News of the Day: 30 January 2021

RSF: Russian journalists are being subjected to “preventive visits” and searches of their homes – and some others to criminal proceedings – ahead of a second round of demonstrations in support of jailed Kremlin opponent Alexei Navalny tomorrow. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns these serious press freedom violations and urges the authorities to end the wave of harassment of the media that began after Navalny’s return to Russia on 17 January. In the wake of the pro-Navalny demonstrations on 23 January, police searched the home of Sergei Smirnov, the editor of Mediazona, a leading online source of reporting on police and judicial abuses, on 27 January and confiscated the hard disk of his computer.

Human Rights Watch: Attacks, detention and prosecution of lawyers – including while performing their professional duties – is not unusual in Russia, but what happened ahead of the January 23 protests  takes this harassment to a new level. I spoke with two lawyers –one in Moscow and one in Krasnodar– who had previously represented other lawyers, themselves detained for representing peaceful protesters. Both are also actively involved in human rights work.  By detaining them, the authorities sought not only to interfere with their work, but to send a clear warning to their colleagues and fellow human rights defenders. In the evening of January 21, Moscow-based human rights lawyer Mansur Gilmanov arrived at a police station to defend his client, Vladlen Los. Los is a lawyer with the Foundation Against Corruption, affiliated with Alexey Navalny, whom police had detained earlier that day. Gilmanov presented all required documents at the precinct’s checkpoint. An officer told him to wait for somebody to take him to his client. After 40 minutes watching other people allowed in and repeated inquiries, Gilmanov told police he wanted to file a complaint that they were interfering with his client’s right to legal representation. An officer eventually buzzed him into the station to submit the complaint. As he reached the duty officer’s window, the officer ran up to him, knocked him to the floor, kicked him several times, and shouted obscenities.

The Guardian: The Russian businessman Arkady Rotenberg said on Saturday he owns a palace in southern Russia which jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has linked to Vladimir Putin. Navalny and his anti-corruption foundation have published a video in which they allege the opulent mansion belongs to the Russian president. The video has been viewed more than 103m times. Rotenberg, Putin’s former judo sparring partner who sold his stake in the gas pipeline construction firm Stroygazmontazh in 2019 for a sum which RBC business daily puts at some 75bn roubles (£72m), said he bought the palace two years ago. “Now it will no longer be a secret, I am the beneficiary,” Rotenberg said in a video published by Mash channel in Telegram. “There was a rather complicated facility, there were a lot of creditors, and I managed to become the beneficiary.” He gave no further financial details of the purchase or how it had been funded. Putin has denied ownership of the palace.

Leave a Reply