News of the Day: 17 August 2021

RFE/RL: The number of political prisoners in Russia has increased to at least 410, the Moscow-based Memorial Human Rights Center said. In its latest updated accounting of political prisoners released on August 16, Russia’s leading human rights group said its list is “only a minimum estimate of the number of political prisoners” languishing in jail or under house arrest.

RFE/RL: The Moscow City Court has rejected a request by imprisoned opposition leader Aleksei Navalny to annul his designation as being as a “flight risk,” which subjects him to hourly nighttime checks while he is incarcerated at a penal colony.

RFE/RL: Russian authorities have detained five Crimean Tatars after their homes were searched in Ukraine’s Russian-controlled Crimea region. The Crimean Solidarity public group told RFE/RL on August 17 that the searches were conducted at the homes of Raif Fevziyev, Dzhebbar Bekirov, Zaur Abdullayev, Rustem Murasov, and Rustem Tairov. All five men were detained later.

RFE/RL: A Moscow court has leveled more fines against Google for violating Russia’s rules on banned content. On August 17, the magistrate court of Moscow’s Taganka district found the U.S. technology giant “guilty of committing an administrative offense” and handed the company three administrative fines totaling 10.5 million rubles ($142,877), the court’s press service said.

RFE/RL: A court in Siberia has eased the pretrial restrictions imposed on two teenagers charged with terrorism in a controversial case rights groups have called politically motivated. Pavel Chikov of the legal-defense organization Agora wrote on Telegram on August 17 that the First Military District Court of Khabarovsk, at a session in the city of Kansk, cancelled the pretrial detention for Denis Mikhailenko and house arrest for Bogdan Andreyev.

The Guardian: A month after a Hungarian bookshop chain was fined for selling a children’s story about a day in the life of a child with same-sex parents, the same picture book has been published in Russia – but with an “18+” label on it in deference to the country’s so-called “gay propaganda” law.

RFE/RL: A Russian court has reinstated a Moscow subway train driver who was fired in May after he joined an online campaign to support jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny. The driver, Vladimir Shlyapkin, said on August 16 that the court in Orekhovo-Zuyevo near the capital ordered the Moscow Metropolitan Company to allow him back to work, and pay compensation for the period of time he was unemployed as well as pay damages.

The Moscow Times: Russia’s 2021 wildfires are already its largest in the history of satellite observations, burning across 17.08 million hectares of land, the Greenpeace Russia environmental group has said.

The Moscow Times: The Russian foreign ministry said Monday the situation in Kabul was “stabilizing” after the Afghan capital fell to the Taliban who have started to “restore public order.” Russia’s ambassador was due to meet the Taliban on Tuesday and Moscow claimed the militants had vowed to “guarantee the safety of local people,” despite thousands of Afghans trying to flee the group’s hardline version of Islam. 

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