News of the Day: 28 April 2021

Amnesty International: A Russian court will tomorrow deliver its verdict in the case against activist Andrei Borovikov, who faces three years in prison if convicted of “distributing pornography” for sharing a video by the German rock band Rammstein. Andrei Borovikov was formerly the coordinator of Aleksei Navalny’s regional headquarters in Arkhangelsk, northwestern Russia. In 2014, he shared the music video for Rammstein’s song Pussy on the Russian social network VKontakte. More than six years later in September 2020, the authorities charged him with “production and distribution of pornography”. The prosecution has requested a three-year sentence in a high security penal colony if Andrei Borovikov is found guilty by the Lomonosovsky District Court. “The case against Andrei Borovikov is utterly absurd. It is blatantly obvious that he is being punished solely for his activism, not his musical taste,” said Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Moscow Office Director.

The Moscow Times: Russian authorities have detained nearly 200 people in over two dozen cities in the week since protests in support of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny swept the country, an independent police monitor said Wednesday. Police initially detained 1,800 people in 100 Russian cities on the day of the rallies last Wednesday that called for civilian doctors to examine Navalny, who had been on hunger strike for three weeks to demand proper medical care. The OVD-Info police-monitoring website has tallied 178 additional detentions in 30 cities as of early Wednesday. Moscow accounts for nearly half with 84 people taken into custody, followed by 27 in Voronezh, 14 in Perm and 11 in the Far East city of Khabarovsk.

RFE/RL: A Moscow court has increased from one minute to two hours per day the amount of time that can be spent outside by an editor of a student magazine, who along with three colleagues is accused of endangering minors over a video related to rallies against opposition leader Aleksei Navalny’s incarceration. Doxa magazine said on Telegram on April 28 that the Moscow City Court upheld a lower court decision to impose pretrial restrictions for Alla Gutnikova for two months, but mitigated the restrictions, ruling that she is allowed outside for two hours daily, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. The court also allowed Gutnikova to move from her parents’ apartment and stay at another address.

CPJ: Authorities in the Russian republic of North Ossetia should conduct a swift investigation into the death threats made to journalist Timur Mazayev, his colleagues, and his family, and ensure their safety, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. On April 14, a man identifying himself as Zelimkhan Bitarov, the son of former North Ossetia ruler Vyacheslav Bitarov, called Mazayev, chief editor of the independent news website Ossetia News, and threatened to kill him, his colleagues, and his family over a post on the outlet’s Instagram account, according to news reports and Mazayev, who spoke with CPJ in a phone interview.

RFE/RL: In the week since a wave of protests in support of imprisoned opposition leader Aleksei Navalny swept Russia on April 21, at least 115 people in 23 cities have been detained by police. At least seven journalists who were covering the protests have also been summoned for questioning. Immediately after the protests, activists and observers noted the relatively mild reaction of the authorities to the unsanctioned demonstrations, particularly in contrast to similar protests in January and February at which thousands of people were detained, often brutally. But in recent days, Russian police have unveiled a new strategy, using surveillance-camera footage and other techniques to identify demonstrators and track them down, days after the event.

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