News of the Day: 2 April 2021

The Guardian: Leading human rights organisations in Russia have released their first comprehensive report on abuses in the decade-old conflict in Syria, condemning Moscow’s direct participation in indiscriminate bombings of civilians, its backing of the Assad regime’s use of torture, and culpability in other war crimes. “Russian state media does not report on the victims of bombardments, nor the forced displacement of civilians resulting in part from Russia’s military actions in Syria,” the authors of the report wrote. “As a result, the Russian public does not have sufficient knowledge to judge whom and what we are supporting in Syria, how much this war costs us, and how much suffering the war has inflicted upon civilians – people who have never taken up arms.” The 198-page report, A Devastating Decade: Violations of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in the Syrian War, was billed as the first report on the conflict authored by Russian human rights groups, and includes interviews with survivors of the conflict carried out in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Russia. […] Its authors include some of Russia’s best-known human rights defenders, including the Memorial human rights centre, the head of the Civic Assistance Committee, Svetlana Gannushkina, as well as prominent members of the Soldiers’ Mothers of St Petersburg and the Youth Human Rights Movement.

RFE/RL: Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny has lost significant weight in prison, his allies said, even before the Kremlin critic launched a hunger strike this week. In an April 1 post on Navalny’s Telegram channel, his team said Navalny weighed 93 kilograms when he arrived at prison last month and is now at 85 kilograms. The statement said he blames the weight loss primarily on sleep deprivation from being woken by guards eight times per night. Navalny declared a hunger strike on March 31, saying prison officials are withholding medical care and interrupting his sleep. He has complained of acute pain in his back and some numbness in his legs.

Front Line Defenders: On 25 March 2021, migrant rights defender Izzat Amon was abducted in Moscow and forcibly transferred to Tajikistan. The human rights defender’s whereabouts were unknown for two days before the Tajikistan Ministry of Interior reported that he was being held in pre-trial detention in Tajikistan and facing charges of fraud, in connection to his human rights work in Russia.

Human Rights in Ukraine: Bekir Mamutov, Chief Editor of the newspaper ‘Qurim’, is on trial in Russian-occupied Crimea for publishing a United Nations report which mentions the Mejlis,, or self-governing body, of the Crimean Tatar people.  The UN report almost certainly speaks of the Mejlis in the context of Russia’s continuing persecution.  Yet four years after the UN’s International Court of Justice ordered that Russia remove its ban, this binding order from a body which Russia has committed itself to obey is never mentioned, and the Chief Editor has been prosecuted, effectively for not tampering with the UN’s report.  

The Moscow Times: A Russian court on Friday fined Twitter nearly $117,000 for failing to remove calls to opposition protests, as Moscow ramps up pressure against the U.S. tech giant. Authorities in January accused foreign social media platforms of interfering in Russia’s domestic affairs by not deleting calls to rallies in support of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny late that month and early February.

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