News of the Day: 1 December 2021

The Moscow Times: Russia on Wednesday confirmed 32,837 Covid-19 infections and 1,226 deaths.

RFE/RL: Russia’s Investigative Committee says a military court has sentenced a man to 25 years in prison for being a member of a group led by late Chechen separatist field commander Shamil Basayev that attacked another North Caucasus region, Daghestan. The Investigative Committee said on December 1 that Russia’s Southern Military Court in the city of Rostov-on-Don had sentenced Shamil Umakhanov after finding him guilty of being a member of an illegal armed group, armed mutiny, and attempted murder of law enforcement officers.

RFE/RL: Shortly before he hurriedly left Russia for Georgia, Sergei Samborsky visited the office of presidential human rights commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova. A resident of Tomsk, Samborsky made headlines last month after he released shocking video of appalling conditions inside the “red zone” of the Siberian city’s largest COVID-19 hospital. In a telephone interview from self-imposed exile, he told RFE/RL that “reliable” sources in Moskalkova’s office advised him to leave the country immediately. “People there who are in the know told me not to stay in Russia,” Samborsky said, adding that he was told it would be “very dangerous” to remain.

The Guardian: The US says it has evidence Russia has made plans for a “large scale” attack on Ukraine and that Nato allies are “prepared to impose severe costs” on Moscow if it attempts an invasion. Speaking at a Nato ministers meeting in Latvia, the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said it was unclear whether Vladimir Putin had made a decision to invade but added: “He’s putting in place the capacity to do so in short order, should he so decide.

The Guardian: “He consciously positioned himself as an anti-totalitarian writer (in that he was both anti-fascist and anti-Bolshevik), championing love, artistic freedom and individual identity, and seeking to give them heightened expression at a time of mounting political pressures that would rather deny them, at a time when writers were desperately seeking out new ways in which art could provide adequate response to political tyranny. Without exaggeration, I believe we’re living in a time when these ideas have renewed political, cultural and artistic significance.” [Translator Bryan Karetnyk on Yuri Felsen]

Meduza: Many people associate Memorial with the study of Joseph Stalin’s Great Terror. But for more than 30 years, this organization has also carried out crucial human rights work, on top of preserving the memory of victims of Soviet-era political repressions. Memorial’s staff have played a key role in everything from hostage negotiations to helping refugees and political prisoners. Nevertheless, in November of this year, the Russian Attorney General’s Office moved to liquidate the group’s parent organization, Memorial International, for allegedly violating the country’s legislation on “foreign agents” by failing to include mandatory disclaimers on its public materials. In this brief history, Meduza looks back on the life and work of Russia’s oldest and most prominent human rights organization.

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