” Doronina told the daily Moskovsky Komsomolets.

The woman says that from the moment of arrival in the Netherlands her son had constantly kept in touch with her, but during the last days before his death something changed.

“All my attempts to talk to him on the phone failed. When I managed to put through a phone call, it would turn out that he is asleep. Or he would fall asleep while talking. Obviously, he was drugged,” Doronina said.

“I believe that both the Dutch and Russian authorities are to blame. He was a politically active man… He had long been threatened with Russian secret services. He was warned outright that evidence against him might be trumped up… We had some visitors… Obviously he was about to be arrested. He refused to wait for it and left.”

Apart from the already published extracts from his death note, in which he stated that he had decided to take his own life because he did not want others to “regard him as a traitor” some evidence has surfaced showing that according to several lines in his last note, previously omitted for ethical reasons, the opposition activist was allegedly involved in drug abuse. The on-line daily Gazeta.ru quotes the note as saying that Dolmatov repented the wrong way of life he had been leading for the past few years.

“My last few years were silly and senseless. Full of drug abuse and debauchery. Laziness, narcissism and adultery left me no chance to develop,” he wrote.

“No one is ideal. He may have smoked something wrong. But he was not a drug addict. Everybody who knew him is certain about that,” Doronina told the daily.

Possibly, Dolmatov’s state of mind was under the influence of antidepressants, which are very easy to come by in the Netherlands, an anonymous source said.

In the meantime, as the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily has learned, Dolmatov’s defense is going to gather documents for filing an application at the European Court of Human Rights. The lawyers will demand the European judiciary should establish the role of both sates in compelling Dolmatov to commit suicide. They suspect that in Russia Dolmatov was under the pressure of secret services, and that in Europe he was denied proper security.

As a lawyer at the International Center of Human Rights, Karina Moskalenko, has said, a group of public activists scrutinizing the circumstances of Dolmatov’s death have turned to her for assistance. They asked Moskalenko to consider the possibility of initiating legal proceedings against the two states whose authorities might be responsible for the man’s death.

Moskalenko explained that she has not seen any documents yet and for that reason she is unable to offer any comments on the Dolmatov case.

“As far as Russia is concerned, it is necessary to study how very serious his persecution was,” she said. “If the investigation fails to identity specific culprits guilty of the person’s death, then the responsibility is to be born by the state where the death occurred.”

It would be not very correct to say that only Dutch officials are to blame for his death, says poet and author Dmitry Bykov. “Dutch officials would have had no need to make a decision about his future, if at home Dolmatov had not been faced with investigation, if he had not been forced out of the country,” he told the weekly Sobesednik. “True, the Dutch might have displayed better knowledge of Russian affairs. But it is likewise true Russia might have taken better care of its own people.”