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Russian Federation

    January 23, 2014

    As the start of the Sochi Olympics approaches, the Russian authorities have decided to release another prisoner of conscience (POC) in a move that can be seen as politically expedient, Amnesty International said today.

    The Russian Supreme Court took a decision with immediate effect today to reduce the sentence of businessman Platon Lebedev to the time already spent in prison. His sentence was due to expire in May 2014.

    “Platon Lebedev was confined to prison as a result of a deeply flawed and politically motivated trial. Russia’s Supreme Court’s decision gives freedom to Platon Lebedev three months early, however it does not quash his conviction or remedy the injustice done to him” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Program Director at Amnesty International.

    December 23, 2013

    It's great news that the two remaining member of Pussy Riot behind bars, Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, have been freed by Russian authorities. They spent nearly two years in prison, and throughout that time tens of thousands of you have taken action. 

    See more Good News stories

    But more still needs to be done, and Russia’s Amnesty Law, under which they and others were released, is no substitute for an effective, independent justice system.

    For more information on how Amnesty International is working in Russia, follow this link to our 2014 Sochi Olympic Campaign.

    December 23, 2013

    The harassment of civil society in Russia will continue unabated despite the release of prisoners of conscience said Amnesty International today.

    The organization has long campaigned for the immediate and unconditional release of a number of prisoners of conscience (POCs) freed recently under President Putin’s amnesty. Several others being tried in connection with the 2012 Bolotnaya Square protest remain behind bars.

    “The release of businessman Mikhail Kh0dorkovski, the Pussy riot singers Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and a handful of Bolotnaya case detainees should not been seen as a benign act of clemency, but a politically expedient move in the run up to the Sochi Olympics,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Program Director at Amnesty International.

    “The move is further proof of the politicisation of justice in Russia. It should not obscure the bigger truth that the last year has seen a significant contraction in the space allowed to critical and independent voices.

    December 19, 2013

    GREAT NEWS! Vladimir Akimenkov, one of the "Bolotnaya Three" detainees featured in Amnesty International's global campaign Write for Rights has been set free. 

    Amnesty members welcome this news, following a tremendous letter-writing campaign that extended across 80 countries. Also released as part of this general amnesty in Russia are two people who Amnesty had declared as "prisoners of conscience" (people held solely for their political beliefs): Leonid Koviazin and  Nikolay Kavkazskii.

    Background

    Vladimir is referred to as one of the "Bolotnaya Three" because it was in Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square that he along with Artiom Saviolov and Mikhail Kosenko were detained during an authorized protest on 6 May 2012.

    December 18, 2013

    The Russian authorities must release immediately and unconditionally all prisoners of conscience (POCs), Amnesty International said today as the Russian parliament passed an amnesty bill that may see the imprisoned Pussy Riot singers and some detainees in the Bolotnaya case freed. The foreign activists amongst Greenpeace’s “Arctic 30”may also be allowed to leave Russia.

    “It is difficult to welcome the Amnesty law adopted by the Russian Duma today.  While it will no doubt benefit many victims of injustice, it will not erase the criminal records of those wrongfully convicted.  Also it will not extend to all those Amnesty International considers prisoners of conscience, including many currently standing trial in connection with the 2012 Bolotnaya Square protest,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Director.

    “This Amnesty Law is no substitute for an effective, independent justice system.  Indeed, it is further proof of the politicization of justice in Russia.”

    December 12, 2013

    A Court in St Petersburg dealt a further blow to human rights in Russia by ordering the Anti-Discrimination Centre (ADC) Memorial to register as a “foreign agent”, Amnesty International said today.

    “This is a slap on the face of human rights, and it comes on the 20th anniversary of the country’s Constitution which is supposed to uphold human rights and the rule of law,” Denis Krivosheev, Europe and Central Asia Deputy Program Director.

    “By forcing ADC Memorial to register as a ‘foreign agent’ the authorities are effectively pressuring this important human rights organization into closure and discrediting its work on behalf of victims of racism and xenophobia in Russia.”

    This is the second time that a court in Russia has directly ordered an NGO to register as a “foreign agent” on the behest of the Prosecutor’s Office. It has ruled that all activities of the organization are “political”.

    December 10, 2013

    Amnesty International is calling for the mass riot charges to be dropped against all Bolotnaya defendants. The organization considers Moscow’s ongoing Bolotnaya Square trial as a purely political attempt to paint the protesters as intent on mass violence and discourage future protest.

    Amnesty International has recognized a further seven of those currently standing trial as prisoners of conscience, and considers all of those accused of “participation in mass riots” in connection with the Bolotnaya square protest on May 6 2012 to be victims of gross injustice.

    “What really happened on Bolotnaya Square was not the quelling of a riot, but the crushing of a protest. What has happened in the Bolotnaya trial has not been the exposing of orchestrated violence, but rather the exposing of a criminal justice system that is entirely malleable to dictates of its political masters,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Director.  

     

    November 28, 2013

     A Russian court has for the first time ordered a non-governmental organization to register as a "foreign agent" under a sinister law that is being used to crush independent civil society in the country, Amnesty International said.

    On 27 November, following an application by the prosecutor, the court in the city of Saratov ordered that the Centre for Social Policy and Gender Studies should register as "an organization performing the functions of a foreign agent".

    "The Russian authorities are using this sinister new tactic to impose the draconian 'foreign agents law' on independent civil society organizations nationwide," said John Dalhuisen, Director for Europe and Central Asia program at Amnesty International.

    "The law hearkens back to the repression of the Soviet era and its sole purpose is to smear and muzzle independent civil society voices in Russia, making their work impossible."

    November 19, 2013

    Posted at 0001 GMT 20 November 2013

    A restrictive “foreign agents law” adopted a year ago is choking independent non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Russia, Amnesty International said today.

    “One year after it came into force, the record of the foreign agents law is a grim one. More than a thousand NGOs have been inspected and dozens have received warnings. Several of the most prominent human rights groups have been fined and some forced to close,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Program Director.

    The “foreign agents law” is at the centre of a raft of repressive legislation that has been brought in since Putin’s return to the presidency.

    Enacted by the Russian authorities on 21 November 2012, it requires any NGO receiving foreign funding and engaging in what it defines very loosely as “political activity” to register as an “organization performing the functions of a foreign agent”.

    November 13, 2013
    A colorful parade of Amnesty supporters stand up for human rights in Russia

    By Jackie Hansen, Major Campaigner and Women's Rights Campaigner

    Basic freedoms are under threat in Russia. Restrictive new laws are making it difficult for NGOs to carry out their work. Our Sochi Winter Olympics campaign, which runs until the end of January, is helping to shine a light on the threats to human rights being faced each and every day by people throughout Russia. The article below is written by one of Amnesty International’s partner organizations in Russia, and details how laws limiting freedom of expression, association, and assembly are impacting their lifesaving work.

    Want to learn more about how you can make a difference? Check out our Russia webpage for more information about our Sochi Winter Olympics campaign. And please sign our online petition calling on Russia to respect freedoms of expression, association, and assembly.

    Sign  Petition

    November 06, 2013

    The continuing refusal to disclose the whereabouts of a member of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot, who is rumoured to be in transfer to a prison colony in Siberia, shows the authorities’ efforts to silence her, Amnesty International said.

    “Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has publicly complained of threats she received from prison officials. We are concerned that she now may be being punished for this and for speaking out about deplorable prison conditions,” said Denis Krivosheev, Europe and Central Asia Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

    “Russian authorities must immediately tell her family where she is and allow her access to a lawyer. She is a prisoner of conscience who should have never been taken to jail in the first place. Refusing to say where she is simply fuels rumours of the worst case scenario.”

    Nadezhda Tolokonnikova’s whereabouts have been unknown since 22 October when she was reportedly taken from the penal colony where she was serving a two-year prison sentence. It is believed she is being transferred to another place, but the destination has not been revealed.

    November 04, 2013

    The Russian authorities must promptly find and bring to justice all those responsible for a violent homophobic attack in St Petersburg that has left two people injured, including one who has been left blind in one eye, Amnesty International said.

    According to local activists in St Petersburg, on Sunday night two masked men brandishing air guns and baseball bats attacked the office of LaSky, a non-governmental organization that provides support to gay people living with HIV.

    “This latest insidious attack is sadly characteristic of a widespread atmosphere of homophobia in Russia today. If nothing is done to combat the hate, the ground is fertile for further violence,” said Denis Krivosheev, Europe and Central Asia Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

    “The Russian authorities must seek out, investigate and prosecute all those responsible for these violent attacks. Russian President Putin has publicly said the country would welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) activists at the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics, but such pledges ring hollow in the face of these ongoing hate crimes.”

    October 30, 2013

    Greenpeace Canada and Amnesty International Canada

    30 October 2013 (Ottawa) – At a news conference on Parliament Hill today the families of two Canadian Greenpeace activists jailed in Murmansk, Russia, joined Greenpeace and Amnesty International in urging Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird to step up his efforts to secure their release by speaking out publicly and using all available political channels.

    “Last month, my brother took peaceful action to protest Arctic oil drilling,” said Patti Stirling of Port Colborne native Paul Ruzycki. “He wasn’t fighting against Russia; he was fighting to avert an environmental catastrophe. He helped call global attention to a threat to our present and the future generations, and is a hero deserving of all the help this government can give him.”

    October 24, 2013

    Russia: ‘Hooliganism’ charges do not apply to peaceful Greenpeace protest

    The new “hooliganism” charges levelled against crew members involved in last month’s Greenpeace Arctic Sunrise protest in Russian waters are inappropriate and should be dropped, Amnesty International said today.   

    In a statement on Wednesday, Russia’s Federal Investigative Committee said that it was dropping the piracy charges originally brought against the activists and replacing them with charges of “hooliganism”. The maximum punishment under Russian law is seven years’ imprisonment.

    “The piracy charges originally brought in this case were patently absurd – but these new charges are no better. Hooliganism is a serious criminal offence in Russia, and it is not one that those engaging in peaceful protest should be prosecuted under,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Program Director at Amnesty International.

    October 21, 2013

    Today’s European Court of Human Rights decision is a missed opportunity to ensure that the Russian state accepts responsibility for the murder of tens of thousands of Polish prisoners of war during the Second World War, Amnesty International said.

    Some of the relatives of the more than 20,000 Polish prisoners of war and civilians who were killed during the 1940 Katyn massacre brought the case against Russia. But the Court found it was unable to determine the adequacy of an earlier investigation into the massacre because it took place before the adoption of the European Convention of Human Rights in 1950.

    “Russian authorities are sitting on a wealth of information about the whereabouts of victims’ remains, the circumstances of these killings, and potentially the identities of those who were killed. They have a duty to reveal the truth of what happened at Katyn to the relatives of the victims,” said Michael Bochenek, Director of Law and Policy at Amnesty International.

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