Refugee Voices – Artem from Russia
Protecting the persecuted is a core American ideal. At Human Rights First, we help asylum seekers who fled persecution and violence navigate the complex U.S. legal system by matching them with high-quality pro bono attorneys. Explore Artem's inspiring journey from persecution to freedom.
Lori Adams, Managing Attorney, Refugee Representation
Mr. Mitrofanov was physically attacked by skinheads and members of another extremist group because of his sexual orientation. During these attacks, he was badly beaten, while the police stood by and refused to intervene or assist him. Mr. Mitrofanov was also arrested while in a gay club, and detained without charge. The police officers only released him after they received a bribe. Due to these attacks, Mr. Mitrofanov suffered permanent kidney damage and lasting physical and emotional scars that will never go away completely.
“THE FIRST TIME I HEARD ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST [WAS] BY THE GUY WHO…CAME TO THE DETENTION CENTER TO HELP THE PEOPLE TO FIND A FREE LAWYERS. AND AFTER I SPOKE WITH HIM ABOUT MY CASE, HE TOLD ME THAT HE HAS ONE ORGANIZATION WHICH IS HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST, WHO CAN BE INTERESTED IN MY CASE…I WENT TO GAY PRIDE PARADE EVERY YEAR HERE. ONCE I DID IT WITH HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST. IT WAS FUN AND IT IS NICE TO DO IT TOO.”
HUMAN RIGHTS IN RUSSIA
LGBT individuals remain at serious risk of physical violence, arbitrary arrest, and other mistreatment in Russia. Many LGBT people hide their orientation for fear of losing their jobs or being subjected to violent attacks, which are common in many parts of Russia. Current laws limit the rights of free expression and assembly for citizens who wish to publicly advocate for LGBT rights or express the opinion that homosexuality is normal. The police do little to nothing to protect LGBT individuals from attacks by skinheads and other extremist groups.
LAWYERS MAKING A DIFFERENCE
“Lori helped me a lot with this because she was working on it and only with her help I was released from the detention center. . . . I think without a lawyer, it is almost impossible to prepare for a hearing in court, because you don’t know all this information which you need to prepare for this and . . . the lawyers they help you to do it and to win the case.”
We are lucky to have experts here on staff here at Human Rights First, but for those pro bono attorneys who might be starting or towards the beginning of their research, we also provide recommendations and contacts for people who might be able to help provide that country conditions information…This is one of the few areas of the practice of law where a person can save a life. So many of the law firm associates we work with describe this as some of the most meaningful work that they do. It’s the chance, for many the first chance to meet with a client in person, draft a legal brief, to work on affidavits, to actually sign your name to something. So, this is empowering for associates; it’s also great training.