Archive for Human Rights

Khodorkovsky Speech Aired in St. Pete Hotel Despite Chaos

Mikhail Khodorkovsky file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – December 8, 2014) It seems St. Petersburg authorities on Sunday did not want a Holiday Inn conference room to show a speech by one of President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent and vocal critics: Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The conference area was searched for drugs, police attempted to evacuate the

Interfax: Head of Presidential Human Rights Council disagrees with colleague from Human Rights Watch on human rights situation in Russia

Mikhail Fedotov file photo

MOSCOW. Dec 5 (Interfax) – The human rights situation in Russia cannot be called bad and existing problems can be resolved gradually, Mikhail Fedotov, the head of the Russian presidential human rights council, said. “The human right problems in Russia can be resolved; we know that it is possible from experience. We are not a

De-Stalinization Hasn’t Been Completed in Russia, Lukin Says

Joseph Stalin file photo

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, November 23, 2014) De-Stalinization will have occurred not when everyone denounces Stalin in a chorus at the direction of the state but rather when each person can assess him in his or her own way and have debates about him, Vladimir Lukin says. Unfortunately, Russia has not

Don’t speak, memory: Voice against Stalin’s crimes may soon be silenced

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

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Oleg Yegorov, special to RBTH – November 21, 2014) Russia’s supreme court is preparing to examine the lawsuit filed by the Ministry of Justice requesting to liquidate Memorial, Russia’s first organization dedicated to preserving the memory of Stalin’s repressions and victims. RBTH reports on who else is telling

Interfax: Putin backs proposal to devise procedure for NGOs’ removal from foreign agents register

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Interfax – November 17, 2014) President Vladimir Putin has backed Human Rights Commissioner Ella Pamfilova’s proposal to devise a procedure of removing nongovernmental organizations from the register of foreign agents after their foreign funding ends. Pamfilova told Putin that the Justice Ministry cannot remove NGOs, no longer financed from abroad, from the foreign agents register

The difficulty of “Restoring Names” of the oppressed in today’s Russia

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

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Julia Reed in Moscow – November 12, 2014) Crimes? What crimes? In 1997, the then prime minister of Sweden, Goran Persson, heard on the radio the results of a survey that Swedish youth knew next to nothing about the Holocaust. Outraged by the finding, he got the support of

Interfax: Russian rights activist said denied entry into Ukraine

Ukraine Map and Flag

(Interfax – Moscow, November 5, 2014) Rights activists have said that the Ukrainian authorities have barred activist of the Russian centre Memorial Vitaliy Ponomarev from entering Ukraine. “They told Vitaliy Ponomarev, a member of the council of the human rights centre Memorial, who arrived in Lviv on 4 November, that he had been barred from

Victims of Stalinist repressions remembered at Moscow ceremony

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Marina Obrazkova, RBTH – October 30, 2014) Every year on October 30, Russia marks the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Political Repression. The day before, on October 29, a day-long demonstration called ‘The Return of the Names’ is held in Moscow, where people gather on Lubyanka

Interfax: Moscow Helsinki Group, but not Memorial, gets Russian presidential grant

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Interfax – Moscow, October 27, 2014) Leading human rights organizations Moscow Helsinki Group and the For Human Rights movement were among the recipients of presidential grants as a result of a bid process held by the Civil Dignity organization. “Among well-known organizations, Moscow Helsinki Group received R1.8m [about 34,000 dollars at the current exchange rate]

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

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

Curbs on Foreign Ownership Will Gut Russia’s Media

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Delphine d’Amora – September 28, 2014) An era in Russian media ended Friday as parliament passed a law limiting foreign ownership in domestic media assets at 20 percent, hitting some of the world’s largest media companies and turning back the clock on an industry that has thrived on foreign brands

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

Ukraine Map and Flag

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

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

Opposition Must Admit Most Russians Were Deceived about What 1991 Meant, Eidman Says

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, August 20, 2014) “It is time to acknowledge the responsibility of the successful minority before the 90 percent of [Russian] citizens, whose hopes for a better future were deceived” following the collapse of the Soviet system, and for that minority to make changes “in the interests of

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

Few Russian Artists Bother to Fight Creeping Trend of Censorship

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – June 23, 2014) As we approach July 1, the day after which obscenities will officially be banned in Russian art, the Russian creative community is doing what it can to make sense of a concerted push on the part of the government to regulate the arts and

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

Alexei Pushkov file photo

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

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

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

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

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

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

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

RIA Novosti: Russians Regain Right to Contest Election Results in Court

Arm and Torso of Person in Brown Sweater Placing Paper Ballot into Ballot Box

MOSCOW, April 2 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law Wednesday allowing Russian voters to contest the results of elections or referendums in court. Under the 2012 amendments to a federal law on voting right guarantees, Russians lost the right to contest the results of elections in court. Russia’s highest court ruled

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 –

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

Fearing Persecution, Bolotnoye Suspects Flee Abroad

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Oleg Sukhov – February 19, 2014) When a judge delivers a verdict Friday in the high-profile Bolotnoye case, the defendants’ cage will contain eight people. It might have held dozens more if some of the potential suspects had not fled abroad, fearing unfair prosecution in what many observers call a

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

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

Interfax: Russia oldest rights group cuts staff, salaries – veteran activist

Lyudmila Alekseyeva file photo

(Interfax – February 10, 2014) Russia’s oldest human rights organization, the Moscow Helsinki Group, has been forced to cut its staff size by several times due to the notorious law on NGOs, Russian privately-owned news agency Interfax reported on 10 February, quoting the veteran rights champion, Lyudmila Alekseyeva, who heads the organization. “In connection with

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

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

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