News of the Day: 9 February 2021

RFE/RL: A Moscow court has rejected an appeal by Kira Yarmysh, spokeswoman of jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, against her detention. The press service of Moscow courts said on Telegram that the Moscow City Court on February 9 upheld a lower court’s decision to place Yarmysh under house arrest. Yarmysh, along with nine other associates and supporters of Navalny, have been charged with publicly calling Moscow residents to violate sanitary and epidemiological safety precautions. The group was detained in late January on the eve of unsanctioned mass rallies against Navalny’s arrest. Most of them have since been placed under house arrest. If found guilty of the charges against them, they face up to 2 years in prison. On February 8, the Memorial Human Rights Center in Moscow recognized the group as political prisoners.

Amnesty International: We, the undersigned, express our grave concern over reports that two Chechen men were arbitrarily detained by the police in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod and forcibly transferred to Chechnya. The Russian authorities should immediately establish their whereabouts, ensure their safety and secure their release unless they are charged with internationally recognisable criminal offence. The men are at grave risk of torture and other ill-treatment and there is a risk to their lives.

The Guardian: An ally of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has urged Russians to gather near their homes for a brief Valentine’s Day protest on Sunday, shining their mobile phone torches and lighting candles in heart shapes to flood social media. Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in recent weeks to protest against the incarceration of Navalny, a prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin. Police detained more than 11,000 people who took part in what they said were unsanctioned protests that the Kremlin condemned as illegal and dangerous. Leonid Volkov, a Navalny ally based outside Russia, called on people to gather in the residential courtyards near their homes at 5pm GMT on Sunday and stand there for several minutes shining their mobile phone torches.

FIDH: La FIDH condamne avec vigueur la répression qui a frappé les manifestations organisées en soutien à Alexeï Navalny qui vient d’être condamné à une peine de trois ans et demi de prison pour avoir violé son contrôle judiciaire pendant qu’il était en convalescence en Allemagne. Plus de 1 400 personnes ont étaient interpellées et des dizaines d’autres ont été frappées par la police lors de manifestations improvisées qui se sont organisées spontanément à l’annonce du verdict. « Ce jugement est une nouvelle démonstration honteuse de la nature arbitraire et absurde du système judiciaire russe. Navalny a été puni pour avoir survécu à son empoisonnement et être retourné en Russie. Heureusement, son sort a suscité un soutien populaire et une vague de protestations pacifiques sans précédent » , estime Ilya Nuzov, responsable du bureau Europe de l’ Est et Asie Centrale à la FIDH. La condamnation d’Alexeï Navalny à 3 ans de prison concerne l’affaire Yves Rocher dont le verdict a été rendu le 30 décembre 2014 contre la société de logistique des frères Navalny accusés – à tort – d’avoir escroqué 26 millions de roubles (370 000 euros) à la compagnie de cosmétiques en lui surfacturant ses services entre 2008 et 2012, une surfacturation obtenue grâce au poste de cadre que le frère d’Alexei Navalny occupait à la Poste russe.

The Moscow Times: Russia has admonished the European Union for discussing potential sanctions with jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s close associates. On Monday, Navalny’s regional network coordinator Leonid Volkov and his Anti-Corruption Foundation executive director Vladimir Ashurkov joined a video call on the EU’s Russia policy, Volkov said on social media. Diplomats from Britain, the United States, Canada and Ukraine were also reportedly involved in the two-hour discussions convened by Poland.

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