Weekly Update week-ending 24 April 2020

Read our selection of the past week’s news: Rights in Russia week-ending 24 April 2020

Listen to our latest Russian-language podcast; our guest this week is Sergei Davidis, board member at Memorial Human Rights Centre and head of the Centre’s programme on political prisoners: Simon & Sergei: Human rights in Russia – with Sergei Davidis– You can find these podcasts on Podcasts.comSoundCloudiTunes and Spotify.

“The Moscow City Court spent three days reviewing the case against Konstantin Kotov. The court went against the position of the prosecutor general, who called for his sentence to be reduced to one year, and instead sentenced him to a year and a half in prison. At the same time, journalists were barred from the courtroom […].”  – OVD-Info in its Weekly Bulletin gives the latest news on the case of Konstantin Kotov. Translated by Judith Fagelson

“The Union of Journalists and Media Workers believes that observation of this high-profile case [the prosecution of journalist Svetlana Prokopieva] should be open and transparent. We therefore support the demand that, for safety reasons, the court hearing should be postponed until after the end of the coronavirus epidemic.”  – The trial of Svetlana Prokopieva has since been postponed because of the Coronavirus. Translated by Elizabeth Teague

“We have complied with the Prosecutor General’s requirements, and the material is temporarily not being shown.” – Novaya gazeta editor Dmitry Muratov on the authorities’ decision to block an article by Elena Milashina that had led to Ramzan Kadyrov directly threatening the journalist. Translated by Alice Lee

“We are now seeing, everywhere, that the authorities sometimes go too far with restrictive measures. But when this concerns adults, it’s one thing, and when small children end up in this kind of situation, we need serious measures for the protection of the child’s mental health.” – Boris Altshuler on the impact of the Coronavirus lockdown on children. Translated by Mercedes Malcomson

“Today we see semi-voluntary isolation and Big Brother’s desire for even more powerful ways to creep inside our Smartphones, the closing of prisons to the public and confusion in laws, distortions by authorities, and our sovereign’s hunt for fakes.” – Team 29’s chief editor looks at the impact of the Coronavirus lockdown. Translated by Mark Nuckols

“Meanwhile, Petersburgers are fed up with the damaging effects of the high alert status brought in by Governor Beglov. […] We talk about why it must be lifted and we unpack the differences between an emergency and a quarantine.” – In their regular weekly roundup, Team 29 looks at developments in St. Petersburg. Translated by Lindsay Munford

“Citizens themselves are silently renouncing their rights. And when they realise that they should have defended themselves and their rights, it will be too late. – Lawyer Alena Popova looks at the bill to create a unified register of  citizens’ personal data. Translated by Alissa Valles and Nicky Brown

“An announcement about a vacancy for the position of chair of the Moscow City Court has appeared on the website of the Higher Qualification Collegium of Judges.” – Leonid Nikitinsky considers the future of Olga Egorova, long-time chair of Moscow City Court.  Translated by Anna Bowles and Nina dePalma 

“The public has every right to know what is really happening in penitentiary institutions and what measures are being taken by their administrations to protect the health of prisoners and staff.”  – Human rights defenders have launched a petition for information about the impact of Coronavirus on places of detention to be made public. Translated by Nathalie WilsonNathalie Corbett and Joanne Reynolds

“On 9 and 10 April, a riot took place in Prison Colony No. 15, a Russian Federal Penitentiary Service institution in the Irkutsk region.” – In a letter to the President and the heads of the Investigative Committee, the Federal Penitentiary Service and the Prosecutor General, human rights defenders call for an investigation into the disturbances at Prison Colony No. 15, Irkutsk region. Translated by Alice Lee and Mark Nuckols  

“Lawyers have not been given access to the 300 convicts removed from Penal Colony No. 15, and the investigators have most probably been actively working on these people. This is exactly what the lawyers were afraid of when they issued their statement. But it is exactly what has happened.” – Lev Ponomarev gives an update on the investigation into the disturbances at Irkutsk region prison colony. Translated by John Tokolish

“Is a police officer who tortures a detainee in a police station, or in a holding cell better than one who tortures a prisoner in a prison colony or a pre-trial detention centre? In my opinion, these are crimes of exactly the same gravity and public danger.” 
– Igor Kalyapin considers proposals put forward by the human rights ombudsperson to combat torture. Translated by James Lofthouse
“We have very little information about what is happening in the army in connection with the coronavirus. However, it’s understandable that given all the congestion during rehearsals, the risk of infection would have risen greatly.” – Valery Borshchev on the president’s decision to postpone the Victory Day military parade.  Translated by Marian Schwartz

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