Law Guaranteeing Phone Call After Arrest Comes Into Force in Russia

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 11, 2016) A law outlining the right of a detainee to make a phone call no later than three hours after being arrested has come into force in Russia, the Rossiiskaya Gazeta state-owned newspaper reported Sunday. “A suspect as soon as possible, but not later than three hours after he [or she] was arrested, […]

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Magnitsky’s mother asks Chaika to confirm publicized facts concerning her son

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

(Interfax – December 22, 2015) The mother of Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died at a Moscow jail in 2009, has asked the Russian Prosecutor General, Yury Chaika, to provide evidence for the claims he made in a letter to the Kommersant daily regarding her son and the activity of the fund’s head, William Browder. “The information you disseminated […]

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Crime and punishment: 25 years in a Russian penal colony

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

The first inmates pardoned from the death penalty will be released in 2017. They have not seen the world outside of the colony for 25 years. Everything they know is based on what they’ve seen on TV and read in letters. What are they going to do, what do they feel? (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Fyodor Telkov, […]

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Kremlin proceeds from moratorium on death penalty in Russia

Sergei Mironov

MOSCOW. Nov 20 (Interfax) – Russian presidential press officer Dmitry Peskov has refrained from giving detailed comments on the proposal made by Sergei Mironov, chairman of the State Duma faction A Just Russia, to use the death penalty on terrorists, saying that the Kremlin currently proceeds from a moratorium on this measure of punishment. “It’s a very complex issue. There […]

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Russian ombudsman probes into high-profile prisoners’ complaints

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Interfax – November 17, 2015) Russian Commissioner for Human Rights Ella Pamfilova has sent an official letter to the Russian prison authorities asking them to provide urgent medical help to the brother of prominent opposition activist Aleksey Navalnyy – Oleg Navalnyy, who is serving his prison sentence after being convicted for embezzlement, privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax news agency reported […]

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New Museum Stakes Claim to Russia’s Gulag Legacy

File Photo of Gulag Victim Ivan Burylov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Howard Amos – November 5, 2015) [Photos here http://www.themoscowtimes.com/arts_n_ideas/article/new-museum-stakes-claim-to-russias-gulag-legacy/542211.html] Russia’s largest museum devoted to the horrors of the Soviet gulag has opened, even as many Muscovites remain unwilling to talk about political repression. Moscow’s new Gulag Museum opened Friday even as the country remains polarized by the legacy of its brutal system of Soviet-era prison […]

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Russian Incidence of Tuberculosis Falls by 30% Over 10 Years

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at lanl.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 3, 2015) Russian incidence of tuberculosis has fallen by 30 percent over the past 10 years, the country’s health minister said Friday, according to the RIA Novosti news agency. Since 2005, incidence of tuberculosis infections in Russia has decreased by 30 percent, while the mortality rate from the disease has decreased twofold, Veronika Skvortsova […]

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Design Chosen for Moscow Monument Commemorating Gulag Victims

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – September 24, 2015) The winner of a public initiative competition to design a Moscow monument honoring victims of the gulags has been chosen from 336 entries by a jury and team of experts. Sculptor Georgy Frangulyan, announced Wednesday on his website that his proposal, a large-scale relief of human figures, symbolizing gulag […]

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NEWSWATCH The Economist: Russia’s prisons. Putin v Punk Pussy. A brave, brassy singer highlights the plight of Russia’s other inmates.

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

The Economist magazine covers prisoners rights activism by Pussy Riot member Nadia Tolokonnikova. At the last count there were 657,000 Russians behind bars, one of the world’s highest ratios of prisoners to population. … The frequency of deaths in custody amounts to a ‘Russian Ebola’. Tuberculosis is the commonest killer, she says, followed by HIV-AIDS, which may affect 75,000 prisoners. … … prisoners routinely […]

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Russia Could Use Prison Labor For 2018 World Cup

putin-fifa-meeting

(RFE/RL – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW, May 25, 2015) A prominent member of parliament for the ruling United Russia party has drafted a bill to allow enterprises to employ thousands of convicts as a cheap workforce to build infrastructure for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The legal amendments reported on May 25 in leading business daily Kommersant create a mechanism […]

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Interview with a murderer

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

(opendemocracy.net – Ekaterina Loushnikova – March 25, 2015) Ekaterina Loushnikova is a radio and print journalist based in the city of Kirov. There are currently 59,000 women in Russian penal establishments. For many of them prison is not so much a punishment, more a way of life. According to the International Centre for Prison Studies, there are currently 671,700 Russians […]

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Nemtsov murder suspect was not tortured – lawyer

Boris Nemtsov file photo

(Interfax – March 12, 2015) A lawyer for one of the men charged with the murder of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov has dismissed suggestions that his client was tortured in order to force him to confess to the crime, the privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax reported on 12 March. Ivan Gerasimov said that his client, Zaur Dadayev, had told […]

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‘Top 15 Russian Fears for ’15’ — a ‘Versiya’ Checklist

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, January 14, 2015) Russians face so many problems and have so many fears that it is often a daunting task to ensure that one is keeping track of all of them. As a guide for the perplexed, Kseniya Veretennikova provides a checklist of the “top 15 fears” Russians have about the year […]

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Russian court explains decision not to jail Kremlin critic Navalnyy

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Interfax – January 12, 2015) A Russian court has explained its decision to give a suspended sentence to anti-corruption campaigner and Kremlin critic Aleksey Navalnyy while jailing his brother, Oleg, Interfax news agency reported on 12 January. Interfax quoted Moscow’s Zamoskvoretskiy court saying that “in handing down punishment, the court took into account the actual facts in the case, information […]

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Working in the Gulag: Russia’s Prison Service, the FSIN, wants to put inmates’ employment on a more businesslike footing, but their working conditions are still more like slave labour

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

(opendemocracy.net – VYACHESLAV KOZLOV – January 9, 2015) Vyacheslav Kozlov is a journalist for daily newspaper Kommersant. He writes on international relations, nationalism, extremism, narco-politics, the Russian opposition and the problems facing Russia’s NGOs. He has at various times worked for Vremya Novostei, Moskovskiye Novosti and the online publication Gazeta.ru. His work has also appeared in Novaya Gazeta and Lenta.ru. […]

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Interfax: Justice minister puts Russia’s prison population at 600,000

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

MOSCOW. Jan 2 (Interfax) – Russian Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov has estimated the country’s prison population at over 600,000 people. “The data available as of December 1, 2014 indicate that 671,726 people are being held behind bars, including 562,172 convicted persons, as compared with 680,210 and 571,269, respectively, over the same period in 2013. It is also extremely important that […]

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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 activist launched a hunger strike […]

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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 life since his surprise presidential […]

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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 of parliament. According to Chaika, […]

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Interfax: Russia’s economic amnesty applies to over 2,300 people

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

(Interfax – February 4, 2014) The economic amnesty declared by the Russian State Duma in July 2013 has already been applied to over 2,000 people, the office of the Russian presidential commissioner for the businessmen’s rights Boris Titov said. “As of February 4, the number of persons, regarding whom the State Duma resolution On Declaring Amnesty of July 2, 2013 […]

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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. By adopting the resolution, which […]

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Khodorkovsky Speaks About Time in Jail, Reasons for Release

Mikhail Khodorkovsky file photo

MOSCOW, January 27 (Kevin O’Flynn for The Moscow News – themoscownews.com) – Former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky has spoken about his life in jail in detail for the first time in a wide-ranging interview published Monday in daily newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets. President Vladimir Putin freed Khodorkovsky last month after a decade in prison on tax evasion and fraud charges in […]

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Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina intend to inspect U.S. prisons

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

MOSCOW. Jan 22 (Interfax) – Members of the Pussy Riot punk band Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina intend to visit U.S. prisons. “We are going to visit several U.S. prisons (including a maximum security prison for women) in the state of New York with a team in early February. As local political activists told us, the prisons are most severe […]

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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 14], Masha and I are […]

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Russian Village Reformer Released on Parole

Map of Russia

MOSCOW, January 10 (RIA Novosti) ­ A Moscow artist was released on parole Friday after spending more than two years in jail for a bribery conviction that followed his move to a Russian village in a bid to bring culture to the provinces. Ilya Farber, whose case has become a cause celebre for many opposition activists, said on leaving his […]

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Interfax: Rights defenders say Okhlobystin’s idea to put gays in prison is obscurantist, odious

Lyudmila Alekseyeva file photo

MOSCOW. Jan 10 (Interfax) – Russian veteran rights defender, Moscow Helsinki Group head Lyudmila Alexeyeva has criticized the idea of actor and Euroset creative director Ivan Okhlobystin to restore the “sodomy” article in the Russian Penal Code. “That looks like obscurantism,” Alexeyeva told Interfax on Friday. “Why are they so keen on this subject? I cannot understand that; doesn’t the […]

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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 system,” she said. “The improvement […]

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Russian Village Reformer Granted Parole

Map of Russia

MOSCOW, December 31 (RIA Novosti) ­ A former painter from Moscow, whose quest to bring culture to provincial villagers resulted in a jail term for bribery, was granted parole on Tuesday. The Tver Region Court upheld a parole request filed by 36-year-old Ilya Farber, who had already spent two years and nine months behind bars. Farber left Moscow for the […]

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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 with the 20th anniversary of […]

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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 prison on hooliganism charges for […]

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Interfax: Amnesty declared is compromise – Russian human rights commissioner Lukin

Vladimir Lukin file photo

MOSCOW. Dec 18 (Interfax) – The amnesty declared by the State Duma should be considered clemency and another amnesty over 100th anniversary since the World War I began should be declared in 2014, Russian human rights commissioner Vladimir Lukin said. “I treat positively any measures of the state aimed at easing the fate of people,” Lukin told Interfax regarding the […]

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Amnesty Bill Passes 2nd Duma Reading

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com –  Anna Dolgov and Christopher Brennan – December 19, 2013) The State Duma gave preliminary approval on Wednesday to an amnesty that could set free members of the feminist punk collective Pussy Riot among other high-profile inmates, and was expected to pass the bill in its final reading later in the day. Hopes and expectations still […]

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Duma Set to Pass Amnesty Bill This Week

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber – December 17, 2013) The State Duma will vote Tuesday in a first reading on President Vladimir Putin’s draft bill to grant amnesty to certain categories of prisoners, a piece of legislation that could exonerate high-profile detainees despite what critics say are its narrow criteria. As part of an effort to free space […]

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Lukin: amnesty bill to be passed in first reading on December 17, in final reading before December 25

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

MOSCOW. Dec 12 (Interfax) – The State Duma may pass the amnesty bill before December 25, Russian Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin told Interfax on Thursday. “We have reached an agreement with the State Duma administration: they hope to pass the draft resolution on the amnesty in the first reading on December 17. It will be possible to speak about […]

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Interfax: Human Rights’ Council opposed to constitutional amendments, favors broad amnesty

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

MOSCOW. Dec 9 (Interfax) – The presidential Human Rights’ Council believes that the amnesty expected to be declared on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the constitution should be full-fledged and broad while attempts to change the constitution are impermissible. “We regard with bewilderment and concern the increasingly frequent attempts to change the constitution, in particular, its preamble and […]

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RIA Novosti: Detained Greenpeace Activists Deserve Clemency – Putin

Polar Map Showing Permafrost Areas, Adapted From NOAA.gov Graphic

MOSCOW, November 21 (RIA Novosti) ­ The Greenpeace activists detained in Russia over a protest at an Arctic oil rig should be granted clemency, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday as 10 of them were released and many others granted bail. When asked to comment on their case at a meeting with Russian writers, publishers, critics and booksellers, Putin said […]

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Putin Adviser Sees Political Will to End Greenpeace Dispute

Polar Map Showing Permafrost Areas, Adapted From NOAA.gov Graphic

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Henry Meyer – November 19, 2013) Russia is showing “political will” to end a two-month-long dispute over the prosecution of Greenpeace activists after they began to be set free on bail, President Vladimir Putin’s human rights adviser said. “It’s a good sign,” Mikhail Fedotov said in a phone interview today from Moscow. “I hope the same […]

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Pussy Riot’s Tolokonnikova is in Krasnoyarsk penitentiary – watchdog

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

MOSCOW. Nov 14 (Interfax) – Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, one of the convicted performers of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot, has arrived at a penal colony in Russia’s Krasnoyarsk Territory, a spokesman for the local branch of the Federal Penitentiary Institutions Service (FSIN) told Interfax on Thursday. Her family will be informed of that in due course, he said. “Tolokonnikova’s case […]

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Interfax: Lawyers say custody conditions of Arctic Sunrise activists acceptable

Polar Map Showing Permafrost Areas, Adapted From NOAA.gov Graphic

ST. PETERSBURG. Nov 14 (Interfax) – Lawyers have met with several Greenpeace Arctic Sunrise activists in a St. Petersburg detention facility, a Greenpeace spokesman told Interfax on Thursday. “The lawyers met with five environmentalists, including Russian citizen Andrei Allakhverdov, who had been placed into the Kresty [detention facility]. The detention facility is basically all right, and the conditions are acceptable. […]

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Russian ombudsman pledges to follow Pussy Riot case

Vladimir Lukin file photo

(Interfax – Moscow, November 12, 2013) Pussy Riot punk group member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has been placed at the medical unit of a prison colony in the Krasnoyarsk Region, human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin told Russian Interfax news agency. “Tolokonnikova has arrived in the Krasnoyarsk Region, where she will serve the remainder of the sentence. As I have been told, at […]

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Lawmakers From 21 Countries Form Magnitsky Group

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 13, 2013) Lawmakers from 21 countries have formed a commission to promote sanctions against Russian officials implicated in the prison death of whistle-blowing lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in 2009. The Justice for Sergei Magnitsky commission, which was holding its inaugural meeting at the European Parliament in Brussels on Wednesday, includes lawmakers from Canada, Britain, France, […]

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The Zone

Kremlin and St. Basil's file photo

(opendemocracy.net – Ola Cichowlas – November 9, 2013) Ola Cichowlas is a British-Polish freelance journalist. She covers Russian regional politics and the arts in provincial Russia. The northern territory of the Perm region is known as ‘the Zone’ ­  a remote region of prison camps and correctional facilities. Ola Cichowlas came to know it quite well…. Russia’s prison camps are […]

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A memorial day few Russians want to remember

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

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Julia Reed in Moscow – November 7, 2013) “Who was killed in your family?” A man in a beret in his early 60s asked me as he joined the long queue of people. We were both attending the annual recital of the names of the victims of political repressions in Russia by the Solovetsky […]

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Interfax: Pussy Riot’s Tolokonnikova still en route to new jail – human rights commissioner

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

(Interfax – November 5, 2013) Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, one of the convicted performers of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot, who is currently being transported to a new penitentiary, is feeling well and eating properly, Russian human rights commissioner Vladimir Lukin told Interfax on Tuesday. “Acting at the request of several human rights campaigners, I got in touch with the administration […]

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Greenpeace Rebuffs Talk of Arctic Protest Conspiracy

Polar Map Showing Permafrost Areas, Adapted From NOAA.gov Graphic

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Yekaterina Kravtsova – November 1, 2013) In early October, Rosneft head Igor Sechin made a brief, enigmatic comment suggesting that there was more than meets the eye behind a Greenpeace protest Sept. 18 against a Gazprom oil rig in the Arctic, an action that resulted in the arrest of 30 people and a black eye […]

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Victims of Soviet Repressions Remembered

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 31, 2013) Events were held around the country Wednesday to commemorate the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Political Repressions, which is devoted to those affected by political persecution in the Soviet Union. Hundreds of people held a rally in central St. Petersburg near the Solovetsky Stone, a monument to victims of political […]

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Moscow Times: Russians See Greenpeace Protest as a Foreign Plot

Polar Map of Major Rail Lines in Russia, Canada and United States, With Hypothetical Additional Route Drawn In Connecting Them Across Bering Strait

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Yekaterina Kravtsova – October 29, 2013) State pollster VTsIOM released survey results Monday regarding last month’s Greenpeace protest in the Arctic that indicate more than a third of Russians believe the protest was a foreign plot and more than two-thirds disagree with the group’s message of needing to protect the environment from oil drilling. Armed […]

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Amnesty will promote civil accord, dialogue between society, authorities – Russian rights activists

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

MOSCOW. Oct 24 (Interfax) – The leaders of Russian human rights organizations believe a broad amnesty timed with the 20th anniversary of the Russian Constitution will help establish effective dialogue between the authorities and civil society. “Will the authorities find the energy to build relations with civil society again” The best way out of this deadlock would be broad amnesty, […]

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RIA Novosti: Russian Authorities Dismiss Punk Rocker’s Jail Abuse Claim

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

MOSCOW, October 24 (RIA Novosti) ­ Russian investigators will not open a criminal case into allegations by jailed feminist punk rocker Nadezhda Tolokonnikova that a prison official threatened to kill her, a spokesperson for the Investigative Committee said Thursday. “A decision has been taken not to open a criminal case because no crime was committed,” said Natalya Afanasieva, a spokeswoman […]

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