News of the Day: 11 June 2021

RFE/RL: The Moscow-based Memorial human rights center has condemned a court decision to label a group of organizations associated with jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny as extremist. In a statement on June 11, Memorial called the court’s decision to label Navalny’s regional campaign network, along with his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) and his Citizens’ Rights Defense Foundation (FZPG), “another step toward the full replacement of political discussion and political competition with repression.”

The Moscow Times: An exiled top associate of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said Friday that Russian authorities have put him on a wanted list on suspicion of committing an unspecified crime. Ivan Zhdanov, the former director of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) which a Russian court declared “extremist” earlier this week, has been living in Lithuania to avoid being jailed in Russia. 

RFE/RL: The director of jailed Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), which was labeled as “extremist” and banned in Russia this week, says the Kremlin critic is in “significantly better” condition as he recovers from a hunger strike that raised fears he may die. Speaking to the Ekho Moskvy radio station on June 11, Ivan Zhdanov said Navalny was monitoring the situation around the FBK and other news related to him and his associates via his lawyers.

The Moscow Times: The U.S. Embassy in Moscow has issued a note of protest to the Russian Foreign Ministry over its lack of access to jailed ex-Marine Trevor Reed and “grave concern” for his health, it said in a statement Friday.  The Embassy said Reed, who was diagnosed with coronavirus on May 25 and hospitalized after his condition worsened, has been repeatedly denied phone calls to his family and Embassy personnel. It also said the hospital treating Reed has withheld updates on his health since he was admitted.

RFE/RL: A daughter of a close associate of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov who was forcibly removed by police from a shelter for domestic violence victims and rights activists has warned that she could be killed in an “honor killing” if she is returned to her home. The June 11 warning about Khalima Taramova’s fate came one day after Chechen and Daghestani police raided the apartment in Daghestan, where Taramova fled, and took her away. The apartment where she was staying was used by domestic violence advocates to protect women fleeing their homes. Taramova’s whereabouts were not immediately clear.

RFE/RL: A Chechen asylum seeker controversially deported from France to Russia has been sentenced to 1 1/2 years in prison on alleged weapons charges. Magomed Gadayev, an opponent of Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, was deported from France to Russia in April despite concerns from rights groups that he could be tortured or killed. The Paris-based Chechen diaspora organization Bart Marsho and Russia’s leading human rights group, Memorial, confirmed on June 9 that a court in Chechnya had sentenced Gadayev to 1 1/2 years in prison.

RFE/RL: Russian protest artist Pavel Krisevich has been detained after his “suicide” performance in which he used a nonlethal firearm on Red Square in Moscow. Witnesses say Krisevich fired a pistol twice into the air on June 11 at Moscow’s main tourist attraction, and then once more while he held the gun to his head. His girlfriend Anastasia Mikhailova said the pistol was a noncombat model loaded with blank ammunition.

The Moscow Times: Every day at 6 a.m., former Russian army officer Yevgeny sits bolt upright in bed, remembering security officers in black balaclavas storming his apartment during an early morning raid.  His was one of 16 Moscow households targeted by the authorities earlier this year for being Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Christian denomination outlawed in Russia since 2017, when the Supreme Court labeled it an extremist organization on par with jailed Kremlin critic Alexei  Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation. 

Civil Rights Defenders: On 9 June, the Russian parliament’s lower chamber, the State Duma, adopted a bill that expands the government’s powers to label organisations as ‘undesirable’. It is one of three bills introduced in May this year to further suppress civil society and political opposition ahead of the parliamentary elections in September, Civil Rights Defenders notes.  The three bills were introduced on 4 May, supposedly to prevent ‘foreign interference in elections.’ The bills will add to the Russian government’s arsenal of laws that suppress the country’s political opposition and independent civil society. The first two have now been adopted, enabling authorities to impose strict measures against those that are critical towards Putin’s regime. The third bill will be voted on in the State Duma on 15 June.  

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