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For an archive of these materials, please go to Human Rights Week by Week.

Week-ending 24 January 202

posted 19 Jan 2020, 04:09 by Rights in Russia   [ updated ]

Russia: Persecution of ‘Undesirable’ Activists House Arrests, New Criminal Charges
(Moscow) – A Russian court has extended the house arrest of Anastasiya Shevchenko, a member of the Open Russia Civic Movement, alleging that she is involved in an “undesirable” organization, Human Rights Watch said today. The decision is consistent with Russian authorities’ use of an abusive law on “undesirable organizations” to silence activists, with several other activists on trial or facing prosecution on similar accusations. “That Anastasiya Shevchenko has been confined to her apartment for over a year is absurd,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “No one should spend even a minute in detention for what Open Russia activists are accused of, yet Russian authorities are using criminal prosecutions as a scare tactic against civic activism and critical voices.” Human Rights Watch, 18 January 2020

Putin Removes Top Russian Prosecutor, Replaces Him With Investigative Official
Yury Chaika will step down after 14 years as prosecutor-general.
Russia's top prosecutor, Yury Chaika, who as one of the most powerful law enforcement figures in the country oversaw a raft of politically charged criminal investigations, will leave his position after nearly 14 years in office. The Kremlin said on January 20 that President Vladimir Putin had nominated Igor Krasnov, who has served as deputy chairman of the Investigative Committee, to replace Chaika as prosecutor-general. RFE/RL, 20 January 2020

Appeals court upholds marking of Navalny’s foundation as foreign agent
MOSCOW, January 20 (RAPSI) – The Moscow City Court on Monday upheld inclusion of a foundation established by opposition figure Alexey Navalny in the list of NGOs acting as foreign agents, RAPSI was told in the court’s press service. On November 1, the Moscow’s Zamoskvoretsky District Court refused to overturn the Justice Ministry’s decision to include Navalny’s foundation in the list of NGOs acting as foreign agents, therefore dismissing a lawsuit lodged by the blogger. RAPSI, 20 January 2020

Jehovah's Witness In Russia's Far East Gets Suspended Six-Year Prison Sentence
The Jehovah's Witnesses say a court in Russia's Far East has handed a suspended six-year prison sentence to one of its members amid what activists call an escalating campaign of persecution of the religious group. Judge Natalia Derevyagina of Nadezhdinsky District Court in the region of Primorye on January 21 found Grigory Bubnov guilty of "organizing the activities of a banned group" and handed down the sentence on the same day. RFE/RL, 21 January 2020

Crimea Bans for Journalists Are Choking the Truth
Russian Authorities Trying to Silence Information Flow from Occupied Crimea
Russian authorities barred an independent Ukrainian journalist, Taras Ibragimov, from entering Crimea last weekend and issued him a 34-year-ban. Ibragimov had traveled regularly to Crimea the past four years, and in May 2019 joined me in Crimea as a videographer, when I interviewed dozens of lawyers and family members of Crimean Tatars jailed on bogus terrorism charges. Human Rights Watch, 21 January 2020

'Men Only': Largest Pool in Russia's North Caucasus Bans Women
A swimming pool in southern Russia has banned women without explanation, according to its announcement published by the popular listings magazine Afisha on Monday. The Anzhi Arena spa in Russia’s republic of Dagestan did not say what prompted the abrupt rule change. Afisha reported that a different public pool in the Dagestani city of Makhachkala had turned away a female visitor in 2011 because other clientele were “embarrassed by the presence of half-naked women.” The Moscow Times, 21 January 2020

Week-ending 17 January 2020

posted 13 Jan 2020, 10:49 by Subscription Service   [ updated 19 Jan 2020, 03:28 by Rights in Russia ]

Russian Court Arrests Activist For YouTube Show Mocking Putin, Close Associates

A court in the Russian republic of Tatarstan has arrested a local civil rights activist on suspicion of promoting terrorism after he mocked President Vladimir Putin and two of his close associates in a YouTube video. Karim Yamadayev, a former police officer, was arrested on January 11 for a video he posted last month on his YouTube channel, Interfax reported. If found guilty, Yamadayev faces up to seven years in prison and a maximum fine of 1 million rubles ($16,390).  RFE/RL, 12 
January 2020 

Russian penitentiary officials next to police may be authorized to issue cautions
A bill authorizing penitentiary officials to hand down official warnings has been submitted to the lower house of Russian parliament, according to the State Duma database.  Amendments are proposed to the Law On the Detention of Persons Suspected and Accused of Committing Crimes and the Penitentiary Code of the Russian Federation.  The bill was drafted as existing legislation does not include provisions concerning such powers of penitentiary officials.
RAPSI, 13 January 2020

Half a year later, police officers who arrested Meduza’s Ivan Golunov face criminal charges
Russia’s Investigative Committee has opened a criminal case against the police officers who arrested Meduza special correspondent Ivan Golunov. Golunov was arrested on June 6, 2019, when he said police planted drugs on him and framed him for intent to distribute. Though he was released on June 11 following a major solidarity campaign, efforts on the part of Golunov’s legal team to apprehend the police officers involved in his arrest met with stagnation for several months. Meduza 13 January 2020

Russian Opposition Party Head Says Supreme Court Has Suspended Its Activities
The head of the Russian opposition political party Civic Initiative says the country's Supreme Court has suspended its operations for politically motivated reasons and is looking to wipe the party out altogether. Dmitry Gudkov said on Facebook that on January 14 the court suspended the party’s activities for three months in what he said was the first step towards its full "liquidation." RFE/RL, 14 January 2020

European Court Rules Russia's Khodorkovsky Denied Fair Trial
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and business partner Platon Lebedev were denied their right to a fair trial in the case of their conviction by a Russian court for embezzlement and money laundering. The Strasbourg-based court said on January 14 that it did not find any political motives in the criminal prosecution of Lebedev or Khodorkovsky, one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's main opponents, and that no compensation would be ordered. RFE/RL, 14 January 2010

Court In Russia-Occupied Crimea Expunges Journalist Semena’s Criminal Record
A court in Ukraine’s Russia-controlled Crimea region has ruled to prematurely terminate the probation period and expunge the criminal record of Mykola Semena, an RFE/RL contributor who was convicted of separatism on the peninsula. The court in Simferopol, the region’s capital, on January 14 upheld the motion filed by the lawyer of Semena, who has contributed to the Crimea Desk of RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service. The ruling is supposed to take effect in 10 calendar days. RFE/RL, 15 January 2020 

Moscow court vacates fine imposed on designer as part of illegal summer rally case
MOSCOW, January 16 (RAPSI) – The Moscow City Court has overturned imposition of a 10,000-ruble ($160) fine on designer Konstantin Konovalov for rally violations before an unauthorized action held in central Moscow on July 27, his lawyer Fedor Sirosh has told RAPSI. The case has been returned to a lower court for reconsideration, he added. The desi
gner was arrested on July 27 two hours before the illegal rally. Konovalov claimed that he was arrested during a morning running insisting that he did not take part in the event. However, according to him, police used force and broke his leg. RAPSI, 16 January 2020

Top Russian University Moves to Ban Political Speech
One of Russia’s elite universities is considering banning its students and faculty from exercising political speech in the wake of high-profile scandals involving free speech last year, according to its newly proposed rules. Moscow’s Higher School of Economics (HSE) became embroiled in several controversies in 2019, including the cancellation of its student talk show after it invited an opposition activist and revoking a student newspaper’s student-body status over a critical article. HSE political science student Yegor Zhukov also became a de-facto face of last summer’s election protest movement, splitting university leadership and students into opposing camps. The Moscow Times, 17 January 2020

Russian Cameraman Who Spoke Of Censorship On TV Savagely Beaten
MOSCOW -- A former cameraman for a Russian state TV broadcaster who has spoken out and given interviews about political censorship and corruption at his former employer has been severely beaten by two men in Moscow, he told RFE/RL in an interview on January 15. Leonid Krivenkov, 61, who shot political shows on Channel One for 10 years, said the beating took place as he was leaving Kuzminsky Park in the capital on January 11. The two assailants "were athletically built, tall, and aged approximately 25-30 years, with a dog in tow," he said. RFE/RL, 15 January 2020

Second Russian Prison Guard Sentenced In High-Profile Torture Case
The second of at least 17 Russian prison guards charged in a high-profile inmate torture case has been sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison. A court in Yaroslavl, some 250 kilometers northeast of Moscow, on January 17 convicted Maksim Yablokov of abuse of authority for beating three inmates. The court handed down the sentence the same day. 
Two days earlier, former prison guard Sergei Yefremov, who made a deal with investigators, was sentenced to four years in prison. RFE/RL, 17 January 2020 

Russia’s President proposes to bolster Constitutional Court’s role
MOSCOW, January 15 (RAPSI) – In his address to the Federal Assembly on Wednesday Russia’s President Vladimir Putin proposed to enhance the role played by the Constitutional Court in order to improve the quality of the national legislation and to secure the interests of the country’s citizens. For this, the President said, the Court needs to be empowered to verify, on Presidential requests, the constitutionality of legislation approved by the Federal Assembly before it is signed by the Head of the State. RAPSI, 15 January 2020

Why Legal ‘Innovation’ Might be Bad News for Rights in Russia
Yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced plans for constitutional reform that, among other things, seem to clear a path for him to remain in power – albeit not as president – after his term expires in 2024. But the reforms have implications beyond Putin’s political future. Some, like me, are pondering the impact on the rights of millions of Russians if Putin’s call “to directly guarantee the priority of the Russian Constitution in our legal framework” becomes law. This is the third time in four years that Russia’s authorities have pushed for the primacy of Russian law over international law. In July 2015, Russia’s Constitutional Court ruled that judgments of the European Court of Human Rights cannot be implemented if they contradict Russia’s constitution. Human Rights Watch, 16 January 2020

Russia: Race to the Bottom on Rights
Repressive Laws, Charges Against Critics, Impunity for Abuse
(Moscow) – Repression escalated in Russia during 2019 as the government answered rising civic and political activism with bans, repressive laws, and showcase prosecutions, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2020.  The authorities carried out large-scale smear campaigns against independent nongovernmental groups, using fines against groups and their leaders to impede and even end their work. The government took this campaign to a new level with criminal investigations targeting activists of the pro-democracy Open Russia civic movement and the opposition politician Alexei Navalny’s Foundation Against Corruption. The authorities forcibly shut down two human rights organization, including one specializing in minority rights. Human Rights Watch, 14 January 2020

Week-ending 10 January 2020

posted 6 Jan 2020, 10:19 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 10 Jan 2020, 03:54 ]

Russia: Escalating Persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses Arrests, Prison, Harassment for Peaceful Religious Practice (Moscow) 
Law enforcement authorities across Russia have dramatically escalated the nationwide persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the past 12 months, Human Rights Watch said today. One year after President Vladimir Putin said that the crackdown against them should be “looked into,” the numbers of house raids and people under criminal investigation have more than doubled, and 32 Jehovah’s Witnesses worshipers are behind bars for peacefully practicing their faith. Human Rights Watch, 9 January 2020

Russian Orthodox Leader Rails Against ‘Foreign’ Domestic Violence Law
Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill has accused lawmakers who seek to re-criminalize domestic abuse of “borrowing” the draft law, as well as the concept of domestic violence, from abroad. Russia scrapped criminal punishments for first-time domestic abuse offenses in 2017.  The Moscow Times, 7 January 2020

Moscow House Arrest Of American Investor Calvey Extended Into Mid-February
A Russian court has extended the house arrest of U.S. investor Michael Calvey and his partner, French national Philippe Delpal, until February 13. [...] The court also prolonged the house arrest of two Russian citizens [...]. Calvey and several other executives and employees of the Russian-based private-equity group Baring Vostok were detained in Moscow in February last year and charged with financial fraud. [...] The arrests stunned many Western investors and drew complaints from high-level Russian business leaders and government officials, who questioned the motivation of the courts and prosecutors. RFE/RL, 9 January 2020

Russian Conscript Blames Fatal Shooting Spree on Army Hazing 'Hell'
A Russian conscript who shot dead eight fellow soldiers at his army base last year said on Thursday he had been left with no other course of action after conscripts turned his life into a living "hell." The Moscow Times, 9 January 2019

Russian Court Rules to Demolish Controversial Landfill
A Russian court has ruled to demolish the landfill at the heart of a year-long battle over Moscow’s waste, marking a major victory for regional activists who actively opposed its construction, news outlets reported Thursday. Local authorities in northern Russia’s Arkhangelsk region sued the company constructing the landfill at the Shiyes train station in February 2019 following months of sustained protests. The Moscow Times, 9 January 2019

Human rights center Memorial again fined $5,000 under foreign agent law
The Tverskoy District Court of Moscow on Friday fined Memorial human rights center 300,000 rubles (about $5,000) for violation of the foreign agent law, RAPSI was told in the court’s press service. The NGO was penalized for the absence of a “foreign agent” marking on social media platforms. Problems with the Russian communications agency Roskomnadzor have been caused by a publication on the VKontakte page of the organization. In October, the court fined Memorial 300,000 rubles for failure to label its publications on the Facebook page of the NGO’s representative office in the Republic of Ingushetia. RAPSI, 10 January 2020

Uzbek citizen gets 5.5 years in Russian prison for online justification of terrorism 
The Second West District Military Court has sentenced Uzbek citizen Shermukhammad Shamsiddinov to 5.5 years in prison for public justification of terrorism on the Internet, the website of Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office informs. The court has also banned him from creating and running websites for 3 years. RAPSI, 10 January 2020

Week-ending 27 July 2018

posted 30 Jul 2018, 05:34 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 30 Jul 2018, 05:35 ]

Human rights defenders,  activists  / Torture  /  Freedom of religion  /  Freedom of expression / Crimea,  Ukraine

Week-ending 20 July 2018

posted 23 Jul 2018, 05:18 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 23 Jul 2018, 05:19 ]

Human rights defenders / Torture /  Freedom of expression /  Right of assembly /  ECtHR  /  Crimea; Ukraine

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Week-ending 13 July 2018

posted 16 Jul 2018, 08:04 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 16 Jul 2018, 08:05 ]

Human rights defenders /  Right of assembly /  Freedom of expression /  Right of association /  Crimea, Ukraine

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Week-ending 6 July 2018

posted 9 Jul 2018, 07:26 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 9 Jul 2018, 07:27 ]

Human rights activists, lawyers / Freedom of expression /  Right of assembly /  Prison /  Ukraine,  Crimea /  Council of Europe

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Week-ending 29 June 2018

posted 1 Jul 2018, 14:43 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 1 Jul 2018, 14:44 ]

Human rights activists; lawyers  / 
Aleksei Navalny  /  Right of assembly  /  Freedom of expression  /  LGBTI rights  /  Crimea / Ukraine 

Week-ending 22 June 2018

posted 24 Jun 2018, 09:38 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 24 Jun 2018, 09:50 ]

Crimea, Ukraine / Freedom of religion  /  Freedom of expression  /  Right of assembly

Week-ending 15 June 2018

posted 17 Jun 2018, 15:22 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 17 Jun 2018, 15:23 ]

Human rights defenders  /  LGBT rights  /  Right of assembly /  Freedom of expression;  Access to information  / Right of association  /  North Caucasus  /  Ukraine

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