Quote for the Day


Peter Tatchell: I’m not here to tell Russians what to do. I’m supporting Russian LGBT+ advocates and other human rights defenders. They want President Putin to uphold Russia’s constitution and its international human rights obligations [...]. I am fearful of arrest and violent attack but undeterred"

posted 13 Jun 2018, 09:21 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 13 Jun 2018, 09:24 ]

"I’m not here to tell Russians what to do. I’m supporting Russian LGBT+ advocates and other human rights defenders. They want President Putin to uphold Russia’s constitution and its international human rights obligations, such as the European Convention on Human Rights, which Russia signed and pledged to uphold. I am fearful of arrest and violent attack but undeterred. Inspired by the campaigning and heroism of Russian LGBT+s, I’m acting in solidarity with their battle for equal human rights. Russia should not be allowed to bask in World Cup glory while abusing LGBT+ people and committing war crimes in Syria, the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time."

    - Peter Tatchell, British human rights defender

Photo Source: Wikipedia 

Source: Peter Tatchell, 'Gay rights abuses, war crimes and World Cup fever – it’s an ugly mix,' The Guardian, 13 June 2018


Inga Kelekhsaeva: "We are calling for the Russian authorities to score a hat trick by immediately and unconditionally releasing Oyub Titiev and Igor Nagavkin, and conducting a prompt, thorough and effective investigation into the brutal assault on Andrei Rudomakha"

posted 7 Jun 2018, 12:52 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 11 Jun 2018, 02:40 ]

“As World Cup excitement builds, we want to highlight the work of the inspiring men and women who risk their lives and freedom to fight for human rights in Russia. The lineup of Team Brave includes activists who have fought to end torture in police stations, protect the environment, defend LGBTI rights and sex workers’ rights, and support victims of domestic violence – they are the real champions in Russia. Throughout the World Cup, Amnesty International supporters from all over the world will be cheering on these brave human rights defenders and demanding an end to the constant harassment and intimidation by the Russian authorities. Global attention may be on the stadiums but we will continue to closely monitor the authorities’ crackdown on human rights. We are calling for the Russian authorities to score a hat trick by immediately and unconditionally releasing Oyub Titiev and Igor Nagavkin, and conducting a prompt, thorough and effective investigation into the brutal assault on Andrei Rudomakha. The World Cup brings people together from all over the world, and we want to harness some of this energy to fight for freedom and justice for these courageous human rights defenders. The Russian authorities cannot continue to intimidate and harass every critic into silence. With the eyes of the world on Russia, they must decide what they want the legacy of this World Cup to be. There can be no winners in Russia until human rights defenders are recognized, protected and free to do their important work unobstructed and without fear of reprisals.”

  -  Inga Kelekhsaeva, Russia Campaigner at Amnesty International

Source: 'Russia: The bravest World Cup team you’ve never heard of,' Amnesty International, 7 June 2018

Amnesty's statement also says: 

"As Russia prepares for the opening game of the FIFA World Cup 2018, Amnesty International is shining a spotlight on 11 Russian human rights champions who routinely put their lives on the line to defend human rights in Russia. 
A new campaign, Team Brave, will profile a human rights defender from each of the 11 regions hosting World Cup matches to raise awareness of their important work, and Amnesty International supporters from around the world will send messages of solidarity to show these brave individuals that they are not alone.Team Brave highlights the stories of 11 human rights defenders across Russia.

"They are:
"Grozny: Oyub Titiev, the head of the NGO Memorial’s office in Chechnya imprisoned under bogus charges since January 2018
"Sochi: Andrei Rudomakha, an environmental human rights defender who was brutally attacked in 2017
"St Petersburg: Irina Maslova, who founded a movement to defend the rights of sex workers.
"Volgograd: Igor Nagavkin, who worked on fighting torture and corruption in the Volgograd region until he was arbitrarily detained in October 2016.
"Rostov-on-Don: Valentina Cherevatenko, a women’s rights activist
"Kaliningrad: Igor Rudnikov, an independent journalist investigating cases of corruption until his arbitrary detention in 2017.
"Samara: Oksana Berezovskaya, who runs an LGBTI rights organization
"Nizhny Novgorod: Igor Kalyapin, who founded the Committee Against Torture
"Kazan: Yulia Fayzrakhmanova, an environmental human rights defender
"Yekaterinburg: Aleksei Sokolov, who fights torture and other abuses in the prison system
"Saransk: Vasiliy Guslyannikov, the founder of the NGO Mordovian Republic Human Rights Centre

"Many of these human rights defenders have faced harassment, intimidation, physical attacks, smear and in some cases have been arbitrarily detained simply for carrying out their vital work. As part of the Team Brave campaign, Amnesty International is asking supporters to take action for three of the human rights defenders featured, who remain in prison to date or whose assailants remain at large. Oyub Titiev has been detained for almost six months on fabricated charges because of his human rights work. Environmental human rights defender Andrei Rudomakha was brutally assaulted in 2017 by unknown assailants for documenting illegal construction work on the Black Sea coast, and his attackers still walk free. Igor Nagavkin has spent more than a year and a half in pre-trial detention on trumped-up charges for his work defending prisoners’ rights and combatting torture and corruption."

Lev Shlosberg: 'Defence of human rights has become the main function of civil society in Russia today'

posted 4 Jun 2018, 12:24 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 4 Jun 2018, 12:28 ]

"The most serious weapon against the inhumanity of the authorities is human solidarity with those that the authorities threaten. Defence of human rights has become the main function of civil society in Russia today. In the twentieth century, it was the human rights movement that produced the most powerful politicians, those who went on to establish democratic reforms in their countries. Their work was based on human rights values and principles. And that’s why democratic reforms were lasting and successful in those countries. Human rights work is the best school for democratic politics. So, citizens, don’t give up, don’t remain silent, don’t be afraid, always defend people when you hear about lawlessness and injustice. 
By defending one man, we save ourselves, and the whole country, from the pitch darkness of inhumanity. Not only today, but tomorrow as well."

- Lev Shlosberg, human rights defender and civil society activist; member of the Pskov Regional Legislative Assembly, journalist, recipient of the Moscow Helsinki Group human rights award 


See: 'Lev Shlosberg: When the authorities are in retreat [Ekho Moskvy: 19 May 2018];' source: Moscow Helsinki Group [original source: Ekho Moskvy]

Mustafa Degermendzhi: "It’s not criminals being tried here"

posted 28 May 2018, 07:00 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 28 May 2018, 07:15 ]

“Yes, your honour, indeed, after three years I feel like expressing separate thanks to the people who have come to support us. As for the criminal case, overall it can be characterized in a few words. I will quote [Pavel] Nikel. That’s the investigator who ran our case during the investigation stage (
at present Pavel Nikel is employed by the Novosibirsk Region Investigative Committee Administration—OVD-Info). 

To my question as to why only Crimean Tatars are being tried in this criminal case, he said this apparently simple thing, which perfectly characterizes this criminal case. To my question, he replied: “Victors don’t get tried.” There’s nothing much to add to his words here. This is a very capacious and voluminous sentence that allows us to understand as a whole what has been going on here all these three years. I think everyone has long since understood that it’s not criminals being tried here, because I’m certain that, like myself, many think that no one here committed any particular crime. Yes, we went out that day to support the territorial integrity of Ukraine, but circumstances came together in such a way that now we are in Russia. There’s no getting away from that, though. As Comrade Putin said in his inauguration speech, and as Aksenov said about this more than once: “It’s long past time to forget all the moments from early 2014. Everyone has moved on.” I don’t understand why this moment has dragged on like this here. Vladimir Vladimirovich pardoned our alleged organizer (meaning Akhtem Chiigoz—OVD-Info) long ago, and therefore, to be honest, to add to what’s already been said, we’ve already said lots of all kinds of things. Some we paid attention to, some we didn’t, we’ve had all kinds. All that’s left is to hope for a fair decision from the court, but above all for Allah’s help. I have nothing more to add.”

    Mustafa Degermendzhi, defendant in the "Case of the 26th February," speaking at his trial in which judgment is to be pronounced in Simferopol, Crimea, on 4 June 2018. A native of Grushevka in Sudakovsky district, Mustafa Degermendzhi was arrested on 7 May 2015, in his native village. Up until 6 April 2017, he was held on remand; after that, he, like Ali Asanov, was put under house arrest. Mustafa is the son of a figure in the so-called “Vedzhie Kashka case,” Bekir Degermendzhi, who was arrested on 23 November 2017. 

For more information about the "Case of 26 February", see CrimeaSOS

Translated by Marian Schwartz

Photo: Mustafa Degermendzhi (left) with fellow defendant Ali Asanov [(c) Anton Naumliuk]

Kenneth Roth: "World leaders should signal to President Putin that unless he changes track and acts to end atrocities by Russian and Syrian forces in Syria, they won’t be in their seats in the VIP box with him on opening night"

posted 22 May 2018, 11:46 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 22 May 2018, 11:49 ]

“In hosting one of the most televised events in the world, Russia is courting world public opinion and looking for respect. World leaders should signal to President Putin that unless he changes track and acts to end atrocities by Russian and Syrian forces in Syria, they won’t be in their seats in the VIP box with him on opening night. [...] Autocratic leaders often seek to host popular sporting events as a way to present a positive image to the rest of the world. World leaders should not allow a sporting event to gloss over a pattern of atrocities in Syria that now looms over two million civilians. This is no time to join ceremonial events that serve mostly to burnish the credentials of their host while Russia’s forces are assisting rather than preventing attacks on civilians. [...] There was a time when Putin’s government appeared prepared to rein in some of the most egregious abuses of its Syrian ally, such as the use of chemical weapons that have killed civilians in their sleep. Sadly, as of late, the Kremlin has become an apologist for and active participant in the Syrian government’s abuses and spared no effort to block accountability for these war crimes. [...] The image of a confident and modern super-power that the Kremlin is trying to project by hosting the World Cup is incompatible with the crimes that Russia underwrites in Syria. No one should allow sports public relations to cover the abuses endured by Syrians at the hands of the Syrian government supported by its Russian ally. Only by redressing these egregious violations can Russia ensure that the opening ceremony of the World Cup will be a celebration worthy of other world leaders joining.”

                                                    Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch


Source: 'World Cup No Time to Obscure Plight of Syrians. World Leaders Should Sit Out Opening Ceremony Unless Syria Abuses are Addressed,' Human Rights Watch, 21 May 2018

Photo of Kenneth Roth: Human Rights Watch

Lana Estemirova: "We could not save my mother. But we can save Oyub and we can save Memorial"

posted 21 May 2018, 05:09 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 21 May 2018, 05:13 ]

“We could not save my mother. But we can save Oyub and we can save Memorial. All it takes is for Russia’s president to pick up the phone and tell the authorities in Chechnya to get their hands off Oyub and Memorial. [...] Russia will be hosting the World Cup this summer… It will open on June 14. It will close on July 15 – that’s the ninth anniversary of my mom’s murder. Will this happen while Oyub is behind bars?” 

    - Lana Estemirova, daughter of the late Natalya Estemirova, Chechnya's most prominent human rights defender, who was kidnapped and murdered in 2009.

Source: Tanya Lokshina, 'To Free a Human Rights Defender in Russia’s Chechnya,' Human Rights Watch, 15 May 2018

Denis Krivosheev: "The Russian authorities once again refused to authorise protest rallies, and then used this ban to crackdown on those gathered in Moscow and elsewhere"

posted 14 May 2018, 06:28 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 14 May 2018, 06:34 ]

“The forceful dispersal of today’s opposition demonstrations is outrageous. The Russian authorities once again refused to authorise protest rallies, and then used this ban to crackdown on those gathered in Moscow and elsewhere. But what is worse is the total police inaction, which allowed the beating of protesters by unknown men in Moscow. On what grounds people in 'Cossack' uniforms were allowed to use force remains a question. Authorities should immediately release all peaceful protesters arrested and launch an independent, thorough and effective investigation of the use of force by police, and attacks on the protesters by the 'Cossacks' with the inaction of the police.”

Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International Deputy Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia [photo: Twitter @KrivoshD]

From a statement issued by Amnesty International following the forceful dispersal of peaceful opposition rallies in Moscow and all over Russia on 5 May 2018. The statement by Amnesty International continues: 

"Delegates from Amnesty International attended the protests as observers in Moscow and became direct witnesses to the use of unprovoked force by unknown men in ‘’Cossack’’ uniforms against peaceful protesters. Amnesty International notes that although there were a number of clashes between protesters and law enforcement officers, overall protests in Moscow were peaceful and the use of force against its participants was disproportionate. According to media reports, at least one of the protesters was seriously injured in the head after being beaten by police. In addition, Amnesty International draws attention to the fact that minors were arbitrarily detained during the protest."

Source: 'Russia: Outrageous use of force against protesters in Moscow and all over the country,' Amnesty International, 5 May 2018

"Telegram block leads to widespread assault on freedom of expression online" - Joint Statement by 26 international human rights organisations

posted 1 May 2018, 11:43 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 1 May 2018, 11:47 ]

"We, the undersigned 26 international human rights, media and Internet freedom organisations, strongly condemn the attempts by the Russian Federation to block the Internet messaging service Telegram, which have resulted in extensive violations of freedom of expression and access to information, including mass collateral website blocking. We call on Russia to stop blocking Telegram and cease its relentless attacks on Internet freedom more broadly. We also call the United Nations (UN), the Council of Europe (CoE), the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the European Union (EU), the United States and other concerned governments to challenge Russia’s actions and uphold the fundamental rights to freedom of expression and privacy online as well as offline. Lastly, we call on Internet companies to resist unfounded and extra-legal orders that violate their users’ rights."

- A joint statement by 26 international human rights organisations

Source: 'Joint Public Statement,' Amnesty International, 30 April 2018 

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)

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