Rights in Russia week-ending 22 January 2021

Our summary of the news from the past week

Other news from the week:

19 January 2021

RAPSI: A court in the Bryansk Region dismissed a petition for parole filed by convict Yevgeny Kovalenko, who had thrown a garbage can refuse bin at a National Guard officer at an unauthorized rally on July 27, 2019, in Moscow, according to his attorney Mansur Gilmanov. The activist was denied parole despite the prosecutors’ agreement and positive comments from the penal colony administration, the lawyer told RAPSI on Tuesday. In September 2019, Moscow’s Meshchansky District Court sentenced Kovalenko to 3.5 years behind bars. The man was found guilty of use of violence against a representative of authority. According to case papers, he threw a refuse bin at a National Guard officer and kicked a police lieutenant.

RAPSI: The Justice Ministry is drafting a bill on the system of probation in Russia. The draft law is to set up single principles of supervision over persons under suspended prison sentence and convicts serving various non-custodial sentences and those released on parole, the Ministry’s press service reports. According to the Ministry, it is also expected that in the first half of 2021, the Penal system development concept for the next 10 years will be approved in Russia. The main goals of the concept are humanization of criminal policy, ensurance of rights and freedoms of convicts, improvement of cooperation with civic institutions and social adaptation of convicts.

20 January 2021

RFE/RL: Russia’s Rosatom atomic energy agency plans to put up two statues of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s notorious secret police chief Lavrenty Beria, considered by many as a key force behind Soviet-era repression, in the Nuclear Energy Pavilion at the Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy (VDNKh) in Moscow. The Open Media website said on January 19 that it had obtained Rosatom’s documents related to the plan to commemorate the controversial Beria, who after Stalin’s death in 1953 was arrested and executed for treason, terrorism, and counterrevolutionary activities during the Russian Civil War in 1917-1923.

RFE/RL: Ramzan Kadyrov, Kremlin-backed leader of Russia’s North Caucasus region of Chechnya, says regional security forces and police have killed six armed militants led by Aslan Byutukayev in a special operation. Kadyrov said on January 20 that the “successfully executed operation finished all underground factions in the Chechen Republic.” Aslan Byutukayev was a close associate of the late leader of the so-called Caucasus Emirate (Imarat Kavkaz), Doku Umarov. Russian authorities have said that Umarov was killed in a special operation in September 2013.

Meduza: St. Petersburg’s Kolpinsky District Court has banned the distribution of the Japanese animes Death Note and Inuyashiki via the website “jut.su,” Mediazona reported on Wednesday, January 20. Spokespeople for the St. Petersburg court have clarified that the ban applies specifically to the dissemination of two particular web addresses — one of which links to an episode of Inuyashiki, while the other links to 37 episodes of Death Note. Links to these webpages were contained in a lawsuit about the anime series Russian state prosecutors filed in December 2020.

22 January 2021

Human Rights in Ukraine: Exactly six years ago, Russia launched a conveyor belt of persecution in occupied Crimea which it is now using on a mass scale, including against Crimean Tatar civic activists and journalists. Both the armed searches and arrests on 23 January 2015, and the subsequent ‘trial’ of four Crimean Tatars were clearly ‘test runs’, with the FSB organizing remakes of Ruslan Zeytullaev’s ‘trial’ until they got the sentence needed for their paperwork.  After recent ‘trials’ where Russian prosecutors have demanded, and where judges have compliantly provided 17-19-year sentences without any crime, it is worth recalling Russia’s first illegal trial of four Crimean Tatars from Sevastopol.  Most features of the case, including the lack of any recognizable crime and charges based solely on a ‘kitchen chat’ about religion and politics and ‘testimony’ from a secret witness, were identical to those used later.  The only difference lay in the significantly lower sentences originally handed down.

RAPSI: Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has introduced a bill envisaging that state officials appointed by the Head of the State could stay on their posts without age limits into the State Duma. According to an explanatory note to the document, the measure is to be applied only in exceptional cases. At present, civil servants are to be dismissed on reaching the age of 65, and senior civil servants – of 70.

RAPSI: Several Russian lawmakers have submitted a bill to relieve owners of emergency vehicles with flashing blue emergency beacons from administrative liability for traffic violations to the State Duma. Amendments are proposed to the Code on Administrative Offences. According to the draft law’s sponsors, state bodies often shift the administrative responsibility onto the vehicles’ drivers, including even ambulance ones, who just perform urgent work tasks and beg to violate the set traffic rules.  Authors of the initiative are MPs Igor Lebedev, Yaroslav Nilov, Dmitry Svishchev and Andrey Svintsov. 

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