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Tag Archive for Human Rights

Russian Rights Ombudswoman Slams EU Over Ukraine Silence

Ukraine Map and Flag

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – October 20, 2014) Russia’s human rights ombudswoman has accused the European Union of “ignoring human suffering” in eastern Ukraine, in an interview published in the state-run bulletin “Rossiiskaya gazeta.” Ella Pamfilova said that although Europe is “an icon in the style of human rights, democracy, and freedom of speech,” it “openly

Russia’s ‘Era of Freedom’ has Come to an End, Academician Says

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, October 19, 2014) Russia’s 25-year-long era of freedom, which began in 1989 with the Congress of Peoples Deputies, has come to an end and the prospects for the future are extremely bleak, according to Academician Yury Pivovarov. If Russians do not transform themselves, their country risks becoming

Five Important Things That Memorial’s Done (And Is Still Doing) For Russia

File Photo of Prison in Russia with Wall, Barbed Wire, Guard Tower

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – October 13, 2014 – Daisy Sindelar) Russia’s Justice Ministry has asked the country’s Supreme Court to liquidate Memorial, the country’s oldest and best-known human rights organization, which groups together more than 50 bodies nationwide. Founded in 1989 under the auspices of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov, Memorial has led efforts to uncover

Honored Burials, Mass Grave for Theater Greats

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – October 13, 2014) Yury Lyubimov once told me about meeting the great director Vsevolod Meyerhold. This happened in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1987. I paid Lyubimov a visit to talk about his old friend, the playwright Nikolai Erdman, but the conversation, naturally and fortunately, took plenty of detours.

Justice Ministry Moves to Liquidate Renowned Human Rights Group Memorial

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber – October 13, 2014) Russia’s Justice Ministry has filed a claim with the Supreme Court seeking the liquidation of the Russian Memorial Society, an independent human rights group. Critics say the move exemplifies the Kremlin’s ongoing stifling of non-governmental organizations. The Russian Memorial Society, which was nominated for

Bill Proposes Softening NGO ‘Foreign Agent’ Law

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 9, 2014) A legislative commission has approved a bill reducing fines for non-governmental organizations that fail to register with the Justice Ministry as so-called “foreign agents,” the government said in a statement Wednesday. The bill, conceived after the Ministry received complaints from the country’s human rights commissioner, proposes halving

Refugees in Russia from Ukraine in Increasingly Desperate Straits, Experts Say

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, October 8, 2014) Many Russian regions now have more refugees from Ukraine than they had expected or can handle, and officials suggest that more are likely to arrive as Ukraine’s economy and weather deteriorate. As a result, the situation of these refugees is “becoming critical,” according to

Frustrated Ukrainian Activists Dishing Out ‘Trash-Bucket Justice’

Ukraine Map and Flag

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW, October 2, 2014) You can call it the “people’s lustration,” the “Trash-Bucket Challenge,” or mob rule. But by whatever name, Ukrainian activists are increasingly taking the matter of punishing officials from the old regime into their own hands. Impatient with unsigned lustration legislation, activists from groups like the ultranationalist Right Sector have

Most Russians Are Against Broadening Foreign Travel Restrictions, Survey Shows

World Map Showing Continents, Greens, Browns, Ice

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 1, 2014) More than half of all Russians are against the idea of the government broadening a ban on travel to Western countries, a recent survey has shown, but one third considers more groups should be prevented from leaving the country. Out of the 1,600 people questioned by independent

Interfax: Amnesty International urges human rights violations in eastern Ukraine probed

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MOSCOW. Sept 10 (Interfax) – Amnesty International (AI) human rights organization said it demanded human rights violations, committed by both conflict parties in Ukraine, be investigated comprehensively. AI calls for immediate investigations of all reports on human rights violations and war crimes, AI Secretary General Salil Shetty said during a news conference in the central

Business New Europe: Amnesty International report: Ukraine voluntary battalions guilty of war crimes

Ukraine Map and Flag

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – September 9, 2014) Rights watchdog Amnesty International released a report on September 8 entitles (Ukraine: abuses and war crimes by the Aidar Volunteer Battalion in the north Luhansk region,” which claims militias fighting together with the official Ukrainian army are guilty of abuses including possible executions. “Members of the

Russian Human Rights Council Attempts to Scrap Fines for ‘Foreign Agent’ NGOs

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – September 3, 2014) The Presidential Human Rights Council has prepared amendments to a controversial law that would stop nongovernmental organizations being fined for failing to register as “foreign agents,” Kommersant reported Tuesday. A law introduced by the government in 2012 requires NGOs that receive funding from abroad and are engaged

Russian Cultural Figures Targeted as New Opposition

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – September 2, 2014) With Russia’s political opposition either sidelined or splintered over Russian policy in Ukraine, dissenting cultural figures have become the new focus of pro-Kremlin witch hunts, with state media treating them as a political force and accusing them of treachery. The practice has echoes of

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

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(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

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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

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(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

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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

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(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

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["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

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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

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