Our news round-up of the past week
Other news of the week:
19 June 2021
The Moscow Times: Russian youth climate protester Arshak Makichyan will run for a seat in the lower-house State Duma in this September’s high-stakes parliamentary elections, he announced Saturday. Makichyan, 26, rose to prominence over the past two years by staging weekly solo pickets on central Moscow’s Pushkin Square that called for greater action against climate change. Inspired by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future movement, he and other young Russians coordinated climate strike activities across the country.
20 June 2021
RFE/RL: Russia’s labor minister has said workers who fail to get the COVID-19 vaccine in regions where the shot has been made compulsory could be forced to take unpaid leave. Anton Kotyakov’s comments, made on a government Telegram channel on June 20, come as Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other Russian cities introduce an array of a new measures. The most prominent new proposal aims for mandatory shots for service workers.
21 June 2021
Human Rights in Ukraine: At least seven men who defended Ukraine against Russia and its proxies in Donbas have been placed under Ukrainian ‘sanctions’. The six Chechens and one Dagestani now face deportation, although they are all citizens of the Russian Federation and would certainly face persecution and torture in Russia for their support of Ukraine.
RFE/RL: The director of Chechnya’s state television has issued death threats against the “enemies” of Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov. Chingiz Akhmadov, head of the Grozny State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company, said in an Instagram video on June 21 that he stands “with Ramzan Kadyrov.” “If someone needs to be killed, someone who deserves death, then we will kill. If it is necessary to say a word, then we will say the word,” he said. Akhmadov said any “enemy of Ramzan Kadyrov is the enemy of the Chechen people,” and personally his enemy.
RFE/RL: A Russian national detained in April in Ukraine’s Russia-annexed Crimean Peninsula on espionage charges has been transferred to Moscow. The Moscow Lefortovo district court on June 21 said that Yevgeny Petrushin’s pretrial detention had been extended until September 20 after he was transferred from Crimea to the Russian capital last week. According to the court, Petrushin was arrested on April 21 in the Crimean city of Sevastopol.
The Moscow Times: Two weeks after 82-year-old Kirill Kruchkov died of Covid-19 in the Tula region, 200 kilometers south of Moscow, his family received a phone call from Rospotrebnadzor, Russia’s state consumer protection watchdog. “They told us lab tests showed that grandpa died of the Indian strain. I was very confused. He hasn’t been to India,” said his grandson Mikhail, who shared documents showing the results with The Moscow Times. Like most Russians, the Kruchkov family had heard little of the Delta variant, a highly infectious strain of the coronavirus, first registered in India.
22 June 2021
RFE/RL: The girlfriend of a Chechen woman who was taken to her native Chechnya by force after police in neighboring Daghestan raided a shelter for victims of domestic violence earlier this month has asked Russian lawmaker Oksana Pushkina to investigate the situation. Anna Manylova said in a video statement issued on Instagram late on June 21 that she is ready to provide Pushkina with all of the necessary evidence proving that her girlfriend, Khalima Taramova, is being held in Chechnya against her will.
The Moscow Times: This week’s visit by Myanmar’s junta chief to Moscow “legitimizes” the country’s “brutal and unlawful attempted coup,” Justice for Myanmar, a leading human rights group that investigates the military’s business interests, told The Moscow Times. Senior General Min Aung Hlaing arrived in Moscow on Sunday for a three-day international security conference starting Tuesday that brings together defense officials from around the world.
23 June 2021
RFE/RL: The Supreme Court of Russia’s Chuvashia region has reversed the acquittal of RFE/RL correspondent Darya Komarova in a case regarding her coverage of a protest rally. Judge Andrei Golubev on June 22 ruled that the decision of the Lenin district court to acquit Komarova must be nullified and the case sent for retrial. It is not clear why the acquittal was reversed. Komarova said after the hearing that the judge had questions regarding the absence of the date and registration number on her assignment papers to cover the rally. “The judge also raised the issue of the accreditation of reporters working for foreign media outlets in general,” Komarova said.
RSF: A month after Belarusian journalist Raman Pratasevich’s spectacular arrest and his three subsequent forced public confessions of guilt, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the return of forced confessions in Eastern Europe and urges the authorities to put an immediate end to this practice.
24 June 2021
HRW: President Putin has told the governor of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, that he should run for another term in the September regional elections. “With your personal participation, immediate and at times direct, Chechnya became one of the safest regions in the Russian Federation,” Putin said, wishing Kadyrov luck with re-election. Not that Kadyrov needs any luck. With the Kremlin’s blessing, Kadyrov’s re-election is largely a foregone conclusion; the climate of fear in Chechnya does not allow for a free or fair election.
RFE/RL: A jailed postgraduate mathematics student at Moscow State University and his former co-defendant, who were found guilty of charges rights groups have called politically motivated, have married in a detention center. The official marriage ceremony for Azat Miftakhov and Yelena Gorban was held in Moscow’s Butyrka detention center on June 23. In January, the 28-year-old mathematician was sentenced to six years in prison after a court in Moscow found him guilty of involvement in an arson attack on the ruling United Russia’s office in Moscow in 2018.
RFE/RL: Russian-imposed authorities in Ukraine’s Crimea have arrested a man on charges of spying for Kyiv, the second person detained for alleged espionage on the peninsula since April. The Kyiv district court in the Crimean capital, Simferopol, said on June 24 that it sent the man, whose identity was not disclosed, to pretrial detention until August 21, after charging him with collecting data on the flights of Russian military planes for Ukrainian intelligence.
25 June 2021
RFE/RL: Russia has reported a record 601 deaths from COVID-19 in the past day as a surge in coronavirus cases attributed to the presence of the delta variant sweeps across the country. The government coronavirus task force on June 25 reported 20,393 new cases in the previous 24 hours, including 7,916 in Moscow alone. That total was the most for a single day in the capital since late January.
The Moscow Times: The U.S., British and Canadian embassies in Russia on Friday hung rainbow flags on their buildings in Moscow in honor of LGBT Pride Month celebrated worldwide. In a joint statement with colleagues from Australia, Iceland and New Zealand, the Western diplomats said the actions affirm the countries’ “commitment to protecting the human rights of all individuals, including #LGBTI+ persons.”
RFE/RL: In February 2016, just weeks before the North Caucasus republic of Chechnya was to hold an election for executive-branch head, incumbent leader Ramzan Kadyrov announced on state television that he had had enough. “My time has passed,” he said. “There are lots of successors on our team. We have got very good specialists.” Far from being the end of Kadyrov’s notorious run as the region’s strongman, the announcement was actually the start of an elaborate campaign to beg him to remain in power. It featured videos of weeping women and children and a statement from the region’s rights ombudsman to the effect that Kadyrov’s resignation would amount to a violation of the rights of every Chechen.