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Russian Federation

    January 24, 2013

    The trial of a Russian lawyer who blew the whistle on a high-level corruption scandal even though he is dead as a result of mistreatment while in detention is an attempt to deflect attention from those who committed the crimes he exposed, Amnesty International said on the eve of the preliminary hearing scheduled for 28 January in a Moscow court.

    Sergei Magnitsky – who died on 16 November 2009 – was charged with the very crimes he exposed triggering a sequence of events that lead to his premature death.

    “The Russian authorities’ intention to proceed with the criminal prosecution of Sergei Magnitsky violates his fundamental rights even in death, in particular the right to defend himself in person,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Program Director.

    “The trial of a deceased person and the forcible involvement of his relatives is a dangerous precedent that would open a whole new chapter in Russia’s worsening human rights record.

    “The legal grounds for the posthumous criminal prosecution against Sergei Magnitski to say the least are dubious and the authorities must halt this travesty.”

    January 18, 2013

    Until the full truth is uncovered about the Katyn massacre the Russian authorities have an on-going obligation under international law to investigate this war crime that has gone unpunished since the Second World War, Amnesty International said today.  

    As the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights is considering the case brought against Russia by some of the relatives of more than 20,000 Polish prisoners of war who were killed during the 1940 Katyn massacre, Amnesty International submitted its legal opinion on the case this week.  

    “For nearly 50 years, first Soviet and then the Russian authorities denied their responsibility for the murder of tens of thousands of Polish prisoners of war,” said Marek Marczynski, Europe and Central Asia Deputy Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    “They dragged their feet with the investigation into the mass murder for nearly 15 years after that until finally in 2004 they decided to close it in secret proceedings, quoting national security interest for doing so.”

    January 16, 2013

    Today’s decision by a Russian court not to allow Pussy Riot member Maria Alekhina to defer serving her sentence to a later date compounds the injustice already meted out to the imprisoned punk singer, Amnesty International said today.

    “Today’s court ruling is a further travesty of justice. The three Pussy Riot singers should not have been prosecuted in the first place. Today's decision has proven again that the Russian authorities are uncompromising in their suppression of freedom of expression,” said David Diaz-Jogeix, Europe and Central Asia Deputy Program Director.

    “Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova should be released, immediately and unconditionally, while the suspended sentence of Ekaterina Samutsevich should be overturned.”

    Maria Alekhina together with Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Ekaterina Samutsevich, three of the members of the all-female group Pussy Riot,  were charged with “hooliganism on grounds of religious hatred” after they sang a protest song in Moscow’s main Orthodox cathedral in February 2012.

    Amnesty International’s Moscow office is currently being inspected by prosecutors and tax inspectors – part of the wave of inspections of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) across Russia in recent weeks. Three other prominent Russian NGOs are also being inspected today: Public Verdict Foundation, For Human Rights Movement and Agency for Social Information. The stated version of the inspections was to check compliance with Russian legislation on NGOs.

    Amnesty International, along with other NGOs, has repeatedly condemned the new legislation imposing increasing restrictions on NGOs and expressed its fears that the NGO laws would be used to harass and seek closure of those highlighting abuses and critical of the government.

    Amnesty International is also concerned that the recent wave of inspections has been carried out in such a way as to deliberately stigmatise and discredit NGOs in the eyes of the public.

    Amnesty International is confident that all its activities comply with Russian legislation. The organization expresses regret that its time and that of the inspectors involved is not employed in a more useful manner.

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