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March 2011

Right of assembly
Two rallies for the right of assembly were held on 31/3 in Moscow. One, on Pushkin Square, headed by Ludmila Alekseeva, had official sanction and ended peacefully. The other, on Triumfalnaya Square, headed by Eduard Limonov, had been banned and was broken up with more than 50 people detained. In St. Petersburg authorities refused to permit a ‘Dissenters’ March’ on 31/3. Police detained about 100 protestors.
 
Anti-extremism
On 8/3 United Russia proposed to tighten anti-extremism laws. A bill drafted by a State Duma working group adds new sanctions for certain extremism crimes. Moscow poet Vsevolod Yemelin said police said (1/3) he would face ethnic hatred charges in relation to a poem about last December’s riots published on his blog. Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky prosecutors asked a local court to ban educational films using Nazi archive films as extremist. Police searched (4/3) St. Petersburg apartments belonging to The Other Russia activists in relation to extremism charges. Novosibirsk anti-narcotics officers ordered a local web site (211.ru) to remove Hollywood films dealing with illegal substances. St. Petersburg professor Andrei Pesotsky faces up to two years in jail on charges of creating a branch of the banned National Bolshevik Party. Moscow City Court opened hearings (10/3) into a prosecutors' request to ban the suspended Movement Against Illegal Immigration. Police searched (16/3) Ezop engineering company, owned by the husband of environmental activist Yevgenia Chirikova. A Moscow court sentenced (21/3) Left Front activist Sergei Udaltsov to two days in prison for disobeying police orders at a protest rally on 20/3.
 
Media rights
The new police law that came into effect on 1/3 gives officers the right to take down web sites without a court order, according to a report by the Economic Development Ministry. Moscow journalist Sergei Topol, who once wrote that Prime Minister Putin would leave his wife for a 27-year-old gymnast, was beaten up on 23/3.
 
Elections
Results showed United Russia won most of the 3,300 elections held in 74 regions (13/3) with an average 46% of the vote. Election officials had banned about 45% of Yabloko candidates, compared with 0.8% for United Russia. Watchdog Golos reported more violations than in 2010 regional elections. Central Elections Commission member Maya Grishina called (16/3) for regulating Facebook and online forums on the eve of elections. President Medvedev signed a law (23/3) to give political parties larger representation in regional and municipal legislatures with 20 seats or more. The Justice Ministry refused to register the Russian version of the global Pirate Party. Vladimir Churov was re-elected (28/3) head of the Central Elections Commission to a five-year term in a one-horse race.
 
Justice system
On 7/3 President Medvedev signed a new law banning minimum prison sentences for 68 criminal offences, including theft and robbery, and business-related crimes, including fraud, illegal banking, money laundering and stock machinations, as well as illegal wiretapping and hooliganism. Medvedev submitted (22/3) a bill to the State Duma to improve police employment conditions. The Constitutional Court ruled (31/3) that the Criminal Code outlaws sale or purchase of ‘special technical devices intended for covert collection of information.’ Natalya Vasilyeva, aide to Judge Danilkin who said the verdict in the Yukos trial was dictated by higher-level members of the judiciary, resigned (28/3).
 
State & Civil Society
The Kremlin announced (9/3) this year it will hand out 1 billion roubles ($350 million) to NGOs through six non-profits critics say are too close to the State: Institute for Public Planning, Institute for Problems of Civil Society, National Health League, National Welfare Fund, Resistance and State Club (Foundation for a Personnel Reserve).
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Rights in Russia,
11 Apr 2011, 01:31
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