News of the Day: 11 March 2021

RFE/RL: The Supreme Court of Russia’s Yakutia region has ruled that the forced confinement to a psychiatric clinic of a shaman who tried several times to march to Moscow on foot “to drive President Vladimir Putin out of the Kremlin” was legal. Olga Timofeyeva, a lawyer for Aleksandr Gabyshev, told RFE/RL on March 11 that the court rejected her client’s request for an independent expert to be present at the hearing to assess the medical conclusion on his placement in the clinic. Timofeyeva also said that the court rejected a motion to evaluate Gabyshev by medical and psychiatric experts in any other region of Russia.

RFE/RL: The Moscow City Court has upheld the two-year suspended sentence for an opposition politician who was convicted in December over her involvement in anti-Kremlin protest rallies. After the court handed down the ruling on March 11, municipal lawmaker Yulia Galyamina said that it was very likely now that Moscow’s city council would remove her of status as a lawmaker. On December 28, before the Tver district court judge found her guilty of repeatedly violating the law on mass gatherings and pronounced her sentence, the outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin said at the trial that the proceedings against her had proven that Putin, investigators, security officials, and police saw her as a “real threat.”

The Moscow Times: Russia’s decision to label one of its leading women’s aid groups a “foreign agent” after a year when domestic violence spiked signals a widening crackdown on organizations seeking to tackle the problem, activists told The Moscow Times. The country’s Justice Ministry added — Russian for “No to Violence” — to the register formed by a 2012 law that allows any politically active individual or organization accepting funding from abroad to be labeled a foreign agent. Meanwhile, reports of domestic violence doubled after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic as millions were confined to their homes in a country already grappling with an epidemic of abuse. 

RFE/RL: A court in Moscow has refused to remove, a leading organization that addresses domestic violence and LGBT rights, from the registry of “foreign agents.” Lawyer Pavel Chikov of the Agora legal defense organization said on March 11 that the Zamoskvoretsky district court rejected’s request to annul a Justice Ministry decision to add the group to its controversial list of organizations fulfilling the functions of a “foreign agent.” The ministry justified its move, made in December, by saying that the NGO had received foreign funding and was engaged in political activity. The NGO has denied it is politically active.

RFE/RL: On March 7, 37-year-old Russian convict Yevgeny Rylsky died in a prison hospital in Irkutsk, to which he had been transferred a few days earlier from the notorious prison IK-15 outside Angarsk. “His spleen had been ruptured,” said Vladimir Osechkin, founder of the prisoners’ rights NGO, citing several confidential sources among both prisoners and prison staff. “His collarbone was broken, and other internal organs were injured. The doctors also found bedsores. That is, Rylsky had been beaten and had been lying in bed in life-threatening condition for at least three or four days at IK-15, during the time that an inspection commission from Moscow was there.”

The Moscow Times: Russian movie distributors have self-censored a gay sex scene from “Supernova,” a British love story starring Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth that was released in Russia on Thursday, media reported. Citing viewers who had also watched the original edit, the DTF culture and tech platform said “at least one scene where the characters try to have sex after a dramatic dialogue has disappeared from the story.”

The Moscow Times: Russia’s telecommunications watchdog said Thursday that Twitter had still not deleted more than 3,000 posts containing illegal content after Moscow began disrupting Twitter’s services in the country. On Wednesday, Roskomnadzor said it began slowing down the US social media giant’s work in Russia, saying Twitter failed to comply with its requests to delete content related to child pornography, drug use and calls for minors to commit suicide. “As of March 11, 2021, more than 3,100 publications containing banned information have not been deleted,” Roskomnadzor said in a statement on Thursday.

RFE/RL: Russian parliament’s lower chamber, the State Duma, has approved the first reading of a bill allowing for “accidental” corruption. According to the bill, officials, judges, prosecutors, military personnel, and other individuals cannot be held responsible for corrupt actions in cases when they could not control the circumstances in which such actions took place. Among such circumstances, the bill cites natural disasters, including earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, fires, pandemics, strikes, military conflicts, and terrorist acts. The bill also says that “accidental” corruption might happen when restrictions are imposed by authorities due to circumstances they couldn’t control.

Human Rights Watch: The Kremlin undoubtedly hopes that by packing Alexei Navalny off to prison, it will keep him out of sight, out of mind. Yet Navalny’s many social-media-savvy followers make that unlikely. A growing movement of people discontented with corruption, economic stagnation, and the Kremlin’s autocratic rule means that a political opposition will persist even without Navalny. It’s not hard to see why Navalny gets under Vladimir Putin’s skin. Navalny’s support was once said to extend no further than the intelligentsia of Moscow and St Petersburg, but he eventually built a movement across the country. Last summer while he was visiting supporters in distant Siberia, the Federal Security Service (FSB), the KGB’s main successor, apparently tried to kill him.

Leave a Reply