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Agora Digest: February 2013 (December 2012 - February 2013)

The New Generation 

Digest No. 12-01-02 (47) AGORA Association

(December 2012, January-February 2013)

IN TODAY'S ISSUE: International level / European Court of Human Rights / Federal level / Publications  / Cases. Courts. Victories  / Top 10 press materials

International level

From 25 February to 1 March 2013, legal analyst with the Agora Association, Doctor of Legal Sciences Damir Gainutdinov attended a conference of members of the Global Internet Policy Project, put on by Internews Networks in Washington D.C. in the United States, with a report entitled 'Internet Freedom and Unfreedom in Russia.'

From 22 to 25 January, on the invitation of the Eastern Group for Democracy and Human Rights (Östgruppen för demokrati och mänskliga rättigheter), Chairman of the Agora Association Pavel Chikov travelled to Stockholm and Uppsala, Sweden to take part in a number of meetings, talks and interviews with major media outlets on the state of human rights and civil society in Russia, organised by Östgruppen, the Uppsala Forum for Democracy, Peace and Justice at Uppsala University, Amnesty International and Civil Rights Defenders. Read more in Russian.

European Court of Human Rights 

In February the European Court of Human Rights considered as a matter of priority an appeal by Andrei Gorbunov, a convicted criminal from Izhevsk. The court found Russia guilty of inhumane treatment regarding medical care and ordered the government to pay Gorbunov 7,500 euros in compensation for moral damage. The interests of Gorbunov were represented by lawyer Rustem Valiullin, who has since tragically died.

In February the European Court of Human Rights registered a complaint by the GOLOS Association In Defence of Voters' Rights for the violation of three articles of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

In January the European Court of Human Rights communicated a complaint by a 27-year-old man of torture at the Tatarstan Interior Ministry. This was the first time human rights defenders in Kazan released a video of the incident. Read more in Russian.

From December 2012 to February 2013 gallery owner Marat Gelman, people implicated in the Bolotnaya case Denis Lutskevich and Andrei Barabanov, and civil activist and journalist Jenny Kurpen all appealed to the Europoean Court of Human Rights with the assistance of the Agora Association. 

Federal level 

In February the Agora Association launched a new website on Internet freedom, The project presents information, legal defence and technical support for users of Runet and online resources. The aim of the site is to support Internet freedom and strengthen its legal guarantees, and to protect sites and users from any attempts at arbitrary interference, blocking, intrusion, regulation, and tightening of responsibility and monitoring. The project's partner is Lenta.Ru. 

In February Chairman of the Agora Association Pavel Chikov took part in preparing amendments to the criminal and administrative legislation as part of the Presidential Council on Human Rights, of which he is a member. Human rights defenders have suggested decriminalising the article "Insulting a Government Official" and reducing the punishment for defamation. Read more in Russian

On 22 February lawyer and legal analyst with the Agora Association Ramil Akhmetgaliev held a seminar in Grozny (Republic of Chechnya) 'New Developments in the Law on NGOs,' which focussed in particular on the law on "foreign agents" and the anti-Magnitsky law. Taking part in the event, which was organised by the Calming the Soul (Sintem) NGO, were 15 representatives of republican NGOs. 

On 27 February Dmitry Kolbasin, head of the information department at the Agora Association and chief editor of the Open Information Agency (www.openinform. ru), delivered a report at the Expert Council for the Legal Regulation of Relations on the Internet, organised by the Information Democracy Foundation. Others attending this event included State Duma Deputy Robert Shlegel, Director of the Russian Association for Electronic Communications (RAEC) Sergei Plugotarenko, Director of the Coordination Centre for TLD RU Andrei Kolesnikov, and representatives from online business, mobile operators and the Russian Ministry of Communications and Mass Media. Read more in Russian

On 21-22 February in Kazan the Agora Association held a seminar entitled 'Monitoring Closed Institutions: Providing Medical Care in Pre-Trial Detention Centres, Institutions Run by the Federal Penitentiary Service and Temporary Detention Facilities Run by the Interior Ministry' for 14 members of the public observer commission from Mari El, Chuvashia, Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, Komi, Rostov Region and Chelyabinsk Region. 

In January a meeting took place in Moscow between Pavel Chikov and the director of the Department of NGOs at the Russian Justice Ministry about issues related to the adoption of the law on NGOs as "foreign agents."


In February the Agora Association summarised the harassment of civic activists in Russia in 2012. Read Report in Russian. Read Report in English

In February Damir Gainutdinov, legal analyst with the Agora Association and Doctor of Legal Sciences, and Pavel Chikov prepared and presented a non-governmental report 'Russia as a Global Threat to Internet Freedom,' which presented an analysis of the harassment Internet users were subjected to in 2012. Read Report in Russian. Map of Violations. Read Report in Englis

In February, a report by lawyer with the Agora Association Ilnur Sharapov 'The LGBT Community. Outside Russia's legal framework' presented an analysis of incidents of violence against members of the LGBT community over the last 7 years. Read Report in Russian. Read Report in English. 

In February Damir Gainutdinov analysed the 'Strategy for the Regulation of Legal Relations on the Internet', one of the authors of which was State Duma Deputy and member of the Committee on Information Policy Robert Shlegel. Read Report in Russian

In January Pavel Chikov and Damir Gainutdinov wrote an article for Forbes 'How the FSB Will Fight Hackers.'

In December Pavel Chikov outlined the Safety Rules for Protesters on 15 December for

In December Damir Gainutdinov wrote a text for Gazeta.Ru 'A Dangerous Standoff' about how the Russian authorities are pushing for even more powers to restrict Internet freedom.

Cases. Courts. Victories

Defence of NGOs, journalists and civic activists (Moscow, Altai, Tatarstan, Chuvashia, Novosibirsk Region and Moscow Region)

On 1 February a police unit of the Moscow Metro under the Russian Interior Ministry for Moscow opened a criminal case into an assault on LGBT activist Anna Annenkova after a protest at the State Duma on 22 January 2013. Read more in Russian.

In February, upon the decision of the Gorno-Altai City Court, Ruslan Makarov, a journalist at the local opposition newspaper Listok, who was charged with threatening to kill the Altai governor, was released from pre-trial detention. The Serbsky Centre psychiatric hospital in Moscow had previously found him to be criminally sane. Read more in Russian

In February the Moscow City Court rejected an appeal by Novosibirsk resident Irina Ruzankina against a decision by the district court dismissing her lawsuit against Maria Alekhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Ekaterina Samutsevich, meaning the decision of the Kuntsevsky District Court of Moscow was upheld and came into legal force. Read more in Russian.

In February the Moscow City Court dismissed a lawsuit by a Novosibirsk resident against Pussy Riot. The Moscow City Court rejected an appeal by Irina Ruzankina against the decision of the district court dismissing her lawsuit against Maria Alekhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Ekaterina Samutsevich. Read more in Russian.

In February the magistrates' court in the Zheleznodorozhny District of Novosibirsk dropped an administrative case of "engaging in business activities without state registration as an individual entrepreneur or legal entitiy" against the creator of SVBD PSRT [Freedom (Svoboda) Pussy Riot] T-Shirts Artem Loskutov, because there was no evidence that an offence had been committed. Read more in Russian

In February the Supreme Court of Tatarstan acquitted all the participants of separate pickets against the Dima Yakovlev Law. The head of the Kazan Human Rights Centre Igor Sholokhov succeeded in having the administrative case against a lecturer at Kazan Federal University dropped. Read more in Russian.

In February the organiser of a protest against abuse of power by the Kazan police won a case that had been brought by a police officer to defend his honour and dignity. Human rights activists stressed that the police officer presented no evidence to prove the civil activist's guilt. Read more in Russian.

In January the Supreme Court of Chuvashia dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Federal Penitentiary Service against a newspaper and human rights activists to defend its reputation. The Supreme Court of Chuvashia upheld a decision by the Leninsky District Court of Cheboksary, which on 8 November 2012 dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Federal Penitentiary Service for Chuvashia, an employee of the agency, and the acting head of Penal Colony No. 6 to defend their honour, dignity and business reputation. Read more in Russian

In January the magistrates' court in Judicial District No. 264 of the Kimkinsky District of Moscow Region dismissed a case against Deputy Executive Director of the GOLOS Association for the Defence of Voters' Rights, Grigory Melkonyants, because there was no evidence that a crime had been committed. Melkonyants was charged with allegedly, in contravention of the federal law On Personal Data, not publishing on the website of the Central Election Committee a document detailing the policies of an operator with regard to the processing of personal data, as well as requirements for their protection. Read more in Russian.

In January the Russian Ministry of Justice refused to register the Chuvashia human rights organisation Shchit i Mech (Shield and Sword) as a "foreign agent" NGO. Read more in Russian

State abuse of power (Tatarstan, Chelyabinsk Region, Ulyanovsk Region, Voronezh Region) 

In February the Ulyanovsk Region Court started considering the merits of a criminal case against former judge of the Shchelkovsky City Court, Moscow Region, Valery Sas, who is accused of causing an accident while under the influence of alcohol which caused the deaths of two people. Read more in Russian

In February in Voronezh an employee of the Federal Service for Drug Control was charged with the murder of a disabled man. An officer with the Federal Service for Drug Control, Alexandr Shcherbin, 24, is charged with murder while his colleague, a senior officer with the Federal Service for Drug Control, Dmitry Burakov, 28, is charged with intentionally causing serious bodily harm resulting in death. Read more in Russian.

In December, under the auspices of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, the Agora Association, jointly with the Interregional Committee Against Torture, conducted a public inquiry into the situation at Penal Colony No. 6 in Kopeisk, where inmates had staged a revolt in protest against extortion. The six-day visit resulted in a detailed report to the president on the problem. 

In December the Agora Assocation set up a hotline on extortion in penal colonies, which dozens of Russian citizens called up in a 10-day period. Read more in Russian

Compensation (Chuvashia, Tatarstan) 

In February the Cheboskary District Court in Moscow ordered that 150,000 roubles be paid to Chuvasia resident Sergei Dubinin, who lost all chances of following a military career after being shot by a police chief. The interests of the young man were represented by the Shchit i Mech human rights organisation. Read more in Russian

In February a victim of torture at Dalny police station was awarded 8,000 roubles in court. The interests of the young man, who was seeking compensation for unlawful administrative prosecution, were represented by the Kazan Human Rights Centre. Read more in Russian. In December another "Dalny" victim received financial compensation. The Russian Finance Ministry paid out 4,000 roubles to a student at Kazan Federal University. In December a torture victim in another Kazan police department was awarded 2,000 roubles for unlawful administrative prosecution. 

In February in Kazan an Afghan veteran was awarded 10,000 roubles for being assaulted by a police officer. The court also granted in full the 56-year-old man's lawsuit for compensation for material damage. Read more in Russian

In January the Russian Finance Ministry paid out compensation to an eyewitness at the 'For Free and Fair Elections' rally who was prosecuted. The interests of the victim were represented by Head of the Kazan Human Rights Centre Igor Sholokhov. Read more in Russian

In January the mother of a girl who died won a court action for 500,000 for medical errors. The Supreme Court of Tatarstan ordered the Sabinsky Central District Hospital to pay the woman half a million roubles in compensation for moral damage. Read more in Russian

Two schools in Kazan are paying 800,000 roubles to the father of a boy who died as a result of a football goalpost falling on him. Human rights defenders say that only one of the schools has appealed against the decision by the higher court. Read more in Russian

In December the mother of a soldier who was killed at his combat station received 250,000 roubles. Her interests were represented by the Kazan Human Rights Centre. Read more in Russian.

16 directors of schools in Kazan have been punished for extorting money. The Kazan prosecutor's office also confirmed the information of human rights defenders that deliveries of textbooks to educational institutions were not made until 24 September. Meanwhile, the Mayor of Kazan has reprimanded the director of the school attended by his children for extortion. That was the reply of the Tatarstan Public Prosecutor's Office to the announcement that the Director of School No. 19 had committed serious violations of the law. Read more in Russian

Top 10 press materials

TV Tsentr. 14.02. Went out to the dentist and never came back.

Kommersant. 13.02. Human rights activists measure pressure put on activists. 

Dozhd TV Station. 12.02. Pomor separatism.

Kommersant-Vlast. 11.02. No one knows how to enforce law on NGOs.

Vedomosti. 05.02. Monitoring, not censorship.

Kommersant. 31.01. Punk prayer included in Justice Ministry chart

Novaya Gazeta. 28.01. The price for standing on the street

Dozhd TV Station. 11.01. Navalny goes to Constitutional Court.

Bolshoi Gorod. 07.12. Torture in Kazan: one year on. Having a Go.

Vedomosti. 03.12. The Bolotnaya Dozen

© AGORA Interregional Human Rights Association, March 2013, ,
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