Rights in Russia week-ending 1 October 2021

Our round-up of the week’s news

25 September 2021

The Moscow Times: Over a thousand Russians including prominent members of the Communist Party packed Saturday a central square in Moscow to protest what Kremlin critics call mass electoral fraud as police detained a number of activists.

26 September 2021

RFE/RL: On September 15, the four activists walked onto the square and unfurled a banner reading, “Freedom For Navalny! Putin To Prison!” Eight seconds later, according to a video shot by RusNews correspondent Yevgeny Yevsyukov, the protest in support of imprisoned opposition leader Aleksei Navalny and against the decades-long rule of President Vladimir Putin was over. Security agents sprinted to the scene, grabbed the banner, and whisked the participants away.

27 September 2021

The Moscow Times: Russia on Monday reported 22,236 new coronavirus cases and 779 deaths. 

Human Rights in Ukraine: At least ten Crimean Tatar political prisoners, including human rights defender Emir-Usein Kuku, have been placed on so-called prophylactic registers, as inclined to ‘extremism’; to ‘attacks on prison staff’ and even to ‘escape attempts’.  Although Kuku was told that the prison administration had no complaints about him personally, and was just obeying an order, such moves are very likely to be used as a pretext for imposing even more repressive measures against the political prisoners.  The men’s lawyers believe that such registers are pressure on the Crimean Tatars who refuse to  admit to the preposterous charges used against them and to collaborate with the prison administration.

RFE/RL: Security officials say they have apprehended five “members of a neo-Nazi group” suspected of plotting a series of terrorist acts against law enforcement in Russia’s mostly Muslim-populated Bashkortostan region. The Federal Security Service (FSB) said on September 27 that the five suspects were residents of Bashkortostan’s capital, Ufa, and were allegedly preparing terrorist acts using explosive materials and handmade explosive devices.

OMCT: Increased police brutality has been a defining feature of the Covid-19 pandemic throughout the world, from Colombia to the Philippines, from Mexico and Belarus to Russia to Algeria or Myanmar. To enforce curfews or disperse protests, police and sometimes the army have used violent methods and dangerous weapons. This has at times reached the threshold of torture, as this briefing shows.

RFE/RL, 27 September 2021: A bill allowing Russia’s regional leaders to serve more than two consecutive terms in office has been proposed by a group of lawmakers in the State Duma, parliament’s lower chamber.

28 September 2021

The Moscow Times: Russia on Tuesday reported 21,559 new coronavirus cases and 852 deaths — the highest number of daily fatalities since the start of the pandemic.

The Moscow Times, 28 September 2021: Russia’s Investigative Committee on Tuesday opened a criminal case against jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and eight of his closest allies, most of whom have already fled the country. 

RFE/RL, 28 September 2021: Russian investigators have launched a new criminal case against leading Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny and his top allies, accusing them of launching and participating in an extremist group, as the state extends its clampdown on the opposition following parliamentary elections.

The Moscow Times: Moscow authorities attempted to raid the Communist Party’s city headquarters Tuesday, minutes before a group of party lawyers was preparing to file a lawsuit to challenge controversial online voting results from last week’s parliamentary elections.

RFE/RL: Moscow police have blocked the entrance into the building hosting the Communist Party’s legal service, where lawyers were preparing to file a lawsuit against the results of remote electronic voting in general elections held earlier this month, which were won with almost 50 percent of the vote by the Kremlin-backed ruling United Russia party, Russian media reported.

Human Rights in Ukraine: Russia’s FSB have based the ‘terrorism’ charges laid against Oleh (Ali) Fedorov* and Ernest Ibragimov on discussions of religious themes although the conversations were illicitly taped back in 2016 and January 2017.  Even the FSB’s ‘secret witness’ gave testimony five years ago.  A real court would surely want to know how the FSB can call the two Crimean civic activists ‘terrorists’ on the basis of ‘evidence’ that they sat on for almost five years. The ‘trial’ is, however, taking place at the Southern District Military Court in Rostov (Russia) and all ‘judges’ involved in the political trials of Crimean Tatar and other Ukrainian political prisoners do not ask any inconvenient questions.  The case of Fyodorov and Ibragimov is particularly alarming since the FSB have clearly understood that they can improve their statistics on ‘fighting terrorism’ virtually without lifting a finger by rehashing ‘evidence’ which they used to imprison eight Crimean Tatar civic journalists and activists in 2017-18.

The Moscow Times: YouTube considers free speech to be one of its “core values” despite its removal of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s voting strategy videos ahead of Russia’s parliamentary elections, the video streaming site’s CEO told Bloomberg Television on Monday.  

29 September 2021

The Moscow Times: Russia on Wednesday reported 22,430 new coronavirus cases and 857 deaths — the highest number of daily fatalities since the start of the pandemic.

The Moscow Times: The founder of one of Russia’s leading cybersecurity firms has been arrested on suspicion of treason after authorities searched his office. Ilya Sachkov, who set up Group-IB in 2003, could face up to 20 years in prison under treason charges brought by Moscow’s Lefortovo district court Wednesday.

The Moscow Times: Candidates who topped the electoral lists of Russia’s ruling party in this month’s legislative elections will not take their seats in parliament, officials said on Wednesday.

RFE/RL: Video-sharing platform YouTube has deleted two German-language channels managed by Russia’s state-owned media company RT, prompting Moscow to blast the company for “censorship” and vow retaliation.

The Guardian: Russia on Wednesday threatened to block YouTube and take other retaliatory measures, after the US video-sharing platform blocked the German-language channels of state broadcaster RT.

RFE/RL: A Russian court has ordered Google to pay another hefty fine for violating the country’s rules on banned content, as Moscow continues to push foreign firms to open offices in Russia and store Russians’ personal data on its territory. The magistrate court of Moscow’s Taganka district on September 29 ruled that Google must pay a total of 6.5 million rubles ($89,400) for failure to delete banned content in two cases.

RFE/RL: At the age of 22, rapper Ivan Dryomin stood onstage in Moscow before a protest crowd of 50,000 people and issued a call for the Russian authorities to respect basic human rights. […] “Over the past week, concert venues across the country have faced serious pressure that has made staging my concerts impossible,” he wrote in an Instagram post on September 28, citing the cancellation of gigs in two large Siberian cities and saying that venues in other destinations on his big fall tour were also being pressured to cancel.

30 September 2021

The Moscow Times: Russia on Thursday recorded its highest coronavirus death toll for a third day running. A government tally reported 23,888 new coronavirus cases and 867 deaths.

The Moscow Times: Russia’s LGBT, radical feminist and child-free groups should be recognized as “extremist,” the chairman of an influential government commission said Wednesday. “LGBT ideology, radical feminism and child-free movements should be recognized as extremism — an extremist ideology,” the state-run TASS news agency cited Andrei Tsyganov, chairman of a commission for the protection of children at the Roskomnadzor communications regulator, as saying Wednesday.

RFE/RL: Amnesty International has condemned a Russian court’s rejection of an appeal by a Yakut shaman against a decision to confine him to a psychiatric clinic as he campaigned to drive President Vladimir Putin from the Kremlin.

Human Rights in Ukraine: Despite a recent micro stroke and the real likelihood that Servet Gaziev will not live to the end of his internationally condemned trial, Russia is refusing to release the 61-year-old Crimean Tatar political prisoner.  He was, instead, placed at the beginning of September in the neuropsychological unit of a Penitentiary Service hospital for tuberculosis patients, in a cell together with men with mental disorders.  It was staff of this institution who took part in beating Gaziev and forcibly cutting off his beard.

1 October 2021

The Moscow Times: Russia on Friday recorded its highest coronavirus death toll for a fourth day running. A government tally reported 24,522 new coronavirus cases and 887 deaths.

CPJ: Russian authorities should stop harassing journalist Roman Dobrokhotov and his family members, and allow members of the press to work freely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Human Rights in UkraineDmitry Demushkin, a far-right Russian nationalist, has revealed details of how he was invited by the then Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Dmitry Rogozin, to gather nationalists to fight in Ukraine.  

Human Right in Ukraine: In the trial of Crimean Tatar journalist Remzi Bekirov; human rights activist Riza Izetov and three civic activists: Rayim Aivazov; Farkhod Bazarov and Shaban Umerov, an independent religious scholar has exposed the ‘expert’ used by the FSB in these flawed ‘terrorism’ cases. 

The Moscow Times: Thousands of employees from companies linked to sanctioned oligarch Oleg Deripaska were dispatched to Moscow for a business trip on the final day of voting in Russia’s parliamentary elections, and some of them told The Moscow Times they were expected to be on standby for a pro-government rally in the capital.

RFE/RL: The founder of an obscure Moscow-based think tank called the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia, Ionov has long been seen as a freelance pro-Kremlin activist helping advance a government-backed war of attrition against perceived enemies.

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