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May 2013

Pussy Riot
On 6/5 Agora Human Rights Association lodged appeals against the denial of parole to Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova. On 22/5 Maria Alekhina went on hunger strike in protest at the Perm court’s decision not to allow her to be present at her parole hearing. On 24/5 Alekhina was denied parole for ‘disobeying’ prison authorities and not ‘repenting’. On 29/5 Moscow City Court upheld the convictions in the Pussy Riot case. On 28/5 Alekhina was hospitalized on the seventh day of her hunger strike. 

Right of association 
Prosecutors continued to demand that NGOs register as foreign agents, including the Levada Centre, Moscow School of Political Studies, the Urals human rights group, Public Verdict Foundation, and the Kostroma Civic Initiatives Support Centre. The Levada Centre said it would not register as a foreign agent and may close, but subsequently that it would no longer accept foreign funding. Sociologists and economists protested against the “foreign agents” law. On 15/5 the Ministry of Justice said it would seek to close down Golos. On 7/5 Memorial Anti-Discrimination Centre asked experts from the UN Committee Against Torture to testify on its behalf. The UN Committee Against Torture criticized Russia for prosecuting rights groups on the basis of reports submitted to it. Three independent UN experts urged that the ‘foreign agents’ law be revised. Leading NGOs in Perm region announced they would not register as ‘foreign agents’. On 24/5 a Moscow court dismissed an appeal by the International Memorial Society against the prosecutors’ inspection. On 27/5 in St. Petersburg the trial began of Coming Out for not registering as a ‘foreign agent’. On 28/5 Memorial Human Rights Centre appealed against registration as a ‘foreign agent.’ 

Right of assembly 
On 6/5 organizers said nearly 30,000 people attended a rally against political prosecutions. On 7/5 the Presidential Human Rights Council called for an amnesty for those charged in the “Bolotnaya Square case;” rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin concurred. On 27/5 prosecutors filed criminal charges against 12 suspects in the case. On 9/5, 12 were detained for a protest on Moscow’s Tverskaya Street; 18 were arrested elsewhere. On 11/5, police detained nine at a rally for detainee Aleksei Gaskarov. On 13/5 participants in a peaceful protest camp in Voronezh region against mining were brutally beaten. On 14/5 Moscow authorities refused to permit a gay pride on the 20th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Russia. On 17/5 an LGBT rally in St. Petersburg marked the victims of homophobic hate crimes. On 31/5 police detained about two dozen at protests in Moscow and St. Petersburg for the right of assembly.

Freedom of expression
On 6/5 a Moscow court upheld a November ban on a YouTube video allegedly containing instructions on suicide. Rights activists said a bill introducing criminal liability for offending believers violated Russia’s secular constitution. 

On 15/5 the trial of Aleksei Navalny resumed in Kirov. On 20/5 Moscow City Court upheld on appeal the refusal to investigate the abduction of Leonid Razvozzhaev. On 30/5 civic activists Vladimir Krasov and Aleksei Podnebesny were attacked. On 31/5 a court extended the detention of Vadim Korovin of the Federation of Car Owners.

Economist Sergei Guriev left Russia after being questioned over the independent report he co-authored on the second trial of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev. Mikhail Fedotov, head of the Human Rights Council, denied the authors of the report had violated the law.

North Caucasus 
On 2/5 police said 73 alleged members of the Islamist insurgency were killed in the North Caucasus in the first quarter of 2013. On 28/5 reports said Grozny resident Beslan Baidulaev had been abducted on 22/5. On 30/5 opposition leaders said in a report as much as $30bn (£20bn) has been stolen in preparations for the Sochi Winter Olympics.