News of the Day: 19 November 2021

The Moscow Times: Russia on Friday confirmed 37,156 Covid-19 infections and a new record of 1,254 deaths.

RFE/RL: The former lawyer of a regional organization for jailed opposition activist Aleksei Navalny has left Russia amid an ongoing crackdown on the defunct organizations associated with the Kremlin critic that were labeled as extremist earlier this year. Fyodor Telin worked as a lawyer for Navalny’s network of regional campaign groups until Navalny’s team disbanded them in April after a Moscow prosecutor went to court to have them branded extremist. A court later accepted the prosecutor’s appeal and labeled the national network extremist, effectively outlawing it.

Dunja Mijatović, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe: As various Council of Europe bodies, including the Secretary General and my Office, have repeatedly stated, the “foreign agents” law falls short of international and European human rights standards and should be repealed as a matter of priority. Applying it to shut down Memorial groups serves as another illustration of its use as a tool of reprisals against civil society and human rights defenders. In addition, I am dismayed to learn that the Human Rights Centre Memorial is also under a liquidation procedure on the grounds of their legitimate work being considered as justification of extremist and terrorist activities. Instead of harassing and stigmatising human rights NGOs, the Russian authorities should co-operate with them and civil society at large and create a safe and enabling working environment. They should therefore discontinue the liquidation proceedings against International Memorial and the Human Rights Centre Memorial. I intend to raise these issues with the Russian authorities as a matter of priority.

Amnesty International, Civil Rights Defenders: We, the undersigned Russian and international human rights organization condemn the escalating attacks against Russian LGBT Network, its leadership and partners. We call on the Russian authorities to cease targeting the largest and most prominent LGBTI rights group in Russia and foster a normal working environment for activists for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex and transgender people in the country. [Statement signed by: Amnesty International, Anti-discrimination Centre “Memorial”, Civic Assistance Committee (designated a “foreign agent” by Russia’s Ministry of Justice),
Civil Rights Defenders, Committee against Torture, Front Line Defenders, Human Rights Centre “Memorial” (designated a “foreign agent” by Russia’s Ministry of Justice), Human Rights Watch, Norwegian Helsinki Committee]

CPJ: Russian authorities should stop harassing journalist Dmitry Muratov and cease labelling news outlets and members of the press as “foreign agents,” the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.  Muratov and Philippine journalist Maria Ressa were jointly awarded the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize in October.

RFE/RL: Two Russian Nobel Peace Prize winners have issued a joint appeal for authorities to drop a bid to close one of Russia’s most venerated human rights groups — Memorial. In a joint statement on November 18, Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, and the editor in chief of the Novaya gazeta newspaper, Dmitry Muratov, said attempts to close Memorial have “caused anxiety and concern in the country, which we share.”

The Moscow Times: Russian police have launched a probe into a photograph of a woman flashing her buttocks in front of a church, the latest in a string of racy photos snapped outside religious landmarks, state media reported Thursday. Authorities have launched at least four cases in recent weeks against young people, mostly women, for posting sexually suggestive content on social media near places of worship.

Human Rights in Ukraine: Two Crimean Tatars, Lenur Seidametov and Timur Yalkabov, are facing 15-year sentences on the basis of an illicitly taped conversation five years ago with an unidentified individua, first in a mosque, then over a cup of tea.  Although it was the stranger who raised all the religious subjects on which the flawed charges are now based, and at least one of the men can be heard trying to politely end the conversation, the FSB have claimed that this was a ‘conspiratorial’ meeting and arrested the two Crimean Tatars. The provocateur with a taping device is not officially part of the prosecution at all. 

RFE/RL: Human Rights Watch (HRW) is urging Turkmenistan to provide information about the whereabouts of a human rights activist who went missing in Russia last month, saying he was likely a victim of an enforced disappearance by the Turkmen security services.

Leave a Reply