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Russian Federation

    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.

    September 09, 2016

    Responding to the violent attack last night by masked men on activists from Greenpeace Russia and Environmental Watch for the North Caucasus camp in Krasnodar Region (Southern Russia), Amnesty International said:

    “The violent attack on Greenpeace and Environmental Watch activists who came to Krasnodar Region to help extinguish forest fires takes a step further the ongoing assault on the right to freedom of association in Russia. Whoever is behind this vicious act, it clearly happens in the context of reprisals and smear campaigns against independent civil society organizations which have been orchestrated by the authorities. Failure to investigate this incident promptly and effectively, and to protect the activists from further violence would be akin to official acquiescence in this attack,” said Sergei Nikitin, Head of Amnesty International’s office in Russia.


    September 05, 2016
    The detention of Ruslan Sokolovsky, a Russian blogger from Yekaterinburg (Urals region) who was sentenced to administrative arrest for two months after posting a video of himself   playing Pokémon Go in a church is a farcical attack on freedom of expression, said Amnesty International.   “The absurdity of the case of the Russian blogger jailed for playing Pokémon Go in a church highlights what happens when authorities hold the freedom of expression in such low regard. Even if Sokolovsky’s behaviour may have been regarded as disrespectful by some, states should not be jailing people simply for offending religious sensibilities,” said John Dalhuisen, Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.   Ruslan Sokolovsky was arrested under charges of “preventing the realisation of the right to freedom of conscience and religion and incitement of hatred” on 3 September.   Background
    August 08, 2016

    In response to remarks by Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova that the International Paralympic Committee’s ban of Russia’s Paralympic team over doping concerns was a “betrayal of [international] human rights standards,” Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Programme Director Europe & Central Asia at Amnesty International said: 

    “The Foreign Ministry spokesperson is right that human rights should never be betrayed. But human rights begin at home, and on this front her government is a top contender for the Gold Medal for Hypocrisy.

    “With a government that bombs Syrian hospitals, locks people up for criticizing the authorities, tortures detainees, silences the LGBT-community through the ‘propaganda’ law, and smears independent organizations as ‘foreign agents’, who is really betraying human rights in Russia?” 



    For media inquiries, please contact Jacob Kuehn // 613-744-7667, ext 236 // email: 

    March 21, 2016

    The case of Ukrainian helicopter pilot Nadiya Savchenko, found guilty of murder today by a court in southern Russia, must go immediately for a fair retrial, Amnesty International said.

    “It is abhorrent to send Nadiya Savchenko to prison after such a flawed, deeply politicized trial,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia. 

    “The litany of dubious procedures and decisions by the presiding judge over the course of this trial shows a clear contempt for due process and suggests Nadiya never had a hope of proving her innocence.

    “The only way justice can be delivered both for Nadiya, and the journalists who were killed, is for there to be a full and impartial investigation into her allegations and a retrial that remains free of political interference and complies with international fair trial standards.”


    For further information contact John Tackaberry, Media Relations
    (613)744-7667 #236

    March 10, 2016

    The violent assault on human rights defenders (HRDs) and journalists in the Russian Republic of Ingushetia is further evidence of the authorities’ abject failure to protect those who work to safeguard human rights, said Amnesty International today.

    Human rights defenders from the Joint Mobile Group (JMG) in the Russian North Caucasus, along with journalists from Russian, Swedish and Norwegian media, were beaten up and had their vehicle set ablaze on Wednesday evening.

    “This is the latest and most brazen in a series of attacks on the JMG and journalists in the Russian North Caucasus. So far these attacks have been answered simply with verbal condemnation rather than effective prosecutions,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    “This is an opportunity for the authorities to demonstrate that their words can be backed by deeds, by bringing to justice not only those who carried out this crime but also those who may have ordered it.”

    February 25, 2016

    Russia is violating international law by trying to deport three Syrian refugees who were detained in Dagestan after seeking asylum in the country, Amnesty International has said.

    The three men are due to be flown to Damascus on Thursday despite the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) asking Russia not to deport them to a country at war.

    “The Russian authorities are pretending it is safe for people to go back to the country where Russia itself is a warring party and is unforgivably ignoring the country’s refugee crisis,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    “The attempt to deport these three men - in violation of international human rights and refugee law - is the latest example exposing Russia’s shameful approach to people in need of international protection.”

    In 2015, not a single person from Syria was given refugee status in Russia, while temporary asylum was given to only 482 people.

    December 07, 2015

    Russia’s jailing of a peaceful opposition activist for violating the country’s new law on public assemblies is a shocking and cynical attack on freedom of expression, Amnesty International said today.

    Ildar Dadin was sentenced to three years in jail by a Moscow court for repeated anti-government street protests. He is the first person to be jailed using the law, which was introduced in 2014 and punishes repeated breaches of public assembly rules.

    “The shocking sentencing of Ildar Dadin shows that the Russian authorities are using the law on public assemblies to fast-track peaceful protesters to prison,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International.

    “This cynical move shows that compared to the drawn out criminal proceedings against peaceful protesters in the past, the authorities have now created a shortcut for imprisoning activists. It is more dangerous to be a peaceful activist in Russia than at any time in recent years.”

    The recent changes to Russia’s draconian law on public assemblies criminalize anyone found to have violated the law more than twice within 180 days.

    November 10, 2015

    The long overdue release of a campaigner jailed after he protested against the devastating environmental impact of the Sochi Olympic Games is no doubt a great relief for him and his family, but his imprisonment on absurd charges was a prime example of the disturbing tactics used by the Russian authorities to silence critics, said Amnesty International today.

    Evgeniy Vitishko of the NGO Environmental Watch on North Caucasus was jailed for 15 days in February 2014 on trumped-up charges of “hooliganism" after he was accused of "swearing at a bus stop”. Immediately after serving this term, he started serving the three-year sentence for allegedly damaging a fence that was concealing illegal construction in a protected forested area.

    Today a court ordered his release, effective 20 November, after having served half of his sentence in a prison colony in Russia’s Tambov region.

    August 25, 2015

    Hefty prison sentences of up to two decades handed down by a Russian military court against two Ukrainian activists today are a blatant injustice after a patently unfair trial marred by credible allegations of torture, Amnesty International said.

    The military court in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don sentenced film director Oleg Sentsov to 20 years and ecologist and anti-fascist activist Aleksandr Kolchenko to 10 years on “terrorism” charges which they deny and claim were politically motivated. The two were accused of arson attacks on pro-Russian groups following Russia’s occupation of Crimea last year.

    “This whole trial was designed to send a message. It played into Russia’s propaganda war against Ukraine and was redolent of Stalinist-era show trials of dissidents,” said Heather McGill, Eurasia Researcher at Amnesty International.

    “This trial was fatally flawed and credible allegations of torture and other ill-treatment have been ignored by the court. Both Oleg Sentsov and one of the main witnesses for the prosecution have alleged that they were tortured.


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