We are delighted to announce that Maria Razumovskaya has joined Rights in Russia's international advisory council. Maria Razumovskaya is project coordinator at the Legal Training Centre, based in St Petersburg, where she leads international projects, implemented jointly with the English charity CWI. She has worked for over 20 years with the well-known St. Petersburg human rights NGO Citizens’ Watch. For more information about Maria Razumovskaya, please see here.
We are delighted to announce that Dr. Elizabeth Teague OBE has become a member of Rights in Russia's international advisory council. Elizabeth Teague is an independent analyst with a deep knowledge of Russian politics who has contributed in a wide-ranging career to the work of a number of important institutions, including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities in The Hague, the Jamestown Foundation, the US Institute of Peace and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. For more information about Elizabeth Teague, please see here.
Event: 6th October 2016. Henry Jackson Society hosts panel discussion on human rights, civil society and democracy in Russia
On 6th October 2016 the Henry Jackson Society, the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, and Rights in Russia held a joint event at the London offices of the Henry Jackson Society featuring Dmitri Bartanev, Valentina Cherevatenko, Robert Latypov, Grigory Melkonyants and Natalia Taubina. This group of leading Russian civil society activists discussed the challenges of promoting human rights, civil society and democracy in Russia.
Dmitri Bartenev is an attorney based in St. Petersburg. In cooperation with Russian and international human rights organisations, Bartenev has represented clients in many high-profile anti-discrimination cases in fields such as mental disability, LGBT rights, and freedom of speech and association. Dmitri graduated from Petrozavodsk State University as a lawyer in 1999. He holds a Ph.D. in international law from St. Petersburg State University where he also teaches international law and human rights as an associate professor.
Valentina Cherevatenko is the chair of the “Women of the Don” Union. The “Women of the Don” Union, originally established in 1993, has worked for more than twenty years in different areas of human rights, with a special emphasis on the rights of women: in particular, it has focused on gender discrimination, violence against women, and peace-building initiatives in the North Caucasus region.
The Justice Ministry designated “Women of the Don” as a ‘foreign agent’ NGO in 2014. In June 2016 Cherevatenko became the first individual to face criminal prosecution under the ‘foreign agent’ law.
Robert Latypov is chair of the Perm Regional Chapter of the International Memorial Society, and heads the Youth Memorial Action Group. Since 2000, Robert has been organizing and conducting national and international volunteer camps in the Perm Region. An important ongoing project by Perm Memorial is the Memory Rivers expeditions, in which young people visit former locations of GULAG special settlements and prison camps in remote districts of Perm Region.
Grigory Melkonyants is co-chair of Russia’s leading independent election monitor Golos, the Movement for the Defence of Voters’ Rights. Since 2005 Golos has been a member of the European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations (ENEMO). In 2012 Golos was awarded the Andrei Sakharov Freedom Award by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. In 2013 the Ministry of Justice designated Golos as a ‘foreign agent’ on the grounds that it had received foreign funding (this was a reference to the 7,700 EUR Sakharov Prize – despite the fact that Golos had declined to accept the money).
Natalia Taubina is the director of the Public Verdict Foundation. Natalia’s areas of expertise are international human rights standards, human rights in the work of law enforcement bodies, and NGO management. Under Natalia’s leadership, Public Verdict Foundation has created important programmes offering free legal aid and rehabilitation support to victims of human rights abuses committed by law enforcement officers. Natalia is a member of the Council of Experts of the federal Human Rights Ombudsman and is an expert of the Presidential Council on the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights. In 2013 Natalia received Human Rights Watch’s Alison Des Forges Award. In 2015 Natalia was laureate of the 2015 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.
Since Vladimir Putin returned to the Russian presidency in 2012, there has been a marked deterioration in the environment for civil society groups in the country, especially for those engaged in promoting human rights. Notably, there has been a raft of new restrictive legislation on public assembly, freedom of expression, the right of association and homosexuality. As Human Rights Watch has reported, as of today the so-called ‘foreign agent law’ of 2012 has been used to brand over 144 civil society groups as ‘foreign agents,’ courts have imposed large fines on many groups, and over 20 have closed down. Meanwhile, to date seven prominent US donors have been banned from working in Russia under the 2015 law on ‘undesirable foreign organizations,’ a law Amnesty International condemned as an attempt to ‘isolate Russian civil society, intimidate human rights defenders and suffocate the free press.’
Event: 5th October 2016. Equal Rights Trust, in collaboration with Rights in Russia, launched report on discrimination against LGBT people in Russia
The Equal Rights Trust, with support from Rights in Russia, hosted a panel event on 5th October 2016 to launch the Trust's latest report at Kings College London. St Petersburg lawyer, Mr Dmitri Bartenev, gave the key presentation as the the Report’s Lead Researcher.
Source: Equal Rights Trust
The report, written in partnership with the Russian LGBT Network, identifies cases of discrimination touching many aspects of the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals and activists in Russia. An analysis of more than two decades of jurisprudence, the report explores how courts have responded to a wide range of issues, including hate crime, freedom of expression (including the notorious “anti-propaganda” laws), family rights and discrimination at work. Its conclusions are stark.
The report argues that while there is some positive judicial practice to be welcomed, on the whole courts have repeatedly sanctioned discriminatory laws and actions and, in many instances, judicial reasoning is based on homophobic stereotypes. It concludes that there is an urgent need for action to protect LGBT individuals from discrimination in Russia and a need for the international community to hold the state to account.
Panel of Speakers
The Equal Rights Trust will be joined at the launch by a distinguished panel of speakers. Key findings from the report will be presented. The expert panel will discuss the role of the Russian judiciary in upholding fundamental rights and reflect on recent developments and debates in the recognition of LGBT rights internationally.
Chair: Ms Joanna Whiteman, Co-Director, Equal Rights Trust.
Mr Dmitri Bartenev, Lawyer and the Report’s Lead Researcher.
Mrs Jane Henderson, Senior Lecturer in Russian Law, The Dickson Poon School of Law, Kings College London.
Professor Robert Wintemute, Professor of Human Rights Law, The Dickson Poon School of Law, Kings College London.
Reserve Your Place
The report launch will take place at SW1.17, The Dickson Poon School of Law, Somerset House East Wing, King's College London, Strand, London, WC2R 2LS from 6.30pm – 7.45pm.
We hope you will be able to stay for drinks and canapes served after the launch where there will be the opportunity to meet with the report’s authors, speakers and fellow academics, lawyers, activists and others.
Tickets for the event are £7 (£4 for students) and we encourage you to book your place early to avoid disappointment. Purchase a Ticket
For any enquires please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are extremely grateful to our event sponsor, Rights in Russia.
Rights in Russia is a leading resource for those who want to know more about the human rights situation in Russia, about Russian human rights defenders and their organisations. At a time when the Russian government’s indifference and hostility often places the work and lives of the country’s human rights defenders in jeopardy, Rights in Russia believes their voices need and deserve to be widely heard, by civil society and by governments around the world. Its four main goals are to: 1) to provide information; 2) to promote international discussion and debate; 3) to act as a channel for Russian human rights defenders and organisations to reach an audience outside Russia; and 4) to promote knowledge of, and contacts with, Russian human rights groups.
Event: Defending Civil Rights - an evening with Valentina Cherevatenko, Grigory Melkonyants and Dmitry Bartenev
Rights in Russia was delighted to host, in partnership with the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, an event in London on Tuesday, 4th October 2016, at which three of Russia’s leading civil society activists spoke: Valentina Cherevatenko, chair of Women of the Don, a human rights NGO based in Novocherkassk, Rostov region; Grigory Melkonyants, co-chair of the independent election monitor Golos, based in Moscow; and Dmitry Bartenev,a human rights lawyer based in St. Petersburg.
The event was held at the Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, London, EC1R 3GA.
VALENTINA CHEREVATENKO is the chair of the “Women of the Don” Union and of the “Women of the Don” Foundation for Civil Society Development, two NGOs based in Novocherkassk in the Rostov Region (South Russia). The “Women of the Don” Union, originally established in 1993, has worked for more than twenty years in different areas of human rights, with a special emphasis on the rights of women: in particular, it has focused on gender discrimination, violence against women, and peace-building initiatives in the North Caucasus region. “Women of the Don” also provides free legal advice to the public, promotes dialogue and tolerance, and has worked to improve relations between the police and members of society. The Justice Ministry designated both “Women of the Don” Union (in 2014) and the “Women of the Don” Foundation (in 2015) as ‘foreign agent’ NGOs. In February 2016 the Ministry of Justice officially removed the “Women of the Don” Union from its list of foreign agents. In June 2016, however, Valentina Cherevatenko became the first individual to face criminal prosecution under the ‘foreign agent’ law for the alleged ‘malicious evasion of duties imposed by the law on non-profit organisations performing the functions of a foreign agent,’ a move condemned by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch,Frontline Defenders and other human rights organizations.
GRIGORY MELKONYANTS is co-chair of Russia’s preeminent independent election monitor Golos, the Movement for the Defence of Voters’ Rights. Golos was originally founded in 2000. Since 2005 Golos has been a member of the European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations (ENEMO). Together with leading Russian experts in 2008- 2010 Golos worked on creating an Electoral Code. In 2012 Golos was awarded the Andrei Sakharov Freedom Award by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. In 2013 the Ministry of Justice designated Golos as a ‘foreign agent’ on the grounds that it had received foreign funding (this was a reference to the 7,700 EUR Sakharov Prize – despite the fact that Golos had declined to accept the money) and that in creating the Electoral Code the organization had engaged in ‘political activities’. In 2013, Golos re-established itself as a ‘Movement’, bringing together all those who engaged in independent election monitoring in Russia since 2000. More recently, in 2014 and 2015, Golos has received two grants of state-funding – the so-called ‘Presidential Grants’ - for its work on election monitoring.
DMITRY BARTENEV has been working as attorney at law in Russia since 2001 and is based in St. Petersburg. In cooperation with Russian and international human rights organisations, Dmitri has represented clients in many high-profile anti-discrimination cases in the fields of mental disability field, LGBT rights, freedom of speech and association. Dmitri graduated from Petrozavodsk State University as a lawyer in 1999. He has received post-graduate training in medical law, mental disability law and bioethics at Michigan State University (USA), Central European University (Hungary), and the Council of Europe. He holds a Ph.D. in international law from St. Petersburg State University where he also teaches international law and human rights as an associate professor.
After 28 days, our Crowdfunder campaign had raised £280. Many thanks to our 12 backers! We shall be continuing our fundraising efforts in September :)
On 23 June Rights in Russia was delighted to host leading Russian media rights lawyer Galina Arapova in conversation with John Crowfoot on freedom of expression and media rights in Russia - our first such event at Pushkin House, held in London and jointly organized with Article 19. Photo via Sarah Hurst
"Rights in Russia is very pleased to announce that the organisation's founder and director Simon Cosgrove has been awarded the Moscow Helsinki Group diploma in recognition of his "personal contribution to supporting the work of the Moscow Helsinki Group and the Russian human rights movement". Simon received the award on 12 May 2016 at the celebration marking the 40th anniversary of the Moscow Helsinki Group."
- Julia Sherwood, chair of Rights in Russia
We are very pleased to announce that Sarah Hurst has joined Rights in Russia's international advisory council. Sarah Hurst is a journalist and Russian translator who has worked for the St. Petersburg Press, the BBC and Reuters. In April 2014 she founded the X Soviet blog to cover current events in Russia, Ukraine and other former Soviet states. She has also made a film about Russian activists who claim asylum in Ukraine and is the author of two books: A Shrimp Learnt to Whistle and Curse of Kirsan: Adventures in the Chess Underworld. For more information about Sarah Hurst, please see here.
We are very pleased to announce that Halya Coynash has become a member of Rights in Russia's international advisory council. Halya Coynash is a member of member of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group and a journalist whose writing is published regularly on the news website Human Rights in Ukraine. She has written extensively on human rights developments in Ukraine and Russia. She is also a translator and educationalist. For more information about Halya Coynash, please see here.
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