Category Archives: Human Rights

NEWSWATCH: My friend charted the looting of a nation; his death is a warning to all Russians

Boris Nemtsov file photo

[“My friend charted the looting of a nation; his death is a warning to all Russians” – The Sunday Times (UK) – Edward Lucas – March 1, 2015] Edward Lucas reflects upon the Moscow assassination of Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov, writing in London’s The Sunday Times. Nemtsov was my closest friend in Russian politics. I had known him since the […]

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Putin’s Russia between the Reichstag Fire and the Kirov Murder

Boris Nemtsov file photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, March 1, 2015) No one can disagree with Yuliya Latynina that with the murder of Boris Nemtsov, Russia has entered a new era, one in which the political opponents of the regime are killed or intimidated by that possibility and one about which it is critically important that all recognize that reality (echo.msk.ru/programs/code/1501598-echo/). […]

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Nemtsov: Kremlin-Watchers Find Eerie Parallel In An 80-Year-Old Murder

Boris Nemtsov file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Daisy Sindelar – March 1, 2015) On December 1, 1934, a killing took place that would set the stage for one of the blackest chapters in Soviet history. The victim was Sergei Kirov, the popular head of the Leningrad Communist Party and one of the few men who could stand toe-to-toe with the increasingly powerful Soviet […]

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Is Nemtsov’s Murder a Replay of Kirov’s?

Boris Nemtsov file photo

(Jack Matlock – jackmatlock.com – March 1, 2015) Jack Matlock is a career diplomat who served on the front lines of American diplomacy during the Cold War and was U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union when the Cold War ended. Responding to the shock of the gang-style execution of Nemtsov in Moscow, Duma Deputy Ilya Ponomarev, speaking at Tufts University yesterday, said […]

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First Putin Marginalizes His Critics, Then He Kills Them, and Then He Shifts the Blame

Boris Nemtsov file photo

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, March 1, 2015) The horror and revulsion all people of good will feel about the murder of Boris Nemtsov in the shadow of the Kremlin has led many to treat this latest crime as if it were something new. In fact, the killing of Nemtsov is only the latest example of Vladimir […]

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Nemtsov Murder Corners Kremlin

Boris Nemtsov file photo

(Moscow Times editorial – themoscowtimes.com – March 2, 2015) There is no shortage of theories as to who was behind the murder of Boris Nemtsov. But we should not allow ourselves to be fooled by the decoys spread by investigators and the pro-Kremlin media, such as that his murder was the result of a business dispute or revenge by his […]

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Boris Nemtsov: ‘We Must Free Russia From Putin’

Boris Nemtsov file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Mikhail Sokolov and Luke Johnson – February 28, 2015) Slain opposition politician Boris Nemtsov was looking ahead to a planned March 1 opposition rally, though in an interview with RFE/RL’s Russian Service earlier this month, he portrayed the demonstration as just a first step in a long struggle. “If you think that [authorities] would run away […]

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Nemtsov’s Murder Defines Putin’s Russia

Boris Nemtsov file photo

(Bloomberg editorial – bloomberg.com – March 1, 2015) The thousands who marched in Moscow on Sunday in honor of the murdered opposition politician Boris Nemtsov did so because they recognize just how much has been lost with his death. Nemtsov had been brave enough to tell the truth in Russia under President Vladimir Putin. The official response to his apparently professional […]

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Nemtsov Feared Putin Would Kill Him and Now the Kremlin Leader Has

Boris Nemtsov file photo

(Window on Eurasia –  Paul Goble – Staunton, February 28, 2015) Almost three weeks ago, Boris Nemtsov said that he feared that Vladimir Putin would kill him for his opposition activities, and last night, the Kremlin leader did, either by direct order which some are convinced is the most likely or by creating the barbarous climate in Russia which has made such […]

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NEWSWATCH: The Murder of Boris Nemtsov: Another Putin opponent is killed by unknown assailants

Boris Nemtsov file photo

[“The Murder of Boris Nemtsov: Another Putin opponent is killed by unknown assailants” – Wall Street Journal editorial – February 28, 2015] The Wall Street Journal comments upon the assassination of Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov in Moscow. In the gangster state that is Vladimir Putin ‘s Russia, we may never learn who shot dead Boris Nemtsov in Moscow late Friday night, much […]

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NEWSWATCH: Death threats and a late night dinner before Russia’s Nemtsov was shot dead

Boris Nemtsov file photo

[“Death threats and a late night dinner before Russia’s Nemtsov was shot dead” – Reuters – Thomas Grove – MOSCOW, Feb 28, 2015] Reuters covers the assassination of Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov in Moscow. A political reformer who had fallen foul of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Nemtsov had been preoccupied for weeks with details of an opposition march planned for Sunday. * […]

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Russia Beyond the Headlines: Nemtsov murder: Shock and condemnation in Russia and abroad

Boris Nemtsov file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – February 28, 2015) The killing of prominent Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov in central Moscow late on Friday shocked policymakers and other public figures both in Russia and abroad. His associates tend to believe that the murder was politically motivated. They are determined to hold a mourning procession in central Moscow on Sunday […]

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Interfax: Moscow admin allows Nemtsov mourning procession

Boris Nemtsov file photo

(Interfax – MOSCOW, Feb. 28, 2015) The mayor’s office has given permission for a planned procession in central Moscow on Sunday to mourn Boris Nemtsov, an official in the city administration said. “The route lies from Kitaigorodsky Proyezd along Moskvoretskaya Embankment and the Greater Moskvoretsky Bridge. The procession is to terminate on the Smaller Moskvoretsky Bridge,” Alexei Mayorov, head of […]

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Nemtsov’s Murder Shakes Russian Opposition

Boris Nemtsov file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Eli Lake – February 28, 2015) The murder of a high-profile Russian opposition leader has already sent a chill among President Vladimir Putin’s beleaguered political foes. Putin’s opponents have turned up dead before. Russia’s president has sent rival oligarchs and punk bands to prison camps. He has shut down television stations and banned nongovernmental organizations. But […]

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Court finds high treason suspect Davydova’s arrest unlawful

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Interfax – February 16, 2015) The Moscow City Court on Monday found the arrest of Svetlana Davydova, a resident of the Smolensk region, accused of high treason, unlawful, an Interfax correspondent reported. Davydova remained under arrest between January 22 and February 3, and was freed with travel restrictions. Davydova’s defense lawyers had agued from the start that their client’s arrest […]

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German doctors confirm that Savchenko is fine – Russian Federal Penitentiary Service

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Interfax – February 16, 2015) The Russian Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) has assisted German doctors with an objective medical evaluation of Ukrainian servicewoman Nadezhda Savchenko, which has confirmed that her health condition is fine. “Assistance was provided yesterday with an approved medical evaluation of accused Nadezhda Savchenko by doctors from Germany,” the FSIN press service said in a report obtained […]

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Embattled Teatr.doc Proudly Returns to the Stage

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – February 16, 2015) “I always thought this democracy stuff was, you know … ,” Alexei Yudnikov said, his voice trailing off with disgust still ringing in it. “Yes, yes! No, no!” A couple hundred people burst into laughter. The joke was both subtle and obvious. Yudnikov was emceeing the reopening of the […]

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Ukrainian journalist faces 15 years in jail after calls to boycott the draft

Maidan Square file photo

(opendemocracy.net – ZOYA KRAVCHUK – February 9, 2015) Zoya Kravchuk is a freelance journalist interested in international security, politics, human rights, and the media. She is currently based in Vienna. A Ukrainian journalist has been arrested for publishing a video calling on his fellow citizens to boycott mobilisation. He is being charged with treason and espionage. A court in the […]

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Victory for Memorial in court ruling but survival battle is only half-won

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

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Alexei Timofeichev, RBTH – February 3, 2015) Russia’s Supreme Court has thrown out a lawsuit filed by the Justice Ministry against the country’s oldest human rights organization Memorial, seeking its closure. However, despite the court’s decision, the ministry has refused to abandon the lawsuit and is now pursuing legal action against Memorial’s international […]

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Interfax: Monument to victims of political repression will be created in Sakharov Prospekt – Pamfilova

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

MOSCOW. Jan 15 (Interfax) – Russian human rights ombudsman Ella Pamfilova said the Russian administration has decided to erect a monument to victims of Soviet repression on Moscow’s Sakharov Prospekt. “We discussed several options and we decided that the Sakharov Prospekt is the best place. The president agreed with the proposal made by the working group. A political decision has […]

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Interfax: Putin to not attend Auschwitz liberation anniversary events in Poland

Auschwitz Concentration Entrance with Sign Arbeit Macht Frei

(Interfax – January 13, 2014) Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland on January 27, although the Russian leader attaches great importance to all commemorative events, Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov told Interfax on Tuesday. “The president’s schedule does not include such a trip,” he […]

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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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A new drama in Moscow: Teatr.doc – a pioneer of ‘New Drama’ in Russia – has recently been evicted from its basement home in Moscow. But is it all an act?

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(opendemocracy.net – Alexey Krizhevsky – January 14, 2015) Alexey Krizhevsky is culture editor at gazeta.ru and member of Teatr.doc Teatr.doc is on the move. Having performed its last plays and a holiday evening, the theatre packed its bags and left the tiny basement in the centre of Moscow – its home for many years. The director of the independent theatre, […]

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Putin’s Backing Allows Kadyrov Free Reign for Open Threats, Analysts Say

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Allison Quinn – January 13, 2015) Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has embarked in recent days on a marathon of threat-laden spats with prominent public figures, making statements so brazen they would be unimaginable coming from any other regional leader. Analysts interviewed by The Moscow Times attributed Kadyrov’s recent bout of brashness to the unyielding trust […]

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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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Theater and the Heart of a City: Moscow’s Teatr.doc’s Confrontation with Authority

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Blair A. Ruble – January 2015) Blair A. Ruble is vice president for programs; director, urban sustainability laboratory; and senior advisor, Kennan Institute, at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. On the evening of December 30, 2014 — just as two dozen or so patrons were settling into their seats at a purposefully ramshackle basement […]

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NEWSWATCH: In Ukraine’s Donetsk, the ‘death clutch’ of a forgotten war: Both Russian and Ukrainian economies in tatters, half a million people displaced

Ukraine Map and Flag

[“In Ukraine’s Donetsk, the ‘death clutch’ of a forgotten war: Both Russian and Ukrainian economies in tatters, half a million people displaced” – CBC.ca – Don Murray – January 5, 2015] The CBC and free-lance reporter Don Murray examine the conflict in Ukraine, some of its underlying issues and its human costs: * * * Tens of thousands more Ukrainians are still trapped in […]

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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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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 building because of a bomb […]

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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 legislative body and we can […]

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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 succeeded in taking that step […]

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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 the truth about the past […]

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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 in the absence of a […]

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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 parliament to create a national […]

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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 entering the country,” Memorial [press […]

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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 Square to read out the […]

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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] and the For Human Rights […]

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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 part of the third world. […]

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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 communist-era repressions and fight discrimination […]

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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. The story in Lyubimov’s words […]

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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 a Nobel Peace Prize by […]

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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 experts. In today’s “Novyye izvestiya,” […]

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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 and capital. Since the draft […]

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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 office of Interfax on Wednesday. […]

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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 Soviet times, when cultural figures […]

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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 now gone, replaced by forced […]

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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 the majority which suffered these […]

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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. “In principle, this is surely […]

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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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