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May 2010

Human rights defenders
On 5/5 a Moscow district court passed a one-year suspended sentence on Konstantin Pereverzev, who struck human rights defender Ludmila Alekseeva during commemorations for victims of the 29/3 suicide bombings. A Sverdlovsk court (13/5) sentenced Aleksei Sokolov, founder of the NGO Legal Basis, to five years in a strict regime penal colony on charges of robbery. Charges relating to illegal use of computer software against Anastasia Denisova, leader of the Krasnodar NGO ETnIKA Youth Group for Tolerance, were dropped (12/5). On 19/5 President Medvedev discussed the situation in the North Caucasus with human rights defenders and members of the Presidential Council on Civil Society and Human Rights. An initiative group announced (22/5) plans to put up a memorial to Andrei Sakharov in Moscow. Amnesty International’s annual report (26/5) criticized President Medvedev for, inter alia, failing to protect human rights defenders.

Freedom of assembly
Police detained ten participants in a Moscow demonstration against officials’ use of flashing blue lights (2/5) on grounds the demonstration had no official sanction. On 16/5 protestors in Mezhdurechensk, Kemerovo region, demanded President Medvedev free 28 demonstrators arrested on 14/5, and meet other miners’ demands. On 31/5 rallies in support of Article 31 of the Constitution (freedom of assembly) were held in 40 cities. Police detained about 180 demonstrators. Moscow city authorities had banned the rally (19/5). Among reported incidents, officers at Zamoskvoreche police station broke the arm of Aleksandr Artemev, a journalist with On 29/5 about 30 LGBT activists held a Gay Pride march on the Old Arbat in Moscow. No one was arrested.

Legal cases
On 1/5 President Medvedev ordered an investigation into the 30/4 death in pre-trial detention of Vera Trifonova, charged with attempted fraud. On 4/5 an investigation was opened into the role of the case investigator. Members of the Public Chamber called (5/5) for the dismissal of the judge who sanctioned the detention. On 26/5 the Presidium of Moscow Region Court ruled the refusal to release Trifonova on bail was unlawful. On 14/5 Moscow's Khamovnichesky district court extended pre-trial detention for Mikhail Khodorkovsky, former head of YUKOS, and Platon Lebedev, former head of MENATEP, until 17 August 2010. On 19/5 Khodorkovsky ended a two-day hunger strike in protest at the ruling. On 21/5 Moscow city court rejected Khodorkovsky’s appeal against the extension. On 24/5, former PM Mikhail Kasyanov told the court then-President Vladimir Putin had told him Khodorkovsky was prosecuted because he had funded the Communist Party. William Browder, head of Hermitage Capital, alleged on 7/5 the prosecution and death of Sergei Magnitsky was linked to the lawyer’s role as a witness against corrupt law enforcement officers. On 26/5 European Union Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom raised the Magnitsky case with Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev and Justice Minister Aleksandr Konovalov. On 27/5 Special Assistant to the US President Michael McFaul discussed the Magnitsky case at the Russia-US Working Group on Civil Society in Moscow. Andrei Safronov, convicted by a Moscow court of illegal drug dealing, died (17/5) in a pre-trial detention centre

Freedom of expression
On World Press Freedom Day (3/5) Reporters without Borders published a list of 40 ‘oppressors of freedom of expression’ that includes PM Vladimir Putin and President of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov. On 6/5 Krasnodar regional court dismissed an appeal by ex-police major Aleksei Dymovsky against a court defamation ruling that he pay compensation and apologise to police officials. On 25/5 a Moscow court rejected a defamation suit filed by Vedomosti against Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov for accusing the paper of siding with terrorists responsible for the Moscow metro bombings of 29/3.

Rights in Russia,
11 Jun 2010, 03:01