News of the Day: 12 October 2021

The Moscow Times: Russia on Tuesday reported 28,190 new coronavirus cases and 973 deaths from Covid-19, a new record number of daily fatalities.

RFE/RL: A court in southern Russia has sentenced a 59-year-old disabled Jehovah’s Witness to four years in prison for holding a Bible study with fellow believers. The sentence against Vladimir Skachidub, handed down by a court in the Krasnodar region on October 11, was the latest Russian criminal prosecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses, whose religion was declared “extremist” by the Supreme Court in 2017.

RFE/RL: The jailed former executive director of the pro-democracy Open Russia movement, Andrei Pivovarov, has been charged with heading an “undesirable” organization, an accusation that stems from a six-year-old law that has repeatedly been used to target critical voices. […] If convicted, he faces up to six years in prison, according to his team.

The Moscow Times: Russia has launched its first lawsuits against individual journalists and human rights activists for what it deems as noncompliance with the country’s controversial “foreign agent” law. An administrative case was opened against veteran human rights activist Lev Ponomaryov, 80, for failing to include a mandated disclaimer announcing his status as a “foreign agent” on a series of social media posts, the independent Novaya Gazeta newspaper reported Tuesday. Russian authorities also opened a case against Siberian journalist Stepan Petrov, former editor of the “Yakutia — Our Opinion” regional news site, which was liquidated after it was named a “foreign agent” earlier this year, according to a human rights organization representing Petrov.

The Moscow Times: The head of a prestigious private Russian university has been detained in connection with a fraud investigation targeting a former senior education official, Russia’s Interior Ministry said Tuesday.  Sergei Zuyev, rector of the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, also known as Shaninka, was taken into custody for questioning Tuesday morning as a suspect in a 21 million-ruble ($290,000) embezzlement case, the ministry said in a statement.

Human Rights in Ukraine: Fifteen Crimean Tatars were detained on 11 October merely for gathering outside a ‘court’ in occupied Crimea to show solidarity with three political prisoners, facing 17,13 and 12-year sentences for similar acts of solidarity.  

RFE/RL: Media defense lawyer Galina Arapova says she now feels a little bit like Brezhnev, having become the first person designated by the Russian government as a “foreign agent” not once, but twice. 

CPJ: Russian authorities should stop labeling journalists and media outlets as “foreign agents” and should allow the press to work freely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

The Moscow Times: Russia’s FSB security service said new smart glasses launched by Facebook and Ray-Ban are a possible “spy gadget” — a designation which could prohibit them from being sold in Russia. 

Human Rights in Ukraine: The European Union has imposed sanctions on eight individuals, all implicated in Russia’s persecution of Crimean Tatars and other Ukrainians in occupied Crimea.  The list includes four ‘judges’, the heads of the FSB and of the central body of the Investigative Committee in occupied Crimea, as well as an investigator and Russian prosecutor.

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