Week-ending 10 December 2021
On 8 December 2021 the Russian Supreme Court quashed the convictions of Nikita Tikhonov and Evgenia Khasis handed down in 2011 for the killing of Stanislav Markelov, a human rights lawyer, and Anastasia Baburova, a journalist, in Moscow in 2009, following a February 2021 ruling of the European Court of Human Rights that their 2011 trial was not fair.
RFE/RL reported on the news: Two former neo-Nazi activists convicted and jailed for their involvement in the killing of lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova in 2009 will be transferred from penal colonies to detention centers until at least March 8 after Russia’s Supreme Court annulled its previous decision to uphold their sentences.* A lawyer of Baburova’s family, Pyotr Zaikin, told the Novaya gazeta newspaper on December 8 that the Supreme Court sent the case to a cassation entity, meaning a retrial is extremely doubtful. The Supreme Court decision comes after the European Court of Human Rights ruled in February that the 2011 trial of Nikita Tikhonov and Yevgenia Khasis, former members of the neo-Nazi group called Combat Organization of Russian Nationalists (BORN), was not fair and that the case must be revised. Khasis’s lawyer, Dmitry Agranovsky, said on December 8 that he hopes the sentences of his client and her associate will eventually be annulled following the Supreme Court’s latest decision. Markelov and Baburova, who were known for crusading against ultranationalist violence, were shot dead in broad daylight near the Kremlin in 2009. In 2011, Tikhonov was found guilty of murdering Markelov and Baburova and sentenced to life in prison. Khasis was handed an 18-year prison term for assisting Tikhonov. Markelov had represented investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was murdered in 2006, as well as civilians in the North Caucasus region of Chechnya who were abused by Russian troops. The killings sparked accusations that the Kremlin was not doing enough to hunt down the attackers of activists and journalists at the time.
RFE/RL, 8 December 2021: Russia’s Supreme Court has annulled the sentences of two former neo-Nazi activists convicted of involvement in the killing of lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova in 2009. A lawyer of Baburova’s family, Pyotr Zaikin, told the Novaya gazeta newspaper on December 8 that the Supreme Court sent the case to a cassation entity, meaning a retrial is extremely doubtful. The Supreme Court decision comes after the European Court of Human Rights ruled in February that the 2011 trial of Nikita Tikhonov and Yevgenia Khasis, former members of the neo-Nazi group called Combat Organization of Russian Nationalists (BORN), was not fair and that the case must be revised. Markelov and Baburova, who were known for crusading against ultranationalist violence, were shot dead in broad daylight near the Kremlin in 2009.
RFE/RL, 9 December 2021: A Crimean Tatar rights activist being held in prison in Ukraine’s Russia-annexed Crimea had his detention extended on the day he should have been released. The Crimean Solidarity human rights group said that on December 7 its coordinator, Mustafa Seidaliyev, was found guilty of uploading to the Internet allegedly extremist material and was ordered to remain in detention a further 10 days. That action came the same day Seidaliyev was ending a 14-day jail term.
Human Rights in Ukraine, 9 December 2021: A Russian-controlled ‘court’ in occupied Crimea has sentenced Crimean Solidarity Coordinator Mustafa Seidaliev to a further ten days’ imprisonment over a video dated 2012 and posted on a VKontakte page which he last looked at back in 2016. Two ‘rulings’ were passed a day after two absurd administrative protocols were drawn up to avoid releasing Seidaliev from a 14-day term of imprisonment (scroll down for details of the new imprisonment in chronological order).
RFE/RL, 6 December 2021: Bashkir ethnic activist Ruslan Gabbasov has left Russia for Lithuania, where he has asked for asylum, Gabbasov told RFE/RL’s Idel.Realities on December 6. Gabbasov said his decision was influenced by pressure from Russian authorities, who tried to connect him with criminal cases in Russia’s Bashkortostan region.
Human Rights in Ukraine, 6 December 2021: The order to arrest Nariman Dzhelyal and two other Crimean Tatars doubtless came ‘from above’, but that does not absolve those FSB officers; ‘investigators’, and others implicated in torturing the men and fabricating charges against them of direct culpability. Ukrainian legislators may shortly take the first step to ensuring that the perpetrators face both Ukrainian and, hopefully, western sanctions. Russia is currently holding well over 100 Ukrainian political prisoners, of whom the majority are Crimean Tatars, so this move can only be the beginning.
Meduza, 6 December 2021: Since August 2020, Russia has detained at least 20 Belarusian nationals facing persecution in their home country amid Alexander Lukashenko’s opposition crackdown, says a new report from BBC News Russian. What’s more, many of these detainees have been extradited to Belarus — either in response to official requests from Minsk or for allegedly violating Russian immigration laws. In other cases, Russian law enforcement agencies have expelled Belarusian nationals without going through the courts. Meduza summarizes the Russian BBC’s investigation here.
RFE/RL, 6 December 2021: The campaign targeting Russia’s rappers accelerated during protests in Moscow against the exclusion of opposition candidates from city council elections in 2019.
RFE/RL, 7 December 2021: A court in Moscow has ordered Google to pay another fine, this time 5 million rubles ($67,600), for violating the country’s rules on banned content.
Meduza, 8 December 2021: The Russian Supreme Court has deemed lawful a 1995 presidential decree that classified information about NKVD employees involved in Stalin-era repressions. As reported by Novaya Gazeta, this decision was made on Wednesday, December 8, during a Supreme Court hearing on a claim filed by historian Sergey Prudovsky. In his lawsuit, the historian argued that decree No. 1203 was drafted in such a way that it allows for classifying NKVD employees as counterintelligence officers, whose personal data is not subject to disclosure.
Human Rights in Ukraine, 8 December 2021: Crimean Solidarity Coordinator Mustafa Seidaliev should have been released on 7 December, after being jailed for 14 days. He was the last of 22 Crimean Tatars to end jail sentences imposed for having come to greet lawyer Edem Semedlyaev on 23 November, after the latter finished a 12-day jail sentence in Russian-occupied Crimea for doing his job. Instead, the young Crimean Tatar father of three has remained imprisoned with lawyers prevented from being present while two new protocols of administrative prosecution are drawn up.