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Russian Federation

    September 05, 2017

    Photo Credit: via Amnesty Germany

    The criminal case against prominent Russian human rights defender Valentina Cherevatenko for “violation of ‘foreign agents’ law” was closed on June 19 due to an “absence of the elements of the crime”. She was not informed of the decision and only learnt of it by accident over a month later.

    Valentina was the first Russian activist to face criminal prosecution under the "foreign agents" law. Therefore, news of the case against her being dropped is also a victory for Russian civil society as a whole, bringing hope that there may be space for positive change.

    August 10, 2017

    Russia must immediately release a 76-year-old man with Parkinson’s disease who has been detained for holding a placard in support of persecuted Crimean Tatars, Amnesty International said today.

    Server Karametov, a Crimean Tatar, was last night sentenced to 10 days’ “administrative detention” for picketing in support of prisoner of conscience Akhtem Choygoz and other victims of politically motivated prosecution outside the Supreme Court of Crimea operating under control of the de-facto authorities in the occupied region’s capital Simferopol.

    “Arresting a frail senior citizen and throwing him behind bars for holding a placard is the latest grotesque example of the Russian authorities’ incessant crackdown on peaceful activism by the Crimean Tatar community,” said Oksana Pokalchuk, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ukraine.

    “This case epitomizes the ongoing, brutal persecution of Crimean Tatar activists. Server Karametov should be released immediately and unconditionally.”

    August 09, 2017
      In response to Moscow City Court’s decision to suspend the deportation to Uzbekistan of openly gay journalist Khudoberdi Nurmatov (better known by his journalist alias Ali Feruz) but to keep him in detention while his case is reviewed by the European Court of Human Rights, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia, Denis Krivosheev, said:   “The suspension of Ali Feruz’s deportation to Uzbekistan - where he faces a real risk of persecution and torture and homosexuality is a crime - is a positive step. However, his continued detention despite his claims he has been beaten is disgraceful. He has committed absolutely no crime and it could take months or even years before a final decision by the European Court of Human Rights.”   “Ali Feruz complained that security officials beat him during transfer to the detention centre and showed bruises during today’s court hearing. The judge decided to ignore these shocking allegations.”

    August 01, 2017

    By Joshua Franco, Technology and Human Rights Researcher at Amnesty International. Follow Joshua on Twitter @joshyrama.

    You have probably heard of VPNs (Virtual Private Networks), right? They’re those things you use to stream movies online in other countries that are annoyingly blocked in yours. If VPNs were banned, how would you watch the latest robot apocalypse blockbuster online without having to wait a whole year?

    Now imagine that the online content banned in your country isn’t movies, but rather major social media platforms, or the main sources of information about your religion, or your sexual orientation. Imagine you use a VPN to access this information, and now that tool is being taken away.

    This is what’s about to happen in Russia. It’s already happening in China.

    July 31, 2017
      A new law signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin banning anonymizers and virtual private networks (VPNs) is a major blow to internet freedom in Russia, Amnesty International said today.   “With the Russian authorities increasingly intolerant of dissent, technologies that help internet users evade censorship and protect their privacy are crucial for freedom of expression online. Today the authorities have given themselves an instrument to ban the use of VPNs and other technologies that help people to freely access information online,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.   “This is the latest blow in an assault on online freedom which has seen critical sites blocked and social media users prosecuted solely for what they post online, under vaguely written anti-extremism legislation. The ban on VPNs takes this shameful campaign a whole step further.
    July 10, 2017
      Following reports in Russia's Novaya Gazeta newspaper that security forces in the Russian republic of Chechnya killed 27 people on the night of 26 January 2017, Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia, said:   “These allegations come from a credible source and as horrendous as they are, appear totally plausible for Chechnya, where the authorities enjoy complete impunity for human rights violations.   “Amnesty International has documented the practice of extrajudicial executions in Chechnya and elsewhere in the North Caucasus for many years, and these allegations are consistent with our past findings. They must be investigated immediately, and if proven to be true, all perpetrators must be brought to justice.   “In addition, a full and thorough investigation needs to  be carried out into allegations of the secret imprisonment and torture and other ill-treatment of more than 100 gay men in Chechnya in April.  
    June 12, 2017

    A crackdown on peaceful protests across Russia in which hundreds of people were arrested and numerous others beaten by police demonstrates the authorities’ utter contempt for fundamental human rights, Amnesty International said today.

    “The right to peaceful assembly is guaranteed by the Russian Constitution, though you wouldn’t know it from the alarming scenes today. After trying to intimidate protesters into abstaining from these demonstrations with blackmail and harassment, the authorities in Moscow, St Petersburg and elsewhere have punished hundreds of those who turned up with beatings and arrests,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    “The Russian authorities’ stranglehold on freedom of expression grows tighter by the day. Peaceful protest is a fundamental human right, not a privilege to be bestowed or refused on a whim. We are calling for all peaceful protesters swept up in these arrests to be immediately freed, and the right to hold peaceful rallies fully and genuinely respected.”

    June 09, 2017

    When reports emerged in April that the Chechen authorities have been detaining, torturing and even killing gay men, as part of a deplorable campaign to purge the republic of people of “non-traditional orientation”, there was international outcry.

     

    An Amnesty International activist in Turkey holds up a sign for Chechnya to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on 3 June

    Sir Ian McKellen joined a protest in London, led by Amnesty UK and Stonewall UK

    June 09, 2017

    The Russian authorities must immediately release Chechen torture survivor Murad Amriev, and under no circumstances place his life at further risk by handing him over to the Chechen authorities, Amnesty International said today.

    Having tried to flee to Belarus earlier this week, Murad Amriev was arrested and unlawfully handed back to Russian police officers early this morning. He is currently in custody in an unknown location in Russia, stoking fears about his fate.

    “The story of Murad Amriev reads like a thriller, but it is real and his life is at stake. He was ‘handed over’ to the Russian authorities early this morning in what amounts to an unlawful rendition after he attempted to seek asylum in Belarus. Under no circumstances should the federal authorities of Russia deliver him into the hands of Chechen law enforcement officers, which could put him at risk of torture or death,” said Heather McGill, Russia Researcher at Amnesty International.

    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.”

    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.

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