Monday, 6 February


Russian politicians want to scrap laws which punish activists for breaking anti-protest legislation. Under Russian law, anyone who “repeatedly” holds unauthorized rallies, demonstrations, marches or pickets face up to five years in prison. Four deputies from Russia’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) want to repeal the legislation, which they say punishes activists twice for the same offense. Deputies Igor Lebedev, Yaroslav Nilov, Sergei Ivanov and Andrei Svintsov submitted the proposal to the country’s State Duma, where it will appear before politicians on Monday. The men say that punishment doled out to repeat offenders is “disproportionate to the seriousness of [their] offenses.” […] The Moscow Times [6 February 2017]

Russian Human Rights Ombudsperson thinks jailing Crimean rights lawyer Kurbedinov & seizing his clients’ records is OK
If Emil Kurbedinov has been a thorn in the side of Russia’s FSB because he highlights the lack of grounds for the charges against many victims of repression, the FSB miscalculated badly by deciding to arrest and jail him. Kurbedinov was freed on Sunday, Feb 10, and stated immediately that he would continue his work. In the meantime, the repressive measures against a prominent rights defender and lawyer elicited huge reaction from the international community. Abdureshit Dzhepparov, head of the Crimean Human Rights Contact Group, says that whoever it was who issued the order to arrest Kurbedinov worked “200%” in their favour. You need to see the positive side, he added, and Emil’s imprisonment had not been for nothing. There remains, however, a lot that is negative. Kurbedinov was sentenced to a 10-day term of administrative arrest for the reposting in 2013 of a video which was then and remains legal in Ukraine. Although he has been freed, the FSB is holding the computers and other equipment removed during armed searches of his law office and home, with these containing confidential information about other victims of persecution whom Kurbedinov is defending. […] Human Rights in Ukraine [6 February 2017]

Pre-trial detention of Emir Usein Kuku extended
On 3 February 2017, the Supreme Court of Crimea extended the pre-trial detention of the human rights defender, Emir Usein Kuku, until 8 April 2018. The Court ruling was issued in response to a plea for extension of the pre-trial detention filed by the the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, Crimean Directorate. Emir Usein Kuku is the Chairman of the Crimean Contact Group on Human Rights in Yalta. This organisation monitors violations of human rights, provides legal assistance, and reports cases of politically-motivated disappearances in Crimea. Emir Usein Kuku is also a member of the Crimean Human Rights Group. Prior to his detention in February 2016, Emir Usein Kuku was actively involved in the monitoring and documentation of human rights violations in the Yalta region. He has provided legal assistance and support to members of Muslim ethnic groups such as Crimean Tatars, who continuously suffer discrimination and political persecution. Emir Usein Kuku worked to defend their right to practise their religion freely, assisted in the search for displaced people, and supported the families of political prisoners. Since the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, human rights defenders and Crimean Tatars who work to protect their human rights have become targets of repression and intimidation by the local authorities. […] Front Line Defenders [6 February 2017]

Russia: Government vs. Rights Groups
For the past four years, the Kremlin has sought to stigmatize criticism or alternative views of government policy as disloyal, foreign-sponsored, or even traitorous. It is part of a sweeping crackdown to silence critical voices that has included new legal restrictions on the internet, on freedom of expression, on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, and on other fundamental freedoms. An enduring, central feature has been the 2012 law requiring independent groups to register as “foreign agents” if they receive any foreign funding and engage in broadly defined “political activity.” In Russia, the term “foreign agent” can be interpreted by the public only as “spy” or “traitor.” To date, Russia’s Justice Ministry has designated 158 groups as “foreign agents,” courts have levied staggering fines on many groups for failing to comply with the law, and about 30 groups have shut down rather than wear the “foreign agent” label. Organizations targeted include groups that work on human rights, the environment, LGBT issues, and health issues, groups that do polling about social issues. A court forced the closure of AGORA Association, one of Russia’s leading human rights organizations , in response to a Justice Ministry suit alleging that the group violated the “foreign agents” law and carried out work beyond its mandate. The ministry has removed its “foreign agent” tag from over 20 groups, acknowledging that they had stopped accepting foreign funding. Accordingly, as of February 6, 2017, the official list of active “foreign agents” consisted of 103 groups. […] Human Rights Watch [6 February 2017]

Twenty-two natives of Chechnya detained in Austria
The Vienna police are interrogating the 22 natives of Chechnya detained yesterday, who, according to law enforcers, had firearms on them. The detention took place in the evening on February 3 in the Floridsdorf District. Policemen were called by local residents, who reported a large gathering of people. Some suspects told the policemen, who arrived at the venue, that they were just walking around; others said that they were returning from the wedding party. However, policemen found a pistol and a submachine gun hidden in the snow, and detained all the suspects, the RIA “Novosti” reports with reference to the “Austria Press Agentur” Agency. […]
Source: Caucasian Knot [4 February 2017]

HRC “Memorial”: hostage of Chechen law enforcers set free
In Chechnya, law enforcers detained Anzor Aliev, a resident of Ingushetia, and kept him, demanding from his family members to give out his brother. After the intervention of the Russian Ombudsman’s administration, Anzor Aliev returned to his family members. This was reported by the Human Rights Centre (HRC) “Memorial”. The “Caucasian Knot” has reported that on January 23, in Grozny, law enforcers detained Sunzha residents Anzor Aliev and his father Kyuri. On the other day, Kyuri Aliev returned home. However, Chechen law enforcers refused to release Anzor Aliev until they would be given out Shamil, another son of the Aliev family, who had earlier criminal record on the charge for aiding and abetting militants. […]
Source: Caucasian Knot [4 February 2017]

Relatives of detained Makhma Muskiev evicted from Tsotsi-Yurt, residents of Chechnya report
Family members of Makhma Muskiev, detained during a special operation carried out by Chechen law enforcers, do not longer live in the village of Tsotsi-Yurt. This was reported by local residents. According to them, law enforcers forced the Muskiev family members to leave the village, although villagers were against that. The “Caucasian Knot” has reported that Makhma Muskiev was one of the suspects detained during the January major special operation carried out in the village of Tsotsi-Yurt of the Kurchaloi District and in neighbouring villages. On January 11, during an armed clash in Tsotsi-Yurt, six people were killed, including two law enforcers. […]
Source: Caucasian Knot [4 February 2017]