News of the Day: 20 January 2021

RFE/RL: A pan-European human rights watchdog has expressed concern after a Russian court handed a long prison sentence for hooliganism to a university mathematics student who says he was tortured while in custody. “The allegations we are hearing with regard to this case are certainly of concern, and we will continue to follow its development closely,” a spokeswoman at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) told RFE/RL on January 20, two days after 25-year-old Azat Miftakhov was sentenced to six years in prison. “ODIHR is continually following the human rights situation in all 57 countries of the OSCE region, and frequently raises issues with individual states,” Katya Andrusz said. The press service of the Council of Europe, the continent’s leading human rights organization, on Janaruy 19 said the organization was following the case “closely.”

RFE/RL: Russia’s Rosatom atomic energy agency plans to put up two statues of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s notorious secret police chief Lavrenty Beria, considered by many as a key force behind Soviet-era repression, in the Nuclear Energy Pavilion at the Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy (VDNKh) in Moscow. The Open Media website said on January 19 that it had obtained Rosatom’s documents related to the plan to commemorate the controversial Beria, who after Stalin’s death in 1953 was arrested and executed for treason, terrorism, and counterrevolutionary activities during the Russian Civil War in 1917-1923.

RFE/RL: Ramzan Kadyrov, Kremlin-backed leader of Russia’s North Caucasus region of Chechnya, says regional security forces and police have killed six armed militants led by Aslan Byutukayev in a special operation. Kadyrov said on January 20 that the “successfully executed operation finished all underground factions in the Chechen Republic.” Aslan Byutukayev was a close associate of the late leader of the so-called Caucasus Emirate (Imarat Kavkaz), Doku Umarov. Russian authorities have said that Umarov was killed in a special operation in September 2013.

Meduza: Team Navalny’s coordinator in Omsk, Olga Kartatseva, has been written up for an administrative violation following a police inspection at the local team office on Monday, January 20. Team Navalny in Omsk” announced that law enforcement had arrived at their headquarters on Twitter. Policemen told the office staff that they wanted to conduct an “inspection” and prohibited them from taking photos and videos during that time.

Meduza: St. Petersburg’s Kolpinsky District Court has banned the distribution of the Japanese animes Death Note and Inuyashiki via the website “,” Mediazona reported on Wednesday, January 20. Spokespeople for the St. Petersburg court have clarified that the ban applies specifically to the dissemination of two particular web addresses — one of which links to an episode of Inuyashiki, while the other links to 37 episodes of Death Note. Links to these webpages were contained in a lawsuit about the anime series Russian state prosecutors filed in December 2020.

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