News of the Day: 20 July 2021

RFE/RL: Aleksandr Sofeyev, a member of the Pussy Riot performance-art collective, has left Russia after being released from custody following his second arrest in less than a month. Sofeyev told Open Media before boarding a plane on July 19 that he had decided to leave the country because of the ongoing state “persecution” of Pussy Riot members. A day earlier, another Pussy Riot member, Nika Nikulshina, said she left Russia right after she was released from jail after serving a 15-day sentence for allegedly disobeying police.

The Moscow Times: A growing number of Kremlin critics have fled Russia in recent weeks, citing fears of prosecution in the wake of nationwide protests in support of jailed Kremlin opponent Alexei Navalny and ahead of high-stakes parliamentary elections. While many of those who have left are allies of Navalny, others are longtime opposition politicians or intellectuals not affiliated with Navalny’s work.

Amnesty International: Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny’s life is no longer at immediate risk as he started receiving the medical care he required on 23 April. Russian authorities still refuse to release him despite the unlawfulness of his detention, established by the European Court of Human Rights and other international bodies. Amnesty International will continue demanding Alekei Navalny’s immediate and unconditional release and justice for him and other victims of politically motivated persecutions in Russia.

Amnesty International: On 17–19 September 2021, elections to the State Duma will be held in Russia, along with local elections in some constituencies. Against the backdrop of the reported falling popularity of Vladimir Putin and his ruling United Russia party, the authorities are both stepping up reprisals against their critics and trying out ever more direct ways of eliminating their political opponents. In previous elections, the main tools for eliminating unwanted candidates were refusals to register them or their disqualification for minor or imaginary infringements of the electoral process. This time, the authorities are applying a much more heavy-handed and sinister approach.

CPJ: Russian authorities should allow the independent investigative news outlet Proekt and its staff to operate freely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. On July 15, the Office of the Prosecutor-General of Russia classified the outlet’s parent company as “undesirable,” thereby banning its operations in the country, and the Justice Ministry registered five of its staff members as “foreign agents,” according to multiple news reports, a statement by the prosecutor-general’s office, and the banned outlet’s former deputy editor, Mikhail Rubin, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview.

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