News of the Day: 19 August 2021

The Guardian: Exactly one year ago, I did not die from poisoning by a chemical weapon, and it would seem that corruption played no small part in my survival. Having contaminated Russia’s state system, corruption has also contaminated the intelligence services. When a country’s senior management is preoccupied with protection rackets and extortion from businesses, the quality of covert operations inevitably suffers. A group of FSB agents applied the nerve agent to my underwear just as shoddily as they incompetently dogged my footsteps for three and a half years – in violation of all instructions from above – allowing civil investigating activists to expose them at every turn.

The Guardian: The jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has written from behind bars to urge western politicians to take meaningful action against global corruption and to impose personal sanctions against oligarchs “in the entourage of Vladimir Putin”.

RFE/RL: Jailed Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny has urged Russian voters to use a Smart Voting strategy, a project designed by his team to promote candidates to defeat Kremlin-linked figures, in the September elections. In a statement on Instagram on August 19, exactly one month before the elections, the outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin again called the Kremlin-backed ruling United Russia party “a party of scoundrels and thieves” who “are scared of our Smart Voting.”

The Moscow Times: Russia on Thursday reported 21,058 new coronavirus cases and 791 pandemic deaths.

The Moscow Times: Russia on Wednesday declared an independent election monitor a “foreign agent,” one month before a parliamentary election in which President Vladimir Putin’s unpopular United Russia party is expected to struggle. Created in 2000, Golos had notably denounced election rigging in the 2011 parliamentary election and the 2012 presidential vote which saw Putin return to the Kremlin. The Russian Justice Ministry included Golos, a local organization that observes elections, in its new list of “foreign agents.” 

The Moscow Times: A Moscow court on Thursday again fined Google for failing to remove banned content as foreign tech giants face mounting pressure in Russia. 

RFE/RL: Russia’s media regulator, Roskomnadzor, has notified RFE/RL that it has filed in court the first of a new set of 130 protocols against the independent media outlet for violating Russia’s controversial “foreign agent” law requiring the labeling of content. According to Roskomnadzor, the first 10 protocols of the new set have been sent to Moscow’s Tver district court. Earlier in June, the media watchdog informed RFE/RL that the 130 protocols it was preparing envision a total fine of 71.5 million rubles, or about $964,000.

The Moscow Times: American investor Michael Calvey has launched an appeal against his controversial conviction on embezzlement charges, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported Thursday.

Amnesty International: On 17 August, Mikhail Iosilevich was released from pre-trial detention following his lawyers’ petitions to the investigator and court. He was arbitrarily held on remand since January for allegedly threatening a witness in the case – the claim proven by the experts’ reports to be unfounded. His prosecution for alleged cooperation with an “undesirable” organization is ongoing and the trial might start in September. Mikhail Iosilevich is being targeted for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of expression and association. Charges against him must be dropped and he must be able to continue his peaceful activism without fear of prosecution.

OpenDemocracy: In the city of Petrozavodsk, Russian Gulag historian Yuri Dmitriev is on trial for a third time – and proceedings are coming to an end.

Leave a Reply