Quote for the Day
“Today, Russia is more repressive than it has ever been in the post-Soviet era. People in Russia are paying an ever-higher price for speaking their mind and working to protect the public interest.”
- Tanya Lokshina, Russia program director at Human Rights Watch.
Human Rights Watch in a 687-page World Report 2017 published on 12 January 2017 said that in 2016 the Russian government 'tightened control over already shrinking space for free expression and stepped up persecution of independent critics. [...] The parliament passed new restrictive laws that expand the powers of law enforcement and security agencies, including to control online speech and keep dissenters in check. Kremlin-controlled broadcasters conducted smear campaigns against government critics.'
'Russia: Shrinking Space for Free Expression. Repressive Laws, Criminal Charges Against Critics,' Human Rights Watch, 12 January 2017
Tanya Lokshina: "Russian authorities should make it clear to Chechnya’s leadership that attacks on and threats against journalists and other independent critics will not be tolerated"
“The threats by the speaker of the parliament, Chechnya’s leading politician, are clearly meant to intimidate the Caucasian Knot team and hinder their dedicated reporting on egregious abuses by Chechen officials. Russian authorities should make it clear to Chechnya’s leadership that attacks on and threats against journalists and other independent critics will not be tolerated. [...] The authorities have already fabricated a criminal case against a young local journalist to punish him for his work for the Caucasian Knot, and now the right-hand man of Chechnya’s ruthless strongman is going after the editor. The Russian authorities at the highest level should end this.”
- said Tanya Lokshina, Russia program director at Human Rights Watch
On 12 January, Human Rights Watch issued a statement on the serious threats made by Magomed Daudov, speaker of Chechnya’s parliament, against Grigory Shvedov, the editor of Caucasian Knot, a critical online media outlet, placing him at great risk. Human Rights Watch noted that Caucasian Knot's coverage of developments in the Caucasus includes extensive reporting on abuses by Chechen authorities, and that Daudov is widely known as the right-hand man of Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Chechen Republic. Human Rights Watch urged the Russian authorities to publicly condemn these threats, ensure no harm comes to Shvedov, and put an end to threats against and attacks on independent media in Chechnya.
'Chechnya: Leading Politician Threatens Editor. Authorities Target Independent Media Outlet,' Human Rights Watch, 12 January 2017
Human Rights Watch: 'As of January 11, 2017, the official list of active “foreign agents” consisted of 104 groups'
'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 155 groups as “foreign agents,” courts have levied staggering fines on many groups for failing to comply with the law, and 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 21 groups, acknowledging that they had stopped accepting foreign funding. Accordingly, as of January 11, 2017, the official list of active “foreign agents” consisted of 104 groups.'
- Human Rights Watch
Source:'Russia: Government vs. Rights Groups. The Battle Chronicle,' Human Rights Watch, 11 January 2017
Nadezhda Azhgikhina: "It is high time to end impunity for threats and acts of violence against journalists"
“Threats against Russian journalists and journalists covering Caucasus are a shameful reality. Unfortunately, law enforcement and regional authorities are not taking it seriously. We do remember threats against Dagestan correspondent of Caucasian Knot Akhmednabi Akhmednabiev. Authorities refused to investigate the threats, despite calls from professional community. On 9 July 2013, he was shot outside his house, after his name was added to a hit list for being critical of local law enforcement. More than 25 journalists have been killed in the Caucasus in the last 25 years. Most of them covered corruption and violation of human rights. All of them have been threatened many times before killings. I do hope that Russian authorities will react on this shameful case. The speaker of Chechenian parliament must be punished, according to the Russian legislation. It is high time to end impunity for threats and acts of violence against journalists.”
- Nadezda Azhgikhina, vice-president of the European Federation of Journalists
In a statement issued on 9 January 2017, the European Federation of Journalists said: 'The Speaker of the Chechen Parliament, Magomed Daudov, tried to intimidate Gregory Shvedov, the editor-in-chief of Caucasian Knot (Kavkazsky Uzel), an independent online news site that covers the Caucasus, focusing on human rights violations. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) strongly condemned this shameful intimidation.'
'Russian editor threatened by government official in Chechnya,' European Federation of Journalists, 9 January 2017
Front Line Defenders: "Front Line Defenders is deeply concerned about the threats against human rights journalist Gregory Shvedov, which it believes to be related to his legitimate and peaceful human rights work"
"Front Line Defenders is deeply concerned about the threats against human rights journalist Gregory Shvedov, which it believes to be related to his legitimate and peaceful human rights work. Front Line Defenders urges the authorities of the Russian Federation to:
1. Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the threats against Gregory Shvedov, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;
2. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Gregory Shvedov;
3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Russia are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions."
Source:'THREATS AGAINST EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF THE CAUCASIAN KNOT, GREGORY SHVEDOV,' Front Line Defenders, 9 January 2017
Amnesty International: "As a party to the European Convention on Human Rights the Russian authorities have an obligation to guarantee freedom of expression and protect journalists from threats and attacks"
"Please write immediately in Russian, English or your own language:
Urging the authorities to conduct a prompt, effective and impartial investigation into the threats made to Grigory Shvedov, which is a crime under Article 144 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“obstruction of lawful professional activities of journalists”);
Urging them to condemn in the strongest manner the threats posted by Magomed Daudov and ensure that Grigory Shvedov is protected from any possible physical attacks;
Reminding the authorities that as a party to the European Convention on Human Rights the Russian authorities have an obligation to guarantee freedom of expression and protect journalists from threats and attacks."
- Amnesty International
On 9 January 2017, Amnesty International issued an Urgent Action entitled 'Journalist Threatened by Chechen Official: Grigory Shvedov' in response to threats issued on 6 January 2017 by speaker of the Chechen parliament Magomed Daudov on his Instagram account against prominent journalist Grigory Shvedov. Amnesty commented: 'Grigory Shvedov is the editor-inchief of Caucasian Knot, an independent website reporting on the situation in the Caucasus. Grigory Shvedov is a co-founder and the editor-in-chief of one of the most authoritative news resources dedicated to the Caucasus region, Caucasian Knot. This media outlet and those working for it have regularly faced threats, harassment and physical violence in connection with their work, in particular for covering human rights in the North Caucasus, including Chechnya.''RUSSIAN FEDERATION: JOURNALIST THREATENED BY CHECHEN OFFICIAL: GRIGORY SHVEDOV', Amnesty International, 9 January 2017
Anastasia Zotova: "The deeper you go into the woods, the darker it gets. My colleagues and I at Territory of Torture have received more complaints from Karelia’s IK-1 prison colony"
'The deeper you go into the woods, the darker it gets. My colleagues and I at Territory of Torture have received more complaints from Karelia’s IK-1 prison colony. These complaints concern not only beatings and humiliation, but even (excuse the expression) “a stick up the arse” — anal rape with a baton or other instruments. Over a dozen current prisoners from IK-1 and around the same number of former prisoners have spoken of their experiences of torture at this prison colony.'
- Anastasia Zotova, journalist and human rights defender
Nina Ognianova: "It is outrageous that a journalist should live in fear because of his work while those who threaten him enjoy their freedom due to the indifference of law enforcement"
"We call on authorities in the Republic of Khakassia and in the neighboring Krasnoyarsk region to immediately investigate the death threats against Mikhail Afanasyev and to ensure his and his family's safety. It is outrageous that a journalist should live in fear because of his work while those who threaten him enjoy their freedom due to the indifference of law enforcement. This is how impunity thrives and begets violence against journalists."
- Nina Ognianova, CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator
On 21 December 2016 the Committee to Protect Journalists called on Russian authorities to ensure the safety of independent journalist Mikhail Afanasyev, editor of the online magazine Novy Fokus in the Siberian republic of Khakassia, after the head of a criminal gang based in a neighboring region threatened to kill him because of his critical reporting on the gang's activities.
Nina Ognianova: "We call on Russian authorities in Tyumen to immediately release Aleksei Kungurov and drop all charges against him"
"We call on Russian authorities in Tyumen to immediately release Aleksei Kungurov and drop all charges against him. Since the Kremlin's control over traditional media is nearly absolute, blogs have become an important platform in Russia for independent reporting, analysis, commentary, debate, and information-sharing. Now authorities are contracting that space as well."
- Nina Ognianova, CPJ's Europe and Central Asia program coordinator
On 20 December 2016, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued a statement calling on Russian authorities to release Aleksei Kungurov, a blogger from Siberia who was convicted of "calling for terrorism." That day a regional court in Tyumen sentenced Kungurov to two years in a prison colony over a blog post that criticized Russia's actions in Syria, according to news reports and information posted to his LiveJournal blog.
'Russia jails blogger over post criticizing military action in Syria,' Committee to Protect Journalists, 20 December 2016
Andrei Zavadski: "Fear of the Other is the main glue, the main currency of our lauded 'stability' today"
'Fear of the Other is the main glue, the main currency of our lauded “stability” today. [...] We evidently need to overcome this idea of the alien Other by learning about what we don’t understand and by institutionalising mutual communication. The best time for this in the last 30 years was the 90s. For some people, this was a time of economic and geopolitical disaster and crime on the rampage; for others, a period of freedom, openness and unlimited opportunity. But it was undoubtedly a decade of encounters with the Other – the new, the puzzling, the unknown. That was when we should have learned to live with this Other. But we blew our chance: we didn’t have time, we didn’t know how, we couldn’t convince our co-citizens,hungry and between jobs, of the importance of coming to terms with the past and overcoming their historical fear. The current swathe of media projects delving into the memory of that free decade and reassessing its official labelling as “reckless” is trying, among other things, to renew that process.'
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