US Critics Compare Russia’s New Treason Law to Soviet-Era Thinking

Kremlin and St. Basil's

WASHINGTON November 14 (By Suleiman Wali for RIA Novosti) – A controversial new law that expands the definition of treason in Russia is being decried by critics in the United States as the Kremlin’s continuing effort to return the country to a “darker criminal code.” “Over the past six months, a series of laws have been passed in Russia that […]

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Kremlin Silent as Magnitsky Bill Heads to House

File Photo of U.S. Capitol Dome

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Yekaterina Kravtsova and Anatoly Medetsky – November 15, 2012) The Kremlin remained silent Wednesday after U.S. lawmakers moved to advance a bill to punish Russian officials for human rights violations. A decision Tuesday by the House Rules Committee will bring the bill, which aroused strong opposition in Moscow, up for a vote by the full […]

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US Firms Eye Big Dollars from Normalized Trade With Russia

File Photo of U.S. Capitol Dome

WASHINGTON, November 15 (By Maria Young for RIA Novosti) The Louisiana Caviar Company in the southern US coastal city of New Orleans produces a unique fish delicacy that is wildly popular in Russia. But owner John Burke says his company could profit much more if US lawmakers would approve permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Russia­a move expected to be […]

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Russian Watchdog Strikes 21 Entries Off Blacklist

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

MOSCOW, November 14 (RIA Novosti) ­ Russia’s telecoms watchdog, Roskomnadzor, has struck 21 entries off its “blacklist” in three days, the agency said in a statement on Wednesday. The 21 links and IP-addresses included popular internet resources, whose blacklisting triggered public debate. “This includes the Lurkmore.to resource, links to individual pages in the social networking site Vkontakte and also the […]

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Internet Censorship Faces Obstacles

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Nikolaus von Twickel – November 14, 2012) As the number of websites banned or blocked under the new Internet law continues to grow, the country’s media watchdog backpedaled Tuesday by acknowledging that censoring content was technically and legally difficult, and it promised to remove popular sites from the blacklist. The Mass Media Inspection Service said […]

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Despite Putin’s ‘Promise,’ Anti-Treason Law Comes into Force

Vladimir Putin file photo

MOSCOW, November 14 (Marc Bennetts, RIA Novosti) ­ A controversial law on state treason that critics fear could be used to stamp out political dissent came into force in Russia on Wednesday, two days after President Vladimir Putin told human rights workers he was ready to “review” it. The law, initiated by the Federal Security Service (FSB), and signed by […]

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Physicist Convicted of Espionage Gets Parole

FSB Headquarters Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Natalya Krainova – November 14, 2012) Valentin Danilov, a Siberian physicist jailed on charges of espionage and treason amid a spying frenzy that swept the country in President Vladimir Putin’s first term, was granted parole Tuesday and could be freed next week. Human rights campaigners praised the ruling, saying Danilov should never have been imprisoned […]

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Putin’s Human Rights Council Gets 39 New Members

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Yekaterina Kravtsova – November 13, 2012) President Vladimir Putin’s human rights council gained 39 new members on Monday as its total membership count rose from 40 to 62 in a reshuffle that saw more than a dozen leave. A longtime head of the council told The Moscow Times that, in its expanded form, the panel […]

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Kremlin Human Rights Body Bound to Be Less Critical of Govt – Analyst

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

MOSCOW. Nov 12 (Interfax) – The new composition of the Council on Civil Society Development and Human Rights, a 39-member Kremlin consultative body, as approved by President Vladimir Putin “significantly devalues the presence of critics of the government” the council, an analyst said on Monday. “If one looks at who has been included in the council, one can say that […]

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Rights activists says torture still used in Russia

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

(Interfax – Moscow, 8 November) According to human rights activists, torture is still practiced in Russia and people complain of ill-treatment received at detention centres, police, army and mental hospitals. “Human rights organizations have registered incidents of torture and ill-treatment in the prison system. They have also seen an increase in complaints in recent years. Tortures in remand centres are […]

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Head of Critical Elections Monitor Joins Rights Council

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 12, 2012) The head of a U.S.-funded elections watchdog famous for its critical commentary on Russia’s electoral system was included in Vladimir Putin’s presidential human rights council on Monday. Putin is expected to chair a council meeting late Monday, Interfax reported, citing the Kremlin press service. Lilia Shabanova, head of the Golos election watchdog […]

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Putin Approves New Kremlin Rights Council

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MOSCOW, November 12 (RIA Novosti) ­ Russian President Vladimir Putin approved on Monday the new make-up of the Kremlin’s council on human rights and civil society. The reshuffle comes after a spate of resignations that began in the wake of last December’s disputed parliamentary elections and continued following Putin’s inauguration for a third presidential term in May. “We have to […]

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Putin admits grassroots anti-Semitism still exists in Russia

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(Interfax – Novo-Ogarevo, 7 November) Grassroots anti-Semitism still exists in Russia, Russian President Vladimir Putin has admitted. “You have said that there is less anti-Semitism now, but this means that it still exists,” he said on Wednesday (7 November) at his meeting with chief rabbi of Russia Berl Lazar and president of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia Aleksandr […]

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NEWSLINK: Defense chief firing key step in Russia’s military reform ­- experts [Shoigu replaces Serdyukov]

Sergei Shoigu file photo

(Defense chief firing key step in Russia’s military reform ­ experts – Russia Today – November 6, 2012 – http://rt.com/politics/serdyukov-defense-shoigu-minister-061/) Kremlin-backed media source Russia Today reports on the replacement of Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov with former Emergencies Ministry chief Sergey Shoigu: President Vladimir Putin sacked Serdyukov after his ministry was drawn into a major scandal over alleged selling off […]

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Russian pundit says Magnitskiy list not to affect Russian-US ties

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(Interfax – Moscow, 5 November) Russia will not be able to prevent the adoption of the so called Magnitskiy list either in the USA or in Europe, deputy head of the USA and Canada Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences Viktor Kremenyuk said. “The Magnitskiy list will certainly be adopted (in the USA – Interfax) and Europe will also […]

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New Kremlin Headache: Democracy is Alive in Ukraine and Georgia

Map of Russia and European Region of Former Soviet Union or Commonwealth of Independent States

(Voice of America – James Brooke – November 3, 2012 – James Brooke is VOA Moscow bureau chief, covering Russia and the former USSR) Vladimir Putin is suffering back pains and is cancelling foreign trips and his annual November press conference marathon. He may also be suffering from a foreign policy migraine: multi-party democracy is alive and well in the […]

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Why the Foreign Ministry Should Keep Quiet

Russian Foreign Ministry Building Tower file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Michael Bohm – November 2, 2012 – Michael Bohm is opinion page editor of The Moscow Times) Those nostalgic about the Soviet Union got a nice treat on Oct. 22 when the Foreign Ministry released its report on U.S. human rights violations. Reading just a few pages of the report was enough to bring back […]

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NEWSLINK: The Putin Crackdown: First he went after the punk rockers. Then the activists.

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(“The Putin Crackdown: First he went after the punk rockers. Then the activists.” – Wall Street Journal Editorial – November 1, 2012 – http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204840504578087152147315198.html) A Wall Street Journal editorial calls for Congresss to pass the Magnitsky Act: Congress should get over its gridlock and pass the Magnitsky Act that bars Russian human-rights offenders from traveling to or banking in the […]

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RuNet, hate crime and soft targets: how Russia enforces its anti-extremism law

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(Natalia Yudina –  opendemocracy.net – Natalia Yudina is chief expert at the Moscow based SOVA hate crime monitoring agency – October 30, 2012 – charts here: http://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/natalia-yudina/runet-hate-crime-and-soft-targets-how-russia-enforces-its-anti-extremism-la) The internet is a tool that can be used for good, but it can also be manipulated by fanatics preaching violent hate propaganda. Policing is never going to be easy, but the Russian […]

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Law on State Secrets Applies to Limited Number of People, Nothing to Worry About – Kostin

Kremlin and Moscow Environs Aerial View

MOSCOW. Oct 31 (Interfax) – Civil Society Development Fund Head Konstantin Kostin thinks there is no reason to criticize the latest amendments to the Law on State Secrets. He called the negative reaction of certain human rights activists “emotional.” “I have seen nothing extraordinary in these amendments. Any country wants to protect its interests, including state secrets,” he told Interfax […]

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Human Rights Activist Criticizes Draft Justice Ministry Order on NGO Register

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MOSCOW. Oct 31 (Interfax) – The procedure for registering NGOs – foreign agents proposed by the Justice Ministry is comparable to Stalinist methods, head of the Agora human rights association Pavel Chikov said. “The document forms are reminiscent of Soviet documents for confessing guilt of spying for the benefit of foreigners in the 1930s – when, where, under what circumstances, […]

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About quarter of Russians sure political repressions to hit country again – poll

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(Interfax – October 31, 2012) Nearly a quarter of Russians has no doubt about the emergence of a new wave of political repressions in the country, Russian news agency Interfax reported on 30 October, quoting a poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation (FOM). According to the survey carried out on 21 October among 1,500 people in 100 villages and […]

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Inquiry Begins Into Razvozzhayev’s Abduction – Human Rights Activists

Leonid Razvozzhayev file photo with hand to ear, as if holding cellphone

MOSCOW. Oct 31 (Interfax) – An inquiry into the abduction of Russian opposition figure Leonid Razvozzhayev in Ukraine has begun, Moscow Public Oversight Commission head and Moscow Helsinki Group member Valery Borshchev said. Commission members again visited Razvozzhayev at the Lefortovo detention facility on Wednesday. “A detective has been assigned to investigate the abduction. Razvozzhayev has met with him,” Borshchev […]

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Senators Pass Treason Bill Affecting International NGOs

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Bratersky – November 1, 2012) The Federation Council on Wednesday passed amendments to the law on treason that could make it possible for law enforcement officials to target people collaborating with international organizations. The changes, which were passed by the State Duma earlier this month, were approved by 138 of 166 senators, despite appeals […]

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NEWSLINK: Prospect of show trial stirs some Russians’ memories of Stalinism; Some Russian activists are drawing parallels between a potential ‘mega-trial’ for leftist leader Sergei Udaltsov and Stalin’s show trials in the 1930s. But the comparison remains controversial.

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(Prospect of show trial stirs some Russians’ memories of Stalinism; Some Russian activists are drawing parallels between a potential ‘mega-trial’ for leftist leader Sergei Udaltsov and Stalin’s show trials in the 1930s. But the comparison remains controversial. – Christian Science Monitor – By Fred Weir – October 30, 2012 – http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2012/1030/Prospect-of-show-trial-stirs-some-Russians-memories-of-Stalinism) The Christian Science Monitor reports on concerns by some onlookers […]

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NEWSLINK: ‘Love of dead tyrants a common human error’ ­ – Medvedev

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

(“‘Love of dead tyrants a common human error’ ­ – Medvedev” – Russia Today – October 31, 2012 – http://rt.com/politics/love-dead-human-error-654/) Pro-Kremlin Russia Today reports on Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s criticism of Soviet Dictator and Mass Murderer Joseph Stalin, and Medvedev’s critique of those nostalgiac for the Stalin era: It is safe to be a Stalinist when you know that […]

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Critics Fear Wide Reach of New Anti-Treason Bill

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

MOSCOW, October 31 (Dan Peleschuk, RIA Novosti) – The new anti-treason bill approved today by Russia’s upper house of parliament has prompted concern from experts, academics and human rights advocates, who say it could be used against almost anyone. “I see a lot of people around me who are experts and journalists who have become cautious, and who are becoming […]

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Vigils for victims of political repressions held across Russia

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Alina Lobzina – October 30, 2012) The victims of Soviet political repressions are being commemorated on Tuesday with vigils held across Russia. Seventy-five years since the Great Purge was started by Soviet leader Josef Stalin, Moscow’s now disused Butovo firing range hosted events honoring the hundreds of thousands who suffered, according to Interfax. The site […]

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Russian PM says Stalin’s crimes deserve ‘the harshest assessment’

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

(Interfax – Perm, 30 October) Russian Prime Minister Dmitriy Medvedev thinks that Iosif Stalin and other leaders of the Soviet state of that period deserve “the harshest assessment,” because they “conducted a war against their own people”. “For what was taking place back then, it is not only Iosif Stalin but also a host of other leaders who certainly deserve […]

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Russian report on human rights in U.S. indicates that American democracy is not perfect

Russian Foreign Ministry Building Tower file photo

(Interfax – October 29, 2012) The first report of the Russian Foreign Ministry on the observation of human rights in the United States aims to show that the U.S. also has certain problems with democracy, Ministry Ombudsman for Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law Konstantin Dolgov said in an interview published by Kommersant on Monday. “Actually, the U.S. and […]

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Russian Protest Leader Udaltsov Charged

Sergei Udaltsov file photo

MOSCOW, October 26 (Marc Bennetts, RIA Novosti)-Russian protest leader Sergei Udaltsov was charged with plotting mass disorder on Friday and could face up to 10 years behind bars if found guilty. “If anyone expected me to flee abroad, they were mistaken,” Left Front leader Udaltsov, 35, said as he reported to investigators for questioning. “The Putin regime will be on […]

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Russian politicians, experts slam EU for passing Magnitskiy resolution

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

(Interfax – October 24, 2012)  The resolution on the Magnitskiy (Magnitsky) list passed by the European Parliament is “designed to undermine contacts between Russia and Europe”, Russian Interfax news agency reported on 24 October, quoting head of the State Duma International Affairs Committee Aleskey Pushkov. Politicians On 23 October the European lawmakers passed a resolution requiring the EU to draw […]

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Razvozzhayev Tells Harrowing Tale

Leonid Razvozzhayev file photo with hand to ear, as if holding cellphone

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Nikolaus von Twickel, Yekaterina Kravtsova – October 25, 2012) Opposition leaders and human rights groups on Wednesday lambasted the apparent kidnapping and torture of Left Front activist Leonid Razvozzhayev as a return to Stalinist political repression and an unprecedented escalation in the crackdown against dissenters. “Our country has entered a new era of Stalin-like repressions,” […]

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Foreign Ministry Slams U.S. on Human Rights

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Bratersky – October 23, 2012) A senior Foreign Ministry official harshly criticized United States authorities Monday for alleged human rights abuses while presenting a report on human rights in foreign countries. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov condemned what the report described as the often harsh conditions in American prisons, the use of the death […]

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Victims of Stalin’s Terror to Be Remembered in Moscow

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

MOSCOW. Oct 19 (Interfax) – Victims of Stalin’s terror will be remembered at the Solovetsky Stone monument on Moscow’s Lubyanka street on October 29 in a ceremony titled “The Return of the Names.” The ceremony will be held ahead of the Day of Memory for Victims of Political Reprisals, marked on October 30, and it is being organized by the […]

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Investigators Wrap Up Politkovskaya Case

File Photo of Mourners with Photo of Anna Politkovskaya

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 16, 2012) Investigators announced Tuesday that they have wrapped up a second inquiry into the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya and charged five suspects with murder and illegal possession of weapons. “The investigative team has collected enough evidence to draw up an indictment,” Vladimir Markin, the official spokesman for the Investigative Committee, said in […]

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A good death

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(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Natalia Antonova – October 15, 2012) For terminally ill patients in Russia, dying with dignity is often not an option, as many doctors still reject the notion that improving the quality of life of a dying patient must be prioritized. Yet more and more people, despairing at seeing loved ones suffer needlessly, have called for […]

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Human rights activist Lokshina, who received SMS threats, leaves Russia

Tatyana Lokshina file photo

(Interfax – October 12, 2012) The deputy director of the Human Rights Watch (HRW) organization’s Moscow office, Tatyana Lokshina, who has been receiving threats via SMS messages, has left Russia. “My departure has nothing to do with these threats directly,” Lokshina said on her Facebook page. “A couple of days ago I flew to France from Moscow, as I had […]

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Russian Protest Leader Quizzed Over Coup Claims

Sergei Udaltsov file photo

MOSCOW, October 11 (Marc Bennetts, RIA Novosti)-Russian protest leader Sergei Udaltsov was questioned by investigators on Thursday in connection with allegations aired on federal TV that he had conspired to launch a violent revolution. State-run NTV broadcast last week what it said was secretly-filmed footage of Left Front leader Udaltsov meeting Georgian politician Givi Targamadze to discuss plans to seize […]

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A Long Painful Death: Why Russia Is A Bad Place to be Terminally Ill

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Natalia Antonova is the deputy editor of The Moscow News. (RIA Novosti – Natalia Antonova – October 8, 2012) When the tragic details of the final days of Russian bard Ada Yakusheva emerged on Facebook ­ I was stunned. I had heard that Yakusheva was battling cancer, but what I hadn’t realized is that her doctors had denied her pain […]

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Opposition Expose Incites Investigation

Russian Duma Building

(Alexander Bratersky – Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 8, 2012) Prosecutor General Yury Chaika has ordered an investigation into claims in a television expose that opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov received funding from an ally of Georgia’s president and the former head of Bank of Moscow aimed at sowing discord in Russia. It was unclear Sunday what the investigation might […]

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Prominent Russian Rights Worker Threatened

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MOSCOW, October 4 (Dan Peleschuk, RIA Novosti) – A prominent human rights worker in Moscow has reported receiving anonymous threats on her cell phone. Tanya Lokshina, a senior Russia researcher for Human Rights Watch, said she received direct and severe threats via text messages mentioning specific details of her life, including her pregnancy. She also said the contents of the […]

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PACE Report Strongly Criticizes Russia

Kremlin and Moscow Environs Aerial View

RFE/RL – October 2, 2012 A report debated on October 2 by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe strongly criticized Russia, highlighting limitations on free speech, political meddling in the judiciary, and multiple violations of human rights. The report was the first produced by the Strasbourg-based body to address Russia’s obligations and commitments to the Council of Europe […]

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Treason Bill Gains Momentum

Russian Duma Building

Yekaterina Kravtsova – Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – September 24, 2012 The State Duma tentatively approved a bill on Friday to broaden the legal definition of high treason, seen by human rights groups as part of a continuing crackdown on foreign-funded organizations in Russia. While lawmakers contend that the bill would make the work of law enforcement authorities more effective, […]

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Russian Veteran Rights Organization Says It Will Not Register As ‘Foreign Agent’

Kremlin and St. Basil's file photo

(Interfax – September 21, 2012) Following the Moscow Helsinki Group and the movement For Human Rights, the Russian human rights society “Memorial” has decided not to fulfil the requirement envisaged by the amendments to the legislation that oblige non-commercial organizations, receiving Western grants, to be registered as a “foreign agent”, Russian news agency Interfax reported on 21 September. “Memorial will […]

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Golos Vows to Carry on Monitoring Despite USAID Moscow Office Shutdown

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

MOSCOW. Sept 20 (Interfax) – The independent election monitor Golos is searching for Russian sponsors to substitute grants from the closing Moscow office of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Golos said some of its projects were endangered by the USAID pullout. “Nevertheless, we will continue election monitoring no matter what,” says the Golos statement received by Interfax […]

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Russian Analysts, Rights Activists, Opposition Comment On USAID Closure

USAID From the American People Logo

RIA Novosti – September 19, 2012 The Russian authorities’ decision to bring to an end the work of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has been widely commented by Russian political analysts, opposition politicians and human rights activists. Analysts The closure of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) operation in Russia is a disturbing signal which indicates that […]

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