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March 2012

Presidential election
On 7/3 the Central Election Commission said Vladimir Putin had won the presidential election held on 4/3 with 63.6% of the vote. According to OSCE election observers, and independent election monitors Golos and the League of Voters, the election was seriously flawed. On 7/3 the League of Voters refused to recognise the results.

Local elections 
On 2/3 a court in Lermontov cancelled town council elections following a hunger strike by opposition activists barred from the ballot. In voting on 4/3, over 70 of about 200 independent candidates won seats on Moscow district councils. On 17/3 ten people in Astrakhan went on hunger strike in protest at falsification of a mayoral election held on 4/3.

Right of assembly 
On 5/3 police in Russia made 550 arrests after protests in Moscow and St. Petersburg over the presidential elections. On 6/3 the Russian Union of Journalists called for investigations into detentions and beatings of journalists reporting on the Moscow rallies on 5/3. On 8/3 police detained about 27 activists in Moscow for attempts to hold ‘unsanctioned rallies’. On 10/3 protests were held in Russia over the outcome of the presidential election, with a Moscow turnout of up to 20,000. On 17/3 police briefly detained more than 20 people in Moscow protesting against an NTV documentary that suggested opposition protestors were paid. Dozens were arrested at a similar protest on 18/3. On 25/3 police detained dozens at unsanctioned protests in Moscow and St. Petersburg. On 31/3 up to 100 activists were detained when police broke up right-of-assembly protests in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Civic activists 
On 5/3 a Moscow court ordered Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina to be held on remand until 24/4 on charges of ‘serious hooliganism’ for singing an anti-Putin song in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour on 21/2. On 19/3 police detained and brought the same charges against Ekaterina Samutsevich. On 5/3 three activists from the Ukrainian group Femen were sentenced to prison terms of from five to 12 days for staging a topless protest at the polling station where Putin cast his vote. On 13/3 a judge extended the pre-trial detention of activist Taisiya Osipova, whose conviction on drug charges President Medvedev has ordered to be reviewed. On 14/3 environmental activist Suren Gazaryan and his lawyer Viktor Dutlov were arrested for attempting on 13/3 to photograph a mansion allegedly owned by Krasnodar Governor Tkachev. On 15/3 a Moscow district court gave a five year sentence for economic crimes to Aleksei Kozlov, husband of opposition activist Olga Romanova.

Political parties 
On 20/3 Moscow City Court upheld the Justice Ministry’s refusal to register PARNAS as a political party. On 23/3 the State Duma (and on 28/3 the Federation Council) passed a bill to allow registration of a party with 500 instead of the current 40,000 members.

LGBTI rights 
On 7/3 St. Petersburg Governor Poltavchenko signed a new city law banning ‘homosexual propaganda to minors.’ On 14/3 a Krasnodar district court published its 20/2 ruling denying registration to Sochi Pride House, construing homosexuality as ‘extremism.’

Media rights 
On 21/3 Tomsk Regional Court rejected a call from prosecutors to ban the Bhagavad Gita. As reported on 26/3 the Vyborg prosecutor's office said journalist Andrei Kolomoisky violated anti-extremism laws by editing a TV address by Putin to make him sound critical of the government and posting it on YouTube.

Police abuse 
On 13/3 five police were detained in connection with the death in detention in Kazan of Sergei Nazarov. On 28/3 Investigative Committee head Aleksandr Bastrykin ordered proposals be developed to create a unit to investigate crimes by police. On 29/3 four police officers were arrested in Novokuznetsk suspected of causing a witness's death.