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June 2010

Anti-extremism legislation
On the eve of the St Petersburg Economic Forum police confiscated 100,000 copies of Putin. Results. Ten Years, a report by Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Milov, and detained five people distributing copies. The website of the report, and the authors’ personal sites, were said (15/6) to have been subject to DDoS attacks. The police Centre for Combating Extremism was to assess the publication for extremism.

Right of assembly
The government reportedly told the police ministry that prosecuting those detained at the 31/5 rally in support of the right of assembly is a priority. Human rights defenders demanded that Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov step down, and police chiefs be punished, for their part in the events of 31/5. Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin said Moscow police in many instances violated the law in breaking up the 31/5 rally. He suspended an agreement on cooperation with the police ministry until the police admitted mistakes and explained excesses. Sergei Markov of United Russia said (24/6) Lukin overstepped his authority and took sides in a political conflict in criticising the police. Human rights activists (25/6) and the liberal Yabloko party expressed support for Lukin. Sergei Makhnatkin, detained at the 31/12/09 rally in Moscow, was sentenced (9/6) to 2½ years in prison for injuring a police officer. On 16/6 on Moscow's Triumphal Square an estimated 200 people protested against the police action on 31/5, for the first time with official permission. On 28/6 Moscow police detained about 30 opposition activists calling for Mayor Luzhkov's dismissal at an unsanctioned rally. On 26/6 about 20 people were detained in Moscow when they took part in a demonstration to mark Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s birthday. The same day police detained a number of participants in a banned Gay Parade in St. Petersburg city centre.

In the Yukos trial, German Gref, head of Sberbank, told the court (21/6) that Yukos did not break the law in buying oil from subsidiaries at prices lower than those in Europe. Industry & Trade Minister Viktor Khristenko told the court (22/6) he knew nothing of large-scale embezzlement at Yukos. On 24/6 a Moscow court dropped the charges against Vasily Aleksanyan, the gravely ill former Yukos vice president, following expiration of the statute of limitations. Prosecutors asked Moscow's Tagansky District Court (21/6) to sentence Yury Samodurov and Andrei Erofeev, accused of inciting religious hatred by organizing the 2007 Forbidden Art exhibition, to three years in prison. Ex-director of Chelyabinsk region prisons, Lieutenant General Vladimir Zhidkov, and 17 subordinates went on trial on 30/6 on charges of beating to death four inmates in Kopeisk prison in 2008. Chief military Prosecutor, Sergei Fridinsky, said the investigation into the shooting of Polish officers at Katyn cannot be reopened because of the statute of limitations. Moscow’s Tver District Court (12/6) ruled that actions of officials directly subordinated to the President cannot be challenged in a court.

The Supreme Court ruled (15/6) online media can only be closed for extremist comments on their forums if they fail to comply with official requests to delete them. The Federal Mass Media Inspection Service said (23/6) it had issued a warning to the website for failing to comply with an order of 21/6 to remove within 24 hours unspecified comments posted on the site [a media outlet can be closed if it receives two warnings].

North Caucasus
Justice of the Peace Abdurakhman Gamzatov was shot dead in his village home in Dagestan on 8/6. The FSB said (15/5) it has killed more than 240 members of illegal armed groups in the North Caucasus since the start of 2010. On 21/6 human rights defenders and Konstantin Kosachev, head of the Russian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and a senior United Russia figure, endorsed a critical report on the North Caucasus by the PACE Committee on Legal Affairs & Human Rights.
Rights in Russia,
5 Jul 2010, 14:12