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Russian Federation

    November 14, 2017

    The Russian authorities will tighten their stranglehold on press freedom in the country today by introducing a bill that designates foreign-funded news organizations as “foreign agents” and imposes onerous obligations to declare full details of their funding, finances and staffing, said Amnesty International.

    The move is likely to effect the Russian services of major international media outlets such as the BBC, Deutsche Welle and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, as well as the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta. All political parties represented in the State Duma, the Russian Parliament’s lower chamber, have expressed their support of the bill and are expected to pass it unanimously as early as Wednesday.

    “This legislation strikes a serious blow to what was already a fairly desperate situation for press freedom in Russia. Over the last couple of years, the Kremlin has been tirelessly building a media echo chamber that shuts out critical voices, both inside Russia and from abroad,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    November 09, 2017

    Photo Credit: Ela Lempp

    Download PDF of UA 196/17 Poland

    196 Poland.pdf 196 Poland.pdf

    INFORMAL UPDATE: 11/09/2017

    October 24, 2017

    Prisoners in Russia endure inhumane conditions, often for weeks on end, as they are transported thousands of miles in cramped, windowless trains to corrective colonies in distant parts of the country, according to a new report published by Amnesty International today.

    Prisoner transportation in Russia: Travelling into the unknown documents the cruel and degrading conditions that both male and female prisoners continue to endure under practices inherited from the Soviet past.

    “Convicted prisoners are packed into tiny spaces on trains with no ventilation, no natural light, little water, and infrequent access to toilets. At the end of journeys that can last well over a month, they finally arrive at their destination, thousands of miles away from their families,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    “It’s time the Russian authorities finally rid themselves of the legacy of the GULAG. They must end these practices and ensure that prisoners are transported in conditions which comply with international law and standards.”

    October 23, 2017

    Photo Credit: © Olga Usoltseva

    Download PDF of most recent update to UA 209/17 Russia

    209a Russian Federation.pdf 209a Russian Federation.pdf

     

    October 18, 2017

    The Russian authorities must abolish their absurd “homosexual propaganda law” and end persecution of human rights activists, said Amnesty International after a female activist was heavily fined for posting links to LGBTI-related stories on social media.

    Evdokia Romanova was today found guilty of the administrative offence of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships among minors using the Internet” and fined 50,000 roubles (USD $870) by a court in Samara. The accusations against her related to links she shared on Facebook in 2015 and 2016, including a Guardian story on Ireland’s same sex marriage referendum and a Buzzfeed article about an LGBTI exhibition in St Petersburg.

    “The absurd accusations against Evdokia Romanova are a sad illustration of the desperate circumstances currently faced by activists working on LGBTI issues in Russia. Even the simple freedom to share an online story with friends is now limited by legislation that is blatantly discriminatory and homophobic,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    October 03, 2017

    The sentencing of opposition leaders Aleksei Navalny and Leonid Volkov to 20 days in administrative detention is yet further evidence of the Russian authorities’ relentless stranglehold on civil society, said Amnesty International. The organization is calling for the immediate and unconditional release of both men.

    “The arrest of Aleksei Navalny and Leonid Volkov comes as no surprise. It is a blatant attempt by the Russian authorities to suppress and suffocate any dissenting voices and intimidate people trying to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    “Peaceful protest is a right, not a crime nor a privilege which the authorities can bestow on a whim to people in Russia. The activists’ imprisonment embodies the everyday harassment of civil society across the country, including many of Navalny’s supporters. Over the last few months, scores of activists across Russia have been subjected to arbitrary detention, over-the-top fines, beatings and intimidation.”

    September 06, 2017

    Amnesty International welcomes the initiative of the Canadian government, and non-governmental partners Rainbow Railroad and Russian LGBT Network, which has brought dozens of gay men from the semi-autonomous Russian republic of Chechnya to Canada as government-assisted refugees. This unique government and civil society partnership comes in response to a coordinated campaign against men in Chechnya who are believed to be gay.

    In early April, the Russian independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that over a hundred of men believed to be gay had been recently abducted, sent to undisclosed detention centres, tortured and otherwise ill-treated, and forced to disclose other LGBTI individuals known to them. Chechen officials have also supported ``honour killings`` of gay men by their families. Amnesty International documented the practice of extrajudicial executions of gay men in Chechnya and elsewhere in the region earlier this year.

    September 05, 2017

    Photo Credit: via Amnesty Germany

    The criminal case against prominent Russian human rights defender Valentina Cherevatenko for “violation of ‘foreign agents’ law” was closed on June 19 due to an “absence of the elements of the crime”. She was not informed of the decision and only learnt of it by accident over a month later.

    Valentina was the first Russian activist to face criminal prosecution under the "foreign agents" law. Therefore, news of the case against her being dropped is also a victory for Russian civil society as a whole, bringing hope that there may be space for positive change.

    August 10, 2017

    Russia must immediately release a 76-year-old man with Parkinson’s disease who has been detained for holding a placard in support of persecuted Crimean Tatars, Amnesty International said today.

    Server Karametov, a Crimean Tatar, was last night sentenced to 10 days’ “administrative detention” for picketing in support of prisoner of conscience Akhtem Choygoz and other victims of politically motivated prosecution outside the Supreme Court of Crimea operating under control of the de-facto authorities in the occupied region’s capital Simferopol.

    “Arresting a frail senior citizen and throwing him behind bars for holding a placard is the latest grotesque example of the Russian authorities’ incessant crackdown on peaceful activism by the Crimean Tatar community,” said Oksana Pokalchuk, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ukraine.

    “This case epitomizes the ongoing, brutal persecution of Crimean Tatar activists. Server Karametov should be released immediately and unconditionally.”

    August 09, 2017
      In response to Moscow City Court’s decision to suspend the deportation to Uzbekistan of openly gay journalist Khudoberdi Nurmatov (better known by his journalist alias Ali Feruz) but to keep him in detention while his case is reviewed by the European Court of Human Rights, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia, Denis Krivosheev, said:   “The suspension of Ali Feruz’s deportation to Uzbekistan - where he faces a real risk of persecution and torture and homosexuality is a crime - is a positive step. However, his continued detention despite his claims he has been beaten is disgraceful. He has committed absolutely no crime and it could take months or even years before a final decision by the European Court of Human Rights.”   “Ali Feruz complained that security officials beat him during transfer to the detention centre and showed bruises during today’s court hearing. The judge decided to ignore these shocking allegations.”

    August 08, 2017
    Ali Ferez

    Photo credit: Vlad Dokshin/Novaya Gazeta

    Download a PDF of the most recent update for UA 61/17

    61b Russian Federation.pdf 61b Russian Federation.pdf

     

    On 1 August, the Moscow Basmanniy Court ruled that  journalist and gay human rights activist Khudoberdi Nurmatov (also known as Ali Feruz) must be forcibly returned from Russia to Uzbekistan. It was clear that if he was returned, he would be at risk of torture and imprisonment for his sexual orientation.

    August 01, 2017

    By Joshua Franco, Technology and Human Rights Researcher at Amnesty International. Follow Joshua on Twitter @joshyrama.

    You have probably heard of VPNs (Virtual Private Networks), right? They’re those things you use to stream movies online in other countries that are annoyingly blocked in yours. If VPNs were banned, how would you watch the latest robot apocalypse blockbuster online without having to wait a whole year?

    Now imagine that the online content banned in your country isn’t movies, but rather major social media platforms, or the main sources of information about your religion, or your sexual orientation. Imagine you use a VPN to access this information, and now that tool is being taken away.

    This is what’s about to happen in Russia. It’s already happening in China.

    July 31, 2017
      A new law signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin banning anonymizers and virtual private networks (VPNs) is a major blow to internet freedom in Russia, Amnesty International said today.   “With the Russian authorities increasingly intolerant of dissent, technologies that help internet users evade censorship and protect their privacy are crucial for freedom of expression online. Today the authorities have given themselves an instrument to ban the use of VPNs and other technologies that help people to freely access information online,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.   “This is the latest blow in an assault on online freedom which has seen critical sites blocked and social media users prosecuted solely for what they post online, under vaguely written anti-extremism legislation. The ban on VPNs takes this shameful campaign a whole step further.
    July 10, 2017
      Following reports in Russia's Novaya Gazeta newspaper that security forces in the Russian republic of Chechnya killed 27 people on the night of 26 January 2017, Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia, said:   “These allegations come from a credible source and as horrendous as they are, appear totally plausible for Chechnya, where the authorities enjoy complete impunity for human rights violations.   “Amnesty International has documented the practice of extrajudicial executions in Chechnya and elsewhere in the North Caucasus for many years, and these allegations are consistent with our past findings. They must be investigated immediately, and if proven to be true, all perpetrators must be brought to justice.   “In addition, a full and thorough investigation needs to  be carried out into allegations of the secret imprisonment and torture and other ill-treatment of more than 100 gay men in Chechnya in April.  
    June 12, 2017

    A crackdown on peaceful protests across Russia in which hundreds of people were arrested and numerous others beaten by police demonstrates the authorities’ utter contempt for fundamental human rights, Amnesty International said today.

    “The right to peaceful assembly is guaranteed by the Russian Constitution, though you wouldn’t know it from the alarming scenes today. After trying to intimidate protesters into abstaining from these demonstrations with blackmail and harassment, the authorities in Moscow, St Petersburg and elsewhere have punished hundreds of those who turned up with beatings and arrests,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    “The Russian authorities’ stranglehold on freedom of expression grows tighter by the day. Peaceful protest is a fundamental human right, not a privilege to be bestowed or refused on a whim. We are calling for all peaceful protesters swept up in these arrests to be immediately freed, and the right to hold peaceful rallies fully and genuinely respected.”

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