Tag Archives: Prisons

‘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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Explainer: Russia’s Prison Amnesty

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Claire Bigg – October 19, 2013) The Russian presidential human rights council has presented Vladimir Putin with its proposal for a sweeping prison amnesty to mark the 20th anniversary of the country’s adoption of its post-Soviet constitution. Up to one-quarter of the country’s inmates could walk free under the amnesty. Who initiated the planned amnesty? Russian […]

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Broad Amnesty Proposals Need to Be ‘Revised’

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 15, 2013) State Duma deputies are calling for changes to the proposal prison amnesty that could benefit prominent convicts like former oil tycoon Khodorkovsky. State Duma deputies want to make changes to the broad amnesty proposal drafted by the Kremlin’s human rights council for the 20th anniversary of the Constitution, and are working on […]

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The Gulag within: Harsh realities of Russian penal colonies

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Anna Arutunyan – October 1, 2013) For 22-year-old Lena Ivanova, work at a penal colony sewing military uniforms began at 8:30 a.m. and could last well into the night. “There were situations when there was a big [production] order, and the warden would call everyone outside [into the square] rain or snow, and we were […]

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Pussy Riot and Prison Reform

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(RIA Novosti – Natalia Antonova, Acting Editor-in-Chief of The Moscow News – September 23, 2013) This week, Lenta.ru published a letter from Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who is serving a two-year sentence in a penal colony for having participated in a “punk prayer” in Russia’s main cathedral back in the winter of 2012. Tolokonnikova is serving her time in a […]

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Over 13,000 people convicted for economic crimes are now in prison in Russia – business ombudsman

Boris Titov file photo

(Interfax – MOSCOW, September 12, 2013) Business ombudsman Boris Titov believes the issue of criminal prosecution of businessmen is blown out of proportion, although law enforcement agencies are frequently biased against businessmen. “Statements made in the press sometimes blow the issue out of proportion. Statistically, it’s not 300,000 people who have been prosecuted. A little more than 13,000 people, including […]

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Lawyers Want Community Service for Pussy Riot – ­ Report

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

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, August 23, 2013) ­ Lawyers of the two jailed members of the Russian feminist punk protest group Pussy Riot are filing a petition to have their clients’ remaining jail time replaced with community service, a Russian daily reported Friday. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were sentenced to two years in jail last August for their February […]

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Former Tula Governor Sentenced to 9 1/2 Years

Map of Western CIS/FSU and European Environs

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – July 23, 2013) Former Tula Governor Vyacheslav Dudka will spend nearly 9 1/2 years in a high-security prison in what marks the first time a former governor has received such a harsh sentence in modern Russia. Dudka was sentenced by a local court Monday for accepting 40 million rubles ($1.3 million) in […]

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First 13 Businessmen Released in Economic Amnesty

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

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, July 23, 2013) ­ The first thirteen businessmen have been set free in Russia as part of an economic amnesty for white-collar criminals that came into effect earlier this month, business ombudsmen Boris Titov said Tuesday. “As of now, 13 people have been released under the amnesty,” Titov told reporters. Eight people have left pre-trial detention […]

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Interfax: Moscow urges Washington not to extend Magnitsky List

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

(Interfax – MOSCOW, July 12, 2013) The Russian Foreign Ministry has urged Washington to stow plans for an extended Magnitsky List and warned it would react sternly, given the rights abuses the United States is committing globally. “We urged the U.S. administration to demonstrate wisdom and not to take steps that would spoil the atmosphere of bilateral relations,” Russian Foreign […]

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Rights commissioner denounces Magnitsky’s postmortem conviction

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

(Interfax – MOSCOW, July 11, 2013) Russian Human Rights Commissioner Vladimir Lukin has denounced the postmortem conviction of late Hermitage Capital auditor Sergei Magnitsky by Moscow’s Tverskoi Court. “I object to trying people post mortem. There is an element of some ancient pagan mentality in this,” Lukin told Interfax on Thursday. “Then let’s arrange the trial of Ivan the Terrible […]

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Hermitage Capital blasts Magnitsky’s posthumous conviction

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

(Interfax – MOSCOW, July 11, 2013) British investment fund Hermitage Capital has attacked Thursday’s posthumous conviction of its lawyer Sergei Magnitsky and in absentia conviction of its chief executive William Browder. “This trial reflects the authorities’ disrespect for fundamental international legal values and personal rights and freedoms,” Hermitage said in a statement made available to Interfax. Moscow’s Tverskoi Court convicted […]

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Rights Council Members Shown a Transformed Chechnya

Map of Chechnya and Environs

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – July 11, 2013) During the Second Chechen War, witnesses described Chechnya’s Chernokozovo prison as a place where suspected Chechen rebels were tortured until their relatives paid a bribe sufficient for their release. Prisoners arriving at the facility were greeted with the phrase “Welcome to hell” and subsequently forced to undergo a series […]

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Human right activist supports British ban on Russians on Magnitsky List

File Photo of British Parliament Building Including Saint Stephen's Tower Containing Big Ben

(Interfax – July 9, 2013) Russian veteran human rights defender, Moscow Helsinki Group (MHG) head Lyudmila Alexeyeva has supported the British ban on 60 Russians on the Magnitsky List from entering the UK. “Certainly, I would like people involved in the Magnitsky case to be punished here, in Russia. That would have displayed our wish to become a democracy, put […]

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