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January 2011

A bomb explosion at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport on 24/1 killed 36 people. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said that Russia would not negotiate with terrorists.

Right of assembly
The month began with activists arrested at the rally on 31/12 for freedom of assembly serving terms in prison, including Eduard Limonov (The Other Russia, 15 days), Kirill Manulin (The Other Russia, 8 days), Boris Nemtsov (Solidarity, 15 days), Ilya Yashin (Solidarity, five days), Konstantin Kosyakin (Left Front, 10 days), Vladimir Tor (Movement Against Illegal Immigration, 10 days). On 4/1 and 7/1 Amnesty International issued statements calling for the immediate release of those detained and recognizing them as prisoners of conscience (first Nemtsov, Kosyakin and Yashin; then Limonov and Manulin). Police detained protestors outside the Moscow pre-trial detention centre where Nemtsov and others were held (15 detained on 4/1; 16 on 6/1; liberal politician Vladimir Milov on 7/1; more than 10 on 9/1). On 8/1 a Moscow district court sentenced activists of The Other Russia Marat Salakhiev and Dmitry Andrianov, detained on 6/1 in Red Square at a demonstration in support of political prisoners, to two days in prison. On 13/1 the same court dismissed an appeal by Boris Nemtsov against his 15-day detention.

On 19/1, 21 people were reported arrested at an officially sanctioned march and rally in Moscow in memory of lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova who were murdered on 19/1/2009. St. Petersburg authorities had refused to permit a similar memorial rally on 19/1, allowing only a picket.

On the evening of 30/1 police searched Moscow premises linked with The Other Russia and the organizing committee of Strategy-31, arresting 12 people on suspicion of ‘incitement to participate in mass disorders’ (Article 212). On 31/1 several dozen demonstrators were arrested, including Eduard Limonov, at a 1,500-strong officially-sanctioned rally in support of freedom of assembly on Moscow’s Triumfalnaya Square. At least 100 people were arrested at a similar rally in St. Petersburg in which at least 500 people took part. In both cities eyewitnesses reported that OMON riot police beat detainees.

Political parties
The Ministry of Justice said (26/1) it had denied registration to The Other Russia, an opposition party. Party leader Eduard Limonov called the decision ‘repressive’.

Voina performance art group
On 13-14/1 a St. Petersburg district court extended the pre-trial detention of Voina art group activists Oleg Vorotnikov and Leonid Nikolaev until 24/2.

Police reform
On 28/1 the State Duma passed a police reform bill in its second and third (and final) readings, rejecting most amendments proposed by minority parties and the public.

Yukos case
Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev appealed against their convictions handed down on 30/12. Kremlin economic aide Arkady Dvorkovich said (18/1) the risk of doing business in Russia will increase in the eyes of many foreign investors after the second conviction of Khodorkovsky. At Davos President Medvedev (27/1) compared the former head of Yukos to Bernard Madoff and said he would not grant him a presidential pardon.

Markelov/Baburova case
The trial by jury of Nikita Tikhonov, 30, charged with the 2009 murder of lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova, and Yevgenia Khasis, 25, charged with being his accomplice, began at Moscow City Court on 27/1.

On 27/1 the Supreme Court rejected Memorial’s suit to declassify documents from a 2004 probe into the 1940 Soviet massacre of Polish officers at Katyn.
Rights in Russia,
10 Feb 2011, 02:52