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Russian Federation

    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.

    February 18, 2014

    The Russian authorities must immediately release nine people – including activists and journalists – who have been arrested in central Sochi, Amnesty International said.

    Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, former prisoners of conscience jailed for their peaceful activism as part of the punk collective Pussy Riot, complain of having been arrested in Sochi for the third time in as many days. Today the authorities claimed this was related to a theft at a hotel where they stayed. The activists believe it is in connection with a music video they were planning to make.

    “In Putin’s Russia, the authorities have turned the Olympic rings – a worldwide symbol of hope and striving for the best of the human spirit – into handcuffs to shackle freedom of expression,” said John Dalhuisen, Director of Europe and Central Asia Programme at Amnesty International.

    “This is outrageous. There are reports of arrests of activists in Sochi and the Olympic Games area almost daily. The International Olympic Committee must roundly condemn these and all arrests of activists near Sochi.

    February 14, 2014

    A court in Krasnodar ruled on 12 February 2014 that environmentalist Yevgeniy Vitishko should serve a three-year sentence in a prison colony. This is the latest step in a sustained campaign by the Russian authorities against environmental activists in Krasnodar Region, which is hosting the Sochi Winter Olympic Games, to prevent them from speaking out about the environmental damage suffered by the region.

    The harassment of the local environmentalists intensified considerably in the months preceding the opening on the Games, and Yevgeniy Vitishko has been particularly targeted in connection with his activism. The decision to send him to serve his sentence in a prison colony is the latest episode in the campaign against him, by the Russian authorities who have sought to prevent protest in Krasnodar Region and specifically to silence one of the most vocal and respected critical voices, in the run-up to the Sochi Games, ultimately by locking him up.

    Amnesty International believes that Yevgeniy Vitishko is a prisoner of conscience, and that he should be immediately and unconditionally released.

    February 10, 2014

    The International Olympic Committee (IOC) must not ignore the serious human rights violations associated with the preparation for and staging of the Sochi Olympic Games, Amnesty International said today.

    In a letter to IOC’s President Thomas Bach the organization urges him to raise with the Russian authorities the harassment of environmentalists as well as the denial of the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly in the context of the Sochi Olympics.

    “The Olympic torch sheds light on human rights violations in Russia. It also sheds light on IOC actions regarding human rights violations in the context of Olympic Games. Its failure to admonish the Russian authorities for their ongoing discrimination and harassment is to a failure to live up to the very principles that form the core of the Olympic Charter,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    February 05, 2014
    Days before the opening of the Sochi Olympics, activists in cities around the world staged protests against homophobia in Russia © PAUL CROCK/AFP/Getty Images

    Lene Christensen, Media Advisor at Amnesty International Norway, blog from Sochi, Russia

    At a café in Sochi, 17-year-old “Ivan” quietly talks about his experiences as an openly gay young man in the Olympic city. A city in which there are no gay people, according to the Mayor.

    Ivan has a disturbing story to tell. After someone hacked his social media account about a year ago, news quickly spread about his sexual orientation.

    When he changed schools, the information about his sexuality again spread like wildfire among his new schoolmates. Now, a regular day at school includes being spat on and verbally abused, he tells us. He’s been physically attacked several times and some unknown attackers poured dirty water and urine on him. One time they went as far as attempting to rape him. His voice breaks as he recounts his almost daily ordeal.

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