News of the Day: 1 July 2021

RFE/RL: The Moscow City Court on June 30 extended by three months the pretrial detention of prominent former journalist Ivan Safronov, who is accused of treason. The 30-year-old Safronov, a former adviser to the head of Russia’s space agency Roskosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, covered the defense industry for the newspapers Kommersant and Vedomosti. He was arrested on July 7, 2020, on allegations that he had passed secret information to the Czech Republic in 2017 about Russian arms sales in the Middle East. The new court order extends his pretrial detention to October 7.

RFE/RL: Police in Moscow have searched the election campaign offices of a close associate of jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny who is planning to take part in parliamentary elections in September. Oleg Stepanov’s support group condemned the July 1 searches as “pressure on our campaign.” Police said that the raids were linked to a criminal case launched in February on charges of creating a noncommercial organization that “violates citizens’ rights.”

RFE/RL: Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law a bill that obliges foreign IT companies to set up local units or face penalties including a possible ban as Moscow continues to try and tighten its control over the flow of information on the Internet. The bill, signed by Putin on July 1 and placed on the official website for legal information, requires foreign IT companies with a daily audience of at least 500,000 people to set up full-fledged branches in Russia that would be “responsible for violations of Russian legislation.”

FIDH: Russia’s President has just signed into law the prohibition of public comparisons between the roles and actions of Nazi Germany and the USSR during the Second World War, adding to the arsenal of legislation restricting the work of historians, activists and NGOs dealing with the Soviet past. Following the publication 10 June of its report Russia: Crimes Against History, today FIDH is releasing a short documentary illustrating the government’s ongoing, concerted campaign to cement its monopoly on historical memory.

RFE/RL: U.S. and British security agencies have exposed “brute force” methods they say have been used by the Russian military-intelligence agency known as the GRU to conduct malicious cyberactivities against hundreds of government and private organizations. In an advisory released on July 1, the U.S. National Security Agency described cyberattacks carried out by operatives of the GRU, which has been accused of involvement in attempts to disrupt U.S. presidential elections in 2016 and 2020, the hack in 2015 of the German Bundestag, and attacks on Ukraine’s power grid, and many others. The advisory details how the GRU’s 85th Main Special Services Center “has targeted hundreds of U.S. and foreign organizations using brute force access to penetrate government and private sector victim networks.”

RFE/RL: Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to continue supporting the regime of Belarus’s authoritarian ruler Alyaksandr Lukashenka, which is facing increasing international pressure over its brutal crackdown on dissent in the wake of last year’s disputed election. “We will continue to provide comprehensive assistance to the brotherly Belarusian people in the current political situation,” Putin told the eighth Forum of Regions of Russia via video conference on July 1. “Belarus is not just a good neighbor for us — first and foremost, it is our closest ally.”

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