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Russian Federation

    May 23, 2014

    A Moscow court has upped the ante in the Russian government’s assault on independent civil society by refusing to overturn an order forcing a leading human rights organisation to register as a “foreign agent”.

    In the spring of 2013 the Prosecutors Office ordered several Russian non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including the Human Rights Centre Memorial, Golos, Public Verdict and Jurix, which were in court today, to register as “foreign agents” under draconian new legislation introduced last year.

    Today Memorial lost its case. The hearings in the cases of the other three NGOs, Public Verdict, Golos and Jurix have been postponed.

    “The hearing was a grim farce. The court had the opportunity to uphold the right to freedom of association. Instead, it has helped the authorities put another nail in its coffin,” said Sergei Nikitin, Amnesty International’s Moscow Office Director.

    May 23, 2014

    Crimean Tatars face an uncertain future in the annexed peninsula, said Amnesty International today, ahead of presidential elections in Ukraine in which they and other residents of Crimea will no longer be able to take part.

     “Despite assurances made by the de facto Crimean authorities to protect the rights of Tatars, since the annexation of the peninsula by Russia in March this year, the Tatar community has faced increasing violence and discrimination,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director.

    “The Russian authorities have allowed armed groups that have been behind some brutal attacks against the Tatars to operate freely in Crimea. They have alienated Crimean Tatars by harassing Tatar leaders, threatening to dissolve their highest representative body, and restricting their rights to freedom of assembly and expression.

    “Up to 7,000 Tatars have fled Crimea already. Those who have stayed face the unenviable choice of having to give up their Ukrainian citizenship and accept a Russian one or become ‘foreigners’ in their homeland.”

    May 22, 2014

    Russia and China have displayed a chilling disregard for countless victims of serious human rights abuses in Syria by vetoing a UN Security Council resolution today to refer the situation to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), said Amnesty International.

    “The vetoes by Russia and China are a callous political move that betrays suffering people in Syria. The resolution would have allowed the ICC to step in to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by all sides to the conflict and sent an important message that these horrific crimes cannot be committed with impunity,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.

    May 21, 2014

    The conviction of five men for the murder of Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya marks only a small step towards justice. The process has left too many questions unanswered and full justice will not be served until those who ordered the crime are identified and face the courts, Amnesty International said.

    “The tragic murder of Anna Politkovskaya uncovered the incredible dangers faced by those trying to expose human rights abuses and corruption in Russia. Until justice is delivered on her case, all journalists and activists will be at risk,” said Sergei Nikitin, Head of Amnesty International’s office in Russia.

    “Authorities in Russia must demonstrate with concrete actions that they are trying to establish who wanted Anna Politkovskaya dead. Those who ordered her killing must be identified and face justice.”

    Late on Tuesday, a court in Moscow convicted five men for carrying out the 2006 murder of the journalist outside her apartment in the capital. It is still not known who ordered her killing.

    May 05, 2014

    Released 0600 GMT, 5 May 2014

    The Russian authorities are doing all they can to scupper any protests to mark the second anniversary of the Bolotnaya Square demonstration on 6 May 2012, said Amnesty International.

    In the last two weeks independent media have been targeted and websites blocked. Moscow’s authorities have refused to authorize a public event on or anywhere near Bolotnaya Square to commemorate the demonstration, where hundreds of peaceful protesters were arrested and scores injured.

    “The Russian authorities are suffocating the right to freedom of expression and crushing freedom of assembly. The uncompromising reaction to the recent spate of peaceful demonstrations in Moscow has exposed just how difficult and dangerous it has become to organize and participate in protests,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    April 08, 2014

    Today’s decision by the St Petersburg City Court to deny the appeal of a prominent Russian non-governmental organization (NGO) against a previous court order to register as a “foreign agent” is a legal assault on the whole of civil society in Russia, Amnesty International said.

    Anti-Discrimination Centre Memorial, an important human rights NGO working on behalf of victims of racism and xenophobia in Russia, decided to close down its activities in Russia rather than wear the label of a “foreign agent” or risk the criminal prosecution of its leader for failing to register. 

    “The court had two options, and its choice was not in favour of justice and human rights. Its disheartening decision is in line with the prevailing tendency promoted by the Russian government to stamp its authority on any civil society activity. It sets a dangerous precedent which could be used against other NGOs,” said Sergei Nikitin, Director of Amnesty International’s Moscow office.

    March 25, 2014

    Today’s decision by Moscow City Court to uphold the conviction of peaceful protester Mikhail Kosenko is a perversion of justice that will see him detained in a psychiatric institution, potentially indefinitely, to undergo “treatment” he neither needs nor wants, Amnesty International said.

    Mikhail Kosenko was arrested after he took part in a protest in Bolotnaya Square in May 2012 which turned violent. He was charged with taking part in “mass riots” and using violence against police officers – accusations which Amnesty International considers to be politically motivated and which were contradicted by strong evidence not taken into account at trial.

    “In Mikhail Kosenko’s case, the courts are returning to an abhorrent practice that is redolent of the worst of Soviet-era tactics to crush dissent: the use of forced psychiatric treatment as a means to punish critics,” said Sergei Nikitin, Amnesty International’s Moscow Office Director.

    March 24, 2014
    Pro-Russian protesters attend a rally in Simferopol, Crimea following the region being formally annexed by the Russian Federation on 21 March 2014

    by Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General

    Two decades of stuttering human rights reform in Ukraine was almost scuppered overnight when, on 16 January this year, the Parliament in Kyiv railroaded through a raft of new legislation to restrict the freedoms of expression, association and assembly.

    March 14, 2014

    The Russian authorities have launched a full-scale onslaught on the few remaining independent media in Russia, blocking a number of internet sites in the Russian Federation, Amnesty International said today.

    "The blocking of these sites is a clear violation of the right to freedom of expression. It is an unashamed attack on those who still dare to question the Kremlin-dictated narrative by providing independent, impartial information and offer a platform for free debate,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    “In the past months and weeks the Russian authorities have embarked on a campaign to stifle free media. It started with unofficial censorship and self-censorship, and quickly evolved into open gagging of independent media outlets. This is reminiscent of the Soviet-era jamming of radio stations.”  

    The Office of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation ordered the blocking of several high profile sites for purportedly making “appeals for illegal activity and participation in mass events, organized in violation of the established order”.

    March 06, 2014

    The Russian authorities must promptly launch an independent and impartial investigation into an apparently unprovoked and premeditated attack in Nizhny Novgorod this morning on human rights activists, including former Pussy Riot members Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina, Amnesty International said.

    “By all accounts, this violent attack appears to have been premeditated by an organized group. The unidentified assailants chanted slogans, held aloft a banner and filmed the entire incident,” said Sergei Nikitin, Director of Amnesty International’s Moscow office.

    “The Russian authorities must not tolerate such attacks on peaceful activists. They must launch a prompt, impartial and independent investigation into this and all such incidents, and bring those responsible to justice.”

    March 03, 2014

    The detention of hundreds of anti-war protesters over the weekend is another manifestation of the increasing crackdown on the freedom of expression and assembly in Russia, Amnesty International said.  

    Today a Moscow court also ordered the detention of two protesters for five days on administrative charges.

    “The government’s crackdown of the anti-war protestors is highly alarming. In a number of cities people have been targeted for taking part in demonstrations. This is state-sanctioned harassment and intimidation,” said Sergei Nikitin, Director of Amnesty International’s Moscow Office.

    “The Russian authorities are obliged to respect the rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression. They must immediately and unconditionally release the two imprisoned protesters whom Amnesty International considers to be prisoners of conscience.”

    Hundreds of demonstrators protesting against Russian military intervention in Ukraine were detained in front of the Ministry of Defence on Manezhnaya square. Dozens were kept at police stations overnight.

    February 24, 2014

    In January this year, Elena Klimova was charged under Russia’s new anti-'gay propaganda' law for running "Children 404", a website offering support to LGBTI teenagers.

    On February 21st, Elena's case was heard in court. The court ruled in her favour. Elena has been told that she can continue Children 404, her project that offers a lifeline to Russian teens.

    Thank you to Amnesty supporters for taking action to free Elena Klimova

    Tens of thousands of Amnesty supporters sent a message to Russian authorities, calling on them to drop the charges against Elena. Thank you. We'll continue to monitor the situation, and let you know if we need your support again.

    25-year old Elena is a journalist. After writing a series of articles about LGBTI teenagers in Russia last March, she encountered a group of people rejected by their peers, families and teachers, with nowhere to go for support.

    February 24, 2014

    The apparently arbitrary arrest and detention of a further 234 peaceful protesters outside a Moscow court building today shows how the Russian authorities’ rampant violation of freedom of expression and assembly shows no sign of letting up, Amnesty International said.

    The new arrests came as eight protesters were sentenced in the landmark Bolotnaya Square protest trial. They follow the arbitrary detention of nearly 200 protesters and journalists outside the same court on Friday, when the Bolotnaya defendants were convicted. Meanwhile, in Sochi, another two activists were re-arrested on Sunday and face up to 15 days of administrative detention.

    “Just a day after Russia was feted on the world stage at the closing ceremonies of the Sochi Winter Olympics, the Russian authorities have laid bare the reality of life in the country today. Those who dare to express dissenting views face serious consequences,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Program Director at Amnesty International.

    February 21, 2014

    Posted at 0001 GMT 22 February 2014

    The legacy of the Sochi Olympics will be tainted by the numerous human rights violations in the run-up and during the Games, as well as the failure of the International Olympic Committee to confront the Russian authorities over the arrests and beatings that marred this prestigious sporting event, Amnesty International said on the eve of the closing ceremony.
     
    “The Olympic Games are meant to contribute to a peaceful and better world. This goal was not achieved in Sochi. The reason is simple: Russia’s repression continued unabated throughout the Games, and the Olympic movement failed to challenge the host country on its pledge to promote human rights,” Sergei Nikitin, Amnesty International’s Moscow Office Director.  

    “The harassment, detentions, arrests, fabricated charges and unfair trials meted out to activists under the blazing lights of the world’s cameras were a blight on the games. It does not bode well for when the Games are over and world media leaves Russia.”

    February 21, 2014

    Today’s guilty verdict against defendants in the Bolotnaya Square protest trial is a hideous injustice, said Amnesty International.

    In what was clearly a show trial, a Moscow court found guilty eight defendants in the Bolotnaya case. The sentences are expected to be announced on Monday.

    During the trial nearly 200 of the peaceful supporters and journalists gathered around the Moscow court were reportedly detained by police, including Vladimir Akimenkov, himself a former Bolotnaya defendant and prisoner of conscience. Some of those detained have been released but are expected to face fines of up to RUB 30,000 (around USD 800)  for participating in an “unauthorised gathering”.

    “What happened on Bolotnaya Square on 6 May 2012 was not the quelling of a riot, but the crushing of a protest. The Bolotnaya trial has not exposed orchestrated violence, but rather a criminal justice system that is entirely malleable to the dictates of its political masters,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.

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