News of the Day: 15 April 2021

The Moscow Times: Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s close associate Lyubov Sobol was sentenced to a year of community service Thursday for visiting the apartment of an alleged security agent implicated in his poisoning. Sobol was detained in December when she appeared outside the home of alleged Federal Security Service (FSB) chemical weapons expert Konstantin Kudryavtsev. Navalny and the open-source investigative group Bellingcat said Kudryavtsev was part of an FSB squad tasked with his poisoning and cleaning up the crime scene last August.

RFE/RL: Lyubov Sobol, a lawyer for jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), has been handed a one-year suspended sentence of correctional labor for trespassing. According to Russian legislation, those handed such a sentence must pay the State Treasury the required amount if they are employed. If they are unemployed, they must work at jobs defined by the Federal Penitentiary Service during the term of their sentence.

RFE/RL: A Moscow court has placed in de facto house arrest four editors of the student magazine Doxa who have been accused of “engaging minors in actions that might be dangerous” over a video related to unsanctioned rallies to protest the incarceration of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny. The Basmanny district court late on April 14 ordered Armen Aramyan, Vladimir Metyolkin, Natalya Tyshkevich, and Alla Gutnikova not to leave their homes between 11.59 p.m. and midnight for two months, giving them only one minute to be outside each day. The four were detained for questioning at the Investigative Committee after their homes and the magazine’s offices were searched over the video, which the magazine posted online in January.

CPJ: Russian authorities should immediately drop all charges against DOXA editors Armen Aramyan, Natalia Tyshkevich, Vladimir Metelkin, and Alla Gutnikova, and allow them to work freely and safely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Yesterday, law enforcement officers in Moscow raided the office of the independent student-run magazine DOXA and the apartments of the four editors, and arrested them, according to news reports and Mstislav Grivachev, a DOXA editor who was not detained, who spoke with CPJ in a phone interview. Officers took the journalists to the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, where they were held for about two and a half hours and charged with “calling or otherwise involving minors into unlawful activities that might be dangerous,” according to those sources.

Human Rights Watch: Chechen police abducted Magomed Gadaev, an asylum seeker from Chechnya, in the Russian Federation, and a key witness in a high-profile torture investigation against Chechnya’s authorities, two days after he was wrongfully deported from France to Russia on 9 April. Chechen police continue to hold him in custody. Twelve Russian and international human rights organizations said that Gadaev is at high risk of torture, as a result of the actions by the French, Russian, and Chechen authorities which violated international human rights law. French authorities outrageously proceeded with Gadaev’s expulsion despite the decision by the national asylum court prohibiting his expulsion if it meant his return to Russia due to substantiated fears for his life and safety. French authorities’ actions have put him at immediate risk of torture and other ill-treatment and exposed him to a grave danger to his life, in flagrant violation of France’s international obligations prohibiting the return of any person, whatever the circumstances, to a territory where they are at risk of serious human rights violations. This prohibition is a non-derogable norm of international law and is affirmed by numerous human rights treaties ratified by France.

The Moscow Times: The U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) news outlet has offered some of its staff the opportunity to leave Russia as it faces crippling “foreign agent” fines, BBC Russia reported Wednesday. The move comes after Russia fined RFE/RL nearly $1 million for violating tagging requirements related to its “foreign agent” designation. Russia’s newly tightened “foreign agents” law could also lead to website closures and prison time for RFE/RL’s employees.

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