Rights in Russia week-ending 6 March 2020

Right to life

Suspect in Murder of Kadyrov Critic Left France For Chechnya, Prosecutors Say

French Prosecutors have said that a Russian-born man suspected of murdering a Chechen critical of the Kremlin-backed leader of the Russian North Caucasus region, Ramzan Kadyrov, returned immediately after the stabbing to Chechnya. The “prime suspect,” who is believed to have stayed at Imran Aliyev’s home in Belgium before murdering him reportedly lives in Chechnya, AFP reported, citing the Lille prosecutor’s office on March 3. RFE/RL, 4 March 2020

Russia: Critical Shortages of Cystic Fibrosis Drugs

(Moscow) – Thousands of people in Russia with cystic fibrosis could face potentially life-threatening risks to their health as a consequence of recent government policies forcing patients to switch to generic drugs, Human Rights Watch said today. Activists and doctors are calling on the government to reverse the policy, which affects many patients with various medical conditions. The generic drugs are cheaper, but some doctors have said their effectiveness is not clear, that they may not be suitable for all patients, and that they may have severe negative side effects for some patients. Human Rights Watch, 5 March 2020

Freedom of expression

‘I felt cruelly manipulated’: violent Russian film DAU. Natasha shocks critics

Tatiana Shorokhova, a film critic from St Petersburg, has admitted to feeling sick and “physically afraid” while watching DAU. Natasha, a controversial film by Ilya Khrzhanovsky produced from a years-long experiment on an immersive set built as a replica of a Soviet-era research institute. In fact, she likened the experience to rape. It was not just the graphic scenes of violence against the titular character or depictions of real sex while drunk, she said, but the understanding that all of this was, in a way, real. The Guardian, 3 March 2020

Russia Accuses BBC World News of Violating Broadcasting Requirements

Russia’s communications regulator said on Tuesday documents have been submitted to court which accuse the BBC World News channel of violating broadcasting requirements within Russia. In monitoring the channel, the regulator, Roskomnadzor, said it detected violations of an order concerning the protection of children from information that is harmful to their health and development. Reuters, 3 March 2020

Twitter challenges $60,000 fine for refusal to transfer servers to Russia

MOSCOW, March 3 (RAPSI) – Moscow’s Tagansky District Court will consider an appeal filed by Twitter Inc. against a fine imposed on the company for refusal to place its servers in Russia on March 16, RAPSI has learnt from the court’s press service. In mid-February, a magistrate court fined Twitter and Facebook 4 million rubles ($60,000) each for breaching of user data storage requirements. In late January, Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor instituted administrative proceedings against Facebook and Twitter. RAPSI, 3 March 2020

Journalist Golunov ordered to undergo mental examination – attorney

MOSCOW, March 5 (RAPSI) – The Investigative Committee of Russia has sent journalist Ivan Golunov to a mental examination, his lawyer Sergey Badamshin has told RAPSI. The examination is to check if the journalist has psychosocial disabilities and psychoactive substance dependence. Earlier, all five ex-police officers, investigators allege are involved in the case, were placed in detention for two months, until March 29. RAPSI, 5 March 2020

Right of assembly

Russian Court Sends Opposition Activist Kotov’s Case To Moscow Appeals Unit

A Russian court has sent the high-profile case of an opposition activist imprisoned for repeatedly taking part in unsanctioned rallies to an appeals unit of the Moscow City Court. Moscow’s Court Of Cassations No. 2 said on March 2 that it rejected a motion by Konstantin Kotov’s lawyers and prosecutors to annul a four-year prison term handed to the activist. RFE/RL, 2 March 2020

Judge Vacates Activist’s Sentence, But Keeps Him Behind Bars

Konstantin Kotov is a 35-year old software engineer who in September 2019 was sentenced to four years in prison for involvement in peaceful protests because he repeatedly flouted Russia’s abusive public assembly law. Kotov’s case has been wending its way through the appeals process, including the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court.  The good news is that at a cassation hearing today the judge vacated the appeals court ruling, which had upheld Kotov’s outrageous sentence. The bad news is that instead of freeing Kotov, who was connected to the court through videoconference from a prison colony in Vladimir region, the judge sent the case back to the appeals court, and remanded Kotov for two months of custody. Human Rights Watch [Rachel Denber], 2 March 2020

Moscow Court Reject Activist’s Demand For Compensation For Protest Arrest

The Tver District Court on March 3 rejected Sergei Abanichev’s bid to receive 500,000 rubles ($7,500) as compensation for his August 5 arrest relating to a rally in the capital on July 27. REF/RL, 3 March 2020

Putin Says Protesters Welcome to ‘Get Shaved’ in Jail

Russian President Vladimir Putin mockingly suggested on Tuesday that participants in unsanctioned protests were welcome to go to prison and “get shaved.” In the latest in a series of interviews with state-run news agency TASS, Putin said opposition supporters who take part in unapproved rallies should expect to be given jail time. The Moscow Times, 3 March 2020

Face recognition system suit proceedings quashed

MOSCOW, March 4 (RAPSI) – The Tverskoy District Court of Moscow dismissed a case over illegality of the face recognition system use on Wednesday, RAPSI was told in the court’s press office. A lawsuit against the system use was filed by oppositionist Vladimir Milov and activist Alena Popova. The plaintiffs claimed that collection of such information about participants of an authorized rally could result in the violation of their right to freedom of peaceful assembly. RAPSI, 4 March 2020

Freedom of conscience

Crimea: Jehovah’s Witness sentenced to six years in a penal colonyThe Russian authorities today sentenced a man in Russian-occupied Crimea to six years in prison simply for expressing his religious belief. The sentence handed down to Sergei Filatov by the Dzhankoi District Court is also the first of its kind in Russian-occupied Crimea. “Sergei Filatov is a prisoner of conscience, facing years in a penal colony solely for expressing his faith. Across Russia, Jehovah’s Witnesses are being sent to jail, tortured and harassed under vague counter-extremism legislation,” said Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia Director. Amnesty International, 5 March 2020

Court In Russia-Controlled Crimea Sends Jehovah’s Witness To Prison For Six Years

DZHANKOY, Ukraine — A Russian-controlled court in Ukraine’s Crimea has sentenced a Jehovah’s Witness to 6 years in prison for being a member of an extremist group, in what Amnesty International called “the latest example of the wholesale export of Russia’s brutally repressive policies” to the Black Sea peninsula. The Dzhankoy district court on March 5 found Sergei Filatov guilty of being a member of the religious group and handed down the sentence on the same day, the Jehovah’s Witnesses said in an email. RFE/RL, 5 March 2020

Right of association

Accounts Of Navalny, Associate Frozen As Tycoon Deripaska Launches Lawsuit

Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny says his finances, along those of his wife, children, parents, and the head of his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) have been frozen without explanation in a move to discredit and disgrace him. The staunch Kremlin critic wrote on his website on March 3 that bank accounts and payment cards for his family, and for FBK head Ivan Zhdanov and his family, had been blocked. RFE/RL, 3 March 2020

Kremlin Critic Navalny’s Group Fined For Failing To Register As Foreign Agent

A Russian court has fined opposition politician Aleksei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) for failing to register as a foreign agent under a controversial Russian law. Navalny’s spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, said on March 5 that the Simonov district court in Moscow ordered FBK to pay a 500,000 ruble (more than $7,500) fine. RFE/RL, 5 March 2020

Kremlin Critic Navalny Files Suit Against Russia At European Rights Court

Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny and his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) have lodged a complaint against Russia at the European Court of Human Rights claiming authorities are “unlawfully” impeding their political activities. The European Human Rights Advocacy Center (EHRAC), which is part of the team representing the applicants in the case, said in a statement on March 6 that “a large and invasive criminal investigation into alleged money laundering by FBK staff” by Russian officials is little more than an attempt to stall their pro-democracy efforts. RFE/RL, 6 March 2020

LGBTI Rights

Putin submits plans for constitutional ban on same-sex marriageVladimir Putin has submitted a draft amendment to Russia’s constitution that would enshrine marriage as between a man and a woman in a conservative update to the country’s founding document. The measure was reportedly part of a 24-page document submitted by the president that would also name Russia as the successor to the Soviet Union; explicitly mention Russians’ “faith in God”; and ensure the “defence of historical truth” regarding the Soviet role in the second world war. The Guardian, 2 March 2020

Russia Censors Disney’s First Openly Gay Character From ‘Onward’

Russian distributors appear to have censored Disney and Pixar’s first LGBT character from their animated film “Onward,” the Kinopoisk.ru movie website reported Wednesday. “Onward,” a fantasy-adventure that hits the big screens in Russia on March 5, introduces a cyclops police officer named Specter as the studios’ first-self identified lesbian character. Officer Specter appears in one scene, where she casually mentions having a girlfriend. The Moscow Times, 28 February 2020

Right to fair trial

Solidarity Solidarity is a Fight against Despair

On 10 February 2020, Kateryna Gamolina, member and employee of Memorial Deutschland, went to Petrozavodsk in the framework of the Solidarity mission of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum. Kateryna’s goal in Petrozavodsk was to support Yury Dmitriyev, a historian from Petrozavodsk and head of the Karelian branch of the human rights organisation Memorial. He has been under investigation or on trial since 2016, accused of crimes of a sexual nature, which were allegedly committed against his adopted daughter. The history of Yury Dmitriyev’s persecution and prosecution, and the details of his case, testify eloquently to the artificial, fabricated nature of the accusation and to Dmitriyev’s innocence. In this piece, Kateryna reflects upon her experience as trial observer, and explains why such missions are important. EU-Russia Civil Society Forum

Conditions of detention


Server Mustafayev, a human rights defender from Crimea currently standing trial before a Russian military court, is being denied adequate medical care. He is suffering from high fever and a viral respiratory infection, similarly to two of his co-defendants. Despite their condition, they were forced to attend lengthy court hearings, without water or food. Amnesty International, 6 March 2020

Human rights institutions

Russia’s State Duma adopts bill on activities of regional ombudsmen

MOSCOW, March 5 (RAPSI) – The State Duma has adopted in the third and final reading a bill regulating the activities of human rights commissioners in the country’s regions, which aims to extend their powers and set uniform rules and approaches governing the formation of this institution. RAPSI, 5 March 2020

The Constitution

Constitutional Coup in Russia : Putin’s Move to Devalue International Human Rights

On 20 January 2020, the President of Russia proposed radical changes to the Russian Constitution, but the chilling implications for human rights could echo far beyond Russia’s borders. The draft legislation introduces significant amendments to 14 articles of Russia’s supreme law of the land. FIDH and 37 of its member organisations believe that the proposed amendments contradict the letter and spirit of the Constitution, diminish the fundamental rights of Russian citizens under the guise of legitimate State concerns, and constitute an attempt to further consolidate power in the hands of the current regime. Our organisations fear that, if adopted, these measures would compromise human rights not only in Russia, but also set a dangerous precedent that may be emulated by other countries. FIDH, 11 February 2020

Review of Human Rights in Russia


Power in Russia’s authoritarian political system is concentrated in the hands of President Vladimir Putin. With loyalist security forces, a subservient judiciary, a controlled media environment, and a legislature consisting of a ruling party and pliable opposition factions, the Kremlin is able to manipulate elections and suppress genuine dissent. Rampant corruption facilitates shifting links among bureaucrats and organized crime groups. Freedom House, 4 March 2020

Freedom House Assails Russia, Iran For Protest Crackdowns, But Also Raps U.S.

WASHINGTON — Freedom House has assailed crackdowns on protesters in “authoritarian states,” such as Russia and Iran, but also criticized traditional defenders of democracy — including the United States — for turning their backs on traditional safeguard roles to pursue “populist agendas.” In its annual report released on March 4, the Washington-based human rights watchdog also said that twice as many countries suffered setbacks relating to political rights and civil liberties in 2019 than those making gains, marking what it called the “14th consecutive year of deterioration in global freedom.” RFE/RL, 4 March 2020

Leave a Reply