Quote for the Day


Evgeniya Chirikova: "In Russia, any topic, including Pokemon Go, is political."

posted 22 May 2017, 10:01 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 22 May 2017, 10:03 ]

"It’s crazy that in Russia a politician only has the right to speak out if he’s pro-regime. If he’s an oppositionist, he can keep his trap shut. An opposition politician is like a leper who can be killed, crippled, and imprisoned with impunity. But as for letting him speak at a demonstration—oh no! What if he taints our topic! 
If you think that by not letting politicians speak you’re avoiding politicization—that is a huge mistake. In Russia, any topic, including Pokemon Go, is political." 

Source:
Evgeniya Chirikova, 'They will reckon with you only if they sense in you a threat to their power,' Facebook, 13 May 2017 [translation by Rights in Russia]

Vladimir Pozner: "As it is known, I am an atheist. I stridently believe there is no God. [...] By propagating this view, am I violating the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation?"

posted 17 May 2017, 11:14 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 17 May 2017, 11:24 ]

"As it is known, I am an atheist. I stridently believe there is no God. It's not that I run around shouting, 'There isn't, there isn't' from morning to evening, but I do not hide my convictions. I would like to get an exhaustive clarification. By propagating this view, am I violating the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation? Perhaps [Russian Orthodox Church head] Patriarch Kirill would say whether I am insulting his religious feelings by affirming there is no God. Perhaps the chairman of the Constitutional Court could tell me if I have the right to think what I think and say what I say. Perhaps, the head of state [Putin] could clarify: Does court await me, will [I be given] a 'soft' sentence?"

- Vladimir Pozner, journalist, commenting on the conviction of YouTuber Ruslan Sokolovsky for 'offending  religious feelings' [as quoted by RFE/RL]

Photo: Wikipedia

On 16 May 2017, Tom Balmforth, writing for RFE/RL, reported: "On state TV's First Channel, the country's most watched station, veteran journalist Vladimir Pozner, 83, on May 15 criticized the law on 'insulting religious feelings' that saw Ruslan Sokolovsky handed a 3 1/2-year suspended sentence. Pozner read from the May 11 verdict against Sokolovsky, which found he had insulted religious feelings by 'denying the existence of God, denying the existence of the founders of Christianity and of Islam, Jesus Christ and the Prophet Muhammed'."

Source:
Tom Balmforth, Veteran State TV Journalist Asks On Air: Can Atheism Get You Jailed In Russia?, RFE/RL, 16 May 2017

Aleksandr Podrabinek: "Why is a legal professional in court accusing a defendant of something that does not fall within the framework of the law?"

posted 15 May 2017, 05:22 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 15 May 2017, 05:26 ]

"The prosecutor in the trial of the case of Ruslan Sokolovsky, who was catching Pokemons in an Orthodox church, accused the defendant of not respecting the State. 'An expression of disrespect for the State is inadmissible,' Prosecutor Ekaterina Kalinina stated. Moreover, she accused Sokolovsky of “anti-constitutional 'attitudes' and 'ridiculing the Russian president.' What does any of this have to do with the law? The law does not prohibit failing to respect the State or having anti-constitutional attitudes, and as for ridiculing the Russian president—that’s old news. Why is a legal professional in court accusing a defendant of something that does not fall within the framework of the law? So that everyone clarifies for themselves that this is not about the law. He is being tried for his attitude and disrespect. It’s all perfectly clear and candid."

Aleksandr Podrabinek, journalist and human rights defender

Source:
'Александр Подрабинек: Откровенные времена,' Radio Svoboda, 9 May 2017 [translation by Rights in Russia: 'Aleksandr Podrabinek: Candid Times,' Rights in Russia, 9 May 2017'

Philip Leach: “This judgment [...] establishes the extent of the Russian authorities’ responsibility for severe loss of life during the Beslan School Siege"

posted 14 Apr 2017, 09:05 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 14 Apr 2017, 09:12 ]

“This ground-breaking judgment provides a significant measure of justice for the families, after so many years. It establishes the extent of the Russian authorities’ responsibility for severe loss of life during the Beslan School Siege, but also calls for important lessons to be learned, so that the mistakes made at Beslan are not repeated.”

Professor Philip Leach, Director of European Human Rights Advocacy Centre

Photo: Middlesex University

Source:
'ECtHR: Russian authorities failed to prevent loss of lives during Beslan School Siege [EHRAC],' Rights in Russia, 13 April 2017

Igor Kalyapin: "I believe that if civil society is going to demonstrate the kind of dynamic development it demonstrated at this rally [on 26 March], then the authorities won’t have a chance to tighten the screws"

posted 12 Apr 2017, 12:24 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 12 Apr 2017, 12:25 ]

"I believe that if civil society is going to demonstrate the kind of dynamic development it demonstrated at this rally [on 26 March], then the authorities won’t have a chance to tighten the screws. I am absolutely certain of this. […] 
I believe that any public investigation and public report at the end of the investigation would be unquestionably effective. If that public investigation is publicly reported on to the head of state, then that is unquestionably all the more effective."

Source:
'Igor Kalyapin on the aftermath of the demonstrations of 26th March [Radio Svoboda],' Rights in Russia, 30 March 2017 [source: Moscow Helsinki Group]

Liudmila Alekseeva: "We are not living in a country governed by the rule of law"

posted 11 Apr 2017, 10:44 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 11 Apr 2017, 10:48 ]

"
What worries me most is the tendency for the authorities once again to talk to citizens from a position of strength, both during the protest [of 26 March] and after it, resorting to intimidation and deceit. For example, television channels in Russia have as yet made almost no mention of the event, despite its importance for our country’s public life. Judging by the President’s public utterances, the authorities have no desire to talk to members of civil society about what is worrying them, or to meet them half way – they still want to scare people and force them to stay at home instead of resolving issues through compromise. [...] We are not living in a country governed by the rule of law"

- Liudmila Alekseeva, chair Moscow Helsinki Group

Source:
'Liudmila Alekseeva: Once again, the authorities are resorting to intimidation and deceit,' Moscow Helsinki Group, 1 April 2017 [translation: Rights in Russia]

The European Parliament 'condemns the police operations in the Russian Federation attempting to prevent and disperse peaceful anticorruption demonstrations, and detaining hundreds of citizens, including Alexey Navalny, whose organisation initiated the demonstrations'

posted 10 Apr 2017, 10:10 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 10 Apr 2017, 10:14 ]

The European Parliament:

[...] 1. Condemns the police operations in the Russian Federation attempting to prevent and disperse peaceful anticorruption demonstrations, and detaining hundreds of citizens, including Alexey Navalny, whose organisation initiated the demonstrations;

2. Calls on the Russian authorities for the immediate release of, and the dropping of charges against, Alexei Navalny and all the peaceful protestors, journalists and activists detained in the anti-corruption rallies held in Moscow and a number of Russian cities on 26 March and 2 April 2017; underlines the fact that Russian authorities bear full responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of those detained;

3. Underlines the fact that the sentences imposed are politically motivated, and urges the Russian judiciary to demonstrate its independence from political interference; calls on the Russian authorities to put an end to the harassment of journalists, political opponents and political and civil society activists, to fully respect international human rights obligations and to guarantee media freedom and freedom of assembly [...].

Source:
'European Parliament resolution on Russia, the arrest of Alexei Navalny and other protestors,' European Parliament, 5 April 2017

Tanya Lokshina: "At the highest level, [the Russian authorities] should resolutely condemn attacks against LGBT people in Chechnya and ensure safety and justice for the victims"

posted 5 Apr 2017, 12:01 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 5 Apr 2017, 12:02 ]

"It is difficult to overstate just how vulnerable LGBT people are in Chechnya, where homophobia is intense and rampant. LGBT people are in danger not only of persecution by the authorities but also of falling victim to “honour killings” by their own relatives for tarnishing family honor. So it is particularly disappointing that the Kremlin spokesman should tell the victims to use official channels to complain, without saying a word about any security guarantees. Without solid security guarantees, victims and witnesses cannot possibly come forward, and there is no chance that an effective investigation could take place. Surely Russian authorities can do better than that. At the highest level, they should resolutely condemn attacks against LGBT people in Chechnya and ensure safety and justice for the victims."

- Tanya Lokshina, Russia program director at Human Rights Watch.

Source: 
Tanya Lokshina, 'Anti-LGBT violence in Chechnya: when filing “official complaints” isn’t an option,' Open Democracy, 4 April 2017

Nils Muižnieks: "Since 2012, the authorities in the Russian Federation have progressively made the country less hospitable for human rights defenders"

posted 4 Apr 2017, 13:42 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 4 Apr 2017, 13:44 ]

"Since 2012, the authorities in the Russian Federation have progressively made the country less hospitable for human rights defenders. That year the Russian Parliament adopted the “Law on Foreign Agents”, requiring NGOs that receive donations from abroad to register as “foreign agents” (a label which, in the Russian-speaking context, is a synonym for an enemy, a spy or someone who serves foreign hostile interests, as a result of its use as a standard accusation against thousands of individuals during the political repressions of the 1930s and 40s) if they engage in “political activity,” which in the official understanding can encompass any activity by NGOs aimed at influencing public opinion or making proposals for changes to any governmental policies. The implementation of the Foreign Agent Law has further placed NGOs declared as “foreign agents” in a clear disadvantage vis-à-vis other organisations, and in many cases has led them to curb their activities, self-censor or initiate their own dissolution. Last year, a criminal prosecution was launched against the leader of “Women of Don” - an NGO known for its human rights, humanitarian and charity activities – because of failure to register in the roster of “foreign agents”. Additionally, legislation was enacted in 2015 permitting the executive branch to declare as ”undesirable” any NGO deemed to imperil the constitutional order, national security and defence."

- Nils Muižnieks, Commissioner for Human Rights, Council of Europe

Source:
Nils Muižnieks, The Shrinking Space for Human Rights Organisations, Human Rights Comment, 4 April 2017

Liudmila Alekseeva: "There is a new generation, which appreciates freedom and human dignity, and is ready to fight for its rights"

posted 4 Apr 2017, 04:20 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 4 Apr 2017, 04:26 ]

"It’s amazing! This is the first rally, where the majority were young people aged under 25-27. In the past we have always had more mature people coming out. Now we are getting young people in their teens and school students. But also a lot of young adults. [This] 
means that the years that have passed since the collapse of the Soviet Union have not been in vain. There is a new generation, which appreciates freedom and human dignity, and is ready to fight for its rights. [...] there are very many more, especially compared with Soviet times, who are dedicated to freedom. [...] The young people have already realized that [the authorities] are lying. Young people do not watch television. Their grandparents are sitting at home. What do they do? They switch on the TV. But our young people delve into the Internet. [After] these developments, I believe that change could happen sooner rather than later. Maybe in even less than ten years.” 

- Liudmila Alekseeva, chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group

Source:
'Liudmila Alekseeva: A new generation has grown up in Russia which values freedom and dignity, and is prepared to fight for its rights [Obozrevatel],' Obozrevatel, 28 March 2017 [translation: Rights in Russia

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