News of the Day: 6 December 2021

The Moscow Times: Russia on Monday confirmed 32,136 Covid-19 infections and 1,184 deaths.

RFE/RL: Another associate of jailed Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny has left Russia amid an ongoing crackdown against the defunct organizations associated with the Kremlin critic that were labeled as extremist earlier this year. Aleksandr Chernikov, the former head of Navalny’s network of regional campaign groups in Russia’s far-western exclave of Kaliningrad, told the Novy Kaliningrad newspaper on December 6 that he and his family are currently in the United States where they have asked for political asylum.

RFE/RL: Bashkir ethnic activist Ruslan Gabbasov has left Russia for Lithuania, where he has asked for asylum, Gabbasov told RFE/RL’s Idel.Realities on December 6. Gabbasov said his decision was influenced by pressure from Russian authorities, who tried to connect him with criminal cases in Russia’s Bashkortostan region.

RFE/RL: Amnesty International has launched an online petition demanding the immediate release of RFE/RL freelance correspondent Vladyslav Yesypenko, who has said he has been tortured while in detention in Russian-occupied Crimea since March. Yesypenko, a dual Russian-Ukrainian citizen who contributes to Crimea.Realities, was detained on March 10 on suspicion of collecting information for Ukrainian intelligence. The father of one daughter had worked in Crimea for five years reporting on the social and environmental situation there before being detained.

Meduza: Blogger Yuri Khovansky, currently in pre-trial detention on charges of justifying terrorism, penned an open letter from jail, where he has been since June. In the text, Khovansky says investigators threatened him with serious prison time when he refused a plea bargain. Officers also allegedly promised “problems” for his girlfriend, Maria Nelyubova (who spoke about this before). Khovansky says the authorities suggested that they would plant drugs on her. Meduza is publishing a translation of Khovansky’s letter. 

Human Rights in Ukraine: The order to arrest Nariman Dzhelyal and two other Crimean Tatars doubtless came ‘from above’, but that does not absolve those FSB officers; ‘investigators’, and others implicated in torturing the men and fabricating charges against them of direct culpability.  Ukrainian legislators may shortly take the first step to ensuring that the perpetrators face both Ukrainian and, hopefully, western sanctions.  Russia is currently holding well over 100 Ukrainian political prisoners, of whom the majority are Crimean Tatars, so this move can only be the beginning. 

Meduza: Since August 2020, Russia has detained at least 20 Belarusian nationals facing persecution in their home country amid Alexander Lukashenko’s opposition crackdown, says a new report from BBC News Russian. What’s more, many of these detainees have been extradited to Belarus — either in response to official requests from Minsk or for allegedly violating Russian immigration laws. In other cases, Russian law enforcement agencies have expelled Belarusian nationals without going through the courts. Meduza summarizes the Russian BBC’s investigation here.

RFE/RL: The campaign targeting Russia’s rappers accelerated during protests in Moscow against the exclusion of opposition candidates from city council elections in 2019.

RFE/RL: The post included claims that Chistova, who teaches at public school No. 114 in the Volga region city of Perm, had bound the hands of children and kicked them out of her classroom, had gagged children with adhesive tape, and had regularly shouted and cursed at them.

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