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April 2012

Pussy Riot
On 18/4 Memorial condemned the prosecution of members of the music group Pussy Riot for a protest in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour on 21/2. On 19/4 a Moscow court extended until 24/6 the pre-trial detention of members of the group Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina and Yekaterina Samusevich. On 23/4 the German Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Marcus Lening criticised the court’s decision and called for the women’s release. On 27/4 Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina wrote to President Medvedev claiming breach of the Constitution in their case. Police detained Roman Dobrokhotov on 29/4 when he tried to enter Christ the Saviour cathedral to pray to deliver Russia from Putin.

Right of assembly 
On 8/4 Moscow police detained Evgeniya Chirikova and two others who tried to pitch a tent by the Kremlin walls. On 11/4 a number of protestors, including Sergei Udaltsov, were detained outside the State Duma building ahead of Vladimir Putin's final Duma address as prime minister. On 18/4 Memorial called for an end to the prosecution of Olga Komarova and Tatyana Kharlamova for taking part in a peaceful demonstration on 2/7/08. On 25/4 Sergei Mokhnatkin was released, two years into a two-and-a-half year sentence for resisting police at a Strategy-31 rally, after a pardon by President Medvedev.

Magnitsky case 
On 3/4 a court rejected an appeal by the family of the late Sergei Magnitsky to close a tax evasion case against him. On 4/4 Amnesty International called on the Russian authorities to stop Magnitsky’s posthumous prosecution and bring those responsible for his death to justice. On 9/4 the authorities dropped charges against a prison doctor Larisa Litvinova for Magnitsky’s involuntary manslaughter.

Independent elections watchdog Golos said there were only minor violations at the 1/4 mayoral elections in Yaroslavl, won by independent candidate Yevgeny Urlashov. On 6/4 leading members of the League of Voters travelled to Astrakhan to visit some 20 hunger strikers (refusing food since 16/3) led by defeated candidate Oleg Shein protesting alleged electoral fraud in the city’s 4/3 mayoral elections. On 11/4 the Central Election Commission declined to annul the results of the mayoral election. On 14/4 police used tear gas against demonstrators in Astrakhan, arresting seven. On 24/4 Shein ended his hunger strike. On 24/4 the State Duma passed in second reading a bill to restore elections for governor and give president and regional lawmakers powers to ‘filter’ candidates.

LGBTI rights 
On 2/4 the LGBT rights group Coming Out launched a legal challenge to the new St. Petersburg law banning “gay propaganda to minors”. On 4/4 St. Petersburg refused LGBT activists the right to organize an International Day of Silence in protest at the new law. On 23/4 a protestor against the new law, Sergei Kondrashov, was found guilty of failing to obey police orders and fined. On 25/4 in Arkhangelsk region the first fines for breaching a similar local law were issued. On 26/4 Novosibirsk region legislature passed a similar law against homosexual propaganda among minors. On 7/4 two protesters against discrimination and homophobia in St. Petersburg were arrested for propaganda of homosexuality.

On 5/4 Novaya gazeta journalist Elena Milashina and Ella Asoyan of Freedom House were attacked by unknown assailants. On 13/4 a Moscow district court dismissed the Russian Justice Initiative’s appeal to lift a Ministry of Justice ban on its activities. On 16/4 environmental activist and Khimki Forest defender Aleksei Dmitiyevwas hospitalized after being attacked by unidentified men. On 25/4 Yury Shevchuk said some concerts had been cancelled because of pressure by local authorities. On 27/4 Memorial declared St. Petersburg activist Maksim Kalinichenko, detained since 10/12/11 on charges of inciting violence against a public official, a political prisoner.
Rights in Russia,
14 May 2012, 08:55