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11 May 2017

posted 11 May 2017, 09:26 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 12 May 2017, 12:02 ]
Chechnya gay rights: Activists with petition held in Moscow
Five gay rights activists have been detained in Moscow as they tried to deliver a petition to the office of Russia's prosecutor general. Police said they were held because their action was unauthorised. The activists said more than two million people had signed the petition to investigate alleged torture and detentions of gay people in the Russian region of Chechnya. Chechen officials have denied that gay people even exist in the republic. Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin backed an inquiry into the reported crackdown on gay people in Chechnya, in the North Caucasus. Earlier this month German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged the Russian authoritiesto help protect gay rights. [...]
Source: BBC [11 May 2017] 

Russia: Knee-jerk repression as LGBTI activists arrested over Chechnya petition
In response to today’s detention of five LGBTI activists as they were trying to deliver a petition to the Office of Russia's Prosecutor General on Chechnya, Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International, said: “While the activists were released shortly after their arrest, this knee-jerk detention follows a familiar pattern of the Russian authorities crushing activism, and is a multiple violation of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and liberty of person. It is aggravated by the fact that the detainees merely wanted to support gay men in Chechnya, one of the country’s most marginalized groups, and call for their protection.” [...]
Source: Amnesty International [11 May 2017]

Pokemon Go: Russian blogger sentenced
A Russian blogger has been given a three-and-a-half year suspended sentence after he posted a video of himself playing Pokemon Go in a church. The court in the city of Yekaterinburg found Ruslan Sokolovsky guilty of insulting religious believers and inciting hatred. During the trial, Sokolovsky, now aged 22, had pleaded not guilty. He filmed himself playing the popular game in the local Orthodox church in August 2016. He was arrested shortly afterwards. On Thursday, Sokolovsky was also found guilty of "illegal trafficking of special technical equipment" after a pen with a built-in video camera had been discovered during the search of his home. [...]

Source: BBC [11 May 2017]

Russian YouTuber convicted of blasphemy after playing Pokémon Go in a church
Russian authorities have blatantly misused the criminal justice system, including draconian anti-extremist legislation, in a show trial against blogger Ruslan Sokolovsky, said Amnesty International today.  A court in Yekaterinburg today gave the 22-year-old blogger a three-and-a-half year suspended prison sentence for “inciting hatred” and “offending believers’ feelings”. He was arrested in September 2016 for playing Pokémon Go in a cathedral in Yekaterinburg, in the Urals. [...]
Source: Amnesty International [11 May 2017]

Russia: Pokemon Go Blogger Convicted
A Russian court on May 11, 2017, convicted a 22-year-old blogger on criminal charges of incitement of hatred and insult to the religious feelings of believers, Human Rights Watch said today. The court gave the blogger, Ruslan Sokolovsky, a three-and-a-half-year suspended sentence. Sokolovsky had posted to YouTube a prank video in which he plays Pokemon Go in a church. The authorities should take steps to have the conviction vacated or set aside, and stop prosecuting individuals for peaceful exercise of their right to free speech. [...]
Source: Human Rights Watch [11 May 2017]
House Torched As 'Acts Of Vandalism' Target Jehovah's Witnesses In Russia
A home inhabited by Jehovah's Witnesses outside Moscow was destroyed in an arson attack, the religious organization said, citing it as the starkest example of a string of "acts of vandalism" targeting the group since it was branded as extremist by the Russian Supreme Court. An inebriated resident of the village of Lutsino in Moscow Region on April 30 threw a bottle containing burning liquid at a home and garage, destroying the building as well as cars belonging to a family of Jehovah's Witnesses, the group said in a statement on its website on May 8. The attacker had made disparaging comments about the Jehovah's Witnesses before the attack, the group said. [...]
Source: RFE/RL [author: Tom Balmforth; 11 May 2017]

Russian Federation: Ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses is an assault on Freedom of Assembly and Conscience
On 20 April the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation banned Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia on the grounds that they are an extremist organization. This means that the Administrative Centre and all 395 regional organisations of Jehovah’s Witnesses are subject to liquidation, and their property can now be seized by the state. Those who continue to manifest their faith as Jehovah’s Witnesses including participating in worship, leading religious activities, recruiting others or fundraising despite the ban will be liable to criminal prosecution and can face imprisonment for up to 12 years.
Source: Amnesty International [11 May 2017]

Putin's New Executive Order Cracks Down on Internet Media and Online Anonymity
Vladimir Putin issued a 27-page executive order on Thursday instructing the federal government to devise new mechanisms to rein in online media and limit Internet users’ anonymity. Titled “Development Strategies for Russian Information Society from 2017 to 2030,” the president is giving the government six months to reform its strategy for policing “means of providing access to information that are similar to the mass media.” The executive order argues that new measures are necessary to ensure the quality and reliability of information provided to the public. Putin’s order specifies that the new policing mechanisms should apply to Internet television networks, news aggregators, social networks, and instant messengers, as well as “any websites.” The president offered no details about how these media should be regulated further, but his order stresses that the state should offer additional support to traditional media like television, radio, print newspapers, and libraries. [...]
Source: The Moscow Times [11 May 2017]

Before World Cup, Russia Turns to Old Security Toolbox
A new order by Vladimir Putin calls for increased searches, stricter residency rules and restrictions on protest 
[...] On May 9, President Vladimir Putin signed an order heightening security before, during and after the two tournaments. Amongst broad prescriptions, the order calls for increased searches, stricter residency rules and restrictions on protests. Russia has a history of heavy-handedness during major sporting events. In 1980, Moscow played host to the Olympic Games. Just eight years after Palestinian terrorists massacred Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, Soviet authorities feared security threats. But subtlety was not their strongest suit. [...]
Source: The Moscow Times [author: Matthew Kupfer; 11 May 2017]

Resettlers treat Medvedev's decision to give Dagestani villages to Azerbaijan as a disaster
A press conference on the problems of former residents of the village of Khrakh-Uba, transferred to Azerbaijan by Russian authorities, was held today at the editorial office of the "Derbent" News Agency, the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent reports. The problems of migrants from Khrakh-Uba have been ignored by Dagestani authorities and the federal centre since 2010, said local residents, who treated the transfer of two Dagestani villages to Azerbaijan as a catastrophe. [...]
Source: Caucasian Knot [10 May 2017]