News of the Day: 28 October 2021

The Moscow Times: Russia on Thursday confirmed a new pandemic record of 40,096 Covid-19 infections as well as a new record of 1,159 deaths.

The Guardian: Regions across Russia have reintroduced severe anti-coronavirus restrictions as the country faces record deaths and new infections amid a lacklustre vaccination campaign.

The Moscow Times: The number of political prisoners in Russia has risen sharply this year in a trend that recalls late Soviet-era repression, Russia’s leading rights group Memorial said on Wednesday. It listed at least 420 political prisoners in Russia, including top Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny who survived a poisoning attempt with Novichok nerve agent last year.

Amnesty International: Russian human rights activist Yan Sidorov is facing the prospect of three years under harsh probation conditions, when he is released next week from the penal colony where he has spent the last two years, Amnesty International said today. Yan Sidorov is a prisoner of conscience, whose attempts to hold a peaceful protest in 2017 resulted in an imprisonment at a Dimitrovgrad penal colony after he had spent two years in pre-trial detention. He is set to be released on 3 November, but on 29 October Dimitrovgrad City Court will hear a request by the authorities to impose a severely restrictive probation period. “Russian authorities are sending a clear signal to all young activists that participation in peaceful protests can come at huge personal cost. Yan Sidorov has already served four years in prison; he may now have to spend three more under strict police surveillance, forbidden to go out after 10 pm and banned from travelling outside the Krasnodar region,” said Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Moscow Office Director.

The Moscow Times: Russian authorities will probe whether a visitor who hung a portrait of himself at the famed Hermitage Museum broke the law against insulting veterans, St. Petersburg media reported Wednesday. According to the news website, Kirill Smorodin hung the portrait of himself wearing 19th-century military uniform at the museum’s Patriotic War of 1812 exhibit last week.  The Hermitage said it wanted to probe whether Smorodin violated a recently adopted law against “publicly insulting the memory of the defenders of the Fatherland.”  President Vladimir Putin signed the law last March imposing jail terms of up to 5 years for insulting World War II veterans. 

Front Line Defenders: On 25 October 2021, the Russian riot police team and representatives of the Centre to Counteract Extremism harassed and detained human rights defender and lawyer Edem Semedliaev while he visited his clients in the Central Police Precinct of Simferopol, who had been detained earlier that day.

Human Rights in Ukraine: While constantly demanding official status for the Russian language in Ukraine and claiming that Russian speakers face ‘discrimination’, Russia has not included Ukrainian in the list of languages which can be used in completing its 2021 census. The latter is illegal in any case since it is being held in occupied Crimea, but the omission is telling.

CPJ: Russia is at No. 10 in the Impunity Index with a population of 144.1 million and 6 unsolved murders of journalists.

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