News of the Day: 13 August 2021

The Moscow Times: Russia on Friday recorded its highest daily coronavirus death toll for a second day running, even as the country’s outbreak epicenter Moscow lifted some restrictions. A government tally showed 815 Covid-19 fatalities over the past 24 hours and 22,277 new cases. Russia, the fourth worst-hit country in the world in terms of cases, has since mid-June been hit by a new wave of infections driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant.

RFE/RL: A court in southwestern Russia has handed a three-year prison term to a Jehovah’s Witness amid an ongoing crackdown on the religious group that has been banned in Russia since 2017. The Abinsk district court in the Krasnodar region sentenced Vasily Meleshko on August 12 after finding him guilty of taking part in the activities of an “extremist organization.”

RFE/RL: Prosecutors have asked a Moscow court to sentence Kira Yarmysh, the spokeswoman of jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, to two years of so-called “restricted freedom.” The prosecutor asked the Preobrazhensky District court on August 12 to convict Yarmysh of publicly calling for the violation of anti-pandemic restrictions by urging people to take part in unsanctioned rallies to support Navalny in January.

RFE/RL: A son of the jailed former governor of Russia’s Far Eastern region of Khabarovsk has been denied registration for next month’s parliamentary elections. Khabarovsk’s election commission on August 13 announced its decision regarding the application of Anton Furgal, saying that some 5,000 of almost 15,800 signatures of the hopeful’s supporters were not valid due to numerous issues, including using “a wrong ink color.”

The Guardian: Russia is to expel a senior BBC journalist in Moscow by refusing to extend her accreditation in a move the broadcaster condemned as a “direct assault on media freedom”. Sarah Rainsford’s visa is due to expire at the end of August and will not be renewed. The state broadcaster Rossiya-24 first reported the decision on Thursday evening, calling it a response to alleged UK refusals or delays in issuing visas to Russian journalists.

RFE/RL: Russian authorities have effectively banned a Belgian nongovernmental organization after declaring it an “undesirable” organization amid a Kremlin clampdown on civil society. The Prosecutor-General’s Office said in a statement on August 13 that the International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) “poses a threat to the foundations of the constitutional order and security of the Russian Federation.”

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