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Civil and political rights, women's rights


Tamilla Imanova is a Russian human rights lawyer who has appeared before Russian, European and international courts. She has been working for Memorial, an NGO that was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022, for four years. Tamilla has successfully defended the cause of women victims of domestic violence in 2022 before the European Court of Human Rights, but has also dealt with various cases of torture inflicted on civilians by the state, and illegal arrests for participation in peaceful protests. Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, she has fled Russia for fear of criminal prosecution and now lives in Poland.



Interview with Tamilla Imanova - March 23, 2023

Could you please introduce yourself?

My name is Tamilla Imanova and I'm a Russian lawyer specializing in human rights, in particular civil and political rights, women's rights and, more generally, the rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights.

What do you expect from the Marianne initiative as you consolidate your project?

Since 2022, Russia has totally abandoned international law and European institutions, so as a Marianne laureate I'm trying to develop my skills in international advocacy. My other aim is to make the voice of Russian anti-war and anti-Putin society heard, and to ensure that the international and European community is better informed about the repercussions facing Russian society. The measures that have been taken are understandable, but most of them affect free-spirited opponents and make their lives impossible.

Can you tell us more about your NGO?

Memorial has existed since the 1980s, created a few years before the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The initial idea was to research crimes committed during the Stalin era. In the 1990s, a separate NGO was created, the Memorial Human Rights Center. This NGO is linked to the original NGO but focuses on the crimes of modern Russia, conducting research and litigating in international courts, notably concerning crimes related to the Chechen wars and the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008. Memorial has also been active in Ukraine since 2014. In 2021, the Russian government closed both NGOs and forced us to leave the country. All Memorial NGOs were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022.

What activities have been most useful to you since the start of the program?

I really enjoyed visiting inspiring places like the Maison des Femmes and the Maison des Journalistes, because it helped me learn certain mechanisms, such as how to help a victim of violence or a victim of government repression, for example. I was also able to meet some inspiring people. The meeting that made the biggest impression on me was the one with Parwana Paikan. She works here in France for the Afghan embassy. We talked to her for hours and we'd really like to meet her again. I really appreciate these meetings because they allow me to learn more about their struggle on the other side of the world, which touches on other issues, and to see how their experience is different from mine.

What future activities do you think will bring you the most benefits?

I've been put in touch with the Paris Bar, and I've been told that I'm also going to be put in touch with the Council of Europe, and I'm very happy to collaborate with them in the future. I recently spoke at the opening of an exhibition on mass arrests in Russia and political prisoners. It was a great collaboration between Russia's feminist anti-war resistance, Memorial and the Mairie de Paris. I also work with Russie-Libertés, an NGO that promotes anti-Putin ideas in Russia. Groupe SOS and I are in the process of identifying actors and politicians who could benefit from one-to-one meetings with me, and vice versa. I'd also like to get in touch with civil society and exchange best practices.

Would you like to add anything?

It's been a very stimulating experience, and every month the activities get more and more interesting. The trip to Strasbourg was so rich! And there's also the trip to Geneva in the pipeline. I'm amazed week after week!

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