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July 2011

posted 4 Aug 2011, 02:45 by Rights in Russia
Estemirova killing
A report by Memorial and a joint statement by a group of five international human rights groups said (14/7) the government investigation into the 2009 killing of Natalya Estemirova was on the wrong track and the authorities had made little attempt to effectively investigate possible involvement by local officials. On 15/7 the Investigative Committee said the killer was an insurgent motivated by Estemirova’s media publications and by a wish to discredit the Chechen leadership. However on 21/7 the Committee said it would examine possible involvement of Chechen security forces. 

Magnitsky death 
report by the Presidential Human Rights Council presented to President Medvedev on 5/7 named police and judicial officials implicated in the 2009 death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky and said eight prison guards severely beat Magnitsky before his death. President Medvedev admitted (6/7) Magnitsky’s death in prison was the result of ‘criminal actions.’ The day (18/7) that Physicians for Human Rights announced Magnitsky suffered calculated and deliberate neglect and inhumane treatment in police custody which ultimately led to his death, investigators said a criminal case had been opened into two prison officials. Towards month end the US placed a visa ban on Russian officials linked to the death of Magnitsky. The Russian foreign ministry said the US action could harm diplomatic relations. 

Sokolov parole
A court in Krasnoyarsk released human rights defender Aleksei Sokolov, imprisoned on charges many believe to have been fabricated, on parole on 27/7.

A Moscow court convicted (18/7) Antonio Valdes-Garcia, a Spanish citizen, in absentia of embezzling $13bn from a Yukos oil company subsidiary. Mikhail Khodorkovsky was allowed (20/7) to see his mother for the first time since December at Segezha labor camp in Karelia. An Arkhangelsk region court rejected (27/7) a parole plea by Platon Lebedev, saying he was ineligible because of two breaches of prison rules. The Presidential Human Rights Council condemned the refusal to give parole to Lebedev as ‘shameful’. 

Taxation of grants
In a ruling (28/7) in a case brought by Agora Human Rights Association, the Presidium of the Supreme Commercial Court ruled Russian non-profit organizations should not pay profit tax on donations from foreign organizations. 

Media rights
Federal Security Service director Aleksander Bortnikov warned (6/7) that the Internet was used to lure people into extremist groups. Journalists from Volga TV company in Nizhny Novgorod alleged they were assaulted (23/7) by military personnel while filming a fire at a military base in Nizhny Novgorod. said 27/7 it was experiencing hacker attacks which at times made the service inaccessible. 

Right of assembly
Evgeniya Chirikova, campaigning to stop a new road through Khimki Forest, and about ten supporters were injured (3/7) in a confrontation with staff of a private security firm. Police broke up regular demonstrations at the Solovetsky Stone on Lubyanskaya Ploshchad protesting against the trial in Smolensk on drug dealing charges of civic activist Taisiya Osipova. Police regularly detained protestors – detaining 19 on 20/7 – and detainees reported abuse. Three Russian activists and a journalist protesting against the special traffic sirens used by some high-ranking officials were arrested in Moscow on 21/7.

The European Parliament called on Russia in a resolution (7/7) to guarantee free elections and lift curbs on the opposition Party of People's Freedom. The Russian Foreign Ministry called the resolution a blatant interference into Russia’s legislative process, and warned of negative consequences for such actions. 53% of voters believe upcoming State Duma elections will be rigged, independent pollster Levada Center said on 28/7.
Rights in Russia,
4 Aug 2011, 02:49