News of the Day: 5 November 2021

The Moscow Times: Russia on Friday confirmed 40,735 Covid-19 infections and 1,192 deaths.

RFE/RL: Researchers say life expectancy in Russia fell by more than two years in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

RSF: Reporters Without Borders (RSF) voices support for Sergey Savelyev, the whistleblower responsible for last month’s massive leak of videos exposing mistreatment, torture and sexual abuse in Russian prisons. The Russian authorities must drop all charges against this Belarusian citizen, who has fled to France, while the French authorities must grant his asylum request, RSF says.

RFE/RL: Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is urging France to grant asylum to a Belarus-born man responsible for last month’s massive leak of videos exposing mistreatment, torture, and sexual abuse in Russian prisons.

RFE/RL: Amnesty International is calling on the Russian authorities to release an imprisoned environmental activist who led anti-landfill protests near Moscow in 2018. Vyacheslav Yegorov was sentenced last month to 15 months in prison on a charge of repeatedly violating regulations on holding public gatherings, and detained.

The Moscow Times: Moscow police arrested dozens of nationalists planning to hold the annual far-right Russian March in the Russian capital, the police-monitoring website OVD-Info reported Thursday. The ultra-nationalist Russian March has been held every Nov. 4, the day of Russia’s National Unity Day state holiday, with and without the authorities’ permission since 2005. That year, President Vladimir Putin created the holiday to replace commemorations of the Bolshevik Revolution.

RFE/RL: The Supreme Court of the Netherlands has overturned a $50 billion award that Russia had been ordered to pay the former majority shareholders of the dismantled oil giant Yukos, sending the case back to a lower appeals court.

RFE/RL: The wife of opposition figure Aleksei Tupitsin has suffered what he says doctors described as “a chemical poisoning,” which he believes was an attack likely aimed at him. Tupitsin told RFE/RL on November 5 that his wife, Vera Kuzakova, fell ill aboard a plane as the couple flew from Poland to the Siberian city of Irkutsk. According to the activist, during a stopover at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow, the two drank some tea at a cafe before boarding a plane for the second leg of their journey. While in flight, Kuzakova’s body became covered with sores that resembled burns.

The Guardian: A Russian diplomat found dead near the country’s embassy in Berlin last month was an undercover intelligence agent, German media have reported. The news magazine Der Spiegel reported on Friday that police had recovered the body of a Russian diplomat who apparently fell from an embassy window, and that the man had been identified as a member of the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s main intelligence and law enforcement agency. The death has not previously been reported. Der Spiegel said police had discovered the body near the embassy on 19 October and that emergency services were unable to resuscitate. The news outlet reported that German security sources were not sure of the cause of death and that the Russian embassy had not authorised an autopsy.

Human Rights in Ukraine: Russia’s Military Court of Appeal in Vlasikha has overturned a ruling which would have allowed Crimean political prisoner Oleksandr Sizikov to find out what exactly he is accused of.  The decision to translate the indictment and other material into Braille would, however, have highlighted the absurdity of this case in which the ‘evidence’ for the charges against Sizikov includes prohibited literature’ planted by the FSB which Sizikov could not possibly read. 

The Guardian: Police have launched a wave of investigations against young people, mainly women, in recent weeks for taking partially nude or sexually suggestive photographs next to Russian landmarks. At least four cases have been reported over the past week of police detaining, investigating or jailing Russians for photographs that have been posted online in front of the Kremlin walls, St Basil’s Cathedral, St Isaac’s Cathedral in St Petersburg and an “eternal flame” dedicated to the history of the second world war. One couple has been sentenced to jail for 10 months for taking a photograph suggestive of oral sex in front of the distinctive onion domes of St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow.

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