Weekly Update week-ending 22 May 2020

Read our selection of the past week’s news: Rights in Russia week-ending 22 May 2020. We also highlight a Person of the Week, a Legal Case of the Week and a Civil Society Organisation of the Week.

Listen to our latest Russian-language podcast; our guest this week is Sergei Krivenko,  director of the Moscow-based NGO Citizen, Army & the Law, coordinator of the Citizen & Army network, member of the board of the International Memorial Society and a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group. Sergei Krivenko has been one of the leading proponents of the introduction and development of Alternative Civilian Service for conscripts in post-Soviet Russia: Simon & Sergei: Human rights in Russia – with Sergei Krivenko– You can find these podcasts on Podcasts.comSoundCloudiTunes and Spotify.

‘In general, the entire bill increases the powers and capabilities of the police to conduct official activities – to inspect people, cordon off an area for a public event – but introduces absolutely no restrictive powers in the form of penalties for abuse of authority.’– Natalya Taubina considers a new bill amending the law on the police. Translated by Anna Bowles

Dmitry Makarov: ‘There are serious concerns that a system for controlling the movement of citizens will remain after the quarantine measures have ended.’ – In an interview with the journal Foreign Policy Dmitry Makarov expressed concerns emergency measures introduced to fight the Coronavirus pandemic may be used to justify authoritarian practices. Part translated by Simon Cosgrove

’13 May is a date I’ll remember my whole life. On 13 May 2009, I was brazenly arrested by people in plain clothes, thrown to the ground and dragged into a car, and all in front of my three-year-old daughter, who had already been pulled away from me.’– Human rights defender Aleksei Sokolov reflects on a turning point in his life. Translated by Nicky Brown

Vyacheslav Bakhmin: ‘All states understand that the protection of human rights is one of their international functions. And they are more concerned about protecting human rights in other countries than in their own.’ Yury Dzhibladze: ‘Everyone knows that in recent years, especially since 2013, when the “foreign agent” law on non-profit organizations was adopted, the civil society situation in Russia has been very difficult. Dozens of organizations have been forced to close under state pressure. International ties have been broken.’– Vyacheslav Bakhmin and Yury Dzhibladze took part in a wide-ranging discussion on the past, present and future of human rights in Russia originally broadcast on Ekho Moskvy. Our long read translated by Elizabeth TeagueSimon CosgroveAlissa VallesVerity HempMarian SchwartzJoanne ReynoldsAnna BowlesMatthew Quigley and John Tokolish

‘The President of Russia and the chair of the Government are working to persuade all citizens to show responsibility and solidarity, and are promising to give support both during and after the crisis, especially to socially vulnerable citizens. The Ministry of Education is defiantly doing the opposite.’ – Aleksei Golovan, executive director of the NGO Participation in Fate and a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group, considers proposed changes to regulations affecting housing for orphaned children. Translated by Alice Lee

‘Medics who publicly complained about their working conditions have been called in for questioning by the police and the Investigative Committee.’  
– In its latest Weekly Bulletin, OVD-Info looks at the peculiar difficulties confronting medical personnel in Russia. Translated by Judith Fagelson

‘Vladimir Vorontsov, the founder of the community organisation Police Ombudsman, who essentially organised an independent trade union and demanded the protection of labour rights, was arrested on 6 July, allegedly, for extorting money from a former colleague of his. His arrest could easily be called political, as law enforcement agencies really don’t like it when someone reveals details of what’s going on inside the system.’– Team 29’s weekly roundup focuses among other things on the case of Vladimir Vorontsov. Translated by Lindsay Munford

‘There have been few so clear sighted in our age. There are countless people with convictions, but I can count on two hands those who are willing to put their fate on the line for their convictions!’– Viktor Shenderovich on Valeriya Novodvorskaya, who would have been 70 on 17 May 2020.  Translated by Nina dePalma 

‘In private life Lera was good-natured, curious, naïve and kind-hearted. […] She would come into the offices of Ekho Moskvy with the words “Hello, my lovelies!” and hand sweets round to everyone from the editor-in-chief to the security guard.’– Natella Boltyanskaya remembers Valeriya Novodvorskaya, who would have been 70 on 17 May 2020. Translated by Simon Cosgrove and Graham Jones

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