News of the Day: 9 August 2021

The Guardian: A trailblazing Soviet dissident who was sent to a prison camp for his human rights campaigning and clashed with Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin over Russia’s democratic backsliding has died at age 91. Sergei Kovalev, a chronicler of Soviet abuses of power, co-founded the Soviet Union’s first public, independent human rights group in 1969 and later served seven years in the notorious Perm-36 camp, returning to Moscow in 1986 only by an order of Mikhail Gorbachev.

Human Rights Watch: Sergei Kovalev, a prominent Soviet dissident and Russia’s first human rights ombudsman, died on August 9, 2021, at the age of 91. A talented biophysicist, Kovalev paid a high price for his strong stand on human rights – seven years in a prison camp and three years of forced internal exile – on charges of disseminating anti-Soviet propaganda.

RFE/RL: Russian opposition politician Lev Shlosberg of the Yabloko party says he has been barred from seeking election to the parliament’s lower chamber, the State Duma, next month.

RFE/RL: Jailed former Russian journalist Ivan Safronov, who is charged with high treason, is facing even tougher conditions in detention after his article criticizing the authorities for their treatment of suspects and methods used in investigating espionage amid a wave of cases aimed at muzzling dissent was published.

RFE/RL: A court in Moscow has sentenced a Russian stand-up comic of Azeri origin, Idrak Mirzalizade, to 10 days in jail for allegedly inciting ethnic hatred.

The Moscow Times: Russian media have reported that Lyubov Sobol, a key ally of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, has fled Russia, reports that the lawyer and activist has not confirmed herself.

RFE/RL: A Russian activist has fled Russia after serving 3 1/2 years in prison in the high-profile Set (Network) case that rights defenders and opposition activists have called “fabricated.” Igor Shishkin told the independent news website Mediazona on August 9 that he was in an unspecified EU country.

RFE/RL: Former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, convicted last year in Russia on espionage charges he denies, has been released from solitary confinement in a remote prison, his lawyer says.

The Moscow Times: Nine coronavirus patients died Monday in Russia’s republic of North Ossetia after an oxygen pipe ruptured in a hospital in the capital Vladikavkaz, authorities said.

The Guardian: Smoke from raging forest fires in Siberia has reached the north pole for the first time in recorded history, as a Russian monitoring institute warned the blazes were worsening.

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