News of the Day: 23 June 2021

RFE/RL: The team for jailed opposition leader Aleksei Navalny says a court ruling labeling his political network as “extremist” fails to show any evidence of wrongdoing — a sign of a “truly new level” of lawlessness in the country. Navalny’s associates on June 23 made public the court ruling and the documents used against them by prosecutors during the trial, which was held behind closed doors because some materials were considered classified.

RFE/RL: The jailed former executive director of the pro-democracy Open Russia movement has been fined for failing to provide details of a group he established in 2017 that was added to the “foreign agents” registry. A court in St. Petersburg on June 23 fined Andrei Pivovarov 50,000 rubles ($685) and his organization, Open Petersburg, 150,000 rubles ($2,050).

RFE/RL: A court in Moscow has sentenced a man and a woman to two years in prison each for attacking police during an unsanctioned rally in January to support jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny. The Telegram channel of Moscow courts announced the sentencing of Aleksandr Glushkov and Olga Bendas by the Tver district court late on June 21. OVD-Info, a group that monitors arrests and convictions of activists, said that Glushkov pleaded guilty, while Bendas rejected the charge and refused to make a deal with investigators.

RFE/RL: A Moscow court has sentenced a member of the Russian protest group Pussy Riot to 15 days in jail on a charge of “minor hooliganism,” part of a series of moves against the activists in recent days. The court issued the ruling against Aleksandr Sofeyev on June 23. A Moscow photographer, Dmitry Vorontsov, who was detained along with Sofeyev, was also sentenced to 15 days in jail on the same charge.

RFE/RL: The independent monitoring group Golos says legal restrictions enacted by the government have deprived at least 9 million Russians, about 8 percent of the eligible population, of their right to be elected as September parliamentary elections near. In an analysis of the impact of a series of recent legal amendments, which it says are harsher than those in place in the Soviet Union from 1961 to 1991, the group said it is impossible to calculate the exact number of citizens who have now been deprived of their passive suffrage.

RFE/RL: The Supreme Court of Russia’s Chuvashia region has reversed the acquittal of RFE/RL correspondent Darya Komarova in a case regarding her coverage of a protest rally. Judge Andrei Golubev on June 22 ruled that the decision of the Lenin district court to acquit Komarova must be nullified and the case sent for retrial. It is not clear why the acquittal was reversed. Komarova said after the hearing that the judge had questions regarding the absence of the date and registration number on her assignment papers to cover the rally. “The judge also raised the issue of the accreditation of reporters working for foreign media outlets in general,” Komarova said.

RFE/RL: “This is very bad news,” wrote historian and instructor at the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences Daniil Kotsyubinsky when he learned that the Russian Prosecutor-General’s Office had moved to name his faculty’s U.S. partner, Bard College, an “undesirable” foreign organization. “It is nothing more than self-defeating state paranoia. It is inexplicable….,” he continued. “The men in epaulets are sewing themselves new badges and stripes any way they can while educated youths once again receive from our superpower a hairy fist in their ‘servile snouts.'”

RSF: A month after Belarusian journalist Raman Pratasevich’s spectacular arrest and his three subsequent forced public confessions of guilt, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the return of forced confessions in Eastern Europe and urges the authorities to put an immediate end to this practice.

PACE: The 2021 Council of Europe Museum Prize was awarded to Moscow’s Gulag History Museum during a special ceremony in Strasbourg’s Palais Rohan last night. PACE President Rik Daems presented the Museum’s Director Roman Romanov with the trophy, a bronze statuette by Joan Miró entitled “La femme aux beaux seins” – which the museum may keep for a year – as well as a diploma and cheque. Congratulating the winning museum, he said it “tackles, with rare honesty, some of the very difficult issues about human rights, democracy and the rule of law in the 20th century”.

HRW: EU-Russia relations will be on the agenda of the European Council, which defines the European Union’s political priorities, when it meets on 24-25 June. It’s an important time for the EU to call out the Kremlin for human rights violations committed in Russia. As the EU implements its “principled pragmatism” approach to its affairs with Russia, it should stay true to its human rights commitments. Supporting Russia’s civil society and Kremlin critics who face harassment, intimidation, and persecution should be key.

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