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April 2010

Law enforcement reform
On 4/4 about 60 people demonstrated against police abuse in central Moscow. On 13/4 a Novorossiisk court ruled human rights defender Vadim Karastelev should pay the head of the city police damages for defaming the reputation of local police. On 28/4 Prosecutor General Yury Chaika said fewer crimes were solved in 2009; he said police failed to register crimes and brought charges without sufficient evidence. On 29/4 Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev said the ministry’s central staff will be cut by 50% in 2010 and the police force by 20% over two years. A government bill submitted to the State Duma on 24/4 would give the FSB new powers to intimidate and punish citizens for not complying with what is vaguely described as "legitimate demands" from its officers.

Judicial system
More than 10 federal judges and members of the Investigative Committee requested police protection following the murder of Moscow city court judge Eduard Chuvashov on 12/4 in Moscow. The Constitutional Court on 19/4 upheld a ban on jury trials for terrorism suspects. Hearings in the first jury trial in Chechnya began on 26/4 in Groznyi (the case concerns a charge of attempted murder). Human rights defenders on 22/4 called on the authorities to open a murder inquiry into the November death in pre-trial detention of Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. On 30/4 Arkhangelsk regional court dismissed an appeal by Igor Sutyagin against a refusal by a district court to release him on parole.

Freedom of assembly
On 7/4 Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov said rallies in support of freedom of assembly on 31 of each month in the capital were banned because they endangered public safety and health. On 30/4 organizers of the rallies said they have invited members of the European Parliament as observers to the rally planned for 31 May.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Polish counterpart, Donald Tusk, paid tribute on 7/4 to the thousands of Poles massacred at Katyn 70 years ago by Soviet secret police, the first joint ceremony held at the mass grave. On 10/4 Poland's President Lech Kaczynski and 95 other dignitaries were killed when a plane bringing them to a commemoration ceremony at Katyn were killed in a plane crash near the site. On 11/4 the film Katyn by Andrzej Wajda was shown on the main Russian TV channel. On 21/4 the Supreme Court ruled in favour of a suit brought by the Memorial Human Rights Centre that Moscow City Court should re-examine the classification as secret of the decision by the Chief Military Prosecutor to close the investigation into the 1940 mass killing of Polish citizens.

On 10/4 Memorial Human Rights Centre said placards would be distributed to tell the real role of Stalin in Russian history in response to plans by the Moscow city authorities to display billboards of Stalin on Victory Day. On 19/4 human rights groups said that displaying portraits of Stalin is tantamount to glorification of the dictator and justification of the terror.

North Caucasus
On 2/4 in Shali, Chechnya, Tair Deshniev and Bakar Deshiev were beaten and abducted from a private house by officers of unidentified formations. According to The New Times on 5/4, Russian forces regularly claim civilians killed during operations in the North Caucasus are members of illegal armed groups. On 8/4 Russia lost seven cases at the European Court of Human Rights concerning allegations their close relatives were killed by Russian agents of the State in Chechnya. Austrian prosecutors said (27/4) there are links between President Ramzan Kadyrov of Chechnya and the January 2009 murder in Vienna of his former bodyguard, Umar Israilov. On 12/4 a court in Perm dismissed the case against Igor Averkiev, head of Perm Civic Chamber, who had been charged by the FSB in May 2009 with extremism for his article ‘If we leave the Caucasus we’ll be freer and stronger.’