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Archive for Human Rights

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

A Quarter Century Of Rights Activism: Memorial Turns 25

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Kristina Gorelik and Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW – January 29, 2014) Memorial, one of Russia’s most venerable human rights and history organizations, is 25 years old. Memorial began as a group of Soviet-era dissidents, including Nobel laureate Andrei Sakharov, that formed during Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika in the late 1980s. It came

RIA Novosti: Russian Prosecutors Check TV Channel Over WWII Poll

St. Petersburg

MOSCOW, January 30 (RIA Novosti) – Staff of an online TV station in Russia face a threat of up to two years in prison after prosecutors announced an “extremism” investigation Thursday into an opinion poll concerning World War II. The liberal Dozhd (“Rain”) channel triggered the ire of conservatives by asking on its website whether

Individual Rights Increasingly Valued by Russians, Poll Shows

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – January 29, 2014) The majority of Russians think that individual rights need to be protected even if they contradict the interests of the state, with political rights growing increasingly important in the nation’s perception, a recent poll has shown. About 46 percent of Russians think that people

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.

Russians not ready to sacrifice their rights for sake of state interests – poll

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Interfax – January 28, 2014) Most Russians place the rights of a person above the interests of the state, however they continue to count on the state taking care of its citizens, the Levada Center said about the poll held in December 2013 in 130 cities, towns and villages in 45 Russian regions and involving

RIA Novosti: Putin Picks Kremlin Critic as Russia’s Ombudsman

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

MOSCOW, January 23 (RIA Novosti) ­ President Vladimir Putin has nominated an outspoken Kremlin critic as Russia’s next ombudsman. Putin told rights activists Tuesday that he would formally nominate Ella Pamfilova, former head of the Kremlin human rights council, to the post after a meeting with her. No date was set. Pamfilova, 60, has not

RIA Novosti: Human Rights Watch Slams Russia in Annual Report

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

MOSCOW, January 21 (Alexey Eremenko, RIA Novosti) ­ Russian authorities cracked down on civil society and minorities in 2013, the Human Rights Watch rights group said in an annual report released Tuesday. The report, the 24th of its kind, cited as a prime example Russia’s recent law on “foreign agents” that tightened rules for NGOs

Interfax: New anti-terrorism bills won’t harm citizens’ rights – Yarovaya

Russian State Duma Building file photo

MOSCOW. Jan 21 (Interfax) – The “anti-terrorist” package of bills will not restrict citizens’ rights and is aimed at preventing the financing of organized crime, Irina Yarovaya, chairman of the State Duma committee on security and corruption prevention, said. “Our logic is to propose additional measures for ensuring collective security measures. We want to disarm

EU Links Easing of Visas to Russia’s Rights Record

EU Map

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Yekaterina Kravtsova – January 20, 2014) An official from the European Union spoke out about several concerns over Russia during a visit to Moscow on Friday, warning that plans for a visa-free regime would be put on hold until issues of corruption and human rights are addressed. The meeting came

Interfax: Head of human rights council calls to leave Lukin in his post for third term

Mikhail Fedotov file photo

MOSCOW. Jan 17 (Interfax) – Vladimir Lukin should stay in the post of federal ombudsman, Mikhail Fedotov, the head of the presidential human rights council, told Interfax on Friday. “The right thing to do will be to keep Vladimir Petrovich Lukin in this post. He is ideal for this job,” Fedotov said. Russian State Duma

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

RIA Novosti: Russian TV Presenter Claims Strip-Searched at Miami Airport

Ksenia Sobchak file photo

MOSCOW, January 10 (RIA Novosti) ­ Russian TV celebrity and socialite Ksenia Sobchak has said she was strip-searched at Miami Airport after a security check wrongly detected explosives on her fingers, a claim the US authorities have denied. Sobchak, 32, formerly the host of a long-running reality show and now an anchor at an independent

Fury Over Biographical Stalin Calendar Published by Orthodox Church

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – January 8, 2014) A publishing house run by the Russian Orthodox Church has released a 2014 calendar devoted to Josef Stalin, unleashing a flurry of indignation among Russian bloggers and a discussion about the Church’s ties to the former Soviet dictator. The calendar, published by the Moscow-based

ECHR Issued 120 Rulings Against Russia in 2013

European Court of Human Rights Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 8, 2014) The European Court for Human Rights last year made 120 rulings against human rights violations by Russian authorities, the Justice Ministry’s press service said Tuesday. “As of Dec. 20, 2013 the European Court for Human Rights had made 120 rulings, in which Russian authorities were found guilty

Making ‘Separatist Propaganda’ Illegal is the Real Crime, Belotserkovsky Says

Map of Russia

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, January 7, 2013) From the point of view of both international law and the critical needs of the peoples of the Russian Federation, Vadim Belotserkovsky argues, the new Russian law imposing criminal penalties for the  “‘propaganda of separatism’” is the real crime because it undermines “the inalienable

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

A Rubik’s Cube from the Russian Constitutional Court

Russian Constitutional Court file photo

(Institute of Modern Russia – imrussia.org – Ekaterina Mishina – December 30, 2013) In December, the Constitutional Court of Russia issued a ruling in the Markin case that was supposed to settle the question of Russia’s obligation to implement decisions of the European Court of Human Rights on its territory. IMR Advisor Ekaterina Mishina, a

Russia’s 2013: the year in human rights

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

(opendemocracy.net – Tanya Lokshina – December 24, 2013) Tanya Lokshina is Russia Program Director at Human Rights Watch The amnesty, presidential pardon and resulting ‘celebrity releases’ might understandably overshadow the rest of 2013, says Tanya Lokshina. But it’s far too early to suggest they underpin a significant improvement in the rights situation in Russia. What

RIA Novosti: Putin Signs Law Punishing Separatism with Jail

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Sitting at Desk

MOSCOW, December 29 (RIA Novosti) ­ Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law would make spreading separatist views a criminal offence punishable by up to five years in jail. Under the law submitted to the Russian State Duma by the Communist Party, people will face a fine of up to 300,000 rubles ($9,200) for calling

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

Seven Greenpeace Activists Allowed to Leave Russia

File Photo of Polar Bear on Ice and Snow with Water Nearby

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Yekaterina Kravtsova – December 26, 2013) As the last Greenpeace activist detained in the Arctic 30 protest   received notification Thursday that he was cleared of all charges under a recently passed amnesty, several other international activists who’d already been granted amnesty received permission to leave Russia. The news marks the

Public Chamber Report Says Russians Don’t Want More Human Rights NGOs

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 23, 2013) Russians would like to see nongovernmental organizations provide more help for socially vulnerable groups but aren’t interested in an increase in human rights advocacy, the Public Chamber said in a report. Russia has roughly 100,000 registered “socially oriented NGOs,” but only 5 percent of them are “really

Amnesties Reveal Fundamental Defects in Russian System, Novodvorskaya Says

Kremlin and St. Basil's file photo

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, December 23, 2013) One can only be pleased for those who have been released from unjustified captivity in the Russian Federation such as Mikhail Khodorkovsky, but one should only be disturbed by what such periodic mass amnesties on public holidays and state anniversaries in Russia say about

There Were No Bolotnaya Riots, International Experts Say

Russian Riot Police file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Natalya Krainova – December 19, 2013) An international public commission declared Wednesday that there were no “riots” at the May 2012 opposition protest on Bolotnaya Ploshchad in Moscow, which was dispersed after violence broke out with police, resulting in more than 400 detentions. The commission’s findings were announced as hope

RIA Novosti: Moscow Court Halts Prosecution of Four Accused Rioters

Kremlin and St. Basil's

MOSCOW, December 19 (RIA Novosti) ­ A Moscow court said Thursday that it was halting prosecution of four protesters accused of attacking police last year at an opposition rally that deteriorated into mass riots. The Nikulinsky Court decided to halt the proceedings as part of a sweeping amnesty that is being granted to thousands of

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,”

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

Interfax: Amnesty declared not resolving issue of disproportionate charges in Russia – human rights activists

Russian Constitutional Court file photo

MOSCOW. Dec 18 (Interfax) – The amnesty declared by the State Duma on Wednesday does not resolve one of the main issues in the Russian justice system, the Human Rights Watch international human rights organization said. “The amnesty will allow the release of a number of citizens and this is good. This is better than

Interfax: Moscow to respond proportionally in case Washington expands Magnitsky List – official [Matviyenko]

Valentina Matviyenko file photo

(Interfax – December 18, 2013) The so-called Magnitsky List is an utterly unfriendly step regarding Russia and Moscow will take proportionate measures if it is expanded, Russian Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko said. “I think that this law is an unfriendly step regarding us and does not contribute to improving the climate in our bilateral

Interfax: Russia will pay U.S. “in its own coin” for expanding Magnitsky List – Russian diplomat

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

MOSCOW. Dec 16 (Interfax) – Russia will answer symmetrically if the United States expands the so-called Magnitsky List, i.e. the list of Russian officials suspected of human rights abuses and subject to U.S. financial and visa sanctions under the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said.

Russia’s Memorial regional branch branded “foreign agent”

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Interfax – December 12, 2013) Russian human rights activists have said that a St Petersburg court has upheld the Prosecutor’s Office’s claim that the antidiscrimination center Memorial is a “foreign agent”, Russian Interfax news agency reported on 12 December. The antidiscrimination center Memorial is a regional office of Russia’s Memorial human rights organization. The antidiscrimination

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