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October

Human Rights in Russia: October 2009

Media rights
The campaign of harassment against Aleksandr Podrabinek by Nashi, that began in response to Podrabinek’s article on 21/9 in Ezhednevnyi zhurnal (opposing the change of name of a Moscow cafe from Anti-Soviet to Soviet), was condemned by human rights defenders and media organizations, including the Presidential Council on Civil Society and Human Rights, Reporters without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists and Miklos Haraszti, OSCE representative on media freedom. Another possible indicator of attitudes in official circles to the media was that the Russian authorities prevented two Reporters without Borders representatives, including secretary-general Jean-Francois Julliard, travelling to Moscow to hold a news conference on the third anniversary of the murder of Novaya Gazeta reporter Anna Politkovskaya. Meanwhile in Ingushetia, on 14/10, REN-TV journalist Leonid Kanfer and cameraman Victor Muzalevsky, were threatened and their driver was beaten while visiting the region to report on the local authorities’ anti-corruption policies. According to reports, Rustambek Zyazikov, brother and head bodyguard of former Ingushetia President Murat Zyazikov, personally threatened the TV crew who had filmed property allegedly belonging to the Zyazikov family. Ingushetia’s authorities have opened a criminal case into the incident. Meanwhile, leading Ingush rights defender and opposition activist Maksharip Aushev was shot dead in his car on 25/10 in Kabardino-Balkaria.

North Caucasus
The killing of human rights defender Natalia Estemirova remained in the news as, on 6/10, President of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov won a libel case in Moscow’s Tver District Court against Oleg Orlov and Memorial (Orlov had stated that President Kadyrov was responsible for the July killing of Natalia Estemirova; the court ordered Memorial should pay 50,000 roubles to President Kadyrov, and Oleg Orlov should pay 20,000 roubles and publish a retraction of his statement). While Orlov and Memorial stated their intention to appeal the ruling, on 28/10 criminal charges were brought against Oleg Orlov for his criticism of President Kadyrov. OSCE Representative on media freedom, Miklos Haraszti, said the criminal proceedings were a serious departure from free-speech standards. The European Parliament asserted its own attitude towards Memorial when it awarded its 2009 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to the organization (the prize ceremony to take place in Strasbourg on 16 December).

Interpretation of history
Russian authorities continue to seek to control interpretations of the Second World War. On 14/10 historian Professor Mikhail Suprun of Pomor State University in Arkhangelsk was charged under Article 137 of the Criminal Code (divulging personal information) in relation to research he has conducted on the 5,000 Russian Germans exiled under Stalin to Arkhangelsk from the Volga region in 1941 (FSB officers had searched his home and office in September). Elsewhere, an official of the Federal Agency for Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media alleged that the content of non-Russian broadcaster Viasat History was extremist and falsified the history of the Second World War. A positive step was the ruling by Moscow’s Basmannyi district court to reject the libel action brought by Stalin’s grandson, Evgenii Dzhugashvili, against Novaya gazeta newspaper for an article stating that Stalin bore personal responsibility for the shooting of 22,000 Polish POWs in 1940 (Anatolii Yablokov, ‘Beria is recognized as guilty’, Novaya gazeta, 22 April 2009)

European Court of Human Rights
The European Court of Human Rights continued to produce important judgments on Russia. On 8/10 the Court ruled in two cases - Porubova v. Russia and Romanenko and Others v. Russia - that penalties imposed on journalists for criticising management of public resources was in violation of Article 10. On 29/10 the Court ruled against Russia in three cases concerning enforced disappearances in Chechnya: Vakhayeva v Russia, Sabatayeva v Russia, and Khantiyeva and Others v Russia.
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Rights in Russia,
4 Dec 2009, 07:33
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Rights in Russia,
27 Oct 2009, 13:33
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Rights in Russia,
27 Oct 2009, 13:33
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Rights in Russia,
31 Oct 2009, 15:15
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Rights in Russia,
27 Oct 2009, 13:33
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