News of the Week

Week-ending 19 January 2024

Russia’s war on Ukraine

Russia said it has given more than 200 Ukrainian prisoners of war lengthy prison sentences, with some getting a life sentence. (The Guardian, 15/1/24)

Since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine almost two years ago, only 517 children of some 20,000 who were illegally taken and held in Russia have been returned. (RFE/RL, 15/1/24)

Prominent liberal priest Aleksiy Uminsky faces expulsion from the Russian Orthodox church for refusing to read out a prayer asking God to guide Russia to victory over Ukraine. (The Guardian, 14/1/24)

Russian anti-war journalist Yekaterina Duntsova, barred from running in the country’s upcoming presidential election in March, was briefly detained by police in Tver on January 14. (RFE/RL, 15/1/24)

Perm city lawmaker Sergei Medvedev, expelled from the KPRF after criticizing the invasion of Ukraine and President Putin in an online post, has fled Russia. (The Moscow Times, 18/1/24)

Aleksei Navalny

Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, marking the third anniversary of his incarceration, said the model of power created by President Vladimir Putin in Russia “is unviable because it is built on lies.” (RFE/RL, 17/1/24)

Olga Mikhailova, a self-exiled lawyer of Aleksei Navalny, said on Facebook that Russian prosecutors charged her in absentia with participating in an extremist community. (RFE/RL, 16/1/24)

Protests in Bashkortostan

Protesters in a small town in the central Bashkortostan region in Russia have been protesting since a court sentenced Fail Alsynov, an eco-activist and campaigner for the protection of the Bashkir language, to four years in prison for inciting hatred. (RFE/RL, 15/1/24; The Guardian, The Moscow Times, 17/1/24; RFE/RL, 19/1/24)

‘The evidence we have suggests that unnecessary force was used against these protesters. […] This situation demands an urgent and impartial investigation into the conduct of the police, including the use of less-lethal weapons against protesters, and the immediate release of all peaceful protesters wrongfully detained or arrested in connection with these events.’ (Amnesty International, 19/1/24)

Bashkir singer Altynay Valitov, a supporter of activist Fail Alsynov who was sentenced to four years on January 17 for “inciting ethnic hatred,” has gone incommunicado after his domicile in Ufa, the capital of Russia’s Bashkortostan republic, was raided by security forces. (RFE/RL, 19/1/24)

Freedom of religion

Agents from Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) raided a Jehovah’s Witnesses office in the occupied Ukrainian city of Mariupol, state media reported Monday. (The Moscow Times, 15/1/24)


Alcohol dependency in Russia has increased for the first time in 10 years, Russia’s business daily Kommersant reported Monday, citing data from the state statistics agency Rosstat. (The Moscow Times, 15/1/24)

Lev Rubinstein

The Russian poet Lev Rubinstein, a leading figure in the Soviet underground literary scene who later protested against Vladimir Putin, has died days after being hit by a car, his daughter has said. (The Guardian, 14/1/24)

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