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Russian Federation

    June 05, 2017

    The conviction of Natalya Sharina, former Director of the state-run Library of Ukrainian Literature in Moscow, for holding ‘extremist books’ demonstrates utter contempt for the rule of law and highlights flaws in the independence of Russia’s judiciary, said Amnesty International today.

    Natalya Sharina was found guilty of ‘inciting hatred’ and ‘embezzlement’ and handed a four years suspended sentence by the Meshchansky District Court of Moscow. She was arrested in October 2015 after works by Ukrainian nationalist Dmytro Korchynsky were found in an unindexed pile of books in the library she headed. Korchynsky’s works are officially banned in Russia and the books were defined as ‘extremist’ and ‘anti-Russian propaganda’ by the prosecutor.

    “This highly politicized case runs totally counter to justice, and highlights serious flaws in the independence of Russia’s judiciary. Natalya Sharina should not have been prosecuted, still less convicted,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    May 14, 2017

    By Jackie Hansen, Major Campaigns and Women’s Rights Campaigner, Amnesty International Canada

    In early April, the courageous journalists at Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that over a hundred men suspected of being gay had been abducted, tortured, and some killed in a coordinated government campaign in the southern Russian republic of Chechnya. Men who are released from detention are not safe; they may face honour killings by family members. In response, Chechen officials denied the existence of gay men in Chechnya, and denied they had ordered ‘preventative mopping up’ of people considered to be undesirable.

    People worldwide were outraged. How could this be happening? What could be done to protect the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) communities in Chechnya from discrimination and violence? What were we doing and could we do more?

    May 11, 2017

    In response to today’s detention of five LGBTI activists as they were trying to deliver a petition to the Office of Russia's Prosecutor General on Chechnya, Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International, said:

    “While the activists were released shortly after their arrest, this knee-jerk detention follows a familiar pattern of the Russian authorities crushing activism, and is a multiple violation of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and liberty of person. It is aggravated by the fact that the detainees merely wanted to support gay men in Chechnya, one of the country’s most marginalized groups, and call for their protection.”

    “The LGBTI activists should be allowed to deliver their petition. And crucially, the authorities must respond to the petition itself and investigate the allegations of horrific human rights violations against gay people in Chechnya which have rightly sparked a global outcry.”

    May 11, 2017

    Russian authorities have blatantly misused the criminal justice system, including draconian anti-extremist legislation, in a show trial against blogger Ruslan Sokolovsky, said Amnesty International today.



    A court in Yekaterinburg today gave the 22-year-old blogger a three-and-a-half year suspended prison sentence for “inciting hatred” and “offending believers’ feelings”. He was arrested in September 2016 for playing Pokémon Go in a cathedral in Yekaterinburg, in the Urals.

    “While some may see Ruslan Sokolovsky’s comments on religion as disparaging, this alone is not enough to convict him. Sokolovsky came to the attention of the authorities only when he publicly challenged absurdly harsh Russian legislation that criminalized offending believers’ feelings,” said Sergei Nikitin, Director of Amnesty International Russia.

    April 11, 2017

    Though recent developments in Syria are bound to dominate US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s first official visit to Moscow this week, he must also use the opportunity to highlight the dire human rights situation inside Russia, Amnesty International said today.

    Secretary Tillerson is due to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on 11-12 April.

    “Both the USA and Russia must accept their share of the blame for the international community’s failure to broker an end to the bloodbath in Syria, and in particular we urge both governments to use this week’s meeting to work towards an end to the longstanding paralysis of the UN Security Council,” said Sergei Nikitin, Director of Amnesty International’s Moscow office.

    “However, during his visit Secretary Tillerson must also raise the issue of Russia’s wide-ranging denial of human rights at home. The Russian authorities are responsible for a staggering list of human rights violations, from the de facto ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses and the incarceration of peaceful protesters to the failure to effectively investigate the campaign of abduction, torture and killing of gay men in Chechnya.”

    April 04, 2017

    Download PDF of UA 80/17 Russia 

    80 Russia.pdf 80 Russia.pdf

     

    March 27, 2017

    Belarusian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release all those arrested before and during peaceful protests and end their vicious crackdown against demonstrators, Amnesty International said after dozens of ‘Freedom Day’ demonstrators were violently arrested and human rights observers detained.

    Amnesty International’s monitors witnessed the arrest of dozens of peaceful protesters at demonstrations in Minsk, and saw instances of excessive use of force by the police. They did not witness a single incident of violence on the part of demonstrators. These arrests followed the preventative arrest of prominent civil society leaders and opposition figures and detention of around 60 human rights observers.

    “Freedom Day proves this year more than ever, how little genuine freedom the people of Belarus have. We have seen peaceful protesters viciously beaten on the streets of Minsk today and an elderly woman knocked to the ground by riot police,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    March 27, 2017

    Russian opposition leader, Aleksei Navalny, and all the peaceful protesters detained after the mass demonstrations across Russia on Sunday, must be immediately released, said Amnesty International, after he was today sentenced to 15 days in jail.

    “By detaining hundreds of protesters, the Russian authorities have demonstrated their profound disdain for the right to freedom of expression and assembly,” said Sergei Nikitin, Director of Amnesty International Russia.

    “Russia has broken its own sad record for mass detentions by arresting more than one thousand people on the same day in Moscow alone. Amnesty International monitor witnessed elderly people pushed down stairs, teenagers beaten by police and bystanders and journalists arbitrarily detained.”

    February 08, 2017

    After President Vladimir Putin signed a legal reform that decriminalizes some forms of domestic violence, Anna Kirey, Deputy Director for Campaigns for Russia and Eurasia at Amnesty International, said:

    “While the Russian government claims this reform will ‘protect family values’, in reality it rides roughshod over women’s rights. It is a sickening attempt to further trivialize domestic violence, an issue the Russian government has long attempted to downplay. Far too often, victims find they cannot rely on the law for protection and their abusers are let off the hook, with only a tiny fraction imprisoned for their actions.

    “In the more than a decade since Amnesty International’s last report on rampant domestic violence in Russia, the authorities have failed to implement a single measure to enhance protection and services for the victims.

    January 19, 2017

    Ahead of the second reading of a bill to decriminalize some forms of domestic violence in the Russian State Duma, Anna Kirey, Deputy Director for Campaigns for Russia and Eurasia at Amnesty International, said:

    “This bill is a sickening attempt to trivialize domestic violence, which has long been viewed as a non-issue by the Russian government. Far too often victims find they cannot rely on the law for protection and their abusers are let off the hook, with only a tiny fraction imprisoned for their actions.

    “The authors of this legislation, chillingly dubbed the “slapping bill”, are betraying the victims of domestic violence and effectively giving their abusers a free pass. Claims that this will somehow protect families or preserve traditions are ludicrous – domestic violence destroys lives.

    “Recently proposed amendments that would preserve criminal liability in cases of violence against under age children, pregnant women and persons in a state of helplessness do nothing to soften the fundamentally discriminatory nature of this legislation.

    November 16, 2016

    President Vladimir Putin’s statement that Russia does not intend to become a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which it signed in 2000 but never ratified, is a huge blow to international justice, Amnesty International said today.

    The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the ICC was not a “truly independent and authoritative judicial body” and had failed to live up to its promises.

    “It is hard not to see this as an attempt by Russia to undermine the progress towards international justice. This decision was apparently made with lightning speed, just hours after the ICC Prosecutor said that the situation within the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol may amount to an international armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine,” said Sergei Nikitin, Director of Amnesty International Russia.

    November 03, 2016

    While yesterday’s surprise sealing of Amnesty International’s long-term office by Moscow city authorities will hamper day-to-day work, its staff will continue to stand up against human rights violations and abuses committed in Russia and abroad, the organization said.

    Attempts to resolve the issue have so far been stonewalled by municipal authorities, who falsely claimed that Amnesty International was in arrears on its rent, and terminated the organization’s lease in a clear abuse of process.

    “If the authorities remain unwilling to solve this issue, it will soon start to look ominously like a deliberate move to obstruct our work to defend human rights in Russia. It is becoming increasingly difficult not to see this incident through the prism of the wider crackdown on Russian civil society,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Director.

    November 02, 2016

    Staff at Amnesty International’s Moscow Office arrived at work this morning to find their office unexpectedly sealed with a notice from municipal authorities warning people not to enter. In response to this development, John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe Director, said:

    “We do not know what prompted Moscow authorities to prevent our staff from accessing our offices – an unwelcome surprise for which we received no prior warning.

    “Given the current climate for civil society work in Russia, there are clearly any number of plausible explanations, but it’s too early to draw any conclusions. We are working to resolve the situation as swiftly as possible and very much hope there is a simple administrative explanation for this setback to our work.

    “We are 100% confident that we fulfilled all our obligations as tenants.”

    November 01, 2016

    Russian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Ildar Dadin, a peaceful street protester convicted for participation in “unauthorized” assemblies, and investigate his allegations of torture, Amnesty International said today. Ildar Dadin’s letter from prison was published by Meduza online newspaper on Tuesday.

    “Ildar Dadin’s allegations of beatings, humiliation and rape threats are shocking, but unfortunately they are just the latest in a string of credible reports indicating that torture and other ill treatment are being widely used in the Russian penal system with impunity, with the aim of silencing any form of dissent,” said Sergei Nikitin, Director of Amnesty International Russia.

    “We are urging Russian authorities to end the pattern of impunity for torture and other ill treatment and investigate Ildar Dadin’s appalling allegations. They must also immediately and unconditionally release Ildar Dadin, and provide him with full remedy for the injustice done to him. No one should be in jail for peacefully expressing their opinion.”

    October 18, 2016

    The cancellation of the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar in the Siberian city of Omsk following pressure from a pro-Kremlin political group is an affront to freedom of expression and the latest example of interference in Russian cultural life by nationalist ‘activists’, said Amnesty International.

    The production was cancelled on Monday night after the Family, Love and Fatherland “patriotic” group wrote to Omsk city authorities complaining of “continuous blasphemy” in the musical's plot, which follows the Biblical story of Jesus’ life.

    “This may be just one cancellation of one performance, but it is symptomatic of pro-government nationalist groups’ increasing influence on the cultural scene in modern Russia, where freedom of artistic expression is shrinking by the day,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.

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