Category Archives: Human Rights

Russia Could Use Prison Labor For 2018 World Cup

putin-fifa-meeting

(RFE/RL – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW, May 25, 2015) A prominent member of parliament for the ruling United Russia party has drafted a bill to allow enterprises to employ thousands of convicts as a cheap workforce to build infrastructure for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The legal amendments reported on May 25 in leading business daily Kommersant create a mechanism […]

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Rights Groups Condemn ‘Dangerous’ Russian Undesirables Law

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW, May 26, 2015) Rights groups named as potential targets of a new law allowing the government to brand international organizations “undesirable” and shutter their Russia operations have criticized the legislation, calling it a “dangerous” new weapon in a Kremlin campaign to suppress civil society. Activists expressed concern on May 26 that the […]

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NEWSLINK UNIAN: Ukrainian prisoners in Donbas made slaves in Chechnya, relatives say

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

From 400 to 700 Ukrainians captured in the Donbas conflict zone have been taken to Russia, and many sold into slavery in Chechnya, Ossetia and Adygea, according to an open letter of the relatives of prisoners to the Russian human rights defenders published on the Web site of Open Russia public organization on Wednesday, a Ukrainian news broadcaster has reported. […]

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NEWSLINK Reuters: Russia plans detailed discussion on raising retirement age: document

retirees-500

The Russian government has for the first time said officially it will hold discussions on raising the retirement age, a step whose supporters say is vital because the country’s workforce is shrinking. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/14/us-russia-crisis-pensions-idUSKBN0NZ27R20150514

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Putin Declares War on Russians’ Health

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at lanl.gov

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Marc Champion – May 14, 2015) At what point will Russians begin to question the choices being made by their government? Maybe when those choices start killing them. As Bloomberg’s Ilya Arkhipov and Henry Meyer report, Russia’s health system has suffered a severe reversal as a lower oil price has reduced government revenue and spending. Forced to pick […]

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NEWSLINK Washington Post: Boris Nemtsov’s last act of courage

Nemtsov March of Mourning

IN THE final years of his life, Boris Nemtsov never gave up on politics in Russia, even when many others were discouraged or frightened away from standing up to President Vladimir Putin. Mr. Nemtsov, once in the front ranks of Russia’s post-Soviet reformers, in the last decade and a half became a persistent Putin critic. To some, he was a […]

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NEWSWATCH Reuters: Russian Court Quashes Latest Bid to Jail Kremlin Critic Navalny.

Alexei Navalny file photo

Reuters covers the latest attempt to jail Russian lawyer, whistleblower and opposition figure Alexei Navalny. A Moscow court on Wednesday rejected a bid by law enforcement officials to have Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny jailed for violating the terms of his suspended five-year sentence on embezzlement charges. Navalny, who led mass street protests against President Vladimir Putin in 2011-2012, denies any […]

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In Putin’s Russia, Universal Health Care Is for All Who Pay

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at lanl.gov

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ilya Arkhipov and Henry Meyer – May 13, 2015) Expectant mothers in Moscow must wait as long as six weeks for ultra-sound scans, up from three days last year. Hospital outpatients pay for blood tests and X-rays that were free 12 months ago. And Marif Alekberov, a 27-year-old fireman with leukemia, is being told to find […]

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Nemtsov Report Says More Than 200 Russian Soldiers Killed In Ukraine War

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – May 12, 2015) [Report here https://openrussia.org/] More than 200 Russian military personnel have been killed in fighting in eastern Ukraine, according to a report based on research begun by slain opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. The estimated death toll is one of the main findings of the much-anticipated report on Russia’s involvement in the Ukraine conflict, which […]

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Moscow Times: More Than 80% of Russians Favor State Censorship of Literature, Film, Art

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber – May 8, 2015) Fourteen percent of Russians do not support state intervention when it comes to the content and dissemination of artistic creations, the survey also showed. A vast majority of Russians think the state should censor artistic creations believed to be vulgar, immoral or harmful to society, according to a survey […]

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Russian ombudsman checks reports of servicemen being coerced to fight in Ukraine

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Interfax – Moscow, May 6, 2015) Russian Human Rights Ombudsman Ella Pamfilova has not confirmed reports of Russian servicemen’s presence on the territory of Ukraine. “Inquiries concerning each of the incidents mentioned in the press had been sent to military prosecutors of military districts and directly to the chief military prosecutor. It follows from the official replies received by the […]

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Persecuted Russian Lawyer Finds New Ways Around Foreign Agents Label

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Sergey Chernov – April 29, 2015) The life of St. Petersburg human rights lawyer Ivan Pavlov has changed dramatically in the last 12 months. After his American wife was deported as a “threat to national security” in August, the family moved to Prague, but Pavlov returns regularly to lead high-profile cases and manage a group […]

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Civil Assistance NGO defies ‘foreign agent’ status, ready to go to ECHR

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Interfax – April 21, 2015) The Civil Assistance human rights organization will appeal the Russian Justice Ministry’s decision to assign it ‘foreign agent’ status. “Naturally, we will lodge an appeal against this decision with the district court,” the organization’s lawyer Kirill Koroteyev has said. “We will also request a suspension of the Justice Ministrys ruling because the filing of a […]

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Sixty percent of Russian citizens deem death penalty acceptable – poll

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Interfax – April 19, 2015) Sixty percent of Rusian citizens, compared to 80% in 2001, see the death penalty as an acceptable punishment, according to a poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation. The poll was held on April 11 and 12 among 1,500 respondents in 100 localities of 43 regions. Twenty-two percent of those polled, compared to 16% in […]

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Why Putin’s Next War Will Be at Home; A pollster and a former Putin adviser predict new popularity problems-and renewed focus on domestic enemies

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Ragozin – April 17, 2015) Vladimir Putin appeared this week in his annual marathon television broadcast to answer questions posed by viewers from across Russia. Of course, the four-hour show, Direct Line With Vladimir Putin, was carefully choreographed to avoid anything that could embarrass the Russian leader. But that doesn’t mean the broadcast shied away […]

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‘Optimization’ of Health Reform Causing Russian Mortality Rate to Rise

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at lanl.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – April 15, 2015) Russia’s attempts to reform its health services have resulted in a larger number of people in hospitals dying and an increased mortality rate in the country in general, a report by the government’s accounting agency said. The hospital mortality rate increased by 2.6 percent last year compared to the […]

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Why Russia watchers should listen to Glenn Greenwald

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(opendemocracy.net – Philip Evans, Associate Editor at oDR – April 2, 2015) Elites throughout the former Soviet Union are cracking down on dissent. But before Russia watchers start criticising the region’s repressive governments, they should first engage with the criticism, which has long been levelled at them. From Minsk to Astana, elites throughout the former Soviet Union are clamping down on dissent as […]

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NEWSLINK Kyiv Post/Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group: Politicizing History: Parliament adopts Dangerously Divisive Laws

Rada File Photo

On April 9 Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada adopted four laws pertaining to Ukraine’s recent history, two of which at least are highly contentious, with the manner in which they were presented to parliament and voted on also grounds for concern.  At a time when Russia is waging undeclared war against Ukraine, the need for unity is paramount.  Instead, a majority in […]

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NEWSWATCH The Herald (Scotland): No daughter can be restored. No leg can be replaced: our report from the frontline of the war in Eastern Ukraine.

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

The Herald and David Pratt examine some of the human costs of the conflict in Ukraine. Those who could afford it, or had somewhere else to go, got out when they could.   But often the most vulnerable — the elderly; infirm; poor; disabled — had no choice but to sit out the violence engulfing their community. Nadezhda Kalashnikova’s husband, […]

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Life behind the blockade in the Donetsk People’s Republic

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

(opendemocracy.net – Anna Yalovkina – April 7, 2015) The closure of the border between Ukraine and the Donetsk People’s Republic has divided communities, leaving people short of food and medicines. In January, after spending months trying to secure Donetsk’s airport, the Ukrainian authorities closed off all roads into the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). Now residents of the towns and […]

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Dmitry Oreshkin: “In the light of Nemtsov’s murder, Putin looks like a weak and dependent politician”

Nemtsov March of Mourning

(Institute of Modern Russia – imrussia.org – Leonid Martynyuk – April 6, 2015 – article also appeared at imrussia.org/en/opinions/2222-dmitry-oreshkin-in-the-light-of-nemtsovs-murder-putin-looks-like-a-weak-and-dependent-politician) The Institute of Modern Russia continues its series of interviews with Russian and Western experts on the situation in Russia, its relationship with the West, and the future of its political system. Journalist Leonid Martynyuk speaks with prominent Russian political scientist Dmitry Oreshkin […]

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Russian Church Leader Says Stalin Fans Need to ‘Sober Up’ to Realities

Joseph Stalin file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 7, 2015) A Russian Orthodox Church leader has urged supporters of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin to “sober up” by visiting the mass graves of political dissidents executed under his regime, news reports said. The comments by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk came in response to poll results that showed a growing number of Russians view […]

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NEWSLINK Washington Post: Closing the doors on a museum of political repression in Russia

St. Basil's Domes

The only museum of political repression set in an old Stalinist labor camp has closed, the latest casualty of the Russian government’s effort to silence independent voices. After a three-year struggle with the government of the Perm region, in the western foothills of the Ural Mountains, the nongovernmental organization that operated the museum, known officially as the Memorial Historical Center […]

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NEWSLINK Reuters: Russian court refuses to rehabilitate Soviet-era commissar Yagoda

Joseph Stalin file photo

Russia’s highest court on Thursday refused to legally rehabilitate Genrikh Yagoda, the head of the Soviet-era NKVD secret police who oversaw Stalinist purges in the 1930s and set up the GULAG forced labor camps. Yagoda ran the NKVD between 1934 and 1936, was dismissed in 1937 and executed in 1938 for treason and conspiracy, becoming one of millions of victims […]

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NEWSLINK International Business Times: Ukraine War Forces A Nation To Talk About A Taboo: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

Many Ukrainians, including soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) associated with a yearlong war that’s killed more than 6,000 people, are leery of going to psychologists. There is still a large stigma attached to seeking psychological care. Some of the field’s practitioners here see a connection to the legacy of Soviet medicine, which focused on treating external ailments, while psychology […]

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Is There a Feud Over a New Tsar in the Kremlin?

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(Institute of Modern Russia – imrussia.org – Donald N. Jensen – April 1, 2015 – article also appeared at imrussia.org/en/analysis/politics/2217-is-there-a-feud-over-a-new-tsar-in-the-kremlin) Vladimir Putin’s ten-day absence from the public eye has become the most discussed event in Russia this past month, and also highlights the country’s crisis of governance. According to Donald Jensen, resident fellow of the Center for Transatlantic Relations, keeping the increasingly […]

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NEWSWATCH Der Spiegel: Fortress of Nationalism: Russia Is Losing Its Political Morals

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

[“Fortress of Nationalism: Russia Is Losing Its Political Morals” – Der Spiegel – Christian Neff – March 31, 2015] Der Spiegel addresses the evolution of political values in Russia, amidst the Nemtsov assassination and a gathering of nationalists in St. Petersburg that included far-right elements. The murder of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov reveals that Russia has become morally unhinged. The country […]

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Worker Strikes Will Only Boost Kremlin’s Popularity, Say Analysts

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber – March 31, 2015) Withheld salaries, unforeseen firings and pay cuts have amplified discontent in an array of Russia’s economic sectors, leading to a handful of strikes political analysts said Monday were more likely to bolster workers’ support for the Kremlin than weaken it. A scattering of Russian teachers, builders and factory workers […]

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RBTH: Crimea: Do Amnesty International claims of ‘climate of fear’ have any basis?

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Alexei Timofeichev, RBTH – March 24, 2015) Amnesty International has released a report on the human rights situation in Crimea, timing it to coincide with the first anniversary of the peninsula’s takeover by Russia. The report speaks of abductions and torture, attacks on the media and NGOs, violations of the rights of Crimean […]

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NEWSWATCH The Guardian: How Nemtsov’s murder could force Putin into a big decision

Boris Nemtsov file photo

[“How Nemtsov’s murder could force Putin into a big decision: A month after the politician’s killing in Moscow there are signs of a Kremlin power struggle – and Russia’s president may soon have to take sides” – The Guardian – Shaun Walker in Moscow – March 29, 2015] The Guardian covers the aftermath of the Moscow assassination of former Deputy Prime Minister and […]

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Witness can’t recognize suspected Nemtsov assassin – newspaper

Nemtsov March of Mourning

MOSCOW. March 27 (Interfax) – The confession of Zaur Dadayev, the suspected perpetrator of the killing of opposition activist Boris Nemtsov, is not confirmed by a direct witness to the crime, Kommersant reported on Friday. Kommersant reported, citing a source close to the investigator, that Ukrainian model Hanna Durytska, who was accompanying Nemtsov at the time he was killed, was […]

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Interview with a murderer

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(opendemocracy.net – Ekaterina Loushnikova – March 25, 2015) Ekaterina Loushnikova is a radio and print journalist based in the city of Kirov. There are currently 59,000 women in Russian penal establishments. For many of them prison is not so much a punishment, more a way of life. According to the International Centre for Prison Studies, there are currently 671,700 Russians […]

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NEWSWATCH The Guardian: Fragile truce brings limited respite to war-weary people of eastern Ukraine: The population of eastern Ukraine faces a humanitarian crisis

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

[“Fragile truce brings limited respite to war-weary people of eastern Ukraine: The population of eastern Ukraine faces a humanitarian crisis with an acute lack of basic amenities and mental health problems taking a heavy toll” – The Guardian – Clár Ní Chonghaile -March 25, 2015] The Guardian reports on the humanitarian impact of conflict in eastern Ukraine. Just over a month after […]

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Vladimir Putin: A Reincarnation of Dracula?

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

(©2015 Ukrainian Magazine (Chicago) – ukrainianchi.com – Rev. Myron Panchuk, M.A. – March 24, 2015 – article also appeared at ukrainianchi.com/vladimir-putin-reincarnation-dracula/ – reprinted with permission) In August of 1991 a miracle occurred: Ukraine declared its independence. I remember the joy, the euphoria felt in our Ukrainian-American community in Chicago. People greeted each other in the streets as if it was Easter Day, and on […]

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NEWSWATCH Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières: Ukraine: Voices from the Front Line

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

[Ukraine: Voices from the Front Line – Doctors Without Borders – doctorswithoutborders.org – March 19, 2015] Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) relates experiences of civilians encountered during MSF’s humanitarian relief efforts in war-torn Ukraine. Since May 2014, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has supported around 100 medical facilities on both sides of the front line in Ukraine with medical supplies, in […]

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Outsourcing sovereignty from Russia to Chechnya

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

Just like in business, the centre of Russia has transferred a range of its functions to a regional political ‘contractor’. But now the tail is starting to wag the dog. (opendemocracy.net – Sergey Markedonov – March 17, 2015) Sergey Markedonov is Associate Professor at the Russian State University for the Humanities The North Caucasus is back in the news. This time, the […]

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NEWSWATCH: How Nemtsov’s killing puts Putin in the crosshairs

Nemtsov March of Mourning

[“How Nemtsov’s killing puts Putin in the crosshairs” – Los Angeles Times – Paul Stronski – ] Writing in The Los Angeles Times, the Carnegie Endowment’s Paul Stronski considers prospects for Russian political turbulence following the assassination of opposition figure Boris Nemtsov. Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov’s killing is not just a tragedy for Russia, but could be a harbinger of political turbulence. […]

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Lawyer Claims Main Suspect in Nemtsov Killing Has Alibi

Boris Nemtsov file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber – March 17, 2015) Three more suspects in last month’s assassination of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov have been officially charged with his murder, the Interfax news agency reported Monday, as the main suspect’s lawyer said his client had an alibi. Zaur Dadayev’s lawyer, Ivan Gerasimov, told the RBC newspaper Monday that his client had […]

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Interfax: All defendants in Nemtsov murder refusing to cooperate with police – source

Boris Nemtsov file photo

(Interfax – March 17, 2015) Defendants in the murder of politician Boris Nemtsov have refused to cooperate with the police, a source familiar with the situation told Interfax. “The defendants have declined to help the detectives,” he said. He also confirmed that some of the defendants had refused to answer police questions on the basis of article 51 of the […]

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NEWSLINK Fox News: Jews in Baltics fear creep of anti-Semitism

Torah Scrolls

Jews in the Baltics fear a series of disturbing events in the three-nation region of Eastern Europe may be signaling a revival of the Holocaust-era hatred that once nearly wiped out their numbers. Across the countries of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, Jewish leaders say their communities are feeling increasingly uncomfortable as anti-Semitism once again appears to be on the rise. […]

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NEWSLINK Moscow Times: Vladimir Frolov, Kadyrov, FSB at War After Nemtsov Death

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

The Chechen connection to the assassination of Russia’s opposition leader Boris Nemtsov is pushing Russia’s spooks into political battles they would rather avoid. The FSB appears to have uncovered signs of a conspiracy that implicates Chechen leaders very close to Ramzan Kadyrov. According to Novaya Gazeta, investigators have found a sustained effort by elements in the Chechen security forces to track and target not only Nemtsov, but several prominent opposition figures and public personalities critical […]

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Nemtsov murder suspect was not tortured – lawyer

Boris Nemtsov file photo

(Interfax – March 12, 2015) A lawyer for one of the men charged with the murder of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov has dismissed suggestions that his client was tortured in order to force him to confess to the crime, the privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax reported on 12 March. Ivan Gerasimov said that his client, Zaur Dadayev, had told […]

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Russia Beyond the Headlines: New evidence sheds doubt on ‘Islamic’ motive in Nemtsov killing

Nemtsov March of Mourning

Experts say that conflict between Russia’s security services and the president of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, likely played a role in the murder. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Yekaterina Sinelschikova, RBTH – March 12, 2015) New details in the Feb. 27 murder of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov have cast doubt on the claim of the investigators that Nemtsov was […]

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Ukraine separatists strip Donetsk elite of power and property

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Graham Stack in Donetsk – March 12, 2015) A line of fresh flower-heaped graves marks the northern edge of Donetsk’s Scheglovskoe cemetery, where 33 coal miners killed in a pit blast on March 4 lie. Only 50 metres away stands a pithead of the massive Zasyadko mine, where the men met their deaths. The […]

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FSB-Kadyrov Power Struggle Eclipsing Nemtsov Murder Probe, Media Says

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – March 11, 2015) Russian media has reported that the investigation into the murder of Boris Nemtsov is suffering under a power struggle between President Vladimir Putin’s protege Ramzan Kadyrov and the FSB. The claim that Nemtsov was shot dead by a devout Muslim who reportedly felt insulted by the politician’s support for […]

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Interfax: Kharkiv mayor doesn’t expect fair trial on abduction, torture, threat of murder charges

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

KHARKIV, Ukraine. March 5 (Interfax) – Kharkiv’s mayor, who is charged with abduction confinement, torture and threats of murder, said on Thursday that he did not expect a fair trial but that he would fight to prove his innocence. “I don’t expect justice from my accusers, I don’t believe I will have a fair trial, but I stand ready to […]

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Putin Sounds the Alarm Over Budding ‘Color Revolutions’ in Russia

Tower and Building Inside Kremlin

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber – March 5, 2015) President Vladimir Putin urged Interior Ministry officials on Wednesday to focus on smothering budding color revolutions, thus bolstering the current political climate by reinforcing a widespread fear of domestic enemies, analysts told The Moscow Times. “We see attempts to use so-called ‘color revolution technology,’ ranging from organizing unlawful public […]

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Interfax: No “tightening of screws” after Nemtsov murder – Russian upper house speaker

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(Interfax – March 4, 2015) The murder of prominent opposition politician Boris Nemtsov was an attempt to destabilize and discredit Russia, but it will not lead to a clampdown on the opposition, Russian Federation Council speaker Valentina Matviyenko has said, as reported by privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax on 4 March. “I am shocked by this murder… (ellipsis as published) […]

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