News of the Day: 19 October 2021

The Moscow Times: Russia on Tuesday reported 33,740 new coronavirus cases and 1,015 deaths from Covid-19, a new record number of daily fatalities.

RFE/RL: Several men in police uniforms have forcibly entered a shelter in Russia’s Republic of Tatarstan, taking away two young women from the North Caucasus region of Daghestan.

The Moscow Times: Russian police detained and returned two women Monday who attempted to flee their families in Dagestan, a women’s rights activist told The Moscow Times. Authorities in the central city of Kazan detained two 20-year-old women from a women’s shelter in the city without explanation, the shelter’s program manager Alsu Krivel told The Moscow Times. 

RFE/RL: The French-based founder and leader of the human rights group, Vladimir Osechkin, has identified the man who handed him part of a video archive of alleged torture and sexual assaults in Russian prisons earlier this month.

The Moscow Times: The former inmate behind a video leak showing alleged rape and torture inside a Russian prison said he could no longer keep the explosive revelations to himself, speaking to AFP from France where he is now seeking asylum.

RFE/RL: The prosecutor in a high-profile trial in Russia’s Republic of Tatarstan has asked a court to sentence a noted Islamic scholar to 8 years and 5 months on a charge of creating and running a branch of a banned Islamic group. Gabdrakhman Naumov’s lawyer, Ruslan Nagiyev, told RFE/RL that the prosecutor’s request was made at the Privolzhye district court in Tatarstan’s capital, Kazan, on October 19. Nagiyev added that his client pleaded not guilty and rejected all the charges.

RFE/RL: One of the first bills to be submitted to Russia’s newly elected State Duma, even before the lower house of parliament convened for its first session on October 12, is a measure that would unify the titles of the executive-branch heads of all Russia’s regions. Instead of presidents, governors, mayors, and the like, all of Russia’s 83 regions — plus the Russian-occupied Ukrainian region of Crimea and city of Sevastopol — will be run by a “regional head” if the measure passes.

RFE/RL: A Russian court has sentenced a member of an outlawed nationalist opposition group from the city of Saratov to six years in prison after finding him guilty of plotting a terrorist act and the illegal possession of explosives in a case linked to rallies ahead of the centennial of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.

Front Line Defenders: On 14 October 2021, a group of between 20 and 25 unknown individuals broke into the office of the International Historical and Human Rights Society Memorial (International Memorial) in Moscow, interrupting a movie screening. When police officers arrived at the scene, they claimed that the screening was “unsanctioned” and blocked the office, leaving dozens of people unlawfully detained inside the building for hours.

Amnesty International: Attacks on freedom of expression by governments, combined with a flood of misinformation across the world during the Covid-19 pandemic, have had a devastating impact on peoples’ ability to access accurate and timely information to help them cope with the burgeoning global health crisis, said Amnesty International today in a new report. […] In April 2020, Russia expanded its existing anti-“fake news” legislation and introduced criminal penalties for “public dissemination of knowingly false information” in the context of emergencies. Although the amendments have been described as part of the authorities’ response to Covid-19, these measures will remain in force beyond the pandemic.

RFE/RL: Rather than a physical organization with a dedicated headquarters and volunteer base, Male State is essentially a loose network of social-media profiles, most of them on Russia’s Facebook equivalent, VK, and the messenger app Telegram. They function as virtual forums for proponents of an ideology that adherents describe as “national-patriarchy” — a worldview aimed at reinstating the allegedly suppressed status of men who have been shunted to the sidelines by women taking leading roles in society at their expense.

Human Rights in Ukraine: Russia’s illegal construction plans for the ancient ruins of Tauric Chersonese in occupied Crimea will cause enormous damage and are very likely to lead to Chersonese being removed from UNESCO’s World Heritage List.  Experts believe that Ukraine does have levers at its disposal and must use them before it is too late.

The Moscow Times: More Russians say they don’t hold democratic values than those that do, according to a poll by the independent Levada Center polling agency published Tuesday.

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