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July 2016

Freedom of expression 
This month Roskomnadzor officially warned the Judicial Decisions website (4/7) for reposting court verdicts from government websites for violating data protection law; and blocked (8/7) four websites that called for a boycott of the upcoming elections. On 5/7 FSB agents searched the Moscow studios of Ekho Moskvy and summoned the station’s web editor for questioning concerning an investigation into an article by Andrei Piontkovsky, who left Russia earlier this year; on 14/7 Ekho Moskvy’s editor-in-chief, Aleksei Venediktov, said FSB investigators asked for a list of employees in connection with the investigation; on 23/7 FSB officers searched the Moscow apartments of Andrei Piontkovsky and his daughter. On 7/7 two journalists from state-owned TASS news agency were given top editorial roles at RBC; on 13/7 Roman Badanin, former editor of the RBC website, said Kremlin pressure over reporting of the Panama Papers and other sensitive issues led to his dismissal. On 13/7 Jeff Shell, chair of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the U.S. agency that oversees civilian government broadcasting, was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and denied entry to Russia. On 13/7 the OSCE expressed concern over the publication by Russian authorities of what they called an updated ‘list of terrorists and extremists,’ which includes journalists and activists.

Right of association 
On 7/7 Arktika, a youth-oriented NGO in Altai region, was added to the list of ‘foreign agents’. On 11/7 Rostov Regional Court dismissed an appeal by the NGO the Women of Don against inclusion in the ‘foreign agent’ register. On 12/7 imam of Moscow's Yardyam Mosque Mahmoud Velitov was arrested on charges of inciting terrorism for alleged support of an alleged member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, an organization banned in Russia.

Right of assembly 
On 2/7 Oleksandr Shestakovych, organizer of a small picket calling for the release of jailed Ukrainians, was detained in Crimea and charged with infringing public assembly rules. On 15/7 Sergei Krivov, a jailed participant in the 2012 Bolotnaya Square protest, was released. On 22/7 the Constitutional Court ruled activists at public rallies can partially cover their faces so long as it does not present a ‘significant obstacle to their identification.’ On 26/7 protests against repressive new anti-terror legislation took place in major cities across Russia. Protests were banned in St. Petersburg and Moscow.

Counter terrorism / surveillance On 7/7 President Putin signed into law counter-terrorism legislation toughening punishment for extremism and terrorism and increasing state surveillance capabilities. On 7/7 President Putin also gave the FSB 14 days to find encryption keys to monitor online messaging. On 28/7 the Interior Ministry announced plans to buy software enabling access to social networks. On 19/7 Moscow police reported a 25% increase in extremist crimes, and an 86% rise in online extremism, in the first half of 2016.

On 8/7 the authorities said eight members of an armed group and one law enforcement officer were killed, and three FSB officers injured, in clashes south of Makhachkala. On 11/7 police said a counterterrorism operation in the village of Miskindzha, Dokuzparinsky district, ended with the killing of Admir Talibov, an alleged militant.

On 18/7 the FSB arrested Artem Shestakov, an OSCE interpreter in eastern Ukraine, on charges of spying. On 20/7 Pavel Sheremet, a journalist and friend of Boris Nemtsov, was killed by a car bomb in Kiev. On 21/7 Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch accused the Ukrainian government and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine of arbitrary detention and torture of civilians. On 24/7 a spokesman for Ukrainian President Poroshenko said six Ukrainian soldiers had been killed and 13 injured in the previous 24 hours in fighting against Russia-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country.