Rights in Russia week-ending 15 October 2021

Our round-up of the week’s news

Other news:

9 October 2021

RFE/RL: The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has revoked the right of a Russian laboratory to carry out blood sample analysis after it failed to comply with laboratory standards and ethics.

RFE/RL: U.S. President Joe Biden has congratulated journalists Dmitry Muratov of Russia and Maria Ressa of the Philippines after they won the “much-deserved” Nobel Peace Prize for their work promoting “the basic principles of the free press.”

10 October 2021

The Moscow Times: Russia on Sunday reported 28,647 new coronavirus cases and 962 daily deaths from Covid-19.

11 October 2021

The Moscow Times: Russia on Monday reported 29,409 new coronavirus cases — the second highest number of daily infections since the beginning of the pandemic — and 957 deaths from Covid-19.

Human Rights in Ukraine: Nariman Dzhelyal’s lawyers learned on 8 October that the imprisoned First Deputy Chair of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis had been secretly moved against his will to a psychiatric hospital.  There are no grounds, even according to Russian legislation, for ordering any ‘psychiatric assessment’ and Dzhelyal’s lawyer, Nikolai Polozov is convinced that this is part of Russia’s punitive system aimed at putting pressure on detainees.

RFE/RL: The European Council has announced sanctions against eight individuals who are “responsible for enforcing Russian law” in occupied Crimea in a move that comes as senior EU officials travel to Kyiv for a major EU-Ukraine summit.

12 October 2021

The Moscow Times: Russia on Tuesday reported 28,190 new coronavirus cases and 973 deaths from Covid-19, a new record number of daily fatalities.

RFE/RL: A court in southern Russia has sentenced a 59-year-old disabled Jehovah’s Witness to four years in prison for holding a Bible study with fellow believers. The sentence against Vladimir Skachidub, handed down by a court in the Krasnodar region on October 11, was the latest Russian criminal prosecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses, whose religion was declared “extremist” by the Supreme Court in 2017.

The Moscow Times: The head of a prestigious private Russian university has been detained in connection with a fraud investigation targeting a former senior education official, Russia’s Interior Ministry said Tuesday.  Sergei Zuyev, rector of the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, also known as Shaninka, was taken into custody for questioning Tuesday morning as a suspect in a 21 million-ruble ($290,000) embezzlement case, the ministry said in a statement.

Human Rights in Ukraine: Fifteen Crimean Tatars were detained on 11 October merely for gathering outside a ‘court’ in occupied Crimea to show solidarity with three political prisoners, facing 17,13 and 12-year sentences for similar acts of solidarity.  

The Moscow Times: Russia’s FSB security service said new smart glasses launched by Facebook and Ray-Ban are a possible “spy gadget” — a designation which could prohibit them from being sold in Russia. 

Human Rights in Ukraine: The European Union has imposed sanctions on eight individuals, all implicated in Russia’s persecution of Crimean Tatars and other Ukrainians in occupied Crimea.  The list includes four ‘judges’, the heads of the FSB and of the central body of the Investigative Committee in occupied Crimea, as well as an investigator and Russian prosecutor.

13 October 2021

The Moscow Times: Russia on Wednesday reported 28,717 new coronavirus cases and 984 deaths from Covid-19, a new record number of daily fatalities.

The Moscow Times: A teacher in a prestigious St. Petersburg school has been forced to resign after the administration and the students’ parents found out about her adult sex education blog, media reported this week. The Rimsky-Korsakov St. Petersburg State Conservatory’s special music school deemed it “inappropriate” for biology teacher Olga Shchegoleva to run the blog outside work hours, according to the Fontanka news website.

Human Rights in Ukraine: Russia certainly gives ‘Federal Security Service’ [FSB] officers an easy life in occupied Crimea.  As long as they provide enough Ukrainian ‘spies’, ‘saboteurs’ and ‘terrorisms’, no questions get asked about the methods used to obtain the false testimony and / or ‘confessions’ on which such cases hinge.  And when something ‘goes wrong’, and a victim finds the courage to stand up in court and retract his testimony, the FSB are free to teach him – and others – a chilling lesson. 

The Guardian: Russia’s natural population has undergone its largest peacetime decline in recorded history over the last 12 months, according to an analysis of official government statistics made by a prominent independent demographer, as the country battles a deadly fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Moscow Times: Five million people have left Russia during the 20 years of President Vladimir Putin’s rule, according to a study published by the Moscow-based Takie Dela portal.  The study used official data from Rosstat, the state statistics service, of Russian citizens who canceled their registrations in Russia. But the study notes that there are no reliable data to determine the exact number of Russian emigrants. 

RFE/RL: On a recent Sunday, two dozen political activists, lawyers, and investigative journalists gathered beside Lake Bateti, a beautiful expanse of turquoise water in the heart of the mountainous nation of Georgia. They had left Russia facing harassment and possible prison time for their work. Now, shaded by evergreen conifers reflected in the lake’s surface, many sought community among other exiles and forged ties that would help acclimatize them to an unplanned life abroad.

14 October 2021

The Moscow Times: Russia on Thursday reported a record high number of both new coronavirus cases and deaths. Officials reported 31,299 new coronavirus cases and 986 fatalities from Covid-19 over the last 24 hours.

RFE/RL: When news emerged on October 12 that Sergei Zuyev, rector of the prestigious Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences – known as Shaninka — had been detained in connection with a fraud investigation against a former education official, the arrest was quickly framed by critics as the latest salvo in the Kremlin’s ongoing crackdown against dissent.

The Moscow Times: Russian President Vladimir Putin said talk of his possible successor “destabilizes” the country’s political system and that he had not yet made any plans about his future.

15 October 2021

The Moscow Times: Russia on Friday reported a record high number of both new coronavirus cases and deaths. Officials reported 32,196 new coronavirus cases and 999 fatalities from Covid-19 over the last 24 hours.

Human Rights Watch: Yesterday, a court in the city of Kolomna, Russia sentenced Viacheslav Yegorov to 15 months in prison for repeatedly taking part in peaceful protests in 2018 against the “import” of trash from Moscow. It is ironic that this sentence came less than a week after the UN Human Rights Council recognized the right to a healthy environment as a universal human right.

The Guardian: The Moscow metro has rolled out what authorities have lauded as the world’s first mass-scale facial recognition payment system, amid privacy concerns over the new technology.

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