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Tag Archive for Human Rights

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

RIA Novosti: Human Rights Watch Slams Russia in Annual Report

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

MOSCOW, January 21 (Alexey Eremenko, RIA Novosti) ­ Russian authorities cracked down on civil society and minorities in 2013, the Human Rights Watch rights group said in an annual report released Tuesday. The report, the 24th of its kind, cited as a prime example Russia’s recent law on “foreign agents” that tightened rules for NGOs

Interfax: New anti-terrorism bills won’t harm citizens’ rights – Yarovaya

Russian State Duma Building file photo

MOSCOW. Jan 21 (Interfax) – The “anti-terrorist” package of bills will not restrict citizens’ rights and is aimed at preventing the financing of organized crime, Irina Yarovaya, chairman of the State Duma committee on security and corruption prevention, said. “Our logic is to propose additional measures for ensuring collective security measures. We want to disarm

EU Links Easing of Visas to Russia’s Rights Record

EU Map

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Yekaterina Kravtsova – January 20, 2014) An official from the European Union spoke out about several concerns over Russia during a visit to Moscow on Friday, warning that plans for a visa-free regime would be put on hold until issues of corruption and human rights are addressed. The meeting came

Ukraine democracy seen under threat as Rada passes “dictatorship bill”

Ukraine Map and Flag

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Ben Aris in Moscow – January 17, 2014) With a show of hands that took less than five seconds to count, the deputies of Ukraine’s Rada passed into law a package of bills on January 16 that has already been dubbed the “dictatorship bill”. Scuffles broke out on the

Interfax: Pussy Riot’s Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina plan to support women held in Nizhny Novgorod prison

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

(Interfax – January 14, 2014) Two performers of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who were released from prison at the end of 2013 under an amnesty, are going to the city of Nizhny Novgorod, where they plan to meet inmates of Correctional Institution for Women No.2. “Tomorrow [on January

RIA Novosti: Russian TV Presenter Claims Strip-Searched at Miami Airport

Ksenia Sobchak file photo

MOSCOW, January 10 (RIA Novosti) ­ Russian TV celebrity and socialite Ksenia Sobchak has said she was strip-searched at Miami Airport after a security check wrongly detected explosives on her fingers, a claim the US authorities have denied. Sobchak, 32, formerly the host of a long-running reality show and now an anchor at an independent

Fury Over Biographical Stalin Calendar Published by Orthodox Church

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – January 8, 2014) A publishing house run by the Russian Orthodox Church has released a 2014 calendar devoted to Josef Stalin, unleashing a flurry of indignation among Russian bloggers and a discussion about the Church’s ties to the former Soviet dictator. The calendar, published by the Moscow-based

ECHR Issued 120 Rulings Against Russia in 2013

European Court of Human Rights Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 8, 2014) The European Court for Human Rights last year made 120 rulings against human rights violations by Russian authorities, the Justice Ministry’s press service said Tuesday. “As of Dec. 20, 2013 the European Court for Human Rights had made 120 rulings, in which Russian authorities were found guilty

Making ‘Separatist Propaganda’ Illegal is the Real Crime, Belotserkovsky Says

Map of Russia

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, January 7, 2013) From the point of view of both international law and the critical needs of the peoples of the Russian Federation, Vadim Belotserkovsky argues, the new Russian law imposing criminal penalties for the  “‘propaganda of separatism’” is the real crime because it undermines “the inalienable

Rights activists to work for judicial, penitentiary system reform in 2014 – Moscow Helsinki Group chair

Lyudmila Alekseyeva file photo

MOSCOW. Jan 4 (Interfax) – Russian human rights activists will give priority to reforms of the judicial and penitentiary systems in 2014, Moscow Helsinki Group Chair Lyudmila Alexeyeva told Interfax. “The absence of independent courts is our main problem. Another problem on which we need to work in 2014 is the situation in the penitentiary

Interfax: Russia’s enemy are seeking introduction death penalty in Russia – Lukin

Vladimir Lukin file photo

MOSCOW. Dec 30 (Interfax) – Russian human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin has condemned the calls for toughening the Russian legislation and lifting the moratorium on the death penalty as a reaction to the terrorist attacks in Volgograd. “We shouldn’t give in to all hysterical calls to toughen everything, close everything, and introduce the death penalty.

Russia’s 2013: the year in human rights

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

(opendemocracy.net – Tanya Lokshina – December 24, 2013) Tanya Lokshina is Russia Program Director at Human Rights Watch The amnesty, presidential pardon and resulting ‘celebrity releases’ might understandably overshadow the rest of 2013, says Tanya Lokshina. But it’s far too early to suggest they underpin a significant improvement in the rights situation in Russia. What

RIA Novosti: Putin Signs Law Punishing Separatism with Jail

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Sitting at Desk

MOSCOW, December 29 (RIA Novosti) ­ Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law would make spreading separatist views a criminal offence punishable by up to five years in jail. Under the law submitted to the Russian State Duma by the Communist Party, people will face a fine of up to 300,000 rubles ($9,200) for calling

Nearly half of Russians welcome amnesty – poll

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

(Interfax – December 27, 2013) Almost half of Russians (46 per cent) welcome a recent amnesty and about a third (31 per cent) think it is unnecessary, Russian Interfax news agency reported on 27 December, quoting an opinion poll carried out in December. On 18 December the Russian State Duma announced an amnesty in connection

RIA Novosti: Freed Pussy Riot Activists to Start Prisoners’ Rights Group

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

MOSCOW, December 27 (RIA Novosti) ­ The two Pussy Riot members freed from prison this week said Friday that they were planning to distance themselves from radical political activism and focus on a new project to advocate for the rights of prisoners in Russia. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, who spent almost 22 months in

Interfax: Comparing Khodorkovsky with Solzhenitsyn is inappropriate – top Russian senator

Alexander Solzhenitsyn file photo

MOSCOW. Dec 24 (Interfax) – Valentina Matviyenko, speaker of the Federation Council, the upper chamber of Russia’s parliament, has advised against comparing former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was pardoned by the Russian president on December 20 and flew to Berlin immediately after his release from prison, with Soviet writer and dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn, whom

Seven Greenpeace Activists Allowed to Leave Russia

File Photo of Polar Bear on Ice and Snow with Water Nearby

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Yekaterina Kravtsova – December 26, 2013) As the last Greenpeace activist detained in the Arctic 30 protest   received notification Thursday that he was cleared of all charges under a recently passed amnesty, several other international activists who’d already been granted amnesty received permission to leave Russia. The news marks the

Public Chamber Report Says Russians Don’t Want More Human Rights NGOs

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 23, 2013) Russians would like to see nongovernmental organizations provide more help for socially vulnerable groups but aren’t interested in an increase in human rights advocacy, the Public Chamber said in a report. Russia has roughly 100,000 registered “socially oriented NGOs,” but only 5 percent of them are “really

There Were No Bolotnaya Riots, International Experts Say

Russian Riot Police file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Natalya Krainova – December 19, 2013) An international public commission declared Wednesday that there were no “riots” at the May 2012 opposition protest on Bolotnaya Ploshchad in Moscow, which was dispersed after violence broke out with police, resulting in more than 400 detentions. The commission’s findings were announced as hope

Interfax: MHG head sees Khodorkovsky as spiritual leader, compares him with Gandhi, Sakharov and Havel

Lyudmila Alekseyeva file photo

Moscow, December 20, Interfax – Former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was pardoned by President Vladimir Putin on Friday, will become a spiritual leader for Russia’s civil society, the country’s veteran human rights campaigner Lyudmila Alexeyeva told Interfax on Friday. “I am convinced that Mikhail Borisovich [Khodorkovsky] is well-equipped to play the role of a

Interfax: Putin calls for showing respect for all periods of national history

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

MOSCOW. Dec 19 (Interfax) – Russian President Vladimir Putin is opposed to the attempts to agitate or split society over attitude to monuments to certain historical figures. “We should respect every period in our history, and it is better not to agitate or blow our minds with certain premature actions that may split our society,”

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