News of the Day 16 December 2021

RFE/RL: The Moscow City Court has ruled that hearings on a prosecutor’s request to shut down one of Russia’s oldest rights watchdogs, the Memorial Human Rights Center, will begin on December 23. Dozens of Memorial supporters gathered in front of the court’s building on December 16 as the decision was being handed down.

Human Rights in Ukraine: The grenade which Ukrainian journalist Vladislav Yesypenko is accused of carrying in his car in Russian-occupied Crimea does not fit in the car compartment where the FSB claimed to have found it.  This was not the only glaring discrepancy in the prosecution’s case demonstrated during the ‘court’ hearing on 13 December, yet prosecutor Yelena Podolnaya once again demanded and ‘judge’ Dlyaver Berberov  ordered that Yesypenko be held in detention until (at least) 18 March 2022, just over a year after he was first seized and imprisoned.

RFE/RL: Petrakov is one of an unknown number of military officers who are resigning from duty, demoralized, or disgusted, or simply fed up by the conditions, physical and psychological, they are forced to serve in. While the problem of hazing conscripts remains a stubborn and much-documented problem in Russia’s armed forces, the issue of officers resigning in protest is less well-known.

The Moscow Times: Western allies on Thursday rejected Russia’s bid to thwart Kiev’s NATO ambitions and urged Moscow to halt its military build-up along Ukraine’s border and return to talks led by France and Germany. European Union leaders, meeting in Brussels, insisted on “the urgent need for Russia to de-escalate tensions caused by the military build-up along its border with Ukraine and aggressive rhetoric”.

RFE/RL: A court in Moscow has rejected a request to release from pretrial detention the chief executive of a leading Russian cybersecurity company who was arrested in September on charges of state treason. The Moscow City Court on December 16 ruled that a lower court’s November 23 decision to extend Ilya Sachkov’s pretrial detention until February 28, 2022, was legal and cannot be changed.

RFE/RL: A court in Moscow has ordered Twitter, Facebook’s owner Meta, and TikTok to pay more fines for violating the country’s rules on banned content. A magistrate court in the Russian capital ruled in separate hearings on December 16 that Twitter must pay 10 million rubles ($135,300), Meta 13 million rubles ($176,000), and TikTok 4 million rubles ($54,130) for failing or refusing to delete banned content as instructed in an earlier ruling.

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