EURASIA LIFT

Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

Archive for August 17th, 2009

Khodorkovsky about Putin, the charges against him and the Russian justice system

Posted by Info on 17/08/2009

Yukos Oil’s Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s wealthiest man, is serving an eight-year prison sentence for fraud and tax evasion. Kremlin critics say the charges stemmed from the former oligarch’s opposition to then-president Vladimir Putin. Since March, Khodorkovsky has been on trial again, this time for alleged theft, and the court has refused to allow him to address the allegations against him.

In written responses to questions submitted to his lawyers by NEWSWEEK’s Russian-language partner, Russky NEWSWEEK, he talkes:

Do you think you made a strategic error in 2003 in misjudging the risks for the company and yourself?
“Maybe I was too naive in 2003 in believing that certain democratic and legal institutions had already become entrenched in the country.
….more here

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Medvedev Keeps Up Pressure on Kiev

Posted by Info on 17/08/2009

President Dmitry Medvedev on Friday ruled out any improvement in thorny relations with Ukraine for as long as Viktor Yushchenko remains president, saying he had “radically worsened” their bilateral ties.

The comments came as Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who will challenge Yushchenko for the presidency in January, said she wanted to deepen ties with Moscow but that Kiev’s foreign policy would not be influenced by anyone.

“I do not now see prospects for restoring normal relations with the current leaders,”

Medvedev told a news conference in Sochi.

Analysts have said Medvedev’s comments were designed to send a message to other candidates, including Tymoshenko and opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych. Tymoshenko stressed that she would not allow Moscow to interfere in Ukrainian politics.

“Ukraine will independently, with no external influence, define its foreign and domestic policy,” she said.

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From Kremlin Vladislav Surkov writes about corruption – Fact or fiction?

Posted by Info on 17/08/2009

The Independent: Mr Surkov, a shadowy figure who rarely speaks in public, wields immense influence. His role as deputy head of the Kremlin administration for the past 10 years under both Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev puts him at the centre of political power.

The short novel Close to Zero was published last month and passed unnoticed until the moment, when a newspaper reported that its author was none other than the Kremlin’s chief political strategist Vladislav Surkov, writing under a pseudonym.

In the novel, which advertised itself as gangster fiction, the main character Yegor Samokhodov orders a poet to write verse in the name of the regional governor to make the official look clever and win an award. Samokhodov, a publisher who does a sideline in political public relations, then tries to bribe a female journalist at an opposition newspaper to “correct” stories about damage to children’s health from a toxic chemical factory owned by the governor’s relative.

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Kazakhstan: Two Alleged Terrorists Go On Trial In Astana

Posted by Info on 17/08/2009

Radio Liberty: A court in Astana has opened a hearing on two alleged religious extremists charged with helping to organize a terrorist group, RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service reports. Investigators say that a grenade and extremist religious literature were found in their apartments.

The defendants say they confessed under pressure while in the custody of Committee of National Security officers.

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Russia: Other Human Rights Defenders Threatened

Posted by Info on 17/08/2009

Human Rights Watch : Akhmed Gisayev, a Memorial employee who had been working with Natalia Estemirova to investigate a sensitive human rights case in the days before her murder on July 15, 2009, has experienced a series of menacing events in the past days and weeks.

In the evening of August 13, a group of three or four armed men stopped Gisayev and his wife near their apartment in Grozny. The men pointed their weapons at Gisayev and demanded his documents. They refused to identify themselves or explain the reasons for the search. When Gisayev said that he worked at Memorial and showed his Memorial ID card, one of the men said: “And it’s your colleagues who are getting killed? And do you know why they’re getting killed?”

Prior to these events, Gisayev had observed a car parked next to his house on several occasions. The car had dark windows, a radio transmitter, and a license plate with a number not used for civilian vehicles, leading him to suspect that it belonged to the security services.

At least three other Memorial staff members working in Chechnya reported that they were followed or watched by people in cars since mid-July.

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Story from Chechnya: how news about “liquidated terrorists” are born/ about the Russia’s best teacher’s tragedy

Posted by Info on 17/08/2009

The Independent

Svetlana Bazhayeva, 51-year-old raised her own twin sons, now 25, as well as her two nephews, the sons of her sister who came from a village where there were no schools. She was a teacher of Russian language and literature at a local school, loved so much by all her pupils that the school nominated her last year for the Putin Prize for Russia’s best teachers. She won, and received a cash prize of 100,000 roubles (about £2,000).

But on 18 June, everything changed. One of her nephews, Adam, was walking down a central Grozny street, when police stopped him and asked to see his documents. As the policemen were checking his passport, shots rang out. A policeman was killed instantly, and Adam was also shot in the arm. He was wounded and fled to a nearby house. But his escape was short-lived. Police  found him and killed him by throwing grenades into the cellar where he was hiding.

Later the police claimed that  they had liquidated another “terrorist”.

Now, armed police and militias regularly turn up to Svetlana’s house, threatening the family and demanding to know where the remaining boys are. She has been told that they will find them and kill them, wherever they are.

In the space of six weeks, she had lost her nephew, seen her husband beaten up, sent four relatives into hiding and lost her job.

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