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Russian Federation

    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.

    September 14, 2018
    DOWNLOAD THE PDF HERE

    There’s a brave man in prison in Rostov-on-Don, a Russian city of one million people. His name is Emir-Usein Kuku. 

    Early in 2016, a security officer (sort of like a police officer) told Emir-Usein’s son, “Your father did a bad thing and will rot in jail for 10 years.” 

    Amnesty International disagrees that Emir-Usein did anything bad. Amnesty International believes he is a prisoner of conscience who should not spend even one more day in prison. (A prisoner of conscience is someone who is jailed only for their views.)

    So what got Emir-Usein in trouble? 

    One thing he did was to speak up for the rights of an Indigenous group called the Crimean Tatars. 

    He also argued that people have a right to speak their minds and not be taken from their homes by the government, possibly never to return. 
    Once when security officers asked him to work with them to spy on other people, he refused. 

    Now the government is punishing him for not liking the way they rule the Russian Federation.

    July 23, 2018

    Russian authorities must act immediately to protect Irina Biryukova, a lawyer who has fled the country after releasing a video showing her client Yevgeny Makarov being brutally beaten in a Russian prison, Amnesty International said today.

    On 20 July, Irina Biryukova made public a video showing 18 officials attacking  Yevgeny Makarov in IK-1 penal colony in the Yaroslavl region of central Russia. According to Biryukova, her source inside the prison informed her that wardens were now plotting revenge against her, threatening her with physical harm.

    “Irina Biryukova’s brave decision to expose the appalling abuse within IK-1 penal colony is the latest example of her dedication to protecting others from torture and other ill-treatment. It is alarming that her act of courage has forced her to flee the country in fear,” said Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

    July 16, 2018

    Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump must use their upcoming summit in Helsinki to tackle the world’s most urgent human rights issues and restore their nations’ credibility as responsible international players, Amnesty International said ahead of the meeting between the Russian and US presidents in Finland’s capital on Monday.

    The organization calls on the two leaders to put the international refugee situation and the war in Syria at the top of their agenda during the summit, as well as violations taking place in their own countries.

    “Presidents Putin and Trump have been toxic for human rights. Their respective policies have resulted in broken families, children being held in cages, continuing atrocities in a prolonged war in Syria and the torture and killing of LGBTI people in Chechnya, to name just a few of the horrors that have unfolded under their watch,” said Anna Neistat, Amnesty International’s Senior Director of Research.

    June 27, 2018

    Responding to the resolution by the Plenum of the Russian Supreme Court to provide guidance to lower courts hearing cases related to public assemblies, published today, Amnesty International’s Russia Researcher Anastasia Kovalevskaya said:

    “This long-awaited resolution will hopefully provide some much-needed protections to peaceful protesters in Russia – especially the provisions aimed at reducing their arrests and administrative detentions. Over the past year and a half we have documented numerous cases where people were denied their basic right to gather peacefully.”

    “However, this resolution will mean nothing unless it is effectively implemented. And it’s only a half-measure, as comprehensive and meticulous work is needed to bring Russian legislation on public gatherings into compliance with international human rights law and standards.”

    “We reiterate our call on the Russian authorities to drop all restrictive policies on public gatherings and to stop treating freedom of assembly as a privilege they can either give or deny to the Russian people.”

    Background

    June 14, 2018

    As Russia prepares for the opening game of the FIFA World Cup 2018, Amnesty International is shining a spotlight on 11 Russian human rights champions who routinely put their lives on the line to defend human rights in Russia.

    A new campaign, Team Brave, will profile a human rights defender from each of the 11 regions hosting World Cup matches to raise awareness of their important work, and Amnesty International supporters from around the world will send messages of solidarity to show these brave individuals that they are not alone.

    “As World Cup excitement builds, we want to highlight the work of the inspiring men and women who risk their lives and freedom to fight for human rights in Russia. The lineup of Team Brave includes activists who have fought to end torture in police stations, protect the environment, defend LGBTI rights and sex workers’ rights, and support victims of domestic violence – they are the real champions in Russia,” said Inga Kelekhsaeva, Russia Campaigner at Amnesty International.

    May 06, 2018

    Following the forceful dispersal of today’s peaceful opposition rallies in Moscow and all over Russia, and the inaction of the police who allowed the beating of protesters by unknown people in ‘’Cossack’’ uniforms, Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International Deputy Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia said:

    “The forceful dispersal of today’s opposition demonstrations is outrageous. The Russian authorities once again refused to authorise protest rallies, and then used this ban to crackdown on those gathered in Moscow and elsewhere.

    “But what is worse is the total police inaction, which allowed the beating of protesters by unknown men in Moscow. On what grounds people in ‘’Cossack’’ uniforms were allowed to use force remains a question.

    “Authorities should immediately release all peaceful protesters arrested and launch an independent, thorough and effective investigation of the use of force by police, and attacks on the protesters by the “Cossacks” with the inaction of the police.”

    May 04, 2018

    The Russian authorities must end violent crackdown on opposition protests scheduled for Saturday ahead of the fourth inauguration of Vladimir Putin as the President of the Russian Federation, Amnesty International said.

    Authorities in Moscow and more than 30 other cities across Russia have refused to permit demonstrations by supporters of opposition leader Aleksei Navalny planned for 5 May, two days before the inauguration.

    “The Russian authorities must learn from their past mistakes, when the repeated refusal to grant permission to hold protest rallies has been a patent violation of human rights,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    “Similarly, the subsequent violent crackdowns by the police on peaceful demonstrations over the past year – in which hundreds of people have been arbitrarily detained – have shown the persistent failure by the authorities to respect and protect the rights to peaceful assembly and personal liberty.

    May 04, 2018

    Responding to a decision by the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic to extend the detention of Oyub Titiev, one of Russia’s leading human rights defenders, Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia Regional Office at Amnesty International said:

    “The decision to extend the detention of Oyub Titiev is a grave injustice that strikes at the heart of Russia’s human rights community. The Russian authorities are hellbent on silencing anyone who speaks out against human rights abuses in Chechnya, and as the head of the human rights group Memorial’s Chechen office, Oyub Titiev has faced years of harassment and intimidation.

    “In January, the sustained campaign of threats and smears against Memorial staff culminated in the arrest of Oyub Titiev on bogus drug charges. Despite the fact that these charges were clearly fabricated as a means of silencing him, Oyub Titiev now faces up to 10 years in jail. This is the price that human rights defenders in Russia pay for their bravery.

    April 04, 2018

    The Russian authorities have abjectly failed to take effective action in response to the violent persecution of gay men in Chechnya, Amnesty International said one year after a series of homophobic crimes in the southern republic were exposed.

    A report by the Novaya Gazeta newspaper revealed a horrifying “gay purge” in Chechnya in which dozens of men were abducted, tortured and killed. However, to date, not one person has to be held to account for these crimes.

    “A year ago, this shocking news from Chechnya was ridiculed and dismissed by the Russian government. Since then we have witnessed a shocking display of denial, evasion and inaction by the authorities, who have repeatedly refused to launch an official investigation into the reported heinous crimes and ignored credible evidence provided by Novaya Gazeta and others,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

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