News of the Day: 6 April 2021

The Guardian: Alexei Navalny’s lawyer has said confirmed that the opposition leader is “seriously ill” after reports emerged that he had been transferred to a prison sick ward for a respiratory illness and had been tested for coronavirus. The Kremlin critic said in a note published on Monday that he was coughing and had a temperature of 38.1C (100.6F). Several prisoners from his ward had already been treated in hospital for tuberculosis, Navalny wrote. Hours later, the pro-Kremlin newspaper Izvestia reported he had been moved to a sick ward and tested for coronavirus, among other diseases.

RFE/RL: Russian prison officials prevented outside doctors from examining jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny after he was moved to a sick ward with a severe cough and temperature amid mounting concern over his health. Anastasia Vasilyeva, Navalny’s doctor and the head of the Alliance of Doctors trade union, attempted to see Navalny on April 6 but said prison officials refused to meet with her or allow entry into the prison. Police later detained Vasilyeva and at least nine other supporters gathered outside the prison. Among those detained were three journalists, including a CNN correspondent. The journalists and Vasilyeva were later released. The Alliance of Doctors says it will continue to hold protests outside the prison until Navalny can be seen by independent doctors.

The Moscow Times: A number of supporters of Alexei Navalny were detained Tuesday outside his penal colony east of Moscow after they were denied access to the jailed Kremlin critic, who is on hunger strike demanding proper medical treatment. Among those detained was Anastasia Vasilyeva, Navalny’s personal doctor and head of the Alliance of Doctors medical trade union which is critical of the government, according to the group and AFP journalists at the scene.

CPJ: In response to today’s detention of journalists near the penal colony where Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny is being held, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement: “Detaining journalists who try to cover Alexei Navalny’s imprisonment is a blunt effort to censor coverage of Putin’s leading critic,” said CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, Gulnoza Said. “Authorities should stop obstructing journalists and trying to intimidate the press, so the international community can keep track of Navalny’s condition and treatment.” Authorities briefly detained CNN correspondent Mathew Chance as well as Ivan Slobodenyuk, a correspondent for Vot Tak TV, the Russian-language service of the Poland-based broadcaster Belsat TV, and Dmitry Nizovtsev, a correspondent with the YouTube channel of Navalny’s organization “Shtab Navalnogo,” according to media reports and a tweet by Chance. Vot Tak TV editor Mariya Lekukh told CPJ via phone that the journalists were released after four hours and are required to appear before police on April 21. She added that Slobodenyuk possessed a valid press card and journalistic assignment sheet, and was wearing a press vest as required by law at the time of his detention.

RFE/RL: An RFE/RL freelance correspondent arrested in Ukraine’s Russia-annexed Crimea has told a court he was tortured with electric shocks, beaten, and threatened with death unless he “confessed” to spying on behalf of Ukraine. Vladyslav Yesypenko’s lawyer on April 6 said his client testified during a closed-door court hearing that the torture lasted two days after his arrest in March on what the defense calls false charges. “[Yesypenko] told the court that he was tortured in a basement, most likely somewhere in the area of Balaklava, from the moment of his detention until his transfer to the detention center in Simferopol,” lawyer Aleksei Ladin said after the hearing.

The Moscow Times: Moscow investigators have launched an inspection into “Russian Woman,” the country’s entry to this year’s Eurovision song contest, after a veteran’s newspaper accused it of inciting hatred, the state-run TASS news agency reported Tuesday. Written and performed by Tajik-born artist Manizha, “Russian Woman” has sparked controversy among conservative groups for its lyrics promoting female empowerment and rejection of sexist stereotypes.

RFE/RL: A Russian court has ordered a fine against the popular video-sharing application TikTok in the country’s latest major dispute with a global social platform over content allegedly related to political protests. The Moscow court ruled on April 6 that TikTok failed to delete content that it said was related to unsanctioned demonstrations, according to local reports. Russian critics of the Kremlin routinely use international social networks, including Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube, to get around state control of the media and reach tens of millions of citizens with their anti-government messages. Some local reports suggested the TikTok fine — 2.6 million roubles ($34,000) — pertained to alleged appeals to minors urging them to join political demonstrations.

The Moscow Times: Russia has confirmed 4,589,540 cases of coronavirus and 100,717 deaths, according to the national coronavirus information center. Russia’s total excess fatality count since the start of the coronavirus pandemic is above 422,000.

Human Rights in Ukraine: Century-old trees have been felled in the barbaric destruction now underway of the renowned Foros Park in Russian-occupied Crimea.  Secrecy around the construction work appears to be because the ‘owner’ of at least part of this plundered Ukrainian national park needs to hide its activities on illegally occupied territory.  22% of the shares in the Russian oil company, TatNeft are owned by the Bank of New York Mellon  If the authors of a report by the Centre for Journalist Investigations [CJI] are correct, then TatNeft should certainly be under US and other sanctions and its American shareholder is probably in violation of US legislation.

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