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November 2010

Domestic violence
The NGO Anna reported on 25/11 that each year 14,000 Russian women die from domestic violence.

Attacks on Journalists
Following the severe beating of Khimki civil society activist Konstantin Fetisov on 4/11, a number of journalists fell victim to similar assaults by unidentified persons, including Kommersant journalist Oleg Kashin in Moscow (6/11), Anatoly Adamchuk, a reporter with Zhukovskiye vesti in Zhukovsky, Moscow region (7/11), Sergei Mikhailov, editor-in-chief of Saratovsky reporter, in Saratov (5/11). In Ingushetia Khusein Shadiev, editor-in-chief of Serdalo (Light) was the victim of an assassination attempt (22/11). The attack on Kashin had greatest resonance. On 8/11 President Medvedev pledged to punish those responsible and Kashin's supporters set up a web site, At a Moscow award ceremony on 27/11, TV journalist Leonid Parfenov referred to the attack on Kashin and said that Russian television had completely lost its ability to objectively inform viewers about the situation in the country and is engaged only in serving those in power. Kashin gave his first interview since the attack on him to Parfenov. The day Kashin published (29/11) his first column since the assault, an alleged attacker in a YouTube video said he and his accomplices had been contracted by certain ‘very influential people’.

Journalists & the courts
Courts ruled against journalists in a series of defamation cases. Khimki journalist Mikhail Beketov, brutally beaten in 2008, lost a defamation lawsuit filed by the Khimki town mayor, Vladimir Strelchenko (10/11). Moscow police won a defamation suit against The New Times over a February story about poor conditions for riot police and violations by top brass (25/11). Vladimir Kozhin, chief of the Office for Presidential Affairs, won a defamation suit against Novaya Gazeta over a July report about corruption (26/11).

Magnitsky case
The Interior Ministry awarded officers connected to the investigation of a tax evasion case against Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in pretrial detention on 16/11/2009. Magnitsky was posthumously given Transparency International’s Integrity Award for his crusade against corruption on 12/11. On 15/11 the Interior Ministry accused Magnitsky of having participated in a scheme to embezzle 5.4 billion roubles - and of not being a lawyer. The EU Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee approved a proposal on 23/11 to block EU entry for 60 Russian officials implicated in Magnitsky’s death.

Right of assembly
On a positive note, on 6/11 President Medvedev vetoed a bill cracking down on rallies that had passed both chambers of parliament. He criticized the bill for “provisions hindering the freedom of citizens' constitutional right to hold assemblies, rallies, demonstrations, marches and pickets.” Meanwhile on the streets on 12/11 organizers of a Day of Anger rally in Moscow said about 20 of 200 participants were arrested by police; on 14/11 in Moscow about 600 people took part in a rally against the persecution of civic activists and journalists to mark the second anniversary of the attack on Khimki journalist Mikhail Beketov; on 14/11 in St Petersburg about 300 people took part in a rally against political repression, demanding the revocation of anti-extremism legislation; on 20/11 a first officially sanctioned gay rights picket in St Petersburg was called off when participants had eggs thrown at them.
On 26/11 the State Duma condemned Joseph Stalin by name for the mass execution of Poles at Katyn during World War II. Communist MPs opposed the declaration.

Yukos trial
Russian human rights defenders and others called for Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev to be acquitted (the verdict in the trial is expected on 15/12).