News of the Day: 18 June 2021

The Moscow Times: Moscow reported its highest-ever number of new coronavirus infections Friday, as the city’s health authorities warned “new, aggressive mutations” of the virus were spreading at an alarming pace. Russia’s national coronavirus task force confirmed 9,056 new Covid-19 cases in Moscow over the last 24 hours — a 46% surge on the previous day.

RFE/RL: Police in Moscow have detained a municipal lawmaker from the opposition Yabloko party who announced last month that she intends to run in September’s elections for the State Duma. Ketevan Kharaidze was detained late on June 17 after police searched her apartment, according to her election campaign chief Yekaterina Uspenskaya. Uspenskaya said on June 18 that before being taken away for questioning, Kharaidze told her neighbor that police had confiscated her telephone, a computer, and two 5,000 ruble ($70) banknotes found in a pocket of her coat that Kharaidze said she had not put there.

RFE/RL: A 79-year-old Russian scientist placed under house arrest after being charged with high treason has been hospitalized after suffering a heart attack. Valery Mitko was taken to a hospital in St. Petersburg on June 17 after suffering a heart attack in his home, his lawyer Anton Golubev said. Mitko was placed under house arrest in February 2020 on suspicion of transferring classified materials to China during regular visits he made there as a teacher.

EU-Russia Civil Society Forum: On 10 June 2021 in Makhachkala, Republic of Dagestan, the 22-year-old Chechnya resident Halimat Taramova was forcibly taken by the police from a shelter for victims of gender-based violence, where the young woman was hiding from violence and threats, and returned to Chechnya. Several days earlier Halimat had fled Chechnya, where she had been regularly subjected to physical and psychological violence from her family and to threats from the Chechen authorities. However, as a result of the ‘operation’ led by the police forces of Makhachkala, the young woman was unlawfully taken away from the shelter and ‘returned’ to her family members, who took her to Chechnya despite her desperate resistance, as witnessed by her friend – Anna Manylova [1].

The Moscow Times: Pavel Chikov has had a hectic year.  As the Russian authorities’ crackdown on dissent has widened, so has the workload of one of the country’s leading human rights lawyers.  “It’s been a busy few days…months,” Chikov said in an interview in a central Moscow cafe this week. Chikov, 41, is the head of Agora, a countrywide association set up in 2005 by human rights lawyers. As an umbrella organization, Agora oversees a number of smaller legal aid groups specializing in issues from political protests to prison torture.  All together, Chikov estimated, he leads a team of over 200 lawyers that take on some of the country’s most challenging human rights cases. 

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