Our round-up of the week’s news.
Other news this week:
20 March 2021
The Moscow Times: Russia has confirmed 4,447,570 cases of coronavirus and 94,659 deaths, according to the national coronavirus information center. According to figures published by state statistics agency Rosstat, Russia’s real coronavirus death toll stands at 131,118, with the virus present in another 69,314 deaths. Russia on Saturday confirmed 9,632 new coronavirus cases and 392 deaths.
22 March 2021
The Moscow Times: Russia has confirmed 4,456,869 cases of coronavirus and 95,030 deaths, according to the national coronavirus information center. According to figures published by state statistics agency Rosstat, Russia’s real coronavirus death toll stands at 131,118, with the virus present in another 69,314 deaths. Russia on Sunday confirmed 9,299 new coronavirus cases and 371 deaths.
23 March 2021
The Moscow Times: Russian billionaire and Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich has launched a defamation lawsuit against author Catherine Belton over claims that he had bought the club at President Vladimir Putin’s orders. According to Belton’s critically acclaimed 2020 book “Putin’s People,” Abramovich allegedly bought Chelsea in 2003 at Putin’s direction as part of an effort to raise Russia’s profile in Britain and the wider West.
24 March 2021
The Moscow Times: Russia will probe an artistic exhibition of preserved human corpses after the display sparked an uproar among conservative religious groups and public figures. German anatomist Gunter von Hagens’ traveling “Body Worlds” exhibition opened at Moscow’s VDNKh exhibition center on March 12. Its display of donated human bodies and organs aims to educate visitors “by looking inside a stranger’s body to discover our own in a completely new way.” Russian Investigative Committee chief Alexander Bastrykin ordered a probe into the exhibition to assess its “goals, content and purpose” as well as its compliance with Russian law, the investigative body said in a statement Wednesday.
RFE/RL: Russia’s Investigative Committee has launched an investigation into comments made by a notorious convicted rapist, known as the “Maniac of Skopin,” about one of his victims during an interview he gave three weeks after his release from prison. The committee said in a statement on March 23 that its chief, Aleksandr Bastrykin, had ordered the committee’s Main Investigative Directorate to evaluate the statements Viktor Mokhov made in his interview with popular journalist Ksenia Sobchak. The comments were included in a documentary about Mokhov that was placed on Sobchak’s YouTube channel on March 22, immediately igniting a public outcry.
25 March 2021
CPJ: Russian authorities should not contest the appeal of journalist Mariya Nuykina and should stop prosecuting journalists covering political protests, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. On March 19, police in the eastern city of Khabarovsk detained Nuykina, a correspondent with the independent newspaper Arsenyevskiye Vesti, while she was covering protesters detained at the local branch of the Investigative Committee, according to media reports and a statement by the Professional Union of Journalists and Media Workers, an independent press freedom advocacy group of which Nuykina is a member.
Amnesty International: Tatyana Revva, an intensive care unit doctor from Kalach-on-Don, southern Russia, has been facing reprisals since March 2020 for exposing personal protective equipment shortages and other problems in her hospital in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. In December, a court quashed one of the disciplinary reprimands imposed on her and ordered the hospital to pay her a nominal compensation. The court upheld her two other disciplinary reprimands. She is planning further appeals. In separate proceedings, the police did not find grounds to instigate criminal proceedings against her for libel.
RFE/RL: Amid ongoing attempts to impose more control over the Internet, Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor has proposed users of social-media networks and messenger applications hand over passport data and other personal information for verification. Roskomnadzor’s proposal regarding the change was submitted for public discussion on its website on March 23. It comes as the Russian government battles U.S. social media over what Moscow says is their failure to follow local regulations.
RFE/RL: The Memorial human rights organization says Russian authorities have rejected an asylum request filed by a Turkmen known for his public criticism of the regime in Ashgabat and deported him to Turkey. Memorial said on March 24 that 27-year-old Rozgeldy Choliev, who spent three weeks in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport after he arrived there from Istanbul waiting for a response, was deported to Turkey accompanied by Russian police officers the previous day. According to the Moscow-based rights group, Choliev faces possible extradition from Turkey to Turkmenistan, where he most likely will be persecuted for his public criticism of the isolated Central Asian state’s government.
The Moscow Times: The Supreme Court of Russia’s republic of Dagestan has overturned an earlier decision that ruled a mother was unfit for custody of her three children due to her “immoral” tattoos and piercings, she said Thursday. Nina Tseretilova, 33, had lived with her daughter and two sons in the predominantly Muslim, socially conservative region of southern Russia since her 2012 divorce until January 2020, when her ex-husband Magomed took them into his care. She then filed a lawsuit against him, claiming he kidnapped her children.
Human Rights Watch: Buried in a new report by the United Nations Panel of Experts on Libya comes disturbing news about recent transfers of internationally banned antipersonnel landmines. The report shows that antipersonnel mines manufactured in Russia were likely brought into Libya in the 2018-2019 despite an arms embargo. Last year, Human Rights Watch reported the use of antipersonnel landmines and booby traps in southern suburbs of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, after Libyan Arab Armed Forces (LAAF), supported by several foreign states and armed entities withdrew from the city.
26 March 2021
The Moscow Times: Russia has confirmed 4,492,692 cases of coronavirus and 96,612 deaths, according to the national coronavirus information center. According to figures published by state statistics agency Rosstat, Russia’s real coronavirus death toll stands at 131,118, with the virus present in another 69,314 deaths.
RFE/RL: A Russian woman serving a prison sentence on high treason charges has started a hunger strike to protest against being put in solitary confinement for complaining about beatings, her lawyer says. Antonina Zimina’s lawyer told RFE/RL on March 26 that her client has been on hunger strike for four days in a detention center in Kaliningrad, the capital of Russia’s far western exclave of the same name. In late December 2020, Zimina and her husband, Konstantin Antonets, were found guilty of spying for Latvia. Antonets was handed a 12 1/2 year prison sentence. The couple has denied any wrongdoing ever since they were first arrested in July 2018.