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Russian Federation

    June 12, 2019

    Responding to the arbitrary arrests of over 400 people in Moscow who were peacefully protesting the treatment of journalist Ivan Golunov, Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia Office, said:

    “Today’s arbitrary and often brutal arrests of over 400 peaceful protestors, including children, are a perfect example of the cruel repression that brought protestors to the streets in the first place. Amnesty International observers witnessed police violence and recorded complaints of detainees being beaten. Yet again, the Russian authorities met peaceful dissent with an assault on rights and freedoms.

    “Those who took to the streets of Moscow today were demanding accountability for the appalling treatment of journalist Ivan Golunov, who was arrested on fabricated drugs charges in a blatant attempt to silence him. Confronted by unprecedented public indignation, the authorities backtracked and released Ivan Golunov.

    June 10, 2019
    Chechen prisoner of conscience Oyub Titiev granted parole Parole comes days after detention of journalist, Ivan Golunov

    Responding to news that Shali City Court in Chechnya has granted parole to the imprisoned human rights defender Oyub Titiev after almost one-and-a-half years behind bars, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia said:

    “We have been calling for Oyub Titiev’s immediate and unconditional release since his detention. The real agenda behind his criminal prosecution on trumped up charges was to stop a human rights defender from doing his lawful human rights work.

    “In spite of overwhelming evidence that the case against him had been fabricated, the authorities in Chechnya crudely abused the justice system to convict an innocent man. Today the court decided to at least partially amend the gross injustice by releasing Oyub in ten days time.

    May 01, 2019

    Authorities in Arkhangelsk Oblast (north-western Russia) have clamped down on peaceful protest against the construction of a dumping site with arrests, bans and heavy fines.

    On 7 April 2019, activists protesting against a landfill site construction project in the locality called Shyes planned a rally at Lenin Square in the centre of the regional capital Arkhangelsk. Regional authorities banned the protest claiming that a sports event was scheduled on that day at the square. They proposed a venue in a remote part of the city far from traffic or official buildings. The protest rally still took place in the original location and thousands of Arkhangelsk residents peacefully marched through the city centre. Police were present but did not intervene. No sporting event took place there at the time.

    April 01, 2019

    Two years after the violent ‘gay purge’ in Chechnya, Russian authorities have failed to provide justice for the victims, Amnesty International said today.

    In a crackdown revealed in 2017, dozens of men were abducted, tortured and killed for their real or perceived sexual orientation. To date, not one person has yet been held accountable for these crimes.

    “The Russian authorities have shown themselves to be complicit in heinous crimes committed in Chechnya against people believed to be gay or lesbian”, said Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

    “Two years after reports of a ‘gay purge’ sent shockwaves worldwide, it’s clear that the perpetrators have gone unpunished because of state-sponsored homophobia and impunity for human rights violations in Chechnya.”

    Meanwhile, authorities have also failed to provide effective protection to LGBTI rights defender Igor Kochetkov, the leading figure in the public investigation of the violent crackdown, who has recently received death threats.

    March 18, 2019

    Following today’s decision by the Shali City Court in Chechnya to sentence human rights defender and prisoner of conscience, Oyub Tititev, to four years in penal colony, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Marie Struthers said:

    “The four-year prison sentence slapped on Oyub Tititev is an affront to human rights, reason, and justice. By pronouncing him guilty, despite all the evidence to the contrary, the court has demonstrated how deeply flawed the Russian justice system is. The court has revealed itself to be little more than a tool that the regional authorities have used to silence one of the last human rights defenders working in Chechnya.

    “When this sham trial started, the human rights community called on the Russian authorities to transfer proceedings out of Chechnya, pointing out that the court will be under pressure from the regional authorities and unable to try Oyub fairly and reach an independent decision. By failing to do so, the Russian federal authorities proved to be accomplices in this gross injustice and in the violation of Oyub Titiev’s human rights.

    March 15, 2019

    Responding to news that a court in Rostov-on-Don, Southern Russia, has extended until 17 June the house arrest of Anastasia Shevchenko, prisoner of conscience and former coordinator with Otkrytaya Rossiya (Open Russia), a pro-democracy and human rights movement, Amnesty International’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia Director, Marie Struthers, said:

    “The criminal case against Anastasia Shevchenko is profoundly flawed, and by forging ahead with it regardless, the Russian authorities are creating an abhorrent precedent. Anastasia has lost her freedom and yet she has not committed any recognizable criminal offence. The authorities are casting their net ever more widely, with another former Otkrytaya Rossiya’s employee, Maksim Vernikov, now also facing criminal proceedings. We call on Russia to stop this increasingly ugly persecution.

    “The Russian authorities must drop all charges against Anastasia Shevchenko and Maksim Vernikov, and repeal the ludicrous ‘undesirable organizations’ law which is blatantly being used to target human rights defenders.”

    Background

    March 01, 2019

    A resolution on prisoner transfers adopted today by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) must be followed by concrete steps to ensure that human rights of prisoners are respected while they are in transit, Amnesty International said today. The organization has previously documented the appalling conditions in which prisoners in Russia are transferred, and called on the Russian authorities to implement the PACE recommendations immediately.

    “Prisoner transfers are often deliberately hidden from the public gaze, meaning people are subjected to appalling abuses without scrutiny. In Russia, where prisoners are often sent to remote locations to serve their sentences, people spend weeks or even months in cramped, windowless trains with no access to the outside world. While their families wonder where they are, prisoners suffer the miseries of infrequent toilet access, scant drinking water and severe overcrowding,” said Heather McGill, Researcher in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia Regional Office of Amnesty International.  

    January 31, 2019

    The Russian authorities must stop their vicious campaign against opposition movement Otkrytaya Rossia (Open Russia), Amnesty International said today after an activist from the organization was charged for posting solidarity messages about a recently detained colleague.

    Roman Zaitsev was indicted last night under Russia’s repressive “undesirable organizations” law for sharing Open Russia’s articles about activist Anastasia Shevchenko and an Amnesty statement calling for her release. In a further tragic twist this morning, Shevchenko’s 17-year-old daughter died in hospital. The authorities refused Shevchenko permission to visit her until hours before she passed away.

    “The government’s crackdown on Open Russia is not only absurd and vicious; it has also reached a new level of cruelty. The persecution of Roman Zaitsev for supporting Anastasia Shevchenko, just at the time of her profound personal tragedy, says a lot about Russia’s heartless ‘justice’ system,” said Marie Struthers, Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    January 29, 2019

    By Natalia Prilutskaya, Russia Researcher at Amnesty International

    For the second time in less than two years, a violent homophobic crackdown has left LGBTI people in Chechnya fearing for their lives. Earlier this week the Russian LGBT Network confirmed reports that the Chechen authorities have resumed large-scale arrests of individuals believed to be gay or lesbian, imprisoning and torturing them. 

    According to the organization’s protected sources, around 40 people have been arrested since December and at least two people have died under torture. Police have also reportedly demanded that families of gay and lesbian people commit “honor” killings against their relatives and provide evidence of their murders. 

    January 15, 2019
    DOWNLOAD THE PDF OF UA 2/19 HERE

    The Chechen authorities have unleashed a new wave of homophobic attacks since the end of December 2018. At least 40 people believed to be gay or lesbian have been arbitrarily detained and tortured in Chechnya, a republic in the south of Russia. 

    Around 40 individuals have reportedly been detained in a government building in the city of Argun, where they have been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment. At least two individuals are reported to have died after being tortured, but the actual number of victims may be higher. The authorities are also said to be destroying the individuals’ passports. This makes it difficult for them to flee Chechnya in the future. The Russian authorities’ failure to investigate the 2017 attacks - which involved the abduction and killing of 100 gay men and women and for which no one has yet been held accountable - has enabled this homophobic crackdown to resume. 

    January 14, 2019

    Amnesty International has received credible information that the authorities in Chechnya, a republic in the south of Russia, have unleashed a new wave of attacks on people believed to be gay or lesbian. At least two people are reported to have been tortured to death since December 2018.

    The Russian LGBT Network has verified reports that the Chechen authorities have detained around 40 individuals in a government building in the city of Argun, where they have been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment. According to confidential sources, the authorities have destroyed some victims’ passports to prevent them from leaving the country.

    “Many LGBTI people in Russia are still traumatized by the 2017 purge which saw dozens of gay men in Chechnya abducted and tortured and others killed. News that the authorities have resumed the crackdown is absolutely spine-chilling,” said Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

    December 06, 2018

    Responding to the news that Crimean lawyer Emil Kurbedinov was detained by the de-facto authorities in Russian-occupied Crimea and is now facing charges for a Facebook post he made five years ago, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia said:

    “Following yesterday’s arrest of prominent human rights defender Lev Ponomarev in Moscow, the detention of Emil Kurbedinov is the second time in two days that a human rights defender has been thrown behind bars over a Facebook post.

    “The similarities of these two cases are obvious, even if they are not directly related. Both men are prominent members of the human rights community and both have been deliberately targeted by Russian authorities for this very reason.

    “The authorities’ abuse of social media to target and harass activists is a cause of growing concern in Crimea. These politically-motivated charges must be dropped and he should be immediately and unconditionally released.”

    Background

    November 26, 2018

    Responding to the news that a court in Chechnya has refused to release human rights defender Oyub Titiev on bail, Natalia Prilutskaya, Amnesty International’s Russia Researcher, said:

    “The decision not to grant bail to Oyub Titiev once again demonstrates the political motivation of the case against him. He has committed no crime, having been jailed on completely fabricated drug charges, and must be released immediately and unconditionally.

    “In today’s hearing, all the defence’s arguments were dismissed without any proper consideration while the court accepted every one of the prosecution’s objections to the bail request.

    “This case is an affront to justice which highlights the Chechen government’s intolerance of opposing views and is further evidence that human rights defenders jailed in Chechnya cannot rely on the tools of justice to help them.”

    Background

    The Shali City Court today rejected Oyub Titiev’s bail request. The judge stated that the defence did not present enough evidence to mitigate the previous grounds for his arrest.

    October 17, 2018

    Responding to this morning’s arbitrary detention by Russian police of Aleksandr Golovach, a lawyer for the Anti-Corruption Foundation, on spurious charges of breaking a repressive law on public gatherings months ago, the Director of Amnesty International’s Russia office Natalia Zviagina said:

    “The detention of Aleksandr Golovach is the latest example of the Russian authorities’ ongoing crackdown on human rights defenders and activists and illustrates how they will resort to any excuse to target those who dare to criticise them.

    “This case reveals that Russia’s repressive law on public assemblies is not only being used as a tool of wiping protests from the streets; it can also be a reason to arbitrarily arrest and detain anyone at any time.

    “The police have used the draconian law as a false pretext under which to detain Golovach.

    “For as long as Aleksandr Golovach is deprived of his rights to liberty, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly solely in connection with his anti-corruption activism, he is a prisoner of conscience. He must be freed immediately and unconditionally.”

    October 15, 2018

    An Amnesty International researcher sent to observe demonstrations in the Ingushetian capital Magas was abducted, beaten and subjected to terrifying mock executions by men claiming to be members of the security services.

    Oleg Kozlovsky, a Russian national working as a researcher for Amnesty International, arrived in Magas on 5 October to monitor ongoing peaceful protests against the border agreement recently signed by the leaders of Ingushetia and Chechnya.

    On the night of 6 October, Oleg was lured into a car by a man claiming to be a representative of protest organizers. He was driven to a location outside the city where he was stripped, threatened, beaten and abused in an ordeal that lasted two hours.

    “They held a gun to my head and told me they were going to kill me. The men identified themselves as being officers of the local Center for Combating Extremism, a special police unit. They demanded to know the names of my contacts in Ingushetia and threatened to kill my wife and children if I reported what happened,” said Oleg Kozlovsky.

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