News of the Day: 6 July 2021

RFE/RL: A court in Russian-occupied Crimea has extended the detention of an RFE/RL freelance correspondent by six months as dozens of people rallied in the Ukrainian capital to call for his release. A court in Simferopol ruled on July 6 that Vladyslav Yesypenko, who has been detained since March, will remain behind bars until December as he awaits trial. The next hearing is set for July 15.

Human Rights Watch: In a victory for a transgender parent’s right to maintain contact with her children, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on July 6 that Russia’s denial of her visitation violated her rights to family life and freedom from discrimination. The woman, known in court documents as A.M., had two children with her spouse before they separated. After a local court legally recognized her gender transition, A.M. continued to regularly see her children for 17 months until her former spouse obtained a court ruling to cut off visitation. The former spouse argued that any further contact with the children would harm their mental health, distort their morals and perception of family, lead to bullying at school, and violate Russia’s “gay propaganda” law.

The Moscow Times: Russian security forces said on Tuesday they had detained Estonia’s consul to St. Petersburg for allegedly receiving classified documents, the latest in a series of espionage cases between Moscow and the West. The FSB security service said consul Mart Latte was “caught red-handed while receiving classified documents from a Russian national” and detained for activities “incompatible with the status of a diplomatic worker” and “openly hostile” to Russia. “Measures will be taken against the foreign diplomat in accordance with the rules of international law,” said the statement.

RFE/RL: Estonia says Russia’s detention of its consul in St. Petersburg was a “setup” and “provocation.” Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) announced on July 6 that it had detained the consul after allegedly catching him receiving classified documents. The FSB claimed the activities of Consul Mart Latte were “incompatible with the status of a diplomatic worker and are openly hostile to Russia.”

The Moscow Times: Russian doctors are refusing to vaccinate people living with HIV against the coronavirus despite data showing them to be safe for immunocompromised people, a Russian AIDS NGO said Tuesday. Thirty out of 700 people with HIV at a Moscow AIDS prevention and control center were refused Covid-19 vaccination by a single doctor in June, according to AIDS.Center nonprofit director Sergei Abdurakhmanov’s estimates.

The Moscow Times: Valentina Andreeva graduated in 2018 with degrees in economics and music, one from St. Petersburg State University and one from Bard College in the U.S., which co-founded the Russian institution’s liberal arts faculty.  “You can travel, you can study and you can make friends from all over the world, not only from the U.S.,” she said of her experience. Such experiences are likely to become relics of the past after Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office on June 22 labeled the prestigious U.S. college an “undesirable” organization, accusing it of “threatening the foundations of the constitutional order and security of the Russian Federation.”

The Moscow Times: It’s an overcast Sunday morning in July, and on the fortieth floor of a plush Moscow skyscraper Russia’s last liberal party is gathering for its annual congress. Beside the stage, a string quartet is playing, but the Yabloko party delegates — some ageing and well-heeled, some younger and edgier — have one thing on their minds: September’s high-stakes elections to the State Duma, Russia’s national parliament. “These elections will determine the course of Russia’s future for decades,” said Kirill Goncharov, the twenty-six-year-old deputy head of Yabloko’s Moscow branch, and candidate for an opposition-leaning district in the Russian capital.

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