News of the Day: 25 March 2021

RFE/RL: Lawyers for jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny say their client is in great pain and fears for his life, contradicting a statement from Russian prison authorities that said the Kremlin critic was in “satisfactory” condition. Speaking to the TV Dozhd after visiting Navalny in prison on March 25, lawyer Olga Mikhailova said appeals by his legal team for the 44-year-old to be given the necessary treatment for his ailments have been ignored for four weeks. Mikhailova said Navalny was in an “extremely unfavorable” condition, suffering from severe back pain and issues with his right leg that has made it “practically nonfucntional.” Navalny’s condition and his whereabouts became an issue on March 24 after his allies said they were concerned over his deteriorating health and his failure to attend a scheduled visit with his lawyers in prison.

The Moscow Times: Russia said Thursday that jailed opposition figure Alexei Navalny was in “satisfactory” condition, but failed to reassure his allies who demanded clarity about his health and whereabouts. Navalny, 44, was detained in January after landing in Russia from Germany where he was recovering for several months from a poisoning attack with a Soviet-designed nerve agent that nearly left him dead.

The Moscow Times: On the way to work at Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta last Monday morning, journalists noticed a strong chemical stench on the street outside their central Moscow office. By the time they sat down at their desks they had spread a clear, noxious substance throughout the building on the soles of their shoes.  Only months after opposition leader Alexei Navalny was near-fatally poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent, the apparent chemical attack struck fear into many of the paper’s staff. Days later, an elite Chechen regiment released a video interpreted as claiming the attack and demanding Russian President Vladimir Putin punish Novaya Gazeta for reporting on extrajudicial killings in the autonomous region. “We will continue with our investigations,” the paper’s long-serving editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov told The Moscow Times. “That is our answer to these threats.”

CPJ: Russian authorities should not contest the appeal of journalist Mariya Nuykina and should stop prosecuting journalists covering political protests, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.  On March 19, police in the eastern city of Khabarovsk detained Nuykina, a correspondent with the independent newspaper Arsenyevskiye Vesti, while she was covering protesters detained at the local branch of the Investigative Committee, according to media reports and a statement by the Professional Union of Journalists and Media Workers, an independent press freedom advocacy group of which Nuykina is a member. 

Amnesty International: Tatyana Revva, an intensive care unit doctor from Kalach-on-Don, southern Russia, has been facing reprisals since March 2020 for exposing personal protective equipment shortages and other problems in her hospital in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. In December, a court quashed one of the disciplinary reprimands imposed on her and ordered the hospital to pay her a nominal compensation. The court upheld her two other disciplinary reprimands. She is planning further appeals. In separate proceedings, the police did not find grounds to instigate criminal proceedings against her for libel.

RFE/RL: Amid ongoing attempts to impose more control over the Internet, Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor has proposed users of social-media networks and messenger applications hand over passport data and other personal information for verification. Roskomnadzor’s proposal regarding the change was submitted for public discussion on its website on March 23. It comes as the Russian government battles U.S. social media over what Moscow says is their failure to follow local regulations.

RFE/RL: The Memorial human rights organization says Russian authorities have rejected an asylum request filed by a Turkmen known for his public criticism of the regime in Ashgabat and deported him to Turkey. Memorial said on March 24 that 27-year-old Rozgeldy Choliev, who spent three weeks in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport after he arrived there from Istanbul waiting for a response, was deported to Turkey accompanied by Russian police officers the previous day. According to the Moscow-based rights group, Choliev faces possible extradition from Turkey to Turkmenistan, where he most likely will be persecuted for his public criticism of the isolated Central Asian state’s government.

The Moscow Times: The Supreme Court of Russia’s republic of Dagestan has overturned an earlier decision that ruled a mother was unfit for custody of her three children due to her “immoral” tattoos and piercings, she said Thursday. Nina Tseretilova, 33, had lived with her daughter and two sons in the predominantly Muslim, socially conservative region of southern Russia since her 2012 divorce until January 2020, when her ex-husband Magomed took them into his care. She then filed a lawsuit against him, claiming he kidnapped her children.

RFE/RL: Earlier this week, the team of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny announced a plan for massive public protests across the country this spring to call for Navalny’s release from prison on charges that many observers believe are politically motivated. “If you oppose corruption, repression, and political murders, help us secure the release of Aleksei,” they wrote on a special website launched to promote the project. “The main method of achieving this is public protests.” Among the many obstacles their efforts to mobilize the public now face is the fact that many of Russia’s most active citizens have left the country, many of them pushed out by persecution from the security services. Some of those who left were well-known national oppositionist figures such as economist Konstantin Sonin, environmental activist Yevgenia Chirikova, journalist Oleg Kashin, and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov.

Human Rights Watch: Buried in a new report by the United Nations Panel of Experts on Libya comes disturbing news about recent transfers of internationally banned antipersonnel landmines. The report shows that antipersonnel mines manufactured in Russia were likely brought into Libya in the 2018-2019 despite an arms embargo. Last year, Human Rights Watch reported the use of antipersonnel landmines and booby traps in southern suburbs of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, after Libyan Arab Armed Forces (LAAF), supported by several foreign states and armed entities withdrew from the city.

Leave a Reply