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Archive for Human Rights

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

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

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