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Report "Freedom of assembly in post-soviet states"

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This report presents the main trends in the practical implementation of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly in recent years in four countries of the post-soviet states: Belarus, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine.

Gulag grave hunter unearths uncomfortable truths in Russia

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The pine trees creak and rustle ominously beneath even the faintest breeze, as if the vast forest between Lake Onega and the Finnish border remains reluctant to give up its dark secrets. The secret police brought 6,241 gulag prisoners to these woods during Joseph Stalin’s Great Terror in 1937-8, put them face-down in pits dug in the sandy soil, and shot them in the back of the head with a revolver. As their remains decayed, the earth above each mass grave sank into the ground.

Jailed historian of Stalin’s Terror declared a political prisoner in Putin’s Russia

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Exactly 80 years after the beginning of Stalin’s Great Terror, a Russian who has dedicated his life to ensuring that the truth about the crimes committed is known and the victims honoured is on trial.  While the charges against 61-year-old Yury Dmitriev, a historian and the head of the Karelia branch of the Russian Memorial Society, are ostensibly unrelated to his work, their link to ‘pornography’ is even less comprehensible.  The supposed ‘expert assessment’ backing the charges is, furthermore, from an institute which has become notorious for politically-motivated opinions.  Concern was already high about the case before the trial began, and by now has prompted many prominent Russians to speak out in Dmitriev’s defence and attracted attention well beyond Russia.

Valentina Cherevatenko: We have been labelled a “foreign agent” for our peacekeeping activities

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For the first time in Russia, a criminal investigation has been opened into an allegation of malicious evasion of the law on Foreign Agents under Article 330.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation [“Malicious evasion of the duty to file the documents required for inclusion in the register of NGOs performing the functions of a foreign agent" - trans.]. The case has been brought against Valentina Cherevatenko, laureate of a Moscow Helsinki Group, in her capacity as coordinator of the regional human-rights NGO, Women of the Don Union and chair of the board of the Foundation that goes under the same name [see Human Rights Watch; if found guilty, Cherevatenko faces up to two years in prison - trans.]. The charges against her have surprised not only the Russian and foreign public, but also Cherevatenko herself. Here, the human rights defender discusses the reasons behind the investigation, which has been under way for several years. 

There are at least 117 political prisoners in Russia today, says Memorial, and the number continues to grow

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As the Memorial Human Rights Centre explains, it now divides its periodic lists in two. Some are persecuted for political reasons (51 individuals); others have suffered harassment and denial of their rights because of their religion (66 individuals). 

A former Berkut commander now wanted in Ukraine for crimes against protesters is spotted working for Moscow's riot police

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Footage recorded by the television station Dozhd at a protest on Monday in Moscow reveals a riot control officer who appears to be Sergey Kusyuk, a former commander of the “Berkut” special police force in Kiev, notorious for its brutality and dissolved in 2014, after the Maidan Revolution. Kusyuk is wanted in Ukraine for his role in the violent police crackdown on protesters in Kiev in November 2013. Meduza reviews Kusyuk’s checkered past and how he ended up in Russia.

Russian Librarian Convicted of ‘Extremism’

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Rather than directing their efforts to combat extremism toward activities that genuinely deserve the label, Russian authorities seem to be using anti-extremism legislation in what is increasingly looking like a witch hunt. Already this year, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation banned Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia on the grounds they are an extremist organization, and another court convicted a 22-year-old blogger on extremism charges for posting a prank video making fun of the Russian Orthodox Church.

NGO Head First Russian Charged Under 'Foreign Agent' Law

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A human rights activist in southern Russia's Rostov region has become the first person to face criminal prosecution under the country's controversial "foreign agent" law.

Justice Ministry says authorities can organize public rallies without restrictions

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The Justice Ministry has announced that the authorities can organize public rallies without giving prior notice or other restrictions, as in federal law there is no mention of government agencies needing to apply to hold large-scale public gatherings. 

Lithuania Begins Issuing Visas To Gays Fleeing Chechnya

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Lithuania has become one of the first countries to issue visas to gay men in Chechnya seeking refuge from torture and kidnapping.

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