Annual Report: Russian Federation 2010

Report
May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Russian Federation 2010

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  • The office of the NGO Mothers of Dagestan for Human Rights was destroyed in a suspected arson attack in August. In the same month leaflets were distributed in Makhachkala, Dagestan's capital, calling for a blood feud against Svetlana Isaeva and Gulnara Rustamova, members of the NGO, and against other Dagestani human rights activists and journalists. They were accused of being members of illegal armed groups. The criminal investigation into the threats, opened in October, was ineffective. No measures were taken by the authorities to protect members of the NGO.
  • In August the body of Malik Akhmedilov, an investigative journalist who had written about unsolved killings of Dagestani officials, was found in a car in Makhachkala. He had been shot dead.
  • In August Artur Butaev, Islam Askerov and Arsen Butaev were abducted and allegedly beaten and ill treated while being interrogated in an unknown building. Islam Askerov and Arsen Butaev managed to escape and went into hiding. Three days days later the remains of Artur Butaev and two other men, Gadzhi Gudaliev and Amiraslan Islamov, were found in a burned-out car near Makhachkala.

Kabardino-Balkaria

  • In February the Supreme Court ruled that, in accordance with new legislation, the trial of 58 individuals accused of an attack on public buildings in Nalchik in October 2005 should take place without a jury. In March the trial opened at the Supreme Court of Kabardino-Balkaria. The health of several detainees had reportedly deteriorated as a result of harsh conditions in pre-trial detention, including the lack of medical care. According to his lawyer, detainee Rasul Kudaev was denied medical aid for hepatitis C. Appeals by his lawyer for confession statements allegedly made under torture or duress to be excluded from the case material were ignored. Rasul Kudaev had previously been detained at the US naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Armed conflict

A report by the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Conflict in Georgia, commissioned by the EU and published in September, confirmed that violations of international human rights and humanitarian law were committed by Georgian, Russian and South Ossetian forces in 2008 and called on all sides of the conflict to address the consequences of the war. By the end of the year, no full investigations had been conducted by any side into the violations of human rights and international humanitarian law that took place during the 2008 war and in its immediate aftermath. A general lack of accountability persisted and there had been no comprehensive efforts undertaken to bring any of those responsible to justice.

Freedom of expression and human rights defenders

Amendments to the law on NGOs, which came into force in August, eased registration, inspection and reporting procedures. However, legislation regulating civil society organizations remained open to abuse.

Independent civil society remained under threat, especially but not only in the North Caucasus. Human rights defenders, journalists and opposition activists across the Russian Federation were subjected to attacks and threats. Some were killed. Investigations into such attacks and threats remained inadequate. Officials accused human rights defenders and NGOs of supporting "extremism" or working for foreign secret services. Under the law to combat extremist activities, law enforcement agencies targeted violent opponents and peaceful dissenters alike. The UN Human Rights Committee, during its examination of Russia's compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, raised concerns about the lack of protection for human rights defenders and journalists.