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26 May 2017

posted 26 May 2017, 11:48 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 26 May 2017, 14:10 ]

CPJ Urges Russia To Bring Those Responsible For Journalist's Killing To Justice
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is urging Russian authorities to conduct a “thorough, unbiased, and effective” investigation into the killing of the chief editor of a newspaper in the Siberian city of Minusinsk, and bring those responsible to justice. "Russia is a country where too many journalists have been murdered for their work while their killers walk free," CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said in a May 25 statement. "This toxic cycle of impunity must be reversed once and for all." [...]
Source: RFE/RL [26 May 2017]

Russia: Anti-Gay Purge in Chechnya
Victims of Punitive Round-Ups Still in Danger
Police in Chechnya rounded up, beat, and humiliated dozens of gay or bisexual men in an apparent effort to purge them from Chechen society, Human Rights Watch confirmed in a new report today. Russian federal authorities should ensure their investigation into these egregious human rights violations is effective and capable of holding the Chechen authorities to account. Foreign governments should provide safe sanctuary to the victims, who remain in immediate danger of physical harm as long as they remain in Russia. [...]
Source: Human Rights Watch [26 May 2017]

Human Rights Watch Confirms Torture, Abuse Of Gay Men By Chechen Authorities
Human Rights Watch says it has confirmed that police in Russia's Chechnya region rounded up, tortured, and humiliated dozens of gay or bisexual men during the spring of 2017 in "an apparent effort to purge them from Chechen society." In a 29-page report released on May 26, the U.S.-based nongovernmental rights group said the "antigay purge" lasted from late February until at least early April -- and that "it was ordered and conducted by officials in Chechnya." [...]
Source: RFE/RL [26 May 2017]

Tatiana Lokshina: Chechnya arranges raids against gays with tacit consent of Kremlin
Since early 2017, the problem of the persecution of homosexuals in Chechnya has become urgent, and the authorities of the republic take brutal punitive measures against suspected LGBT community members with the tacit approval of the Kremlin. This was stated by Tatiana Lokshina, the programme director of human rights organization "Human Rights Watch" (HRW) in Russia, when she commented on the HRW's report released today. [...]
Source: Caucasian Knot [26 May 2017]

Chechen Parliament Speaker Played Key Role in Anti-Gay Purges – HRW
The chair of the Chechen parliament, Magomed Daudov, played a key role in anti-gay purges in the Russian authoritarian republic of Chechnya, Human Rights Watch has revealed in a report published today. Daudov, a long-time ally of the republic's notorious leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, personally oversaw the torture of men who were detained in secret prisons on suspicion of being gay, two detainees told Human Rights Watch. Daudov made “offensive comments” during the beatings, they said. [...]
Source: The Moscow Times [26 May 2017]

Russia investigates 'gay purge' in Chechnya

Putin officials pursue claims of homosexual men jailed and tortured in republic ruled by Kremlin-backed Ramzan Kadyrov
Russian officials are actively investigating claims of a purge of gay men in Chechnya, a process that could lead to a showdown between Moscow and the local Kremlin-backed strongman, Ramzan Kadyrov. Dozens of men in the southern republic are reported to have been held in extrajudicial detention and tortured as part of a campaign against gay males in Chechnya that began several months ago. Many have fled and are in hiding in other regions of Russia or have gone abroad. [...]
Source: The Guardian [26 May 2017]

Russian Supreme Court upholds liquidation of Jehovah’s Witnesses chapter
The Supreme Court of Russia has upheld a ruling declaring a branch of Jehovah’s Witnesses religious organization in Cherkessk extremist and liquidating it, RAPSI learnt in the courtroom on Friday. The court has dismissed an appeal against the February 10 ruling of the Supreme Court of the Karachay-Cherkessia Republic. In addition to the organization’s declared extremist status and it liquidation, its real estate property was ruled to be transferred to the state. On Friday, this ruling came into force. [...]
Source: RAPSI [26 May 2017]

Number of jailed entrepreneurs drops by 24% - Russian business ombudsman
Russia’s business ombudsman Boris Titov said during the meeting with President Vladimir Putin on Friday that the number of detained businessmen had dropped by 24%, the presidential press office announced. However, a lot of businessmen are still in jail, according to the business ombudsman. As it is said, this restrictive measure is often necessary for investigative activities, but unfortunately in many cases investigation is not being conducted, Titov added. [...]

Source: RAPSI [26 May 2017]

Crimean Tatar rights lawyer Emil Kurbedinov wins major human rights award
Emil Kurbedinov, a tireless advocate for all those facing politically motivated persecution in occupied Crimea, has become Front Line Defenders’ 2017 Laureate of the Human Rights Defenders at Risk Award. The honour is truly well-deserved, although Emil himself considers it recognition of the work done by all lawyers and human rights defenders in Crimea. “This award is to all those people who go to the courts, who continue the struggle. This is our shared award”. It would be hard to over-state the vital role Emil Kurbedinov has played since Russia’s invasion of Crimea. He is acting for defendants in virtually all of the ever-increasing number of politically motivated prosecutions in Crimea, and, as Human Rights Defenders notes, “provides emergency response and documentation of rights violations during raids and searches of activists’ homes.” [...]
Source: Human Rights in Ukraine [26 May 2017]

PACE appoints special rapporteur on case of Boris Nemtsov's murder
The Legal Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has appointed Emanuelis Zingeris, a member of the Lithuanian delegation, special rapporteur on the case of the Boris Nemtsov's murder. [...]

Source: Caucasian Knot [26 May 2017]

Arthur Panov complains to ECtHR about violation of his rights
Arthur Panov, a citizen of Ukraine, accused of plotting a terror act in Rostov-on-Don, has appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) with a complaint about violation of several articles of the Convention on Human Rights. The defendant also intends to seek the cancellation of his pre-trial restriction measure. Arthur Panov informed of the above the "Caucasian Knot" in his letter sent through his advocate. [...]
Source: Caucasian Knot [26 May 2017]

Russian Blogger Goes on Trial for ‘Inflicting Pain’ on the Cop He Says Beat Him Up
A district court in Kemerovo heard opening arguments this Thursday in a criminal case against Stanislav Kalinichenko, a local blogger accused of “inflicting pain” on a police officer during his arrest in June 2016. According to Kalinichenko, however, police only brought the charges after he complained about being brutally beaten in their custody. [...]

Source: The Moscow Times [25 May 2017]

Svetlana Anokhina awarded 2016 Akhmednabi Akhmednabiyev journalism award
The "Caucasian Knot" has named the winners of the annual award for journalistic materials about the Caucasus, organized in memory of Dagestani journalist Akhmednabi Akhmednabiyev. [...]

Source: Caucasian Knot [25 May 2017]

25 May 2017

posted 25 May 2017, 09:15 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 25 May 2017, 12:22 ]

Editor Of Siberian Newspaper Shot Dead
Russian authorities say the chief editor of a newspaper in the Siberian city of Minusinsk has been shot dead in a killing they believe may be connected to his work. The Investigative Committee branch in Krasnoyarsk Krai said on May 25 that Dmitry Popkov's body was found with multiple gunshot wounds in a bathhouse outside a home in Minusinsk at about 11 p.m. local time on May 24. Committee spokeswoman Olga Degid said it was the journalist's own home. [...]
Source: RFE/RL [25 May 2017]

Russia Fines Navalny Ally For Extremism Over John Oliver Repost
CHEBOKSARY, Russia -- A coordinator for Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny's headquarters in the Chuvashia region [Semyon Kochkin] has been fined for extremism after reposting a portion of the popular U.S.
television show Last Week Tonight With John Oliver. In a May 25 decision, a court in Chuvashia's capital ruled that Semyon Kochkin distributed extremist material and fined him 1,500 rubles ($27). [...]
Source: RFE/RL [25 May 2017]

World Cup 2018: Fifa admits workers have suffered human rights abuses

• Gianni Infantino admits North Koreans worked at St Petersburg stadium
• Fifa president sent letter to Nordic FAs after they expressed concern
The Fifa president, Gianni Infantino, has admitted there have been human rights abuses of workers involved in the construction of the arena in St Petersburg due to host matches in next year’s World Cup. In a letter to the presidents of four Nordic football associations, which the Guardian has seen, Infantino also acknowledged that some men from North Korea, whose working conditions are “often appalling”, were deployed to work at the Zenit Arena in St Petersburg. [...]
Source: The Guardian [25 May 2017]

Prosecutors To Look Into Comments By Transparency International Official
The Russian Prosecutor-General's Office says it will look into recent remarks by the deputy chief of Transparency International Russia (TIR) regarding controversial lawmaker Natalya Poklonskaya. Prosecutorial officials said on May 25 that they have received a request from a senior pro-Kremlin legislator, Vasily Piskaryov, to examine Ilya Shumanov's remarks to determine whether they were threatening. [...]
Source: RFE/RL [25 May 2017]

Prosecutor Demands Lengthy Prison Terms in Kabardino-Balkaria 'Caliphate Trial'
The prosecutor has demanded prison terms of up to 20 years for eight young men from Kabardino-Balkaria on charges ranging from illegal possession of arms and establishing an illegal armed group to the attempted killing of a police officer, the news portal Caucasian Knot reported on May 19. At the same time, the prosecution proposed dropping the most controversial charge against the eight: that of plotting to overthrow the republic's leadership and establish an Islamic caliphate. [...]
Source: RFE/RL [25 May 2017]

Alexei Venediktov reports Boris Nemtsov's complaints about threats in connection with "Charlie Hebdo"
Today, Alexei Venediktov, the editor-in-chief of the "Echo Moskvy", has been summoned to the trial in the case on the murder of Boris Nemtsov. According to an advocate of the victim family, Alexei Venediktov was one of the last persons who talked to Boris Nemtsov. Alexei Venediktov claimed that Boris Nemtsov informed him of the threats voiced against him. The judge has refused to question Alexei Venediktov in the presence of the jury and explained his decision by saying that none of the defendants is being charged with threatening Boris Nemtsov, the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent reports from the courtroom. [...]

Source: Caucasian Knot [25 May 2017]

"Legal Initiative" reports disappearance of Chechen woman
Her mother had turned to the prosecutor's office asking to investigate the disappearance of her daughter, but the office gave no reaction. Shortly before the disappearance, the daughter left her husband because of beatings. Malika T., a resident of Grozny, disappeared back in October 2016, but this became known only today, when her mother has appealed to rights defenders. Prior to her disappearance, the woman several times applied to the Grozny prosecutor's office stating that her husband was beating her up. According to her mother, after another beating in the fall of 2016, her daughter left her husband; however, after a while came back because of children. [...]

Source: Caucasian Knot [24 May 2017]

Kuban farmer Petrov released under house arrest
The Kavkaz District Court has granted the petition of the prosecutor's office to release Oleg Petrov, an activist of the "Polite Farmers" movement, from custody, said Alexei Volchenko, the leader of the movement. The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that on March 28 Oleg Petrov's field camp in the village of Kazanskaya, Krasnodar Territory, was to become the starting point of the "tractor march" to Moscow, by which the Kuban (Krasnodar) farmers wanted to draw attention to the problems of raiders' land captures in the Territory. After the march was disrupted, the Petrov's house was searched, and he himself was detained, and then arrested. [...]

Source: Caucasian Knot [24 May 2017]

24 May 2017

posted 24 May 2017, 11:18 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 24 May 2017, 12:24 ]

Russian Protester Jailed For 18 Months Over March 26 Rally
A court in Moscow has sentenced a man who took part in an antigovernment protest on March 26 to 18 months in prison after convicting him of attacking a police officer. Aleksandr Shpakov, who was convicted on May 24, is the second person to be sentenced in connection with one of the largest protests in Russia in years. Protesters took to the streets in about 100 cities nationwide for anticorruption demonstrations whose size and scope surprised organizers and appear to have rattled President Vladimir Putin's government. [...]
Source: RFE/RL [24 May 2017]

Russian Intelligence Chief Says Terrorists Use Telegram's ‘Secret Chats’ 
Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), announced on Wednesday that terrorists groups are using secret chats on the instant messenger Telegram to coordinate their efforts. While speaking at a security conference for intelligence agencies in the Commonwealth of Independent States, Bortnikov said FSB agents have obtained evidence that terrorists communicate through closed groups on Telegram, according to the news agency RIA Novosti. [...]
Source: The Moscow Times [24 May 2017]

Bill Banning Anonymous Messenger Accounts Submitted to Russian Parliament
A new bill banning anonymous users from using online messenger apps has been submitted to the Russian parliament. The plans would require users of apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram to identify themselves with their cell phone number. The companies behind the apps would also be forced to pass on information to government bodies and agencies, Russia's reported. [...]
Source: The Moscow Times [24 May 2017]

Moscow Court Hears New Evidence On Magnitsky’s Death
A lawyer representing the mother of Sergei Magnitsky submitted Wednesday to a Moscow court new evidence alleging that a Russian investigator orchestrated the cover-up of the deceased whistleblower’s death. A representative from Hermitage Capital Management - the investment adviser to the largest foreign investment fund in Russia until 2005 - told OCCRP that Nikolai Gorokhov was "brave enough to appear at the court on Wednesday." Gorokhov was due in March to contest a refusal by another court to investigate new evidence relating to the so-called "Pavlov Leaks," which revealed how tax officials colluded with police and an organized crime group in a US$ 230 million tax rebate fraud scheme – the largest in Russian history – that targeted Hermitage Capital. [...]
Source: OCCRP [24 May 2017]

Lawyers do not rule out defamation lawsuit in relation to “Prevezon case”
Natalya Veselnitskaya, the managing partner of Camerton Consulting law firm, does not rule out possibility of filing a defamation lawsuit against Hermitage Capital Management CEO William Browder and a number of mass media outlets in relation to the so-called “Prevezon case”. “We consider all of the grounds for filing lawsuits not only against Browder, but also against Mr. Cherkasov, Mr. Firestone and mass media outlets, including Novaya Gazeta,” Veselnitskaya told journalists at the press-conference over settlement between authorities of the United States and a group of companies under control of Russian businessman Denis Katsyv. [...]
Source: RAPSI [24 May 2017]

Panic Mode: Moscow Probe Into Anti-Gay Purge Has Chechen Leaders Rattled
Moscow sends a delegation to Chechnya to investigate anti-gay crimes, sending local officials into panic mode.
Moscow’s probe into an anti-gay purge in Chechnya might be preliminary, but its effects are anything but. Russia’s Investigative Committee has not opened a single criminal case, and local authorities are already panicking, reported Novaya Gazeta, the newspaper that broke the original story. One by one, high-rank officials have lined up to make statements about their newfound tolerance of the LGBT community. Magomed Dashayev, head of the Grozny police, suggested he would even allow a gay parade in the center of Chechen capital Grozny. [...]
Source: The Moscow Times [author: Daria Litvinova; 24 May 2017]

Bolshoi Theater Chief Appeals To Putin Over 'Wrong' Treatment Of Embattled Director
The head of Russia's renowned Bolshoi Theater has sent a letter to President Vladimir Putin criticizing the treatment of a prominent director who was subjected to searches and questioning in an embezzlement investigation. Bolshoi General Director Vladimir Urin told reporters on May 24 that the conduct of law-enforcement agencies toward Kirill Serebrennikov was "wrong." Investigators spent hours searching Serebrennikov's Moscow apartment and the Gogol Center theater, where he is art director, on May 23. [...]
Source: RFE/RL [24 May 2017]

Russian business ombudsman proposes to expand powers of prosecutors and Supreme Court
The Presidential Commissioner for Entrepreneurs’ Rights Boris Titov has proposed, among other measures, to expand powers of the Supreme Court and prosecutors in criminal cases, RAPSI learnt during the conference at Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation. On Wednesday, Titov presented an analytical report for the Russian President on the state of criminal legislation’s execution in regulation of entrepreneurial activity. The document contains statistical data proving conclusions on rising level of pressure against business caused by rising number of launched economical criminal cases. In addition, the rising number of detained defendants in criminal cases in a sphere of entrepreneurial activity also contributes to the increased pressure. [...]
Source: RAPSI [24 May 2017]

Defence accuses law enforcers of falsifying Caliphate case
On May 23, the North-Caucasian District Military Court continued the debate in the case of Caliphate, which, according to investigators, 10 residents of the republic wanted to establish in Kabardino-Balkaria. This was reported by the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent who attended the court hearing. At the beginning of the hearing on May 23, the Court listened to Yuri Bachurin, an advocate of defendant Arthur Karov. In his speech, the advocate tried to find the origins of the case of Caliphate and called it "absurd." Yuri Bachurin has reminded the audience that in 2005, Nalchik was attacked by militants. As a result, according the advocate, law enforcers suffered "terrible" losses. "The law enforcers experience phantom pains and begin searching for imaginary enemies," said Yuri Bachurin. He has also expressed his confidence that the FSB and the Investigating Committee of the Russian Federation (ICRF) institute a lot of cases on illegal armed formations (IAFs) and terrorism in order to create an atmosphere of fear in the republic. [...]

Source: Caucasian Knot [24 May 2017]

FSA treats repressions against journalists in Northern Caucasus as toughest in Russia
At a press conference held on May 23, members of the Free Speech Association (FSA) presented a report on the situation with freedom of speech and freedom of creativity in Russia in 2016-2017. The FSA members described repressions in Northern Caucasus regions as the most severe ones, the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent reports. The report was presented by Nadezhda Azhgikhina, the former secretary of the Russian Union of Journalists, a FSA member, and Alexei Simonov, President of the Glasnost Defence Foundation. [...]

Source: Caucasian Knot [24 May 2017]

Lawyers: mosque in Shamkhal village closed illegally
A decision to close a mosque can only be made by a court. This opinion was expressed by Dagestani lawyers interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot", who recognized as illegal the actions of law enforcers against the Shamkhal mosque closed at the request of the law enforcement agencies. The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that on May 16, the Salafi mosque in Shamkhal, a suburb of Makhachkala, was closed at the request of the law enforcement agencies. The senior officials of the local police station explained the closure of the mosque by the lack of documents proving the legality of its functioning in the village. [...]

Source: Caucasian Knot [24 May 2017]

In Krasnodar, farmer detained for picket in front of presidential motorcade
Today, participants of a "tractor march" have organized a picket in Krasnodar where Vladimir Putin arrived. Sergey Plyonkin, one of the activists, was detained after he unfolded a poster in the street when the presidential motorcade was passing by. The "Caucasian Knot" has reported on August 21, 2016, the protesting farmers held a rally and began their so-called “tractor march” to Moscow, but law enforcers interfered, stopped the action and punished the participants with administrative arrests and fines. After their disrupted "tractor march" and a failed attempt to meet President Vladimir Putin, farmers have repeatedly stated the authorities' attempts to suppress the protest movement in the Krasnodar Territory. [...]

Source: Caucasian Knot [23 May 2017]

23 May 2017

posted 23 May 2017, 10:40 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 23 May 2017, 10:51 ]

Russian Authorities Search Theater, Home Of Director, Government Critic
Investigators searched a Moscow theater and the home of a prominent director who has protested against the government and voiced concern about the increasing influence of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Russian Investigative Committee said the Gogol Center theater and the apartment of its art director, Kirill Serebrennikov, were searched on May 23 in connection with an embezzlement case. Dozens of cultural figures came to Serbrennikov's defense, signing a statement calling him "an honest, fair, and open person." [...]
Source: RFE/RL [23 May 2017]

Russian Academic Facing Jail for 'Extremist' Pig Manure Rant
An environmental activist could face jail after criticizing Russian villagers who refused to protest against businesses dumping pig manure into their local river. Valery Brinikh, director of the Biological Studies Institute in Russia’s southern Adygean republic, called residents “cowards” who “lacked dignity” when they refused to stand up to their local pig farm. Police ruled that his comments, which were published in an article titled "Silence of the Lambs," could be prosecuted as “extremist” calls for violence against the Adygean people, a protected ethnic minority group, some of whom live in the village. [...]
Source: The Moscow Times [23 May 2017]

Russian ombudsman voices support for baby boxes
Russia’s human rights ombudsman Tatyana Moskalkova has spoken in support of the use of baby boxes, or incubators for parents who want to leave their newborn babies anonymously. Baby boxes give children a chance to survive and be adopted in future, Moskalkova told journalists on Tuesday. According to the Commissioner for Human Rights, all measures, which can save life and minimize harm caused to a child by parents’ abandonment, have a right to exist. [...]
Source: RAPSI [23 May 2017]

Human rights defenders criticize law enforcers' unwillingness to discuss struggle against radicalism in Caucasus
On May 22, Moscow launched meetings of the roundtable on the topic "Problems and best practices for counteracting the radicalization of young people in Northern Caucasus". The event was organized by the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial" and the newspaper "Novaya Gazeta" with the expert support of the International Crisis Group (ICC). At the very beginning of the first day of the meeting, Oleg Orlov, a member of the HRC "Memorial", has stated that the organizers had the desire to hold the event not only with the participation of human rights defenders and experts, but also with representatives of the authorities. "Terrorist ideology has attracted a part of our fellow citizens, and we must offer alternatives to it both from the side of civil society and the authorities. However, finally, the authorities did not want to take part in the roundtable organized by human rights defenders," said Oleg Orlov. He has expressed an opinion that the reason may be in recognition of the HRC "Memorial" as a foreign agent. The human rights defender has also added that in one of the republics, delegates refused to participate in the event "at the last minute." [...]

Source: Caucasian Knot [23 May 2017]

Truck drivers from Dagestan detained while protesting in Khimki
The police have detained members of the "Association of Russian Carriers" (known as OPR), who came to Khimki from various regions, including Dagestan, to hold an action against the "Platon" system. Three detainees are sentenced to fines, and the rest are awaiting a trial. The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that on March 27, Russian truck drivers resumed mass protests. They demand to abolish the transport tax, reduce fuel excises and cancel the "Platon" system introduced to collect tolls from drivers of heavy trucks on federal roads. [...]
Source: Caucasian Knot [23 May 2017]

22 May 2017

posted 22 May 2017, 10:34 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 22 May 2017, 12:29 ]

Jehovah’s Witnesses turn to Council of Europe over Russia’s refusal to execute ECHR ruling
The Jehovah’s Witnesses organization banned in Russia as extremist has filed a complaint with the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe over Moscow’s refusal to implement a ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). A copy of the application has been published on the website of the Council of Europe. [...]

Source: RAPSI [22 May 2017]

Russian Supreme Court rules to arrest fugitive ex-judge Baranova in absentia
The Supreme Court of Russia has ruled to arrest former judge of the Moscow Commercial Court Irina Baranova, suspected of assisting in bribery and large scale fraud, in absentia, RAPSI learnt from the court’s press-service on Monday. The court ruled to put Baranova in detention for two months after the day she is to be apprehended. [...]

Source: RAPSI [22 May 2017]

Pokemon Go player appeals suspended sentence for inciting enmity
Videoblogger Ruslan Sokolovsky, who had received a 3.5-year suspended sentence for playing Pokemon Go in a church, has appealed his sentence, his lawyer Alexey Bushmakov told RAPSI on Monday. On May 22, Sokolovsky was found guilty of incitement of hatred, violation of religious rights and illegal possession of special technical means intended for obtaining secret information. [...]

Source: RAPSI [22 May 2017]

One in Four Russians Witness Police Brutality — Poll
Almost a quarter of Russians have witnessed or experienced beatings carried out by police and medical staff, a new report has revealed. Some 22 percent of people said they'd seen police attacks firsthand, while 12.3 percent of respondents said that they had personally fallen victim to police brutality, a survey by human rights organization "Public Verdict" and Moscow's Metodicheskaya Laboratoriya found. Another 28.6 percent of Russians had heard of similar cases from family and friends, Russia's RBC news outlet reported. [...]
Source: The Moscow Times [22 May 2017]

Russia: Government vs. Rights Groups. The Battle Chronicle
For the past four years, the Kremlin has sought to stigmatize criticism or alternative views of government policy as disloyal, foreign-sponsored, or even traitorous. It is part of a sweeping crackdown to silence critical voices that has included new legal restrictions on the internet, on freedom of expression, on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, and on other fundamental freedoms. An enduring, central feature has been the 2012 law requiring independent groups to register as “foreign agents” if they receive any foreign funding and engage in broadly defined “political activity.” In Russia, the term “foreign agent” can be interpreted by the public only as “spy” or “traitor.” To date, Russia’s Justice Ministry has designated 158 groups as “foreign agents,” courts have levied staggering fines on many groups for failing to comply with the law, and about 30 groups have shut down rather than wear the “foreign agent” label. Organizations targeted include groups that work on human rights, the environment, LGBT issues, and health issues, groups that do polling about social issues. A court forced the closure of AGORA Association, one of Russia’s leading human rights organizations , in response to a Justice Ministry suit alleging that the group violated the “foreign agents” law and carried out work beyond its mandate. The ministry has removed its “foreign agent” tag from over 20 groups, acknowledging that they had stopped accepting foreign funding. Accordingly, as of May 22, 2017, the official list of active “foreign agents” consisted of 96 groups. [...]
Source: Human Rights Watch [22 May 2017]

PBS NewsHour" reports on detention of its journalists together with mosque-goers in Makhachkala
In Makhachkala, members of the film crew of the American "PBS NewsHour" TV Channel, who were carrying out an edition's assignment, were detained together with believers of the mosque in Omarov Street after Friday prayers. In an hour and a half, the journalists were released and left the region. This was reported by the Washington headquarters of the "PBS NewsHour" TV Channel. The number of the detainees included reporter Nick Shifrin, producer Zak Fannin, and cameraman Roman Stepanovich, the "Caucasian Knot"correspondent reports. [...]
Source: Caucasian Knot [20 May 2017]

Navalny Unmasks a Cartel Allegedly Earning Billions in Russian Defense Deals
Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (ACF) published its latest investigative work on Friday, revealing what it says is a cartel of businesses owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin and contracted by the Defense Ministry. Widely known as “Vladimir Putin’s favorite chef,” Prigozhin is a billionaire restaurateur with a history of catering to St. Petersburg’s elites and winning lucrative federal procurement deals. According to ACF, his cartel has won more than 23 billion rubles ($405 million) in defense contracts. Navalny says his group was able to uncover Prigozhin’s massive resources using published data about federal procurement orders. [...]
Source: The Moscow Times [19 May 2017]

Ukraine Opens Criminal Probe Against Stalin, Beria For Crimean Tatar Deportations
Ukrainian officials have announced a criminal investigation into Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and his secret police chief, Lavrenty Beria, for the mass deportation of Muslim Tatars from the Crimean Peninsula during World War II, which killed tens of thousands. Ukrainian officials have announced a criminal investigation into Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and his secret police chief, Lavrenty Beria, for the mass deportation of Muslim Tatars from the Crimean Peninsula during World War II, which killed tens of thousands. [...]
Source: RFE/RL [19 May 2017]

19 May 2017

posted 19 May 2017, 10:36 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 22 May 2017, 10:35 ]

Russia detains Crimean Tatars for honouring the victims of the Deportation
Russian police and FSB marked the 73rd anniversary of the Deportation of the Crimean Tatar People with detentions and harassment of people, many elderly, gathered in prayer. Five drivers of cars bearing Crimean Tatar flags were detained in Bakhchysarai and protocols drawn up. A court hearing into this supposed ‘administrative offence’ has been scheduled for later on Thursday. In Simferopol, eight young people were released in the early afternoon after being detained for walking with the Crimean Tatar flag. Journalist Anton Naumlyuk reports that the men released were all made to provide ‘explanations’. The police tried to take fingerprints, but all refused to give them. Another two minors were held further in the police station, and at least three other people had been detained, also for the Crimean Tatar Flag in another part of the city. Most distressing is, of course, the treatment of older people who may well have directly experienced the Deportation or at least grown up in exile. [...]
Source: Human Rights in Ukraine [19 May 2017]

Russia’s National Guard to Monitor Social Networks
Russia’s National Guard is planning to train IT experts and specialists to monitor social networks, the Interfax news agency reported Friday, citing first deputy commander of the National Guard Sergei Melikov.  “We’re looking at areas of work we would like to develop” Melikov told reporters. "Mainly social media monitoring." Monitoring social networks would help the law enforcement agency to prevent attacks against the national guard like the one in the Republic of Chechnya in late March this year. [...]
Source: The Moscow Times [19 May 2017]

State Interests Trump Human Rights, Says Chair of Russia’s Constitutional Court
Protecting human rights should not create a threat to state sovereignty, undermine “the moral standards of the society” or “disrupt its religious identity,” Valery Zorkin, chief justice of Russia’s Constitutional Court, said Thursday at the St. Petersburg International Law Forum. Zorkin argued that defending the rights of the majority is equally as important as defending the rights of various minority groups. “Some 2016 events - like Brexit for example - have demonstrated that the concept of defending the rights of the majority, lately ignored by Western societies, is important,” the Constitutional Court's chief justice was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. "If the society is unhealthy and immoral, it can’t fully protect human rights,” he said. [...]
Source: The Moscow Times [19 May 2017]

President Putin appoints new Representative of Russia at ECHR
President Vladimir Putin has appointed Deputy Justice Minister Mikhail Galperin as Representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). [...]
Source: RAPSI [19 May 2017]

Chechnya's ‘First Transgender Woman’ Comes Forward
A woman calling herself Chechnya’s “first transgender person” has come forward saying she fled illegally last year to the United States, after facing persecution in Russia. The independent TV station Dozhd says it verified the transgender woman’s identity through human rights workers who helped her escape Russia. [...]
Source: The Moscow Times [18 May 2017]

Two gays from Chechnya find refuge in Lithuania
Two residents of Chechnya, who were persecuted because of their sexual orientation, have received Lithuanian visas, the Lithuanian Foreign Minister has reported. The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that on April 1, the "Novaya Gazeta" published an article on mass arrests and murders in Chechnya of LGBTs; and later reported also about a "secret prison" for gays in Argun. Ramzan Kadyrov has treated the articles as provocation. [...]
Source: Caucasian Knot [17 May 2017]

"EcoWatch" achieves cancellation of fines at Adygea's SC
The Supreme Court (SC) of Adygea has stopped the cases about the absence of the label of a "foreign agent" on press releases of the "Ecological Watch for Northern Caucasus" (EcoWatch) and cancelled the fines earlier imposed on the organization, said Andrei Rudomakha, the coordinator. The "EcoWatch" was recognized as a "foreign agent" in September 2016. Mr Rudomakha has reminded that a judge of the Maikop City Court had fined the "EcoWatch" and its leader based on the administrative protocols, drawn up by the "Roskomnadzor" branch for the Southern Federal District (SFD). [...]

Source: Caucasian Knot [17 May 2017]

18 May 2017

posted 18 May 2017, 08:30 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 18 May 2017, 09:16 ]

Opening Of Navalny's Election Headquarters In Moscow Postponed Again
Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny says he has had to postpone the opening of his election campaign headquarters in Moscow. The opening of the headquarters was originally scheduled for May 17, but Navalny's campaign chief, Leonid Volkov, said on May 16 that the opening was moved to May 24 due to "problems with premises." He has faced numerous obstacles while opening campaign offices across Russia. Earlier this month, the opening of Navalny's election headquarters was postponed in Moscow, as well as in Vologda, Volgograd, Vladivostok, Vladimir, and Krasnodar, after landlords decided to cancel lease agreements. [...]
Source: RFE/RL [18 May 2017]

Anti-Corruption Protester Jailed for 8 Months After Navalny's Moscow Rally
A protester arrested at Alexei Navalny's anti-corruption rally in Moscow on March 26 has been sentenced to eight months in prison. Yuri Kuliy is the first demonstrator to face the court after the protest, which saw more than 1,000 people detained by police in Moscow alone. The demonstration, which was led by opposition presidential hopeful Alexei Navalny, had not been given official permission to take place. Kuliy, a Moscow-based actor, pleaded guilty to assaulting a member of Russia's national guard. He told Russia's Ekho Moskvy radio station that he had pleaded guilty in hopes of receiving a suspended sentence. Prosecutors had originally asked the judge for a two-year jail term. Kuliy's lawyer, Alexei Liptser, maintains that the actor had grabbed the officer's hand in a bid to protect an elderly man from the riot police. [...]
Source: The Moscow Times [18 May 2017]

Moscow City Court refuses to release Ukrainian journalist charged with spying
MOSCOW, May 18 (RAPSI, Lyudmila Klenko) – The Moscow City Court has dismissed an appeal filed by legal defense of Ukrainian journalist Roman Sushchenko, who stands charged with espionage, against extension of his detention until June 30, RAPSI learnt from the court’s press service on Thursday. According to Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the Ukrainian citizen "purposively collected classified information about the Armed Forces and National Guard of Russia." Leak of data abroad could cause damage to the national defense capability, the FSB claimed earlier. On October 7, charges were brought against Sushchenko. He could face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty. [...]
Source: RAPSI [18 May 2017]

Russian prison staff jailed for torturing 16-year-old Ukrainian to death
18 months after Vitaly Pop, who was just 16, died of appalling injuries on his first night in a Russian ‘corrective’ colony, two prison officers have received 11-year sentences, with eight others sentenced to terms from two and a half to five years. Although the other young victims reported that Vitaly had received particularly bad treatment because of his Ukrainian accent, this may well have simply served as a pretext, like others, for the savage beating. Although six other 15-17-year-olds had also received injuries, it was almost certainly only the fatal outcome that prompted action. There were, even so, attempts at a cover-up. The young lad’s death could not be concealed since an ambulance had finally been called, but the acting head of the prison order ordered that a report be written claiming that Pop had attacked a member of staff. [...] 

Source: Human Rights in Ukraine [author: Halya Coynash; 18 May 2017]

European Parliament Demands 'Credible Investigation' Into Abuse Of Gay Men In Chechnya
The European Parliament has passed a resolution calling on the authorities in Russia's Chechnya region to allow international human rights organizations to conduct a "credible investigation into the alleged crimes against men perceived to be gay" in the North Caucasus republic. The resolution, which passed with overwhelming support on May 18, also demands authorities end what it says is a campaign of persecution and "immediately release those who are still illegally detained." [...]
Source: RFE/RL [18 May 2017]

Human rights defenders announce campaign of solidarity with Chechen LGBT people
Today, on the International Day Against Homophobia, the Anti-Discrimination Centre "Memorial", the Centre for Civil Liberties and the FIDH, are launching a campaign of messages of solidarity with LGBT people of Chechnya and Donbas. Let us remind us that on April 1, the newspaper "Novaya Gazeta" reported about the mass detentions and killings of LGBT people. The residents of Chechnya interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot" reported that they were aware about the physical violence used against gays in the republic long before those publications. The Chechen Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) denies the information about the persecution of gays. "A terrible wave of violence motivated by sexual orientation or gender identity in Chechnya has recently been widely discussed. The media report evidence of threats, extortion, extrajudicial detentions, and secret prisons, where dozens of people are tortured," reports Anti-Discrimination Centre "Memorial". [...]

Source: Caucasian Knot [17 May 2017]

Tatiana Moskalkova: information of "Novaya Gazeta" with names of gays harassed in Chechnya sent to ICRF
Tatiana Moskalkova, High Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation, has reported that the appeal of the newspaper "Novaya Gazeta" with the indication of the specific names and surnames of the gays persecuted in Chechnya had been sent to the Investigating Committee of the Russian Federation (ICRF). In Grozny, officials called the campaign to protect gays in Chechnya an attempt to exert pressure on Ramzan Kadyrov. The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that on April 1, the newspaper "Novaya Gazeta" published an article about mass detentions and killings in Chechnya of men suspected of non-conventional sexual orientation. On May 5, President Vladimir Putin promised Tatiana Moskalkova to instruct the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) and the General Prosecutor's Office to help her in checking the reports of the persecution of gays in Chechnya. [...]

Source: Caucasian Knot [17 May 2017]

Mikhail Fedotov says Ramzan Kadyrov promises to assist law enforcement agencies in verifying reported violations against LGBT people
The meeting of Mikhail Fedotov, the chairman of the Human Rights Council (HRC) under the President of Russia, with Ramzan Kadyrov has become the first visit of the HRC members to Chechnya after the republic was excluded from a series of travelling sessions in Northern Caucasus in June 2016. The information about harassments of gays in Chechnya was not the reason for the trip, but it was also discussed with the leader of Chechnya, Mikhail Fedotov reports. The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that on May 10, the exhibition dedicated to the memorial to the victims of political repressions "The Wall of Sorrow" was opened in Grozny. The opening ceremony was attended by Mikhail Fedotov, the chairman of the Human Rights Council under the President of Russia. During his meeting with Ramzan Kadyrov, Mikhail Fedotov raised the topic of the harassment of gays in Chechnya. [...] Mikhail Fedotov has reported that Ramzan Kadyrov "promised to assist the law enforcement agencies in verifying the information described in the publications of the newspaper 'Novaya Gazeta'." [...]

Source: Caucasian Knot [17 May 2017]

17 May 2017

posted 17 May 2017, 10:21 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 17 May 2017, 11:03 ]

Death Toll In Gas Blast In Russia's Volgograd Rises To Four
The death toll in a May 16 gas explosion in an apartment building in the southwestern Russian city of Volgograd has risen to four. Investigators said on May 17 that two bodies had been recovered from the debris overnight after the blast destroyed part of the building. [...]
Source: RFE/RL [17 May 2017]

Baku Decries Russian Court's Closure Of Azerbaijani Diaspora Group
Azerbaijani officials and legislators on May 16 decried a decision by Russia's Supreme Court to shut down a group representing more than 2 million Azerbaijanis living in Russia. Baku's foreign ministry called the ruling cancelling the registration of the All-Russia Azerbaijani Congress "discriminatory," while the Azerbaijani State Committee on Work with the Diaspora said it would ask for reconsideration of the ruling, which it said harms the "centuries-old friendly relations of our peoples." [...]
Source: RFE/RL [17 May 2017]

Russia demands increase to 12-year sentence against Crimean Tatar political prisoner
Russia’s prosecutor has lodged an appeal against the recent 12-year sentence passed on Crimean Tatar Ruslan Zeytullaev for unproven involvement in the Hizb ut-Tahrir movement which is legal in Ukraine and most countries. It seems that the FSB [Russian security service] are determined to get the 17-year sentence they need for their paperwork, however many ‘trials’ are required. Meanwhile the 31-year-old father of three is again on hunger strike in protest at the 12-year sentence and ongoing persecution of Crimean Tatars. [...]
Source: Human Rights in Ukraine [17 May 2017]

Telegram App to Refuse Russia's Data Demands
Russian Messenger Telegram Pledges to Protect Data Amid Rumors of Government Pressure
The company behind the messaging app Telegram has said it will not hand over information to the Russian state amid reports of government pressure to give up company data. "No other government or special service in the world has ever received any information from us.” the company said in a statement on Tuesday. "It will always be that way," Russia’s Vedomosti newspaper reported earlier that media watchdog§ Roskomnadzor had requested Telegram’s data so that it could be registered in a national database controlled by the state. [...]
Source: The Moscow Times [17 May 2017]

Russian government approves list of facilities protected by National Guard
MOSCOW, May 17 (RAPSI) – The government has approved a list of facilities which are subject to protection of the Russian National Guard. The relevant decree signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has been published on the official website of legal information. The list includes buildings of Russia’s Supreme Court, the Moscow City Court, the Supreme Court of Crimea and Sevastopol City Court. The National Guard is also ordered to protect facilities of the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Investigative Committee, the Foreign Ministry, election commissions of Russia’s subjects in Crimea, Sevastopol and Republic of Chechnya. Residence of Presidential Envoy to the North Caucasian Federal District has been also added to the protection list. [...]

Source: RAPSI [17 May 2017]

Russian Supreme Court upholds sentence for preparation of terror attack in cinema
MOSCOW, May 17 (RAPSI, Oleg Sivozhelezov) – The Supreme Court has upheld the sentence for fifteen persons found guilty of preparing terror attack in “Kirgizia” cinema located in Moscow, RAPSI learnt from the court’s press-service on Wednesday. The court’s Military Commission has dismissed an appeal filed against the sentences issued by the Moscow District Military Court on April 22, 2016. The ruling came into force. Earlier, the Moscow Prosecutor’s Office reported that in April 2016 several Russian citizens and one citizen of Uzbekistan received prison terms ranging from 11 to 13 years. [...]

Source: RAPSI [17 May 2017]

Bill on supervision of released criminals adopted by State Duma
MOSCOW, May 17 (RAPSI) – The State Duma passed in the third and final reading a bill envisaging post-prison supervision over criminals, who had served terms for serious crimes including terrorism and extremism. The bill was submitted to the lower house of parliament by the Russian government in December 2014. Under the draft law, compulsory administrative supervision would apply to individuals of majority age convicted of committing serious and particularly serious crimes of a terrorist and extremist nature, connected to infringement on life of law enforcement officers, public officials and persons executing justice or investigation, after their release. [...]
Source: RAPSI [17 May 2017]

Over 42,500 complaints lodged with Russian human rights ombudsman’s office in 2016
MOSCOW, May 17 (RAPSI, Lyudmila Klenko) – Office of Russia’s human rights ombudsman received more than 42,500 complaints from citizens in 2016, the country’s High Commissioner for Human Rights Tatyana Moskalkova said during her speech in the State Duma on Wednesday. According to Moskalkova, the number of applications increased by over 50 percent as compared to 2015. [...]
Source: RAPSI [17 May 2017]

French LGBT associations file lawsuit against Ramzan Kadyrov
Today, in connection with the information about harassment of gays in the Chechen Republic, three French LGBT associations have filed a lawsuit to the International Criminal Court against Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that on April 1, the newspaper "Novaya Gazeta" reported about mass detentions in Chechnya of men suspected of unconventional sexual orientation. Later, the newspaper "Novaya Gazeta" reported with reference to gays persecuted in Chechnya that in Argun, a "secret prison" had been arranged for people with unconventional sexual orientation. According to the "Radio Liberty", another similar prison, where members of sexual minorities are beaten and humiliated, is located in the Chechen village of Tsotsi-Yurt. [...]

Source: Caucasian Knot [16 May 2017]

16 May 2017

posted 16 May 2017, 11:05 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 16 May 2017, 11:26 ]

Chechnya accused of 'gay genocide' in ICC complaint
Three French gay rights groups have accused the Russian republic of Chechnya of a policy of genocide towards gay people in a complaint filed at the International Criminal Court. They have blamed Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov and state officials for a "wave of persecution". They cited the case of a teenaged male thrown out of a ninth-storey window, allegedly because of his sexuality. Chechen officials have denied that gay people even exist in the republic. [...]
Source: BBC [16 May 2017]

Navalny Supporter In Tatarstan Is Jailed For 10 Days
KAZAN -- A court in Russia's Tatarstan region has ordered a local activist to serve 10 days in jail in connection with a rally in support of opposition leader Aleksei Navalny. In a May 15 ruling, the court in Kazan ruled that Albert Abuzarov violated legislation on public gatherings and refused to obey police requests. [...]
Source: RFE/RL [16 May 2017]

Russia Is Getting a Patriotic Council to Fight 'Cultural Extremism'
The Russian parliament is getting a new council to advise the country's top officials on morality, patriotism and "cultural extremism." The new State Duma Council for Culture, Religion and Interethnic Relations will report to Parliamentary Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, Russian tabloid Izvestia reported Tuesday. Its remit is expected to include monitoring society's "moral climate," "preventing cultural extremism" and promoting "patriotic education," sources told the outlet. [...]
Source: The Moscow Times [16 May 2017]

15 May 2017

posted 15 May 2017, 11:41 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 15 May 2017, 11:49 ]

Leader Of 1953 Soviet Gulag Uprising Dies In Ukraine At 90
One of the leaders of the 1953 Norilsk uprising, a major protest by inmates of the Soviet gulag prison-camp system, has died in Ukraine at the age of 90. Yevhen Hrytsyak died in the western region of Ivano-Frankivsk on May 14. Hrytsyak was a leader of protests by thousands of inmates over prison conditions and alleged torture at several labor camps near Norilsk, a frigid mining city 400 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle, shortly after Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's death. The uprising lasted from May 26 to August 4, 1953. [...]
Source: RFE/RL [15 May 2017]

Stalin Portrait Goes Up At Moscow Subway Station
A portrait of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin has been hung at a Moscow subway station in celebration of the 82nd anniversary of the opening of the Russian capital’s underground transport network. The portrait appeared at the entrance of the Sokolniki subway station in northeastern Moscow on May 14 as part of a historical recreation of the opening of the Moscow Metropolitan on May 15, 1935. [...]
Source: RFE/RL [15 May 2017]

Moscow protests over demolition of Soviet-era homes

Thousands of people took to Moscow's streets to protest against plans to demolish their Soviet-era homes. The three- to five-storey Soviet apartments are nicknamed "khrushchovki" after the former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. Moscow's plan to demolish the blocks and resettle nearly a million people has met stiff opposition. Opponents claim their rights are being ignored and many fear they will not be compensated fairly by the state. [...]
Source: BBC [14 May 2017]

One man killed in shootout in Dagestan
A suspected militant has been killed in a suburb of Makhachkala, while policemen tried to detain him, a source reports. According to the source, the man opened fire at the policemen. The shootout occurred when the policemen tried to stop a car to check the driver's documents, the RIA "Novosti" reports with reference to a source from the law enforcement agencies of Dagestan. [...]

Source: Caucasian Knot [14 May 2017]

Chechen MIA: information on harassment of gays in republic not confirmed
The law enforcement agencies of Chechnya did not receive any complaints about harassment and killings of persons of nonconventional sexual orientation on the territory of the republic. This was reported by Ruslan Alkhanov, Chechen Minister of Internal Affairs. The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that on April 1, the newspaper "Novaya Gazeta" reported about mass detentions in Chechnya of men suspected of unconventional sexual orientation. Later, the newspaper "Novaya Gazeta" reported with reference to gays persecuted in Chechnya that in Argun, a "secret prison" had been arranged for people with unconventional sexual orientation. According to the "Radio Liberty", another similar prison, where members of sexual minorities are beaten and humiliated, is located in the Chechen village of Tsotsi-Yurt. [...]

Source: Caucasian Knot [13 May 2017]

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