News of the Day: 29 September 2021

The Moscow Times: Russia on Wednesday reported 22,430 new coronavirus cases and 857 deaths — the highest number of daily fatalities since the start of the pandemic.

The Moscow Times: Russia added the independent news site Mediazona and the police monitoring website OVD-Info to its registry of “foreign agents” Wednesday, amid what critics describe as a widening crackdown on independent voices in the country.

Civil Rights Defenders: In a coordinated attack on Russian civil society, a large number of organisations, individuals and media outlets have been labelled as ‘foreign agents’ today by Russian authorities. Among the targeted media outlets is the independent media and human rights project OVD-Info, recipient of the Civil Rights Defender of the Year Award 2021. Civil Rights Defenders expresses deep concern about the developments and condemns the authorities’ actions. As a foreign agent, OVD-Info now faces severe setbacks in their work.

The Moscow Times: The founder of one of Russia’s leading cybersecurity firms has been arrested on suspicion of treason after authorities searched his office. Ilya Sachkov, who set up Group-IB in 2003, could face up to 20 years in prison under treason charges brought by Moscow’s Lefortovo district court Wednesday.

The Moscow Times: Candidates who topped the electoral lists of Russia’s ruling party in this month’s legislative elections will not take their seats in parliament, officials said on Wednesday.

RFE/RL: Video-sharing platform YouTube has deleted two German-language channels managed by Russia’s state-owned media company RT, prompting Moscow to blast the company for “censorship” and vow retaliation.

The Guardian: Russia on Wednesday threatened to block YouTube and take other retaliatory measures, after the US video-sharing platform blocked the German-language channels of state broadcaster RT.

RFE/RL: A Russian court has ordered Google to pay another hefty fine for violating the country’s rules on banned content, as Moscow continues to push foreign firms to open offices in Russia and store Russians’ personal data on its territory. The magistrate court of Moscow’s Taganka district on September 29 ruled that Google must pay a total of 6.5 million rubles ($89,400) for failure to delete banned content in two cases.

RFE/RL: At the age of 22, rapper Ivan Dryomin stood onstage in Moscow before a protest crowd of 50,000 people and issued a call for the Russian authorities to respect basic human rights. […] “Over the past week, concert venues across the country have faced serious pressure that has made staging my concerts impossible,” he wrote in an Instagram post on September 28, citing the cancellation of gigs in two large Siberian cities and saying that venues in other destinations on his big fall tour were also being pressured to cancel.

FIDH: The Observatory has been informed about the death threats and ongoing arbitrary detention and risks of imminent deportation to Uzbekistan of Valentina Chupik, a migrants’ rights defender and the head of the human rights organisation ‘Tong Jahoni’, a center providing free legal assistance to migrant individuals in Russia.

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