Site Archive‎ > ‎Human rights week by week‎ > ‎2012‎ > ‎

November 2012

Freedom of the Internet
On 1/11 a law that aims to protect children from harmful internet content by allowing the government to take sites offline entered into force. On 1/11 the Communications Ministry received more than 5,000 requests to ban various websites. As of 9/11 Russia's telecoms watchdog, Roskomnadzor, had blacklisted over 180 websites. On 13/11 in the lead-up to December's World Conference on International Communications reports said Russia had called on the UN to take over key aspects of Internet governance. On 27/11 Roskomnadzor said it would not change the new Internet law allowing the blacklisting of websites, but promised to correct past mistakes. 

In court on 7/11 jailed activist Leonid Razvozzhayev retracted his confession to plotting mass riots. On 9/11 rights advocates handed information about the alleged torture of Razvozzhayev to the UN Committee Against Torture. On 11/11 protestors outside the Investigative Committee HQ demanded Razvozzhaev’s release from custody. On 22/11 the Investigative Committee said it would not open a criminal case into Razvozzhaev’s claims he was kidnapped and tortured by security services. On 8/11 Russian rights defenders presented their Alternative Report to the UN Committee Against Torture in Geneva on torture in Russia. On 12/11 the UN CAT concluded its review of Russia’s 5th report on compliance. On 13/11 the Prosecutor General's Office officially notified Interior Minister Kolokoltsev that rights violations by law enforcement are ‘ubiquitous.’ On 23/11 UN officials criticized Russia’s compliance with its treaty obligations on torture.

New NGO law
On 20/11 Amnesty International expressed grave concern over continuing encroachment on freedom of association in Russia. On 21/11 a new law obliging Russian NGOs financed from abroad and involved in political activity to register as “foreign agents” came into force. On 21/11 and 27/11 at least four NGOs were harassed with graffiti or pickets accusing them of being ‘foreign agents.’ Prominent rights activists said they would boycott the new NGO law and challenge it in the European Court of Human Rights. Moscow Helsinki Group called for donations to support its human rights work. 

Pussy Riot 
On 29/11 a Moscow city court declared Pussy Riot's “punk prayer” video extremist, meaning media outlets could face closure for publishing the video. On 19/11 lawyers Nikolai Polozov, Mark Feigin and Violetta Volkova said they would no longer represent the jailed Pussy Riot members. Polozov alleged prison officials and inmates were putting psychological pressure on their clients. Pussy Riot member Maria Alekhina was transferred to solitary confinement allegedly because of tensions with other inmates.

The Interior Ministry said some 250 prisoners protested at Penal Colony No. 6 in Kopeisk, Chelyabinsk region, on 24/11. The local Public Oversight Commission said prisoners complained of numerous violations by staff. On 27/11 an official investigation began into the protests. Authorities arrested five serving and former prison officers at a prison in Rostov region after a video appeared showing staff prison beating an inmate.

On 10/11 amendments expanding the legal definition of treason came into force. On 9/11 Siberian physicist Valentin Danilov, jailed on charges of espionage and treason, was granted parole. He arrived in Novosibirsk following his release on 26/11.

Right of assembly 
The pace of the investigation into 19 people suspected of participating in violence at a May protest rally raised concerns about the effect of extended pretrial detention on suspects' health. On 9/11 a Moscow court sentenced a first defendant in connection with the May protest, Maksim Luzyanin, to 4 1/2 years in jail. On 21/11 Moscow City Hall refused to permit a rally against political repression and rights violations.