News of the Day: 12 May 2021

The Moscow Times: The former opposition mayor of Russia’s fourth-largest city has been sentenced to nine days in jail for promoting this year’s nationwide pro-Navalny protests on his Twitter, the MBKh Media news website reported Wednesday. Mass protests calling for the release of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny were held across Russia on Jan. 23, Jan. 31 and April 21. Tens of thousands took to the streets during the protests, which weren’t sanctioned by the authorities, with over 12,000 detained nationwide and widespread reports of police violence against protesters. 

RFE/RL: A group of lawmakers in the Russian parliament’s lower chamber, the State Duma, have introduced a bill that would ban lawyers from recording meetings with their convicted clients inside penitentiaries, a move that has sparked sharp criticism from rights activists as a way of muzzling prisoners such as opposition politician Aleksei Navalny. Civil society advocates say the initiative is linked to ongoing online statements by Kremlin-critic Navalny, a growing number of political prisoners, and a number of other high-profile cases of torture in Russian penitentiaries that came to the attention of the public via video recordings made in prisons. The bill, which was placed on the State Duma’s website and registered for debate on May 6, would ban attorneys from bringing “any communication devices” into penitentiaries.

RFE/RL: The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is calling on authorities in the Russian republic of Tatarstan not to contest the appeals of two correspondents for an independent news website who have been found guilty of interfering with traffic and disobeying police. A local court on May 9 convicted Aleksei Solovyov and Damir Manzhukov. Solovyev was sentenced to five days of administrative arrest, while Manzhukov was fined 2,000 rubles ($27) and released. The journalists denied the charges, Solovyov told CPJ, adding that he filed an appeal in his case and that Manzhukov planned to do so as well. Police have not returned their equipment that was confiscated during the arrest, he said.

FIDH: The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in the Russian Federation. Description of the situation: The Observatory has been informed about the arbitrary arrest and subsequent release of Ivan Pavlov, as well as the raids of his residences and office. Mr. Pavlov is a prominent human rights lawyer, director of the association of journalists and lawyers Team 29 and winner of the Moscow Helsinki Group Award for defending human rights in court in 2015 and of the Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism in 2018. He also founded the Institute for the Development of Freedom of Information, which was designated as a “foreign agent” by the Russian authorities in 2014 and suspended its activities in 2015. On April 30, 2021, Ivan Pavlov’s hotel room in Moscow, his apartment, his summer house and the Team 29’s office in St. Petersburg were searched by agents of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Investigative Committee. One of his colleagues at Team 29, Igor Dorfman, also had his flat searched for eight hours. Searches at Ivan Pavlov’s apartment and at the Team 29 office lasted 15-18 hours. According to Mr. Pavlov, the law enforcement officials confiscated almost all documents related to the case of his client, journalist Ivan Safronov [1], including those classified as attorney-client privilege. After the search in the hotel, Mr. Pavlov was detained and taken to the Investigative Committee for an interrogation.

The Moscow Times: Russia should do away with online anonymity to prevent future repeats of Tuesday’s deadly shooting at a high school in the central city of Kazan, the speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament has said. Nine people, most of them children, were killed and over 20 were hospitalized when a former student opened fire at a Kazan school 820 kilometers east of Moscow. Officers detained the 19-year-old shooter, whose official motive remains unclear but who had reportedly announced plans to commit the massacre on social media.

RFE/RL: President Vladimir Putin was hopeful in remarks on May 10 about the coronavirus pandemic in Russia. “The situation with the virus in the country, according to specialists, is stable,” he said in Sochi, urging Russians to get vaccinated. According to official statistics as of May 12, there have been 4,905,059 coronavirus infections in the country and 114,331 fatalities. Those numbers, however, are widely regarded as severely understated.

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