News of the Day: 12 February 2021

Amnesty International: Margarita Yudina was seriously injured by a police officer in front of cameras on 23 January during a peaceful protest in St Petersburg in support of Aleksei Navalny. Instead of investigating, the authorities issued apologies and sought to prevent her complaining formally. They sent child protection services to check on her daughter and signalled that her sons could face military conscription. The authorities must stop harassment of Margarita Yudina and her family, and bring her assailant to justice.

The Moscow Times: Russia has agreed to pay jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny damages for his 2012 detention during mass anti-government demonstrations that Europe’s human rights court ruled degrading, Interfax reported Thursday. Russia’s Justice Ministry said it will not appeal the European Court of Human Rights’ (ECHR) November ruling because the ruling did not hold that Navalny’s rights had been violated. “The Russian Justice Ministry had brought forward at the adversarial process the position that ‘political motivations’ were absent in the actions of the authorized state bodies in bringing [Navalny] to justice,” Interfax quoted the ministry as saying. The ECHR ordered Russia to compensate Navalny 8,500 euros ($10,300) for violating his freedom of assembly and right to a fair trial.

RFE/RL: Jailed Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny will appear in court again on February 12 in a slander case involving a World War II veteran after the trial was interrupted last week. The anti-corruption campaigner has described the slander case as a fabricated Kremlin public-relations campaign meant to harass and discredit him. Navalny is accused of slandering a World War II veteran who took part in the promotional video in support of last year’s constitutional amendments that cleared the way for President Vladimir Putin to run for two more terms in office after 2024, if he wants. The trial centers on a social-media post from June in which Navalny, one of Putin’s most vocal critics, described those in the video as “traitors,” “people with no conscience,” and “corrupt lackeys.”

The Moscow Times: Russia’s main Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny was back in court Friday for allegedly defaming a World War II veteran, after being ordered to prison in another case that sparked global outrage and mass protests in his country. The hearing came a little over one week after the 44-year-old opposition leader, a persistent thorn in President Vladimir Putin’s flesh, was sentenced to serve nearly three years in jail. The anti-corruption campaigner appeared in a glass cage for defendants at Moscow’s Babushkinsky District Court wearing his trademark blue hoodie, an AFP journalist reported. Heavily-armed riot police surrounded the court and set up cordons outside.

RFE/RL: Lyubov Sobol, a prominent lawyer for jailed Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), has been indicted on fresh charges she labeled political “revenge” for daring to speak to an alleged security officer behind the assassination attempt against the Kremlin critic. The case against Sobol, who is under house arrest for allegedly violating COVID-19 restrictions during recent anti-government protests, comes amid a widening crackdown on Navalny’s allies and supporters. Using her Facebookaccount,Sobol’s team wrote on February 11 that the Investigative Committee case against the lawyer related to her December detention, when she and journalists attempted to speak to a security agent at his home.

RFE/RL: The Moscow City Court will consider an appeal of the decision to convert opposition politician Aleksei Navalny’s suspended sentence to real jail time on February 20, the RIA Novosti news agency reported. RIA Novosti reported on February 12 that it learned of the hearing through a lawyer with knowledge of the court’s decision. The Kremlin critic on February 2 was ordered to serve 2 years and 8 months in prison for violating the terms of a suspended sentence imposed on him from a widely criticized 2014 embezzlement case.

RFE/RL: Russia’s federal media regulator has ordered media outlets, including RFE/RL’s Russian Service and Current Time TV, to delete all reports about a planned mobile-phone “flashlight” protest against the jailing of Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny. The official order from Roskomnadzor was received by media groups on February 12. It says Russian authorities consider any reporting about the planned flashlight protest to be a call for people to take part in an unsanctioned public demonstration and mass disorder. Roskomnadzor’s order also was sent to online newspapers Meduza and Open Media, and the TV-2 news agency in the Siberian city of Tomsk. Navalny’s team in Tomsk said they also were warned by the city prosecutor’s office on February 12 that they could be held liable for staging an unsanctioned protest.

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