Human Rights in Ukraine: Russia has begun its most overtly repressive mass trial of Crimean Tatar civic journalists and activists three days before New Year. The timing is clearly aimed at minimizing publicity for ‘trials’ that are overtly aimed at crushing the Crimean Tatar human rights movement and silencing those who tell the world about its rights abuses in occupied Crimea. This follows the extraordinary decision to divide one ‘trial’ into five identical ‘clones’, with the same dodgy ‘secret witnesses’, FSB-loyal ‘experts’, etc. in each. A trial involving 25 political prisoners certainly presents logical problems, but so do five identical clones. The latter, however, make it less likely that international rights and media NGOs will closely follow the proceedings, although they undoubtedly should. The mass operation on 27 March 2019, with armed searches and the arrests of 23 Crimean Tatar civic journalists and activists around international condemnation and demands for the men’s release, from, among others, the US State Department, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House and Civil Rights Defenders. Russia has not only ignored these, but imprisoned many other activists, including two, bringing the number of this ‘Second Simferopol case’ to 25, divided into five groups. All have been recognized by the Memorial Human Rights Centre as political prisoners.
The Moscow Times: A company run by Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, purportedly close to President Vladimir Putin, on Wednesday said he was pursuing a libel settlement against opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Prigozhin’s Concord catering company said in a statement it was seeking 840,000 euros ($900,000) in damages as it looks to “defend its honor, dignity and commercial reputation.