News of the Day: 15 June 2021

RFE/RL: Lyubov Sobol, a lawyer for jailed Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), says she is quitting her bid to become a member of parliament in order to protect her campaign team from being prosecuted under a draconian law that targets Navalny’s associates. Her announcement follows a move by Russian authorities last week that banned all organizations associated with Navalny and labeled them as extremist groups. Sobol told reporters in Moscow on June 14 that she cannot ensure the safety of her campaign team or sponsors in the run-up to September’s elections for Russia’s lower chamber of parliament, the State Duma.

RFE/RL: A court in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar has rejected an appeal against the continued detention of the jailed former executive director of the pro-democracy Open Russia movement, Andrei Pivovarov. The court ruled on June 15 that Pivovarov’s arrest last month was legal and refused to transfer him to house arrest. The activist took part in the hearing via video link from the detention center where he is being held due to the coronavirus pandemic.

CPJ: The Union of European Football Associations should ensure that all journalists can report from its events freely and without political interference from host countries, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Since late May, UEFA, an umbrella organization comprised of 55 national soccer associations across Europe, has denied or revoked the accreditations of at least six journalists seeking to cover the 2020 UEFA European Football Championship, citing their failures to pass background checks by Russian and Azerbaijani authorities, according to news reports and journalists who spoke with CPJ. UEFA later reversed at least two of those decisions, according to those sources.

CPJ: Russian authorities should stop detaining and harassing journalists for their work, and should drop any investigation into reporters Veronika Samusik and Vasiliy Krestyaninov, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. On June 11, Moscow police detained Samusik, a correspondent with the independent news website Sota.Vision, while she was covering a performance by artist Pavel Krisevich in Red Square in support of political prisoners, according to news reports. Officers in plainclothes stopped Samusik while she was photographing the performance, confiscated her camera’s memory card, and took her to the Kitay-Gorod police station in central Moscow, according to those reports and an interview the journalist gave with the independent broadcaster Dozhd TV.

The Moscow Times: As Moscow grapples with a new spike in Covid-19 cases amid stubbornly low vaccination rates, the city signed has ordered new restrictions and declared a “non-working week” from June 14-20. The latest restrictions mainly apply to recreation and leisure, from eating at the mall’s food court to visiting the Moscow Zoo.

RFE/RL: U.S. President Joe Biden says if jailed Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny were to die, it would be a “tragedy” that would damage Russia’s relationship with the United States and the rest of the world. Biden was asked about the potential death of Navalny on June 14 during a news conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels that covered several other topics ahead of his upcoming summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

RFE/RL: Eight years ago in Moscow, 40-year-old Denis adopted Aleksei, who was two years old at the time. The abused baby of a teenage alcoholic, Aleksei had behavioral problems from the beginning of their life together — orphanage staffers told Denis that Aleksei would hide under tables, wouldn’t speak, and would generally act “wildly.” It took months of rehabilitation and massage for him to learn to walk properly.

RFE/RL: Russian police have removed Belarusian opposition politician Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya from their wanted list at the initiative of the Belarusian authorities, Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency reports. The report on June 15 comes a day before U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin are due to meet in Geneva for their first face-to-face talks since Biden was inaugurated in January.

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