News of the Day: 29 January 2021

RFE:RL: Jailed Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny has called on his supporters to come out in droves for a second weekend of nationwide demonstrations as authorities crack down on the Kremlin critic’s associates and warn protesters against taking to the streets. In a letter posted on his website on January 28 after a court rejected an appeal against his arrest, Navalny called on Russians to cast aside fear and stage fresh protests. “Come on out, don’t be afraid of anything. Nobody wants to live in a country where tyranny and corruption reign. The majority is on our side,” Navalny said. Navalny and his associates are planning nationwide protests on January 31, following demonstrations in dozens of cities last weekend that brought out hundreds of thousands of people despite a brutal police crackdown. Police detained almost 4,000 people in the demonstrations. Late on January 28, a court in Russia’s second-largest city, St. Petersburg, added a 10-day jail term to the incarcerated leader of Navalny’s team in the city, Irina Fatyanova.

Amnesty International: The trial against Yulia Tsvetkova, an artist and human rights activist from Komsomolsk-on-Amur, in the Russian Far East, is expected to start at the beginning of February. If convicted, she is facing up to six years in prison, under the absurd charges of “production and dissemination of pornography” for her drawings of women’s bodies as part of her activism promoting women’s rights.

CPJ: On January 23, Russia erupted in nationwide demonstrations against the January 17 arrest of Alexei Navalny. The opposition leader was taken into custody at a Moscow airport when he flew home after five months in Berlin, where he was undergoing medical treatment after having been poisoned. (He alleges the Russian government is responsible; Russian president Vladimir Putin denies this, according to reports.)  Law enforcement officers detained, beat, and otherwise interfered with the work of dozens of journalists covering protests in at least 20 cities, as CPJ documented this week. According to reports, some journalists are now under police investigation for having allegedly violated quarantine rules by participating in a mass event.  In the run-up to the next countrywide pro-Navalny protest, expected to take place on January 31, CPJ spoke via phone with four regional journalists about their experiences on January 23. The interviews have been edited for length and clarity. CPJ is not identifying journalists to whom it hasn’t spoken directly, or hasn’t previously reported on, in order to protect them from potential reprisal. 

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