News of the Day: 15 February 2021

The Guardian: A Russian former journalist held for seven months on treason charges has described a Kafkaesque legal process in which he has not been told the substance of the charges against him because they are secret. In an interview from prison, Ivan Safronov said his family had been named witnesses in the case in an attempt to isolate him and pressure him to plead guilty. “No one must hear my voice – it’s a threat to national security, nothing less,” he said in his first extended remarks since his arrest, published in the Kommersant newspaper. Safronov, a former military affairs journalist at Kommersant and Vedomosti newspapers, was arrested last July in the first high treason case against a reporter since 2001. Treason cases have risen fivefold in the last decade in Russia, in what has been called a return of spy mania.

RFE/RL: The Moscow-based Novaya gazeta newspaper on February 15 published official documents it says prove that many of the people allegedly killed in extrajudicial executions in Chechnya in 2017 had been detained by local police. Novaya gazeta reported in 2017 that 27 detained individuals had been summarily executed in late January that year. Chechen authorities have denied the individuals in question had ever been arrested, while the Investigative Committee rejected Novaya gazeta’s request to launch an investigation into the allegations.

The Moscow Times: The annual march in honor of slain Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov will not take place this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, one of its organizers announced on Monday.  Supporters have held memorial marches for Nemtsov every Feb. 27 near the site on a bridge steps away from the Kremlin where he was shot dead in 2015. Though five men have been convicted for his killing, his supporters say the architects of the murder have yet to be brought to justice. The march’s organizing committee has asked Moscow authorities to not interfere with those who wish to lay flowers at the spot where Nemtsov was murdered, liberal lawmaker and march co-organizer Dmitry Gudkov wrote on Telegram.

RFE/RL: A man sentenced for his involvement in two terrorist attacks in Moscow in 1999 has been found dead in a Siberian prison. Media reports in Russia on February 15 identified the man as 65-year-old Khalid Khuguyev, who was serving his 22-year prison term in Correctional Colony No. 47 in the town of Volchanets in the Primorsky Krai region. […] Khuguyev was expected to be released later this year.

The Moscow Times: Russia confirmed 14,207 new coronavirus cases and 394 deaths.

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