News of the Day: 22 July 2021

The Moscow Times: Russian authorities on Thursday jailed Pussy Riot member Rita Flores for 15 days on charges of disobeying police, an arrest the group said was for “no damn reason.” Flores’ arrest is the most recent in a growing string of detentions, self-imposed exiles and jail sentences against members of the collective in 2021. 

RFE/RL: The prominent Moscow theater Sovremennik (Contemporary) has been accused of propagating same-sex relations and insulting World War II veterans in a recent performance. The RIA Novosti news agency reported on July 21 that it had obtained the text of a complaint filed by the Kremlin-backed Officers of Russia nongovernmental organization against the theater’s performance of the play The First Bread.

RFE/RL: A Russian court has ruled world champion kickboxer Alyaksey Kudzin can be extradited to his homeland, Belarus, despite concerns the athlete may be politically persecuted and tortured. The decision by a Moscow appeals court on July 21 came despite an earlier European Court of Human Rights opinion that banned his extradition.

Amnesty International: On 23 June the Moscow District Court in Nizhnii Novgorod extended Mikhail Iosilevich’s arbitrary detention until 28 August. His trial may start in September. He is accused of cooperation with an “undesirable” organization, a “crime” punishable by up to six years’ imprisonment. Mikhail Iosilevich is being targeted for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of expression and association. Charges against him must be dropped and he must be immediately released.

RFE/RL: A Russian court has fined U.S. social-media giants Facebook and Twitter and messaging app Telegram again for failing to delete content Moscow deems illegal. The Magistrates Court in the Taganka district said on July 22 it had fined Facebook 6 million rubles ($81,000), Twitter 5.5 million rubles, and Telegram 11 million rubles ($149,000) on multiple protocols filed by Russia’s communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor.

RFE/RL: Russia has filed a complaint against Ukraine with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) saying Kyiv is responsible for the 2014 crash of a Malaysian airliner and civilian deaths and human rights abuses in Russia and Ukraine. The filing of the case on July 22 comes exactly five months after Ukraine filed its latest in a series of legal complaints against Moscow at the same court, which hears complaints over alleged breaches of the conventions on human rights.

EEAS: Russian authorities recently announced a number of new decisions targeting independent media outlets, journalists and civil society organisations. The Institute of Law and Public Policy (ILPP) and a number of journalists were designated as so-called “foreign agents”, and the media outlet Project Media, Inc. was declared a so-called “undesirable organisation”. In addition, the association of lawyers and journalists Team 29 (Komanda 29), defending human rights and fundamental freedoms in Russia, decided to cease its activities following pressure and unjustified accusations by the Russian authorities. The cumulative impact of these latest developments, in conjunction with a raft of repressive measures targeting highly respected NGOs and individuals in Russia, results in further quashing dissent, opposition, critical voices and independent institutions from the Russian public sphere. This is particularly worrisome ahead of the State Duma elections in September. The European Union has repeatedly condemned Russian laws on “foreign agents” and “undesirable organisations”, as they run counter to Russia’s international obligations and human rights commitments, including with regard to freedom of expression and association. We reiterate our call on the Russian authorities to reverse these decisions and to stop the unabated crackdown on civil society and independent media. The European Union stands in solidarity with Russian civil society, human rights defenders and independent journalists and will continue to support them in their important work.

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