Rights in Russia week-ending 30 July 2021

Our round-up of the week’s news

Other news from the week:

24 July 2021

RFE/RL: Russian electoral authorities have disqualified a top Communist Party candidate from running in September’s parliamentary elections, the latest opposition figure to be barred ahead of the vote. The Central Election Commission said on July 24 that Pavel Grudinin was excluded from the party list because the Prosecutor-General’s Office had found he held foreign assets.

25 July 2021

The Guardian: A key group of leading G20 nations is committed to climate targets that would lead to disastrous global warming, scientists have warned. They say China, Russia, Brazil and Australia all have energy policies associated with 5C rises in atmospheric temperatures, a heating hike that would bring devastation to much of the planet. The analysis, by the peer-reviewed group Paris Equity Check, raises serious worries about the prospects of key climate agreements being achieved at the Cop26 summit in Glasgow in three months. The conference – rated as one of the most important climate summits ever staged – will attempt to hammer out policies to hold global heating to 1.5C by agreeing on a global policy for ending net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050.

26 July 2021

RFE/RL: Jailed Russian journalist Ivan Safronov will not be able to talk to his lawyer, Ivan Pavlov, who has himself been charged with illegal revealing details of the case launched against the journalist. Pavlov wrote on Telegram on July 26 that because investigators questioned Safronov last week as a witness in the case launched against him, he, in accordance with an earlier decision by a Moscow court, cannot now communicate with his client.

Human Rights in Ukraine: Russia has lodged its first ever inter-state application at the European Court of Human Rights [ECHR], with a series of claims against Ukraine.  There seem no grounds for taking any of the accusations seriously, however two are of particularly staggering cynicism.  After sending the BUK surface-to-air missile carrier to Donbas where it was used to down Malaysian airliner MH17 and kill all 298 passengers and crew on board, Russia has brought a claim against Ukraine for not having closed its airspace.  It is also accusing Ukraine of not providing water to Crimea which it invaded in February 2014 and has been illegally occupying since.

27 July 2021

RFE/RL: A Russian court in the southwestern city of Rostov-on-Don has handed lengthy prison terms to the first group of individuals from the North Caucasus region of North Ossetia who took part in a massive rally in April 2020 protesting coronavirus measures. The Lenin district court on July 27 found Artur Bugulov, Magomed Kadyrov, David Okruashvili, Aslan Gasiyev, and Zaza Tsaritov guilty of taking part in mass disorder and sentenced them to prison terms of between 5 years and 5 1/2 years.

28 July 2021

The Guardian: Roman Abramovich’s lawyer said it was defamatory to describe the businessman as having “a corrupt relationship” with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and that he had acted “covertly at his direction” in key business deals such as the purchase of Chelsea football club. Speaking on the first morning of a preliminary hearing of a high court libel claim against a bestselling book about the modern Kremlin, Hugh Tomlinson QC said the 54-year-old billionaire did not “bring this claim lightly” and understood it could be characterised as “an attack on public interest journalism”.

29 July 2021

The Moscow Times: Russia reported 799 coronavirus deaths Thursday, tying the national record of pandemic-related fatalities for the third time in less than a month. Russia’s Covid-19 task force previously reported 799 deaths on July 16 and July 24.

The Moscow Times: Russia has fined Google over $40,000 for failing to store the data of Russian users on local servers, a court spokeswoman said Thursday, the first time the U.S.-based tech giant has been fined for the offense.

RFE/RL: A court in Moscow has rejected the appeal of Sergei Furgal, the former governor of the Far Eastern Khabarovsk Krai region, against the extension of his pretrial detention after he was charged with attempted murder and ordering two killings in 2004-2005.

RFE/RL: A Russian court in the southwestern city of Rostov-on-Don has handed lengthy prison terms to a second group of individuals from the North Caucasus region of North Ossetia for taking part in a massive rally in April 2020 to protest against coronavirus restrictions.

RFE/RL: A court in Russia’s North Ossetia region on July 28 sentenced a group of police officers to prison for the high-profile death of a man in custody nearly five years ago. Vladimir Tskayev, 37, was tortured to death overnight on October 31, 2015, while under interrogation at a police station in the regional capital, Vladikavkaz, on suspicion of shooting an officer.

Human Rights in Ukraine: Russian prison authorities are planning to place 58-year-old Inver Bekirov in the torture-like conditions of a punishment cell [SHIZO], despite his grave state of health following a mini stroke in the middle of July. 

RFE/RL: A British judge says she plans to rule later this year on a libel case brought over claims in a book about the ascent of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Judge Amanda Tipples told the High Court in London on July 29 that her judgment would come in October.The Moscow Times: Oleg Baklanov, the last member of a failed coup against then U.S.S.R. leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991, has died aged 89, the head of the Russian space agency said on Wednesday.

RFE/RL: Leon Botstein, the president of Bard College in the United States, was awaiting the publication of his video tribute to Lyudmila Verbitskaya, his late counterpart at St. Petersburg State University (SPSU) in Russia, when he received news that the pioneering dual degree program the two scholars had conceived in 1994 was coming to an abrupt end.

30 July 2021

The Guardian: This week, in the Victorian confines of London’s high court, massed ranks of lawyers acting for three Russian billionaires and state-controlled oil company Rosneft engaged in the first courtroom phase of a legal action against investigative journalist Catherine Belton, author of the best selling title Putin’s People, and her publisher HarperCollins.

RFE/RL: The head of the Russian Investigative Committee has ordered a probe into complaints that a production by the prominent Moscow theater Sovremennik (Contemporary) was insulting to World War II veterans.

The Moscow Times: Siberia and other Northern Russian regions are becoming increasingly vulnerable to the impact of the climate crisis, which is accelerating exceptionally fast in the Arctic regions, the international Climate Crisis Advisory Group (CCAG) said in a new report on Thursday.

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