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Tag Archive for Human Rights

When literature came under state control: 80 years since the First Congress of Soviet Writers

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru - August 27, 2014) When literature came under state control: 80 years since the First Congress of Soviet Writers When the First Congress of Soviet Writers opened on Aug. 17, 1934 in Moscow, it marked a watershed in Soviet literature. The artistic freedom that had characterized the turbulent 1920s was

Interfax: Poll: Russians say Aug 1991 events are tragedy, not triumph of democracy

File Photo of Parliament Building Billowing Smoke in 1993

(Interfax – August 19, 2014) A relative majority of Russians (41 percent) see the August 19, 1991, putsch in the former Soviet Union as a tragedy which had harmful implications for the country and its people. The number has grown 14 percent in the past 20 years, from 27 percent in 1994, the Levada Center

Interfax: Russia may theoretically withdraw from ECHR jurisdiction – Putin

European Court of Human Rights Building file photo

YALTA. Aug 14 (Interfax) – Russia may theoretically withdraw from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) jurisdiction, but the matter is not under consideration now, President Vladimir Putin says. While Putin was meeting with members of State Duma factions in Yalta on Thursday, he was asked whether Russia may withdraw from the ECHR jurisdiction.

Russia’s Boom Business: Forced Labor In Prisons

File Photo of Pussy Riot Members in Courtroom Enclosure, With Man Showing Papers to One While Female Guard Looks On

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Vladimir Abarinov – August 11, 2014) When Nadezhda Tolokonnikova arrived at penal colony IK-14 in August 2012, a deputy warden proudly announced: “As far as my political convictions go, I am a Stalinist.” Tolokonnikova soon learned what that meant in practice. One year into her sentence for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred,” the Pussy Riot

RIA Novosti: Between Justice and European Courts’ Rulings on Russia: a Dangerous Gap

European Court of Human Rights Building file photo

(RIA Novosti – Alexander Mercouris – August 9, 2014) There is always going to be a gap between people’s understanding of what is just/unjust and formal court rulings. Law will always strive to catch up with changing societal attitudes to “justice” and “injustice.” But law will always more or less miserably fall behind, unless some

Russian Blog Post Decrying Government’s Internet Crackdown Goes Viral

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – July 14, 2014) Is this an updated version of Aldous Huxley’s classic antiutopian novel, “Brave New World”? Not exactly. If you live in Russia, this will be your world by September 1, according to a blog, “A Guide Through Your Life: What the Duma Has Banned in

Putin versus the NGOs

Vladimir Putin file photo

(opendemocracy.net – Pavel Chikov – July 3, 2014) Pavel Chikov is chair of AGORA, an association of human rights organisations based in Kazan. Agora, founded in 2005, provides legal advocacy for victims of suspected human rights abuses, in particular for journalists, political activists and NGOs. Since 1999 Chikov has been a leading human rights lawyer

RIA Novosti: Senior Russian MP calls for dissociation from USA on human rights issue

Alexei Pushkov file photo

(RIA Novosti – June 17, 2014) Head of the State Duma International Affairs Committee Aleksey Pushkov believes that it is time for Russia to admit a total divergence of opinions with the USA about the meaning of human rights, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported on 17 June. “It is time to record our

RIA Novosti: Russian Human Rights Activists Should Not Conform to Western Colleagues – Russian Ombudsman

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

MOSCOW, June 11 (RIA Novosti) – Russian human rights activists should boost partnership with their Western colleagues, hold constructive conversations with them, but not pander or conform to them, Russia’s Human Rights Ombudsman Ella Pamfilova believes. “We should preserve our partnership with oversees colleagues, but our work should be based on the interests and needs

Justice Ministry Adds Five More Russian NGOs to ‘Foreign Agent’ List

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – June 10, 2014) Russia’s Justice Ministry has added five nongovernmental organizations to its list of “foreign agents” just days after President Vladimir Putin signed a law allowing organizations to labeled as such without their consent. An official statement on the ministry’s website said the decision was made based on “court

Interfax: “Foreign agent” NGOs compelled to post regular reports on their activity, expenditures

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

MOSCOW. June 9 (Interfax) – Non-governmental organizations listed as “foreign agents” have been compelled to post regular reports about their activities and expenditures, in particular, in the media, the Russian Justice Ministry press service said. “As soon as the aforementioned organizations are added to the register of “foreign agent” NGOs, they become subject to relevant

Russian upper house approves tougher “foreign agent” NGO law

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Interfax – Moscow, May 28, 2014) The Federation Council [Russia's upper chamber of parliament] has approved a draft law giving the Justice Ministry authority to include a noncommercial organization [the usual Russian phrase for what is referred to elsewhere as NGOs] on the register of foreign agents, even if that same NGO has not applied

Putin’s Russia ‘Already Almost a Totalitarian State,’ Democratic Activists Say

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Sitting at Desk

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, May 19, 2014) Putin’s Russia is “already almost a totalitarian state,” one in which “citizens are losing their individual rights” and “government propaganda is stupefying people,” according to a declaration of 52 leading human rights activists, opposition political leaders, and commentators, who collectively form the December Roundtable.

Life for people with disabilities in Russia is getting better

File Photo of Back of Wheelchari with Line of Persons in Business Dress in Background

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Maxim Kireyev, special to RBTH – May 11, 2014) Improving the quality of life for Russians with disabilities was a focus for the government leading up to the Paralympic Games. Will the initiatives continue? The success of the Russian Paralympic team in the recent Winter Paralympic Games and

Interfax: Human Rights Council seeks liability for pursuit over criticism

Mikhail Fedotov file photo

MOSCOW. May 14 (Interfax) – Head of the Russian Presidential Human Rights Council Mikhail Fedotov said he intended to propose to include a provision in the Criminal Code on liability for pursuit over criticism. “The Soviet Code used to have such an article. Now we have proposed adding it again, however this idea has not

‘Speaking Truth To Power:’ Pussy Riot Members Tell Congress Of Rights Abuses

File Photo of Pussy Riot Members in Courtroom Enclosure, With Man Showing Papers to One While Female Guard Looks On

(RFE/RL – Luke Johnson – WASHINGTON, May 6, 2014) Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina from the Pussy Riot art collective walked out of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting room to the snapping of cameras from the major television networks as around 20 reporters waited to hear them speak. “We have to talk about these

Mass Grave in Moscow Suburbs is Among Russia’s Holiest Sites

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Annin – May 7, 2014) On May 10, the Russian Orthodox Church will hold its annual special service in the Church of New Martyrs and Confessors in Butovo, a little-known site that is home to Russia’s largest collection of holy relics. In the forest near old Butovo, about 5

Khodorkovsky Says ‘No Politics’ Deal Made With Putin

Mikhail Khodorkovsky file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – May 2, 2014) Former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky has said his surprise release from prison last December was facilitated by an agreement made with President Vladimir Putin to stay away from politics, but added that the deal expires in August. When asked about his abstention from political

24 NGOs in Russia Labeled as Foreign Agents in 2013

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – April 29, 2014) The Prosecutor General’s Office said it identified 24 nongovernmental organizations as “foreign agents” last year, in line with a law that rights groups say is intended to limit dissent in Russia. In particular, a report by Prosecutor General Yury Chaika singled out human rights

Creative Unions Seen to Back Kremlin Views

Kremlin and Moscow Environs Aerial View

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Oleg Sukhov – April 28, 2014) Last week, the State Duma gave its final approval to a bill introducing criminal penalties for “spreading lies” about the Soviet Union’s role in World War II. The legislation, under which offenders face up to five years in prison, has prompted renewed allegations that

LDPR Leader Zhirinovsky Condemned for Tirade Against Pregnant Reporter

Vladimir Zhirinovsky file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 19, 2014) The State Duma’s ethics committee will investigate Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky after the firebrand politician directed a particularly crude and offensive outburst at reporters on Friday. After being asked whether Russia should retaliate against the travel restrictions placed on Russian men by Ukraine, Zhirinovsky went

Russia’s First Anti-Sexual Harassment Bill Under Consideration by Duma

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Katie Davies – April 15, 2014) Russia’s first anti-sexual harassment law has been submitted to the State Duma, despite concerns among critics that its terms will be used to deport foreign workers unfairly. The changes will protect the honor and dignity of “the more beautiful, but weaker sex,” said Oleg

Human Rights Group to Close Over ‘Foreign Agent’ Label

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Oleg Sukhov – April 10, 2014) The Constitutional Court has upheld the controversial law requiring some nongovernmental organizations with foreign funding to register as “foreign agents,” while an affiliate of the prominent Memorial human rights group faces closure after being labeled a foreign agent by a St. Petersburg court. The

When charity should begin at home

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(opendemocracy.net – Alex Jackson – March 31, 2014) Alex Jackson is a writer for Salzburg Global Seminar, an independent non-profit organisation based in Salzburg, Austria with a mission to challenge current and future leaders to solve issues of global concern. You can follow him on @salzburgglobal and @ajacko26 Civil society development in Russia has been

Interfax: Seven die in hate crimes in Russia in 2014 – rights defenders

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

MOSCOW. April 1 (Interfax) – Seven people died in hate crimes in Russia in 2014, the Sova human rights center told Interfax on Tuesday. “At least 29 people have been injured in racially motivated attacks since the beginning of this year. Seven people died,” the rights defenders said. Sova recorded attacks in nine regions –

Human Rights Council concerned about battle against independent journalism in Russia

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Interfax – March 31, 2014) The Russian Presidential Human Rights Council urges taking the professional community’s opinions into account when making decisions on closing mass media outlets. “These offensives against independent mass media outlets are characterized with the fact that owners or administrative people are leaving the legal field and operate on general notions of

Outspoken Kremlin Critic Appointed as Human Rights Ombudsman

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(RIA Novosti – March 18, 2014) The Russian parliament voted Tuesday to appoint Ella Pamfilova to the post of Human Rights Ombudsman. President Vladimir Putin formally nominated Pamfilova, an outspoken Kremlin critic, for the post last month. The position, established in 1994, has powers to sue state agencies and the parliament on behalf of people

Russia to Select New Human Rights Ombudsman

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

MOSCOW, March 11 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian parliament has tentatively decided to select the country’s new human rights ombudsman next week. Russian President Vladimir Putin formally nominated Ella Pamfilova, an outspoken Kremlin critic, for the post last month. The position, established in 1994, has powers to sue state agencies and the parliament on behalf

Protest Crackdowns Illegal, Human Rights Ombudsman Says

Vladimir Lukin file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 6, 2014) Russian human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin called crackdowns on unsanctioned opposition protests illegal. According to Russia’s Supreme Court decisions, unauthorized protests were not necessarily illegal, Lukin said, Interfax reported. He added that often the protests pose no disturbance to citizens and that violations should only be pursued

Pussy Riot Attacked at McDonald’s

File Photo of Russian McDbnald's Crew with U.S. Diplomat

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 6, 2014) Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina have been attacked by five young men at a McDonald’s in Nizhny Novgorod on Thursday. The attackers threw metal objects at the women as they were eating, leaving Alyokhina with “a cut to her forehead,” their lawyer said, Interfax

Kremlin to tighten screws in wake of Kiev unrest

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Anna Arutunyan – February 24, 2014) A Moscow court sentenced seven people on Monday to prison terms ranging from one to four years for their roles in protest riots on the city’s Bolotnaya Ploshchad in May 2012, in a ruling seen as an indicator of whether government pressure would increase

Russian Writers Call for Free Speech as Pasternak’s Birthday Celebrated

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – D. Garrison Golubock and Olga Chetina – February 17, 2014) Feb. 11 marked the 124th anniversary of the birth of Boris Pasternak, the famed Soviet author best known for his book “Doctor Zhivago,” which was published abroad after being banned in the Soviet Union. Pasternak’s birthday was celebrated with great

Admiral’s suicide shakes Russia’s healthcare system

File Photo of Patient in Russian Hospital

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Natalia Antonova, Anna Arutunyan – February 17, 2014) The shocking suicide of a Navy admiral has prompted official investigations into the bureaucratic hurdles Russian cancer patients face when trying to obtain pain medication. According to the experts, administrative problems, a lingering Soviet mentality and a misguided drug policy are to

NEWSLINK: Sochi Olympics – Tolstoy’s words ring true as Putin goes for Sochi gold

sochi-olympics-200

["Olympics - Tolstoy's words ring true as Putin goes for Sochi gold" - Reuters - Timothy Heritage - February 14, 2014 - http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/14/us-olympics-halfway-idUSBREA1D0VN20140214] Reuters covers the Sochi Olympics, commenting that at least some concerns voiced prior to the Olympics seemingly have been mitigated: For all the talk of war from Islamist militants before the Sochi

TRANSCRIPT: Meeting with Vladimir Lukin and Ella Pamfilova

Kremlin and Moscow Environs Aerial View

(Kremlin.ru – February 13, 2014) Vladimir Putin met with Russian Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin and Chairperson of the Presidium of the Civil Dignity national public movement Ella Pamfilova. Mr Lukin’s term of office as Human Rights Ombudsman expires on February 18, and Ms Pamfilova has been nominated to this post. The new candidate must

Putin Formally Nominates Pamfilova as New Ombudsman

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

NOVO-OGARYOVO, February 13 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian president formally nominated an outspoken Kremlin critic as Russia’s next ombudsman on Thursday, saying he expected her to watch Russia’s political life with “a critical eye.” Vladimir Putin told rights activists on January 23 that he would formally nominate Ella Pamfilova, former head of the Kremlin human

Russia’s top prosecutor slams illegal detention

Russian Jail File Photo Showing Outer Wall, Windows, Barbed Wire

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Anna Arutunyan – February 12, 2014) More than 14,000 Russians have been illegally prosecuted in the last three years, according to Prosecutor General Yury Chaika. “People are sitting in jail illegally for years,” RIA Novosti quoted Chaika as saying during a planned address before the State Duma, the lower house

Writers Denounce Repressive Russian Laws in Open Letter

Kremlin and Moscow Environs Aerial View

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jennifer Monaghan – February 6, 2014) More than 200 writers from around the world have signed an open letter to the Russian authorities denouncing the introduction of gay-propaganda and blasphemy laws in Russia, which they call an attack on freedom of expression. We “cannot stand quietly by as we watch

RIA Novosti: Local NGO Fights ‘Foreign Agent’ Status

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(RIA Novosti – February 5, 2014) The St. Petersburg-based Freedom of Information Foundation has filed a complaint against the prosecutor office’s request that it register with the Justice Ministry as a “foreign agent.” The request was issued after the NGO’s founder attended a meeting of human rights activists with US President Barack Obama during the

Interfax: Russian bill tightening liability for extremism signed into law

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

MOSCOW. Feb 4 (Interfax) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law a bill that toughens liability for extremism-related crimes. The document amends Russia’s Criminal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure, according to the authorities’ legal information website. “In an effort to neutralize the threats to national security posed by the destructive activities of

Kharkiv politicians take high-stakes hard line against protests

Ukraine Map and Flag

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Graham Stack in Kharkiv – February 4, 2014) Embattled Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s most vocal supporters are currently not from his Donbass homeland, but from the second largest city of Kharkiv. But their combination of provocative sloganeering, abusive rhetoric and apparent thuggishness mean friends like these may do him

Shadowy Specter Of Russia Hangs Over Rumored ‘Death Squads’ In Ukraine

Maidan Square file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org –  laire Bigg and Daisy Sindelar – February 4, 2014) After being kidnapped on January 22, Dmytro Bulatov says he was kept blindfolded for eight days as his abductors beat him, sliced off part of his ear, drove nails through his hands, and finally left him for dead in a forest. Through

New Bill Proposes Weakening Presumption of Innocence in Favor of ‘Objective Truth’

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 31, 2014) A bill has been introduced to the State Duma that would replace the presumption of innocence in Russian trials with the concept of “objective truth,” scrapping the impartiality of the court in what critics say will amount to the establishment of an “inquisitorial” system. The bill, which

A Quarter Century Of Rights Activism: Memorial Turns 25

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Kristina Gorelik and Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW – January 29, 2014) Memorial, one of Russia’s most venerable human rights and history organizations, is 25 years old. Memorial began as a group of Soviet-era dissidents, including Nobel laureate Andrei Sakharov, that formed during Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika in the late 1980s. It came

Individual Rights Increasingly Valued by Russians, Poll Shows

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – January 29, 2014) The majority of Russians think that individual rights need to be protected even if they contradict the interests of the state, with political rights growing increasingly important in the nation’s perception, a recent poll has shown. About 46 percent of Russians think that people

PACE Threatens European Magnitsky Act

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner – January 29, 2014) The Parliamentary Assembly for the Council of Europe, or PACE, voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to approve a resolution critical of Russia for its handling of the investigation into the death of Sergei Magnitsky, over the fierce objections of Russian lawmakers present for the vote.

Russians not ready to sacrifice their rights for sake of state interests – poll

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Interfax – January 28, 2014) Most Russians place the rights of a person above the interests of the state, however they continue to count on the state taking care of its citizens, the Levada Center said about the poll held in December 2013 in 130 cities, towns and villages in 45 Russian regions and involving

Russian Parliament Passes Anti-Extremism Bill

Russian State Duma Building file photo

MOSCOW, January 22 (RIA Novosti) ­ The Russian State Duma passed a bill imposing tougher penalties for extremism-related crimes Wednesday. The legislation, which the lower chamber of parliament passed in second and third readings, increases the prison sentence for public incitement of extremism from three to four years, and also raises fines for the offence.

RIA Novosti: Putin Picks Kremlin Critic as Russia’s Ombudsman

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

MOSCOW, January 23 (RIA Novosti) ­ President Vladimir Putin has nominated an outspoken Kremlin critic as Russia’s next ombudsman. Putin told rights activists Tuesday that he would formally nominate Ella Pamfilova, former head of the Kremlin human rights council, to the post after a meeting with her. No date was set. Pamfilova, 60, has not

Russia to start fingerprinting foreign visitors in July

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

(RIA Novosti – January 23, 2014) Russia is planning to introduce mandatory fingerprinting for all foreigners applying for visas to the country. Under the terms of a draft presidential decree posted online Thursday, the Foreign Ministry will launch a pilot project in July to test the necessary equipment and procedures. The project envisions fingerprinting of

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