Week-ending 12 November 2021
This week Liliya Chanysheva, who used to head the support group for Aleksei Navalny in the Bashkortostan region, was remanded in custody on charges of extremism. She will be held on remand at least until 9 January 2021. Liliya Chanusheva is pregnant. RFE/RL reported that Chanysheva’s lawyers had asked for her to be placed under house arrest. Navalny’s regional campaign groups were disbanded after they were designated ‘extremist.’ Chanysheva’s defence lawyer, Vladimir Voronin, said her arrest was the ‘first of its kind since the movement was banned.’ RFE/RL points out that the charges appear to be retroactive since the organization was disbanded before it had been legally classified as extremist. Three of Navalny’s organisations were banned as extremist in Russia on 9 June 2021. At that time Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Moscow Office Director, said: “With this decision, the Russian authorities have equated the activities of civil society organizations with serious crime, placing tens of thousands of Navalny’s supporters at risk of prosecution. This is one of the Kremlin’s most cynical and brazen attempts so far to crack down on the rights to freedom of expression and association. Combined with recent legislative changes, this ruling effectively bars anyone who has associated with or even supported these three organizations from standing for public office for up to five years.”
Amnesty International: Reacting to the news that a Russian court designated three organizations founded by Aleksei Navalny as “extremist”, Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Moscow Office Director, said: “With this decision, the Russian authorities have equated the activities of civil society organizations with serious crime, placing tens of thousands of Navalny’s supporters at risk of prosecution. This is one of the Kremlin’s most cynical and brazen attempts so far to crack down on the rights to freedom of expression and association. Combined with recent legislative changes, this ruling effectively bars anyone who has associated with or even supported these three organizations from standing for public office for up to five years.”
RFE/RL, 10 November 2021: The former head of jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny’s support group in Russia’s Bashkortostan region has been placed in pretrial detention on extremism charges. The Kirov district court in Bashkortostan’s capital, Ufa, ruled on November 10 that Lilia Chanysheva must remain in pretrial detention in Moscow until at least January 9.
The Moscow Times, 11 November 2021: A court in central Russia has jailed an ally of imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, making her the first member of his network to be arrested on retroactive charges of extremism, her lawyer said Wednesday. Liliya Chanysheva is the former head of Navalny’s political headquarters in the city of Ufa 1,000 kilometers east of Moscow. The headquarters disbanded last spring in anticipation of a court ruling that outlawed Navalny’s groups as “extremist” organizations.
In other news:
RFE/RL, 11 November 2021: A Russian court has extended the pretrial detention of Andrei Pivovarov, the former executive director of the pro-democracy Open Russia movement. On November 11, a court in the southern city of Krasnodar ruled that Pivovarov must be remanded in custody for another six months. He was first detained in late May when he was taken off a Warsaw-bound plane just before takeoff from St. Petersburg.
RFE/RL, 11 November 2021: Russian authorities deny that they deported noted Turkmen opposition activist Azat Isakov, who for several years lived in Russia’s Moscow region, saying that he left of his own accord for his native Turkmenistan where rights groups say he may face imprisonment and torture. The Chronicles Of Turkmenistan website obtained an official letter from Russia’s Interior Ministry saying that Isakov left Russia for the city of Turkmenabat in Turkmenistan on October 22 and recommending that Turkmen authorities should be contacted to ascertain his whereabouts. Exiled opposition politician Chemen Ore voiced concern about Isakov last week, saying that the 37-year-old opposition activist had been missing since October 20.
RFE/RL, 12 November 2021: A Russian court in southwestern city of Rostov-on-Don has handed lengthy prison terms to a third group of individuals from the North Caucasus region of North Ossetia who took part in a massive rally in April 2020 against anti-coronavirus restrictions. The Kirov district court on November 12 found Akhsartag Ailarov, Dzhon Dzhioyev, Valery Melikyan, and Bimbolat Bekuzarov guilty of taking part in mass disorders and sentenced them to 3 1/2 years in prison each. A fourth individual, Zaur Kaitmazov, was sentenced to four years in prison on the same charge.
Human Rights in Ukraine, 12 November 2021: In a chilling new escalation in Russian repression in occupied Crimea, lawyer Edem Semedlyaev has been jailed for twelve days essentially for representing Crimean Tatars facing prosecution for trying to attend a political hearing. Semedlyaev was also fined four thousand roubles for disobeying the officer who illegally ordered the lawyer to strip naked. As fellow lawyer Nikolai Polozov has commented, this is not just the Russian occupation authorities’ personal revenge against Edem himself for his active position in politically motivated cases, but ‘a red spot’ to terrorize all lawyers involved in such cases.
RFE/RL, 9 November 2021: Prosecutors are seeking lengthy prison terms for seven people who led protests in Ingushetia against a change to the administrative boundaries between the Russian North Caucasus regions of Chechnya and Ingushetia.