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February 2014

North Caucasus 
On 5/2 security forces killed terrorist suspect Dzhamaldin Mirzayev. Chechen authorities banned commemorative events on 23/2 marking the 1944 deportations. On 21/2 relatives of Ruslan Kutaev, abducted on 20/1, learned he was in police detention.

Freedom of expression 
On 3/2 Dozhd TV faced closure after satellite TV provider Tricolor TV said it would end broadcasts from 10/2. On 4/2 Agora Human Rights Association reported 226 criminal cases against Internet users in 2013. On 6/2 more than 200 leading authors denounced restrictions on freedom of expression in Russia. On 10/2 a court dismissed an appeal against damages awarded against Novaya gazeta and a journalist for exposing alleged plagiarism. On 18/2 Echo of Moscow dismissed news director Yury Fedutinov.

Right of assembly 
On 2/2 thousands of people marched in Moscow in support of the ‘Bolotnaya’ defendants charged with riot and using force against the police. On 12/2 defendant Elena Kokhtaryova pleaded guilty. On 17/2 three other defendants were amnestied. On 21/2 a Moscow court found 8 defendants guilty. That day about 200 people were detained outside the courtroom. On 24/2, 7 defendants were sentenced to prison and one was given a suspended sentence. Memorial condemned the sentences as a ‘crime against justice’. On 24/2 police said about 500 people were detained in Moscow and St Petersburg protesting against the sentences. Aleksei Navalny, Boris Nemtsov, Ilya Yashin and other activists were subsequently sentenced to terms in jail. On 24/2 an escort officer was said to have severely beaten Aleksei Polikhovich after sentencing. On 4/2 Moscow City Court extended house arrest and pre-trial detention for Sergei Udaltsov and Leonid Razvozzhaev respectively until 10/6. On 18/2 the two pleaded not guilty to charges of inciting mass riots and violence against police. On 8/2 at least 41 people were detained on Manezh Square for staging a flash mob in support of the independent Dozhd TV channel.

LGBT rights 
On 17/2 Italian gay-rights activist Vladimir Luxuria was detained by police in Sochi after being stopped while carrying a rainbow flag. On 21/2 a court dropped charges of disseminating homosexual “propaganda” to minors against the creator of an online support group for gay teenagers. Russia's first Open Games for LGBT athletes set to start on 26/2 was jeopardized by a crackdown by the authorities who pressured venues to refuse to host events.

Ombuds office 
On 13/2 President Putin formally nominated Ella Pamfilova, a former head of the Kremlin human rights council, as Russia’s next human rights ombudsperson.

On 3/2 environmentalist Evgeny Vitishko was detained on theft charges. On 12/2 he was jailed for three years for allegedly painting a fence; on 16/2 he went on hunger strike. On 17/2 police detained David Khamkin for staging a picket in support of Vitishko. On 4/2 environmentalist Igor Kharchenko was arrested in Krasnodar. On 4/2 a Krasnodar court extended until 4/4 the house arrest of Mikhail Savva; on 25/2 the judge ruled the chief prosecution witness in the case should be tried separately. On 19/2 Cossacks in Sochi assaulted members of Pussy Riot. On 20/2 the group released a new political song. On 28/2 Aleksei Navalny, who on 6/2 paid a fine imposed on him in the Kirovles case, was placed under two months’ house arrest for allegedly violating terms of a suspended sentence.

Legal system 
On 12/2 Prosecutor General Yury Chaika said over 14,000 people were illegally prosecuted in the past three years. President Putin signed into law a series of bills increasing punishments for extremism (3/2); merging the Supreme Court and Supreme Commercial Court (6/2); allowing individuals convicted of serious crimes to run for political office 10 and 15 years after release (22/2); and establishing grounds for unscheduled inspections of NGOs by the Ministry of Justice (22/2).