Annual Report: Russian Federation 2010

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Russian Federation 2010

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  • In January, lawyer and human rights defender Stanislav Markelov and Novaya Gazeta journalist Anastasia Baburova were shot dead in central Moscow. Two suspects were arrested in November.
  • In February a jury acquitted all those charged with involvement in the 2006 killing of journalist Anna Politkovskaya. In September the Supreme Court ordered a new investigation following an appeal from her family. The new investigation combined the case against the three alleged accomplices to the crime with the investigation into those responsible for carrying out the murder and for ordering it.
  • In March, human rights defender Lev Ponomarev was kicked and beaten by three men near his Moscow home.
  • In October, in a civil libel case, Moscow's Tverskoi District Court fined Oleg Orlov, head of Memorial Human Rights Centre, for libelling Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov when he accused him of responsibility for the July murder of human rights defender Natalia Estemirova. Appeals by both sides - against the judgement and against the amount of compensation awarded - had not been heard by the end of the year. Later in October a criminal defamation charge, based on the same evidence and punishable by up to three years' imprisonment, was brought against Oleg Orlov.
  • In May Aleksei Sokolov, head of an NGO campaigning against torture and ill-treatment in prisons and detention centres, was detained, allegedly on suspicion of taking part in a 2004 robbery. In July Sverdlovsk Regional Court ordered his discharge and release. However, the police immediately detained him again, allegedly on suspicion of a different crime. In a closed hearing in August, Ekaterinburg District Court ordered his remand in custody on the grounds that, as a member of the region's public commission for oversight of places of detention, he could meet and influence men convicted of the 2004 robbery. Amid numerous procedural violations, his detention was extended into 2010.

The right to freedom of assembly was restricted for members of the political opposition and for human rights activists. Several people were sentenced to police detention solely for attempting to exercise their right to freedom of assembly. The Moscow authorities repeatedly denied requests to hold demonstrations in support of the right to freedom of assembly, and arrested and fined dozens of people who attempted to demonstrate publicly.

  • In January, four members of the opposition coalition, the Other Russia, were detained by police inNizhnii Novgorod and sentenced to five days' administrative detention, apparently with the sole purpose of preventing them from attending a demonstration three days later. Neither police reports nor the court hearings gave specific information about the allegations against them.
  • A gay pride march was banned in May by the Moscow authorities, which provided no alternative date or location as required in law. Police later briefly detained several people who attempted to hold a march, as well as counter-demonstrators.
  • Opposition activist Eduard Limonov was given a 10-day prison sentence for allegedly refusing to obey police orders during an unauthorized demonstration in October.

In this climate of intolerance for independent views, freedom of expression was also curtailed in the arts and sciences.