News of the Day: 7 May 2021

Amnesty International: Following careful evaluation Amnesty International has decided to re-designate Alexei Navalny as a “Prisoner of Conscience”. In February, Amnesty took an internal decision to stop using the “Prisoner of Conscience” term for Navalny, due to concerns relating to discriminatory statements he made in 2007 and 2008 which may have constituted advocacy of hatred. The Russian government and its supporters used that internal decision, which we had not intended to make public, to further violate Navalny’s rights. That was the height of hypocrisy, coming from a government that not only attempted to kill Navalny by poisoning, but has carried out unconscionable acts over the past two decades, including torture, enforced disappearances and widespread repression of political freedoms in Russia and abroad, as well as war crimes in Syria.

The Guardian: Amnesty International has apologized to the jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny for stripping him of its “prisoner of conscience” status and said it would restore the designation. Amnesty announced on 24 February that it would stop referring to Russia’s most prominent opposition activist as a prisoner of conscience on the grounds that in the past he had made comments that qualified as advocacy of hatred. “Following careful evaluation Amnesty International has decided to re-designate Alexei Navalny as a ‘Prisoner of Conscience’,” it said in a statement emailed to Reuters.

RFE/RL: Police in Moscow have detained Veronika Nikulshina, a member of the Pussy Riot protest group, without explanation. Nikulshina wrote on Instagram on May 7 that four police officers apprehended her near her apartment block without saying why they were taking her into custody. A video of the incident was distributed by the Open Media group on Telegram. Nikulshina’s lawyer, Mansur Gilmanov, told Open Media that his client was detained on suspicion of being disobedient toward the police.

RFE/RL:  Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has called on Russia to stop “targeting” journalists after one of its contributors lost an appeal against her inclusion on Russia’s controversial registry of “foreign agent” media. The City Court in the western Russian city of Pskov on May 5 said the inclusion of RFE/RL contributor Lyudmila Savitskaya on the Justice Ministry’s list was lawful. “Lyudmila is not a ‘foreign agent’ — she, and RFE/RL journalists Denis Kamalyagin and Sergei Markelov, are Russian nationals providing objective news and information to their fellow citizens. We call on the Russian government to stop targeting journalists and blocking the Russian people’s access to information,” RFE/RL President Jamie Fly said in a statement late on May 6.

The Moscow Times: YouTube has briefly restricted access to a leading Russian independent media outlet’s account and warned others for linking to the website of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s anti-Kremlin voting project. Navalny and his allies plan to use his “Smart Voting” strategy — which was first deployed in 2018 after authorities barred him and nearly all of his allies from the ballot — to unseat pro-Kremlin ruling party incumbents in this fall’s key parliamentary elections. A Moscow court blocked the “Smart Voting” website that year after ruling that it processes users’ personal data without consent.

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