Russian MPs Mull Potential Response To USA’s Magnitskiy Law

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

(RIA Novosti – November 20, 2012) Russian MPs have put forward various proposals for how Russia should respond to the USA’s “Magnitskiy list”, such as compiling a similar list of US officials or stepping up cooperation with the USA’s opponents, state news agency RIA Novosti reported on 20 November. The House of Representatives of the US Congress approved the “Magnitskiy […]

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Making of Magnitsky List a Murky Affair

U.S. Capitol at Twilight With Washington Monument, National Mall, Washington, D.C., Environs and Sunset in Background

WASHINGTON, November 21 (By Carl Schreck for RIA Novosti) – With the Magnitsky Act moving through the US Congress, American lawmakers are making clear their intent to punish Russian officials deemed by Washington to be responsible for human rights abuses. Less clear is who will end up on this blacklist­and how. The Magnitsky bill passed Friday by the US House […]

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Moscow Bans ‘Political Repression’ Protest – ‘No Such Thing’

Moscow Protest file photo

MOSCOW, November 20 (RIA Novosti) – The Moscow authorities have refused to grant permission for an opposition rally against “political repression” that was to be held later this week on that grounds that there is no such thing in Russia. “The current law does not provide any measures used by the state for repression based on political motives,” according to […]

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Activists Scoff at NGO Law

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Nikolaus von Twickel – November 20, 2012) Although much-debated amendments for nongovernmental organizations go into force this Wednesday, do not expect foreign-funded NGOs to rush to re-register as “foreign agents” with the Justice Ministry. Prominent rights activists have announced they would boycott the new law, which they have lambasted as imposing an insulting title that makes […]

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Georgia won’t close Soviet Occupation Museum in Tbilisi

Map of Georgia

TBILISI. Nov 19 (Interfax) – The Georgian Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection does not intend to revise the status or name of the Soviet Occupation Museum functioning in Tbilisi, a ministry statement says. With the change of government in Georgia activist groups have stepped up efforts in the past few weeks demanding that the museum be closed or renamed. […]

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Food for thought ­- Stalin documentary to be released this week

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Alina Lobzina – November 19, 2012) Well-known personalities who are descendants of Stalin-era forced collectivization victims are to tell their family stories in a film screening at Moscow’s center for documentary films DOC on Wednesday. The center is holding a screening of a new film, “Bread for Stalin. Stories of the dispossessed,” which was created […]

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Russian human rights activists boycott Law on Foreign Agents

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Interfax – November 19, 2012) Leading Russian NGOs intend to ignore the legislative amendments which require the registration as “agents of foreign influence” of non-governmental organizations with Western backing. The law will enter into force on Nov. 20, Tuesday. “I do not know a single human rights organization, which has appealed for being registered as a “foreign agent,” said Lyudmila […]

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Magnitsky Act ‘Law by New Year’

File Photo of U.S. Capitol Dome

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Roland Oliphant – November 19, 2012) U.S. President Barack Obama could sign the Magnitsky act into law by the end of this year, backers of the bill have said. The landmark legislation was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday. The bill would allow permanent normal trade relations with Russia and at the […]

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Moscow forestalled U.S. Magnitsky Act by its own law on NGO as foreign agents – analyst

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

MOSCOW. Nov 19 (Interfax) – Moscow forestalled the adoption of the so-called Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act in the U.S. by enacting the law on NGOs acting as foreign agents, which is quite painful for Washington, but it should be prepared to see a number of European Union countries considering bills analogous to the one just passed by […]

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Putin and Merkel Trade Barbs in Kremlin Talks

Angela Merkel file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Nikolaus von Twickel – November 19, 2012) President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel traded barbs over Pussy Riot, human rights and democracy during Kremlin talks Friday that marked a turn in Berlin’s policy toward Moscow. Merkel, who had been under pressure not to be soft on Putin, seemingly enjoyed confronting her host about […]

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NEWSLINK: Russia warns U.S. over human rights bill

File Photo of U.S. Capitol Dome

(Russia warns U.S. over human rights bill – Reuters – Thomas Grove – November 16, 2012 – http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/16/us-usa-russia-idUSBRE8AF0RA20121116) Reuters covers Russian attempts to pressure the u.S. Congress over human rights legislation before it, being addresses in connection with trade legislation: Russia increased pressure on the U.S. Congress on Friday not to pass legislation that would punish Russian officials for human […]

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NEWSLINK: Museum at heart of Russia’s Jewish culture revival

File Photo of Torah Scrolls

(Museum at heart of Russia’s Jewish culture revival – AP – Nataliya Vasilyeva – November 16, 2012 – click here for full article) AP takes a look at Moscow’s new Jewish Museum and Center of Tolerance: The museum, which opened this week, tells the history of Jewry through people’s stories, which come alive in video interviews and interactive displays. The […]

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NEWSLINK: Three cheers for the Magnitsky Act and American values

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

(Three cheers for the Magnitsky Act and American values- AEIdeas – www.aei.org – Leon Aron – November 15, 2012 – Leon Aron is Resident Scholar and Director of Russian Studies at the American Enterprise Institute – http://www.aei-ideas.org/2012/11/three-cheers-for-the-magnitsky-act-and-american-values/) Leon Aron of the American Enterprise Institute addresses the Magnitsky Act legislation currently before Congress: In the next few days, the House and […]

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NEWSLINK: Top senator eager to clear Russia trade bill

File Photo of U.S. Capitol Dome

(The Hill –  Vicki Needham – November 15, 2012 – http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/1005-trade/268385-top-senator-eager-to-clear-russia-trade-bill) The Hill covers Congressional action on legislation normalizing U.S. trade relations with Russia and imposing sanctions on human rights violators.  One lawmaker wants to expand the human rights sanctions to make them global: A top Senate Democrat said he is determined to jump the final hurdle and clear a […]

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Two opposing lobbies behind proposed US Congress bill – senior Russian MP

File Photo of U.S. Capitol Dome

(Interfax – Moscow, 14 November) Head of the State Duma Committee for International Affairs Aleksey Pushkov is convinced that the US Congressmen’s intention to pass the so-called Magnitskiy list law’ on Friday (16 November) and to abolish the Jackson-Vanik amendment at the same time shows that two different lobbying groups, one political and one economic, are involved. “By now, one […]

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NEWSLINK: Russia threatens tough response if U.S. back rights bill

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

(Russia threatens tough response if US back rights bill – Reuters – Steve Gutterman – November 15 – http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/15/russia-usa-idUSL5E8MFA6K20121115) Leading up to House consideration of Congressional legislation impacting trade relations with Russia, and sanctions over human rights issues, Reuters covers Russian warnings: Russia warned the United States on Thursday to expect a tough response if Congress passes “unfriendly and provocative” […]

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Vyatlag: the Gulag then and now

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

Ekaterina Loushnikova – www.opendemocracy.net – November 9, 2012 – Ekaterina Loushnikova is radio and print journalist based in the city of Kirov Many of the Soviet Gulag camps are now deserted, but Vyatlag is still in operation, though now most of the prisoners are there for criminal rather than political offences. But as Ekaterina Loushnikova has found, memories of the […]

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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

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(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

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(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

Kremlin and St. Basil's

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

Map of Russia

(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

File Photo of U.S. Capitol Dome

(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.

Kremlin and St. Basil's file photo

(“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

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(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

Kremlin and St. Basil's file photo

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

Kremlin and St. Basil's file photo

(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.

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(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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