Thursday, 9 February

DAILY DIGEST, 9 February 2017

== Ukrainian librarian under Russian house arrest takes case to Strasbourg ==
Natalya Sharina, a Ukrainian librarian held under house arrest in Russia since October 2015, has taken her case to the European court of human rights in Strasbourg. Since her arrest in 2015, the Russian authorities have extended the order for Sharina, director of the Ukrainian Literature Library in Moscow, to be detained at home repeatedly, despite calls for her release. In a move roundly condemned by human rights groups, Sharina went on trial in November 2016 for incitement by stocking books banned in Russia and labelled extremist and “anti-Russian propaganda”. Three weeks after the trial began, embezzlement was added to the list of charges. If found guilty, she faces up to 10 years in prison. [More, see The Guardian, 9 February 2017]

== Frustrated Siberians Take On Russia’s Justice System ==
Olga Linkova is desperate and angry. Her husband, Maksim Khakhlev, is serving a four-year sentence in a Siberian prison. He was found guilty in October of beating soldiers, a conviction on charges the couple says were completely fabricated and upheld by a sham trial. “The prosecutors didn’t bring a single victim to court,” Linkova tells RFE/RL’s Russian Service. “There were a lot of procedural violations at the trial,” she says. “One of the most glaring was that he was given a court-appointed lawyer even though he had his own attorney; the judges purposely scheduled a hearing for a day when the [defendant’s chosen] attorney couldn’t show up, and when he wasn’t there, they replaced him.” [More, see RFE/RL, 9 February 2017]

== Last Tsar’s Love Life Sparks Cinema Censorship Row ==
Months before its release, the film “Mathilde” has Orthodox activists crying blasphemy. A graceful ballet dancer glides across the stage. Suddenly, the shoulder strap on her outfit gives way, revealing — just for a brief moment — a naked breast. In the audience, a man drops his opera glasses in shock. He is Nicholas II, the last Russian tsar. The film “Mathilde,” which tells the story of a love affair between Polish ballerina Mathilde Kschessinska and the young tsar, will hit the big screen in October. But scenes like this one, featured in the trailer, have already sparked tensions between Orthodox believers and the Russian arts establishment. The heart of the issue is that Nicholas II and his family — killed by the Bolsheviks in 1918 — were canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church in 2000. Some say that depicting them in a less-than-holy light is an attack on a saint. [More, see The Moscow Times, 9 February 2017]

== Activists Arrested Protesting Putin’s Closest Oligarch Ally ==
Twelve activists have been arrested outside the offices of Russian oil giant Rosneft in central Moscow. Members of nationalist-Bolshevik group The Other Russia were detained by police while distributing leaflets condemning the “extravagant income” of company CEO Igor Sechin. They were later released and charged with holding an illegal rally. [More see The Moscow Times, 9 February 2017]

== Ukrainian jailed for insisting that Crimea is part of Ukraine declared a political prisoner ==
A Crimean for whom the words of Ukraine’s national anthem about “laying down life and soul for our freedom” are his credo in life has become the latest political prisoner in Russian-occupied Crimea. The renowned Memorial Human Rights Centre’s statement declaring Volodymyr Balukh a political prisoner and demanding his release came as the Ukrainian farmer spent his 45th birthday jailed on overtly absurd charges. The Crimean Human Rights Group has also launched a campaign in support of “a strong and courageous man, a Ukrainian who continued flying the Ukrainian flag, despite persecution and who openly states to everybody that Crimea is part of Ukraine.  Memorial HRC has given a blistering assessment of the charges against Balukh who was arrested on Dec 8, 2016 and charged with illegal possession of ammunition. [More, see Human Rights in Ukraine, 9 February 2017]

== Supreme Court upholds sentence for Hizb ut-Tahrir member ==
Russia’s Supreme Court has upheld a 6-year prison term and a 55,800-ruble ($938) fine given to Marcel Gabbasov for participating in activities of Hizb ut-Tahrir terrorist organization banned in Russia, RAPSI learnt from the court’s press service on Thursday. The court thus dismissed an appeal filed by Gabbasov against the Privolzhsky District Military Court’s judgment issued on October 31, 2016. The sentence has become effective. [More, see RAPSI, 9 February 2017]

== Lawyer Sergey Zemtsov attacked, Kuban farmers report ==
Lawyer Sergey Zemtsov, who represents the interests of participants of the “tractor march”, has been attacked this night. This was reported by Alexei Volchenko, the leader of the Kuban farmers’ movement “Polite Farmers”. The “Caucasian Knot” has reported that on January 25, the Investigating Committee of the Russian Federation (ICRF) instituted a criminal case of fraud with lease of land plots against Nikolai Borodin, a participant of the Kuban farmers’ tractor march, and Elena Petrova, a wife of another participant of the “tractor march”. Nikolai Borodin has suggested that they are prosecuted for their involvement in the protests. The defence has appealed against the criminal case, reports Sergey Zemtsov, a blogger and a lawyer. [More, see Caucasian Knot, 8 February 2017]

== Two Chechens detained in Austria face deportation ==
All 22 natives of Chechnya detained in Austria sought refugee status. Two of them left under arrest are refused of asylum, and they face deportation. In Austria, many Chechen refugees have failed to integrate into the local society, and appearance of their names in the criminal chronicle is of high interest to local media. The “Caucasian Knot” has reported that on February 3, 22 natives of Chechnya were detained in Vienna. According to local media, the detainees were checked for involvement in terrorist activities. Twenty people were released on recognizance not to leave, while two others were left in custody. [More, see Caucasian Knot, 8 February 2017]

Wednesday, 8 February 2017 …