News of the Day: 21 December 2020

OREANDA-NEWS. The Prosecutor General’s Office of Russia has recognized the Czech non-governmental organization Prague Civil Society Center as undesirable. According to the agency, the organization “poses a threat to the foundations of the constitutional order and security of the Russian Federation.” The Prague Civil Society Center develops civil society and independent media in 12 countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, including Russia. It is funded by the governments of Sweden, the Czech Republic, the United States, the European Commission and Oak Foundation. “Based on the results of the study of the received materials in the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation, it was decided to recognize the activities of the foreign non-governmental organization Prague Civil Society Center… as undesirable in the territory of the Russian Federation,” the statement of the Prosecutor General’s Office of Russia says. Information about the decision was sent to the Ministry of Justice.

The Guardian: On Monday Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny published a telephone call he had with FSB operative Konstantin Kudryavtsev, who was allegedly part of the FSB team, which in August poisoned Navalny when he travelled to Siberia. Navalny survived after the plane he fell sick on was diverted to a nearby airport and he received quick medical attention. He rang Kudryavtsev from Germany last week, pretending to be an aide to a top FSB official.

The Guardian: One of the operatives allegedly involved in the attempt to kill Alexei Navalny has confessed to his role in the plot, and has revealed that the Russian opposition leader was apparently poisoned via his underwear. Navalny phoned two members of the team from Russia’s FSB spy agency, which allegedly tried to murder him. One recognised him immediately and hung up. The second operative, Konstantin Kudryavtsev, was seemingly duped into thinking he was talking to an aide working for a top FSB general. The call was made hours before the investigative website Bellingcat published details last week of the eight FSB officers who allegedly poisoned Navalny. Navalny survived the attempt to kill him in August and is recuperating in Germany.

Human Rights in Ukraine: The trial has begun in Russian-occupied Crimea of Aider Kadyrov, a civic journalist reporting on human rights violations for Crimean Solidarity and the Russian website  Kadyrov is charged under a menacing recent addition to Russia’s legislation against so-called ‘extremism’ and ‘terrorism’ that punishes for failing to report a person to the FSB.  Since the charges pertain only to a discussion five years ago on a social network page, Kadyrov is not alone in seeing the prosecution as politically motivated.   

RAPSI: Russia’s Interior Ministry will include in its structure cyber police; such a decision has been already taken by Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev, the Ministry’s Deputy Head Igor Zubov has said in his interview as part of the “Personally to Children” project realized by the country’s Child Rights Commissioner and Children’s Community Council. Author of the cyber police initiative forwarded to the President’s Administration in 2018 is a member of the Russian Civic Chamber Sultan Khamzayev. According to Khamzayev, two years ago his colleages and he turned to the Government in order to draw attention at the crime rate increase in cyberspace, including drug distribution and others. Several days ago the Interior Ministry reported creation of such police. Khamzayev welcomed the move but added that if the initiative was realized earlier, authorities were ready for the current cybercrime rise during the coronavirus pandemic.

RAPSI: The State Duma Committee on Information Policy on Monday supported amendments to a bill on the social networks’ obligations to moderate banned information. Authors of the initiative propose to oblige moderators to delete child pornography, calls for suicide and extremism, articles on drug producing and ads of alcohol distance sale.  If the amendments are adopted, social media platforms must immediately restrict access to the prohibited information. If social networks fail to do it, corresponding information must be forwarded to the Russian communications agency Roskomnadzor. The watchdog then is to decide on the blocking of content.

The Moscow Times: Public schools across Moscow have received a survey that measures their teachers’ political activity and loyalty to the authorities, the independent Dozhd broadcaster reported Sunday. The survey asks teachers whether they participated in pro-Kremlin or opposition rallies in recent years, as well as whether they backed coups to achieve political change, Dozhd reported. The teachers are also reportedly asked whether they discuss current global and national events with their students. Citing two unnamed teachers, the outlet said that superintendents are pressing their subordinates to take the survey authored by the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA).

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