Quote for the Day


Johann Bihr [RSF]: "We extend our heartfelt condolences to Maxim Borodin’s family and colleagues, and we demand a full and impartial investigation into his death"

posted 17 Apr 2018, 12:10 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 17 Apr 2018, 12:12 ]

“We extend our heartfelt condolences to Maxim Borodin’s family and colleagues, and we demand a full and impartial investigation into his death. In view of the highly sensitive nature of his investigative reporting, all hypotheses must be given serious consideration, including the possibility that he was murdered in connection with his reporting.”

    -     Johann Bihr, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk


Source: 'RSF calls for full probe into reporter’s death in Yekaterinburg,' Reporters Without Borders, 16 April 2018

Denis Krivosheev: "The Russian authorities are targeting one of the most popular messaging apps in Russia simply for having the courage and integrity to respect the privacy of its users"

posted 15 Apr 2018, 05:09 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 15 Apr 2018, 05:17 ]

“By attempting to block the Telegram messaging app, the Russian authorities are launching the latest in a series of attacks on online freedom of expression in the country. 
In recent years the Russian authorities have steadily targeted the country’s few remaining spaces for freedom of expression. They have blocked news sites that criticize them, imposed draconian data storage rules and declared media outlets registered outside Russia as ‘foreign agents’. Now they are targeting one of the most popular messaging apps in Russia simply for having the courage and integrity to respect the privacy of its users. The court deciding on this case tomorrow must similarly show respect for freedom of expression and not pander to the repressive demands of the government.”

    - Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Source: 'Russia: Move to block Telegram the latest blow in government assault on freedom of expression online,' Amnesty International, 12 April 2018

NB on 13 April 2018, a Moscow court approved a request by Roskomnadzor to block the Telegram messaging app immediately. (source: BBC)

Igor Kochetkov: "Over the past year, the Russian LGBT Network and Novaya Gazeta have undertaken the work the state was supposed to do"

posted 8 Apr 2018, 13:34 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 8 Apr 2018, 13:35 ]

“Over the past year, the Russian LGBT Network and Novaya Gazeta have undertaken the work the state was supposed to do. We have ensured the safety of victims and collected and publicized their testimonies. But one thing we could not do is launch an investigation and ensure criminal prosecution of the perpetrators. The Russian authorities, apparently, do not want to do this.”

- Igor Kochetkov, founder and council member of the Russian LGBT Network

Source:  'Russia: One year after ‘gay purge’ in Chechnya, still no justice for victims,' Amnesty International, 4 April 2018

Photo: RFE/RL

Dunja Mijatović: "I call on the Russian authorities to take swift action to investigate and punish those responsible for the attack against Mr Datsiev"

posted 2 Apr 2018, 09:44 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 2 Apr 2018, 09:46 ]


"Yesterday the head of the Human Rights Centre Memorial in Dagestan, Mr Sirazhutdin Datsiev, was attacked on the way to his office in Makhachkala. I firmly condemn this violent assault against a member of Memorial. It is the latest of a succession of attacks in recent months targeting human rights defenders working in the North Caucasus.

"As I have said in previous occasions, the Russian authorities have the obligation to ensure a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders. Thus far, I have not received any information about progress in investigating these violent attacks, nor about adopting measures to protect the victims, their family members and their colleagues.

"The environment for human rights defenders in the North Caucasus remains dangerous. Regrettably, the inaction by the authorities only worsens this climate, because it gives the impression that violence against defenders will be tolerated and go unpunished.

"I therefore call on the Russian authorities to take swift action to investigate and punish those responsible for the attack against Mr Datsiev. More generally, the continuing attacks against those working in the field of human rights in the North Caucasus show the urgency of taking decisive steps to ensure defenders’ safety. As I have emphasised before, such steps should include the adoption of a specific legal framework, of a comprehensive public policy and a national action plan, as well as a fully-functional rapid response mechanism for protecting human rights defenders. In addition, the authorities should adopt an awareness-raising policy and promote the legitimacy and the work of human rights defenders."

- Dunja Mijatović, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights

Source: Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Facebook, 29 March 2018

Rachel Denber: "Yesterday was the 70th day that Oyub Titiev has spent in jail" [Human Rights Watch]

posted 20 Mar 2018, 13:00 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 20 Mar 2018, 13:02 ]

20 March 2018

"Yesterday I went to Chechnya for the first time since the terrible war in 1999. It was my first time in Grozny, the capital, which has long been rebuilt and whose skyline now features modern high rises. Yesterday was also the 70th day that Oyub Titiev has spent in jail. Titiev is the Grozny director of Memorial, the Russian human rights group that seeks justice for civilian victims of the Chechnya wars. It’s the last remaining human rights group that works openly in Chechnya, after Chechnya’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, turned this republic of Russia into an enclave of fear, where even the mildest criticism of him or his government’s policies carries risk of public humiliation, enforced disappearance, or worse. I was in Grozny to attend a hearing in which Titiev appealed the extension of his pretrial custody. Police arrested Titiev on January 9 on ludicrous marijuana possession charges. Titiev insists police planted the drugs. It’s not the first time Chechen authorities have used bogus drug charges to lock up their critics. The judge rejected the defense’s motion to allow Titiev to sit with his lawyers instead of the defendants’ “cage” because, well, that’s the norm, he said. The defense made numerous arguments as to why Titiev should be released prior to trial, chiefly the lack of any evidence that he would obstruct justice, abscond, or threaten public security No one was surprised when the judge ruled against Titiev."

        - Rachel Denber, deputy director, Europe and Central Asia Division Human Rights Watch

Source: Rachel Denber, 'Waiting for Freedom in Chechnya,' Human Rights Watch, 20 March 2018

Denis Krivosheev: "This election campaign has been marred by widespread attacks against President Putin’s critics"

posted 15 Mar 2018, 11:12 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 15 Mar 2018, 11:16 ]

“The Kremlin’s agenda is crystal clear – the loudest protesters and vote-boycotters must be cleared from the cities’ streets during the final stages of the presidential campaign. While various methods are used, the authorities usually turn to their favourite one: arbitrarily throwing dissenters behind bars. [...] 
This election campaign has been marred by widespread attacks against President Putin’s critics, and reprisals aimed at intimidating opposition activists into silence are becoming cruder as polling day approaches. All protesters and political activists arrested solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of assembly and expression must be immediately and unconditionally released.”


- Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International. 

Source: "Russia: Opposition activists face escalating crackdown as presidential election nears," Amnesty International, 15 March 2018

Nils Muiznieks‏: "I call on the Russian authorities on the regional and federal level to immediately ensure the release of Mr Titiev and to provide him with all the necessary safeguards in the current proceedings"

posted 21 Jan 2018, 08:52 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 21 Jan 2018, 08:57 ]

"I have learned with great concern that Oyub Titiev, a prominent human rights defender and head of the Human Rights Centre Memorial in Chechnya, was apprehended and detained by the Chechen authorities yesterday. As a member of Memorial – one of the most reputable and experienced human rights organisations in Russia - Oyub Titiev has been making an invaluable contribution over many years to the defence of human rights, including by advocating accountability for human rights violations by Chechen officials, and is now facing criminal prosecution under dubious charges that lack credibility.

"I call on the Russian authorities on the regional and federal level to immediately ensure the release of Mr Titiev and to provide him with all the necessary safeguards in the current proceedings."


- Nils Muiznieks‏, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, on the arrest of Oyub Titiev, head of the office of Memorial Human Rights Centre in Chechnya, on 9 January 2018


Source: Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights [Facebook page], 10 January 2018

Arseny Roginsky: "Memorial considers civic responsibility to be inextricably linked to its important work on human rights [...]. In this sense, Memorial adheres to the tradition of the dissidents and human rights defenders of the Soviet era."

posted 27 Dec 2017, 11:58 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 27 Dec 2017, 12:33 ]

"[...] The main thing is that a serious understanding of the past and resolving the deadlocks of historical conflicts demand civic responsibility. The responsibility is assumed voluntarily by everyone who perceives themselves as part of a historically formed community. The responsibility regards actions committed today and the actions perpetrated at one time on behalf of this community. 

Memorial considers civic responsibility to be inextricably linked to its important work on human rights, or to be more precise, Memorial’s important human rights work stems from a sense of civic responsibility. Civic responsibility requires awareness and hard work aimed at overcoming the past in the present. In this sense, Memorial adheres to the tradition of the dissidents and human rights defenders of the Soviet era.

If people are united not only by everyday civic and political life, but also by a common past and aspirations for a common future, civic responsibility naturally extends to national history. It is civic responsibility for their own history, rather than great achievements and great catastrophes as such, that make people a nation to the full extent and a society of citizens. 

Repentance is a single and symbolic action, while understanding of the past is continuous and persistent work. This is not something that can be done once and for all. Every new generation should refer to the past over and over again. Each generation must understand and reassess it again and again, especially its dark and terrible pages. Every generation must develop their own interpretation of history, which will again and again awaken the civic commitment of people as well as their will to prevent the country from sliding into dictatorship, lawlessness and the decay of freedom. 

Meanwhile Memorial International is simply trying to provide the fundamentals of this process, i.e. developed civic consciousness and civic responsibility. Or to put it simply, not to let people fall asleep. [...]"

    - Speech by Arseny Roginsky, late chair of International Memorial Society, on accepting the 2013 Pax Christi award for International Peace

Source: The above is a slightly modified version of a translation to be found at:  'Pax Christi International Peace Award 2013,' Press Release, 14 November 2013. The speech is available in the original Russian, and also in English and French.

Photo of Arseny Roginsky: © Tomasz Kizny, via International Memorial Society

Arseny Roginsky: "Every document is important, every document is precious as witness to our past."

posted 26 Dec 2017, 08:36 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 26 Dec 2017, 09:02 ]

"[...] An archive for me (of course, I have in mind only literary and historical archives) is the natural continuation of a library, and archival materials, unpublished sources that are in principle no different from those that have been published, can be considered as accidentally not published, or not yet published. I consider it necessary to explain this now, because, among people who have no connection with historical research, I have often met a considerable number who are genuinely convinced that the documents preserved in archives must either be top secret, or defamatory of someone, or perhaps something. And for that reason only select people, who enjoy a “special trust,” are allowed into archives, and that is how it should be. Such a view of archives, of course, is completely mistaken. Just as the attempts made to divide documents into those that are more or less important, more or less valuable, are mistaken. Every document is important, every document is precious as witness to our past. [...]"

    - Arseny Roginsky, from his final speech in court at his trial, spoken on 4 December 1981. Source: 'Положение историка в СССР. Последнее слово А.Б. Рогинского на суде. Ленинград, 4 декабря 1981 года,' ГЕФТЕР, 22 December 2017 [translation by Simon Cosgrove]

Photo of Arseny Roginsky: © Tomasz Kizny, via International Memorial Society

Arseny Roginsky: “It seems to me that we carried with dignity the burden that we took upon ourselves. And we didn’t break, or stumble. Thank you, my friends.”

posted 25 Dec 2017, 05:44 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 25 Dec 2017, 05:48 ]

“It seems to me that we carried with dignity the burden that we took upon ourselves. And we didn’t break, or stumble. Thank you, my friends.”
     - Arseny Roginsky, the late chair of the International Memorial Society, who died on 18 December 2017

Source: Matthew Luxmoore, 'Arseny Roginsky, Russian Human Rights Leader, Is Dead at 71,' The New York Times, 23 December 2017

Matthew Luxmoore writes: "Mr. Roginsky remained involved in Memorial even as he dealt with his cancer. In late September, by video link from Israel, he addressed a gathering at Memorial’s headquarters, occasioned by the publication of the collected essays of Memory, his underground journal. An emaciated Mr. Roginsky, weighing each word, told his colleagues: 'It seems to me that we carried with dignity the burden that we took upon ourselves. And we didn’t break, or stumble. Thank you, my friends'.”

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