News of the Day: 13 September 2021

The Moscow Times: Russia on Monday reported 18,178 new coronavirus cases and 719 deaths.

The Moscow Times: Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has urged Russians to vote out ruling party candidates in the country’s upcoming parliamentary elections in a social media post written from jail Monday.

The Moscow Times: Two new monuments to the first Soviet secret police chief credited with architecting Stalin’s repressions have appeared in southern Russia and annexed Crimea, sparking mixed reactions. The busts of Felix Dzerzhinsky in the Russian city of Krasnodar and the Crimean city of Simferopol were unveiled on Sept. 11, his 144th birthday.

RFE/RL: A Russian opposition activist has sought refuge in the United States out of fear for his family’s safety after he took part in unsanctioned rallies in January to support jailed opposition leader Aleksei Navalny. Anton Deinega, who is from Russia’s Black Sea port city of Novorossiisk, told RFE/RL on September 13 that he and his family arrived in the United States in early September. He said he has asked for political asylum and the U.S. authorities are checking if he faced threats or persecution in Russia.

RFE/RL: Inmates at a penitentiary in Siberia have started a mass hunger strike to protest the deaths of two prisoners and what they say are widespread rights abuses, including torture, at the facility.

Human Rights in Ukraine: The European Court of Human Rights has demanded that Russia provide information regarding its treatment of Crimean Tatar Mejlis leader Nariman Dzhelyal and Asan Akhtemov (or Akhtem).  The questions concern both access to a lawyer of their choice and medical examinations and are of critical importance since both Asan Akhtemov and his cousin, Aziz Akhtemov, have been prevented from seeing an independent lawyer for over a week.  There are extremely strong grounds for assuming that both cousins gave videoed ‘confessions’ under torture, and that they remain in danger of such torture until allowed to see proper lawyers. Line Defenders: On 31 August 2021, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on the case Estemirova v. Russia concerning the murder of prominent woman human rights defender Natalia Estemirova on 15 July 2009. The Court ruled that Russia failed to investigate the murder of Natalia Estemirova properly, yet did not find that the Russian authorities are directly responsible for her kidnapping and killing. Front Line Defenders expresses concern regarding this decision having the potential to get widely cited by authoritarian governments in cases litigated on violations of human rights defenders’ rights, allowing the state to evade responsibility for their failure to protect HRDs in the region.

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