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December 2012

Magnitsky Act 
On 14/12 U.S. President Obama signed into law a bill introducing sanctions against Russian officials implicated in human rights violations. On 28/12 President Putin signed into law a bill to ban U.S. adoptions of Russian children and stipulating NGOs with US funding be closed and assets seized if they conduct "political activity". Nor must they employ staff with dual Russian-U.S. citizenship. "It feels like war has been declared," said Aleksandr Cherkasov, head of Memorial Human Rights Center. The Russian Orthodox church, supported the law. On 28/12 a Moscow district court acquitted former deputy chief of the Butyrka detention centre Dmitry Kratov of criminal negligence causing the death of Sergei Magnitsky. On 29/1 Russian opposition activists announced plans to hold a march on 13/1 to urge the law’s repeal. On 1/1 the new law entered into force. 

On 4/12 Chelyabinsk chief prosecutor Vladimir Turbanov said staff at Kopeisk’s Penal Colony No. 6 should be "punished" for "gross legal violations." Members of Chelyabinsk Public Oversight Commission published evidence of torture at the penal colony on the Internet. On 4/12 deputy head of the Federal Prison Service Eduard Petrukhin said a large-scale prison reform carried out by his body was a failure. On 13/12 observers reported incidents of beating of prisoners at Atlyan Juvenile Penal Colony in Chelyabinsk region. 

Freedom of expression 
On 5/12 Kazbek Gekkiyev, newsreader at a state-run TV channel in Kabardino-Balkaria, was shot dead. As reported 6/12, Pussy Riot member Maria Alekhina faces disciplinary action for failing to get up on time in prison. On 5/12 Human Rights First condemned the attempt of the Russian government to ban as extremist a monograph on Chechnya by rights defender Stanislav Dmitrievsky. On 13/12 authors of the documentary film project “The Term” announced the project had been temporarily halted after the interrogation of one of their number, filmmaker Pavel Kostomarov

Right of assembly 
On 15/12 police detained about 70 when several thousand people took part in a Moscow protest on Lubyanka Square. On 18/12 a court sentenced Vera Lavreshina, an activist arrested at the protest, to ten days detention. She declared a hunger strike. On 31/12 Russian police detained Eduard Limonov and two dozen other activists for staging unauthorized demonstrations in Moscow and St. Petersburg to defend the right of assembly.

Civil society activists 
On 10/12 Solidarity activist Grigory Oganezov reported anonymous telephone threats after he refused to co-operate with police. On 11/12, activist Jenny Kurpen filed a complaint with the Strasbourg Court for alleged police torture. On 11/12 investigators questioned and searched the homes of activists in Moscow and Nizhny Novogorod, and on 19/12 in Voronezh, seizing computers and documents at the offices at Voronezh Human Rights House. On 18/12 Krasnodar activist Suren Gazaryan was reported placed on a federal police wanted list. On 20/12 Aleksei Navalny, the opposition leader and anti-corruption blogger, was charged with fraud and money laundering. On 19/12 eight international organisations called on EU leaders to urge President Putin to end the crackdown. 

Anna Politkovskaya 
On 14/12 ex-police officer Dmitry Pavliuchenkov, one of six accused, was sentenced to 11 years in prison for killing Anna Politkovskaya. On 25/12 a lawyer for Politkovskaya’s family appealed against the sentence as excessively mild. 

Leonid Razvozzhaev 
The European Court of Human Rights has asked Russia and Ukraine to provide information about the case against opposition activist Leonid Razvozzhayev, charged with instigating mass riots. On 5/12 Razvozzhaev’s lawyer alleged his client has been threatened in detention. On 25/12 Razvozzhaev, sent to pretrial detention center in Chelyabinsk, asked to attend the upcoming appeal hearing in Moscow.