Weekly Update week-ending 5 June 2020

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Read our selection of the past week’s news: Rights in Russia week-ending 5 June 2020

This week we highlight the case of Aleksandr Gabyshev the Siberian shaman confined to a psychiatric hospital for criticism of President Putin; protest; the Greenpeace Russia which has been publicising forest fires and a massive oil spillage in Siberia; the appeal in the case of journalist Ilya Azar, jailed for 15 days for holding a single-person picket; and President Putin announces the vote on the constitutional amendments will take place on 1 July 2020.

Listen to our latest Russian-language podcast: Simon & Sergei: Human rights in Russia – with Ashot Airapetyan. Our guest this week is Ashot Airapetyan, chair of the Centre for Intercultural and Interethnic Cooperation [Центр межкультурного и межнационального сотрудничества], an NGO based in Moscow. The aims of the organisation include protecting the rights of ethnic minorities and migrants, promoting cooperation between people from different ethnic backgrounds, and conflict resolution. – You can find these podcasts on Podcasts.comSoundCloudiTunes and Spotify.

‘Since the late 1980s, Yury Dmitriev has actively investigated the history of the Gulag in his native Karelia (northwest Russia). His work on the White Sea-Baltic Canal (1931-1933), built by camp prisoners and exiled peasants (special settlers), is invaluable and of the highest academic quality. Dmitriev has not simply researched the history of forced labour: he has also compiled several Books of Remembrance, recording the names of thousands who died in the camps or were shot and buried by the Soviet regime in Karelia.’ – from a letter by non-Russian academics and cultural figures in support of the historian Yury Dmitriev whose second trial is ongoing. 

“Shaman Aleksandr Gabyshev has been ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment. According to his lawyer, Gabyshev was arrested by 20 special riot police officers, following a phone call with an FSB agent.” – OVD-Info highlight the case of Aleksandr Gabyshev in their Weekly Bulletin. Translated by Judith Fagelson

‘On 1 July, voting on amendments to the Constitution will take place in Russia (despite it occupying third place in terms of the numbers of those infected).  The voting will last for a whole week, and you’ll be able to vote online.’ – Team 29 in its latest weekly posting looks at the forthcoming vote on the constitutional amendments. Translated by Lindsay Munford 

The problem of torture in prisons is widely known, as a system it has been diagnosed and is being combatted. […] But for sexual violence in prisons, abuse, the lowering of a person to the very bottom of the prison pecking order, the destruction of his personality and human dignity, driving him to suicide – there is no accountability.’ – Valery Borshchev on the issue of sexual violence in places of detention. Translated by Anna Bowles

“However, staying at home with some electronics monitoring your location — that’s the exact same thing as being under house arrest with a bracelet, except you don’t get sent to a detention centre for violating the terms, you get a series of fines.” – Aleksandr Verkhovsky looks at the Social Monitoring app introduced to combat Covid-19. Translated by Nina dePalmaVerity Hemp and Graham Jones

“We consider the authorities prosecuted Atamanov as part of their anti-Ukrainian campaign. The alleged crime with which Atamanov was charged simply did not take place; the evidence was falsified. It is possible Atamanov was tortured.” – Memorial Human Rights Centre has recognized Aleksandr Atamanov as a political prisoner. Translated by Simon Cosgrove

‘When the persecutions started, Borshchev got a job as a fireman at the Taganka Theatre with the help of V. S. Vysotsky. In 1980, the Olympic operations began. In order not to fall subject to these measures, Borshchev left to paint bridges in Siberia.’ – Andrei Babushkin retells Valery Borshchev’s presentation on the 44th anniversary of the Moscow Helsinki Group. Translated by Marian Schwartz

‘The Gorbachev era pushed Ponomarev to do more human rights work. When political prisoners were freed and Sakharov returned from exile, Ponomarev trusted Gorbachev. He came to the conclusion that the memory of those who died during the repressions needed to be commemorated.’ – Andrei Babushkin retells Lev Ponomarev’s presentation on the 44th anniversary of the Moscow Helsinki Group. Translated by Suzanne Eade-RobertsJoanne Reynolds and Nicky Brown

‘Sergei’s death will not change the system that methodically grinds people down.  But it can and should change us. Make us more active in opposing this evil.’ – Lev Ponomarev on the death of Sergei Mokhnatkin. Translated by John Tokolish

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