Rights in Russia week-ending 8 May 2020

Freedom of expression

Chechen Leader Vows Punishments for Filming Quarantine Violation Detentions

Anyone who publishes footage of officers detaining people who violate coronavirus quarantine on social media should be put to work as janitors as punishment, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has said. The republic of Chechnya in Russia’s North Caucasus is under one of the country’s strictest coronavirus lockdowns, with steep fines for going outside without a pass and the region’s borders closed to the rest of Russia. Last week, a video posted to YouTube showed a Chechen officer unsuccessfully chasing down an alleged lockdown violator. The Moscow Times, 5 May 2020

Global: Crackdown on journalists weakens efforts to tackle COVID-19

The backlash against journalists and others who criticize their governments’ handling of COVID-19 is hampering efforts to tackle the virus, Amnesty International said today. The organization warned that censorship of vital information related to the pandemic has become a global phenomenon and urged governments to prioritise public health over their own egos. Amnesty International, 1 May 2020

Detention of defendant in Moscow metro coronavirus joke case extended for 2 months

Moscow’s Cheremushkinsky District Court on Wednesday extended detention of Karomatullo Dzhaborov, a pranker who allegedly played several coronavirus jokes in the Moscow metro, until July 8, the court’s press service told RAPSI. Dzhaborov stands charged with hooliganism committed in conspiracy. RAPSI, 6 May 2020

Stage company embezzlement case adjourned due to illness of Serebrennikov

Moscow’s Meshchansky District Court has postponed reopening of the Seventh Studio embezzlement case because of the illness of the Gogol Center theater director Kirill Serebrennikov until May 12, the court’s press service has told RAPSI. Earlier, Moscow’s Meshchansky District Court decided that the trial is to be conducted in the ordinary course, without the use of videoconference, despite the quarantine restrictions. RAPSI, 6 May 2020

Russian soldiers’ gadget ban extended in crackdown on leaks

Vladimir Putin has signed an order barring Russian soldiers from carrying many types of electronic devices on duty or sharing information with reporters, in an apparent effort to halt a series of embarrassing leaks about Russia’s military capabilities and secret operations. The new rules are intended to block the spread of information about troop movements and the identification of individual members of the armed forces. But they could also make it more difficult to discover abuses in the military. The Guardian, 7 May 2020

Young man faces trial on allegations of rehabilitation of Nazism

The Supreme Court of Russia’s Chuvash Republic will consider a criminal case over online rehabilitation of Nazism against a 21-year local citizen, the press service of the Prosecutor General’s Office reports. According to investigators, in December 2017, the man published one one of the popular Internet resources an image with a comment supporting Nazi actions; denying facts established by the International Military Tribunal in its ruling for trial and punishment of main military criminals of Europe of October 1, 1946; glorifying blackshirt actions and disparagement of the Soviet victory. RAPSI, 8 May 2020

Russian court restricts access to 77 websites on manufacturing of bug devices

A court in Ingushetia, a republic in the Russian Federation, has ruled in favor of a local prosecutor’s office demanding to recognize information on methods of manufacturing and sales of eavesdropping devices published on 77 websites as that banned for dissemination in the territory of Russia, the press-service of the Prosecutor General’s Office informs on Friday. RAPSI, 8 May 2020

Freedom of assembly

“Agora” treats arrests of Vladikavkaz protesters as unjustified

The “Agora” human rights organization has received 17 applications for legal aid in connection with the arrests of North-Ossetian residents who took part in the protest rally against self-isolation held on April 20. The “Caucasian Knot” has reported that the court had arrested six protesters for a term of one to two months; they were accused of hooliganism for throwing stones at law enforcers. Caucasian Knot, 4 May 2020

High profile trials

Russian Court Upholds Decision To Extend Detention Of Prominent Gulag Historian

PETROZAVODSK, Russia — A court in Russia has upheld a lower-court decision to extend the detention of Yury Dmitriyev, a Russian historian and prominent Gulag researcher, who is being tried on charges of sexually assaulting his adopted daughter, which he and his supporters deny. The Supreme Court of the northwestern region of Karelia on May 7 rejected Dmitriyev’s appeal and remanded him in custody at least until June 25 while his trial continues behind closed doors. A lower court extended Dmitriyev’s detention until June 25 in late March. Dmitriyev’s supporters have said the charges were brought against him because of his research into a side of history that complicates the Kremlin’s glorification of the Soviet past. RFE/RL, 7 May 2020

New Greatness Activists’ Trial Resumes In Moscow

A Moscow court extended the detention of accused members of the New Greatness youth activist group as the high-profile trial resumed on May 7. Defense lawyer Maksim Pashkov wrote on Telegram that the Lyublino District Court in Moscow had extended the defendants’ detention until August 17. Defendants Maria Dubovik, Anna Pavlikova, and Maksim Roshchin will remain under house arrest while four other defendants — Vyacheslav Kryukov, Ruslan Kostylenkov, Pyotr Karamzin, and Dmitry Poletayev — will remain in a detention center until that date. All the defendants have been charged with creating an extremist group, and they were arrested in March 2018. RFE/RL, 7 May 2020

Domestic violence

Russian Ombudswoman Says Domestic Violence Surges Amid Coronavirus Restrictions

Russian Ombudswoman Tatyana Moskalkova says the number of domestic violence complaints in the country has jumped markedly since early April, when coronavirus restrictions in the country were tightened. Moskalkova told RIA Novosti news agency on May 5 that data, based on information provided by nongovernmental organizations, showed domestic violence had more than doubled from before the outbreak. RFE/RL, 5 May 2020

Prisoners’ rights

Relatives Of Inmates In Siberia Demand Information After Violent Prison Riot

ANGARSK, Russia — Relatives of inmates in Russia’s Irkutsk region have picketed a penitentiary and a detention center, demanding detailed information about their family members following a violent prison riot. Dozens of protesters in the Siberian town of Angarsk on May 4 held single-person protests — which do not require preapproval from the authorities — in front of Correctional Colony No. 15 and Detention Center No. 6. RFE/RL, 5 May 2020

Amnesty International calls for the release of all prisoners of conscience worldwide

Amnesty International is calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all the prisoners of conscience it is campaigning for worldwide, who are now at heightened risk due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “As this devastating virus sweeps across the globe, prisons are at risk of becoming dangerous hotspots for COVID-19. It is more important than ever that states take urgent measures to protect all those who are behind bars, including by releasing all individuals who are held simply for peacefully exercising their rights,” said Sauro Scarpelli, Deputy Campaigns Director at Amnesty International. Amnesty International, 4 May 2020

Russian police report decrease in number of detentions during COVID-19 pandemic

At times of the coronavirus pandemic police investigative bodies are oriented to mostly apply non-custodial restrictive measures against persons suspected and accused of non-serious crimes, the press service of the Presidential Council for Human Rights reports citing acting Deputy Interior Minister Nikolay Patapenya. Earlier, the human rights body requested the Interior Ministry to reduce the number of people to be placed in detention. In March, the police notified advocates of the decrease in detentions. RAPSI, 7 May 2020

Public health

Third Russian Doctor Falls From Hospital Window After Coronavirus Complaint

A paramedic who complained about being forced to work despite contracting coronavirus is in critical condition after he fell from a hospital window in western Russia this weekend, local media reported. This is at least the third incident in which a Russian healthcare professional has plunged from a hospital building under mysterious circumstances in the past two weeks. The two previous doctors have died from their injuries. The Moscow Times, 4 May 2020

St. Petersburg Doctors Compensated Based on ‘Percentage of Guilt’ for Getting Coronavirus

Authorities in St. Petersburg have pledged to pay compensation to doctors who become infected with the coronavirus — but only after an investigation establishes their level of responsibility for getting it, according to newly adopted rules. The head of Russia’s second-largest city has promised hazard pay ranging from 300,000 rubles ($3,800) to 1 million rubles ($12,700), depending on the severity of the infection, to medics battling Covid-19. The Moscow Times, 4 May 2020

St. Petersburg Doctor Quits Over Protective Equipment Shortages

The head cardiologist at a St. Petersburg hospital in Russia has resigned, claiming staff have not been given all the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need during the COVID-19 epidemic. Marianna Zamyatina says she was demoted after complaining to hospital administrators about the lack of equipment. RFE/RL, 3 May 2020

Restricted access to Moscow courts extended until May31

The regime of restricted access to Moscow courts for non-parties of trials including journalists has been extended until May 31, the Moscow City Court’s spokesperson Ulyana Solopova has told RAPSI. Parties of proceedings will be allowed to enter courts only in masks and gloves, she has added. RAPSI, 8 May 2020

European Court of Human Rights orders Russia to provide life-saving medicine to infant with rare neuromuscular disorder

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ordered the Russian authorities to provide six-month-old Ada Keshishyants — an infant diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) — with access to the life-saving medication nusinersen (marketed as Spinraza). This was reported to Meduza by the human rights organization “Justice Initiative.”  The ECHR sent the decision to the Russian Justice Ministry on May 6. The Justice Ministry now has until May 27 to update the ECHR on the infant’s health and to confirm that she has received treatment. Meduza, 8 May 2020

Public Oversight Commissions

Public monitoring commissions to be able to monitor mental hospitals – order

MOSCOW, May 6 (RAPSI) – The Ministry of Healthcare has approved an order of visiting psychiatric hospitals by the members of public monitoring commissions, the press service of the Presidential Council for Human Rights reports. Previously, public members could visit the organizations by exception. RAPSI, 6 May 2020

World War II

Russian Volunteers Search for Fallen World War II Soldiers

KHULKHUTA, Russia — Crouching over the sun-drenched soil, Alfred Abayev picks up a charred fragment of a Soviet warplane downed in a World War II battle with advancing Nazi forces. “You can see it was burning,” he says, pointing at the weathered trace of a red star. Abayev and members of his search team rummage the steppe for remains of the Red Army soldiers who fell in the autumn of 1942 in fierce fighting with Nazi troops pushing toward the Caspian Sea south of Stalingrad. The Associated Press via The New York Times, 9 May 2020

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