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December 2011

Parliamentary elections 
According to election results issued by the Central Election Commission , United Russia won 49,3% of the vote held on 4/12. The OSCE said (5/12) the vote exhibited “limited political competition and a lack of fairness.” On 15/12 Vladimir Putin dismissed allegations of electoral fraud. On 23/12 the Presidential Human Rights Council called for Vladimir Churov, head of the Central Election Commission, to resign.

On 5/12 and 6/12 nearly 1300 demonstrators against electoral fraud were detained in Moscow and St. Petersburg. On 5/12 Aleksei Navalny and Ilya Yashin were jailed for 15 days for disobeying police during a 5,000 strong rally in Moscow. On 6/12 Boris Nemtsov was arrested at a similar Moscow protest. Memorial described the use of force by police to quell the protests as disproportionate and unlawful. An estimated 50,000 protested in Moscow on 10/12 at Bolotnaya Square against election fraud (about 600 protestors were detained that day in 35 Russian cities). On 24/12 up to 120,000 people took part in a Moscow rally against election fraud on Sakharov Prospect. On 31/12 police arrested around a dozen demonstrators in Moscow protesting in defence of the right of assembly. Some of those arrested wore white ribbons, the emblem of the protest against electoral fraud.

Sergei Udaltsov
Sergei Udaltsov, head of Rot Front, was arrested (4/12) in Moscow in connection with a planned election protest. On 13/12 Amnesty International called for Udaltsov’s release as a prisoner of conscience. On 25/12, a Moscow court sentenced Udaltsov to a further 10 days in jail for allegedly resisting police at an October protest. On 29/12 several hundred took part in a banned Moscow protest against his continued detention.

Freedom of expression
Kommersant Vlast editor Maxim Kovalsky and general manager Andrei Galiyev were fired on 12/12 over publication of an obscene photo lampooning Putin. On 14/12 over 100 journalists signed an open letter in protest. The Moscow Charter of Journalists issued a call for freedom of the press. Khadzhimurad Kamalov, journalist and founder of Chernovik, a Dagestan newspaper, was shot dead on 15/12 in Makhachkala.

On 2/12 a Moscow court fined election watchdog Golos 30,000 roubles ($1,000) for breaking Russian law by publishing citizens’ complaints of electoral violations (on 29/12, a Moscow appeal court upheld the conviction). On election day (4/12) several liberal websites were attacked by hackers, including those of Golos, Echo of Moscow radio, VKontakte creator, Pavel Durov, said he had refused an FSB request to block opposition groups. On 8/12 top police official Aleksei Moshkov said Internet users should be obliged to use their real names. On 14/12 Security Council head Nikolai Patrushev called for “reasonable regulation” of the Internet. The LiveJournal blog and Gmail account of prominent author and opposition activist Boris Akunin were hacked. On 23/12 the head of Russia's Orthodox Church warned Russians against trusting social networking sites. On 20/12 a pro-Kremlin website posted recordings of Boris Nemtsov’s private phone conversations.

Unfair trial / Pre-trial detention
On 21/12 the Presidential Human Rights Council said Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev had been jailed unlawfully in their second trial and their verdicts should be overturned. On 27/12 the Presidential Council in a report called for a thorough investigation into the death in pre-trial detention of Sergei Magnitsky (on 8/12 the police ministry had again claimed Magnitsky died from heart failure and not as the result of beating). On 26/12 businesswoman Natalia Gulevich, in pre-trial detention on fraud charges since 12/2010 with acute kidney failure, was given a three-year suspended sentence (Gulevich said she would appeal). On 29/12 a Smolensk court sentenced opposition activist Taisiya Osipova, in pre-trial detention since 11/2010, to 10 years for drug trafficking.