Friday, October 24, 2014


Baku Concert By Russian Rocker, Kremlin Critic Makarevich Canceled

RFE/RL

A planned concert by Russian rock musician Andrei Makarevich has been canceled in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Makarevich, front man of the legendary band Mashina Vremeni (Time Machine), has had concerts in several Russian cities canceled in recent weeks.

Pro-Kremlin lawmakers and commentators in Russia branded him a traitor after he gave concerts in Ukraine for refugees from the eastern part of the country, where government forces have been fighting pro-Russian separatists.

Makarevich wrote on Facebook on October 13 that Baku city authorities cancelled the concert by him and "The Creole Tango Orchestra" in order "to avoid pro-Ukrainian actions."

The concert was scheduled for October 31 at Baku's Heydar Aliyev Palace, a venue named after the late former president whose son, Ilham Aliyev, succeeded him shortly before his death in 2003.

 


Russian Presidential Rights Chief Against Closing Memorial

Mikhail Fedotov

The head of Russia's presidential Human Rights Council has said he does not see any reason to close the independent rights organization Memorial. 

Mikhail Fedotov told the Interfax news agency on October 13 that there are "no grounds" for closing down Memorial.

Russia's Ministry of Justice on October 10 appealed to the Supreme Court to close Memorial, but the reasons for the request were not made public.

Fedotov said the planned November 13 Supreme Court hearing on Memorial should be rescheduled to allow Memorial to conduct its planned November 19 conference on changes to its structure.

Fedotov said the changes Memorial plans to make would address the Justice Ministry's concerns.

Created in the late 1980s by a group of Soviet-era dissidents, including Nobel laureate Andrei Sakharov, Memorial has served as a tireless rights watchdog and important source of Soviet-era records for historians for a quarter century.

Based on reporting by Interfax

Baku Rally Demands President's Resignation, Closer Ties With EU

The event was organized by the National Council of Democratic Forces, a pro-democracy movement of Azerbaijan’s united opposition.

Last updated (GMT/UTC): 12.10.2014 12:49

RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service

Thousands of opposition supporters in Azerbaijan have attended an antigovernment rally in the capital, Baku, demanding the resignation of President Ilham Aliyev and an end to the repression of human rights defenders and civic activists.

Demonstrators also demanded closer integration between Baku and the European Union and the release of political prisoners.

A protester urges the release of activist Yadigar Sadiqov, who is serving a six-year prison sentence.A protester urges the release of activist Yadigar Sadiqov, who is serving a six-year prison sentence.
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A protester urges the release of activist Yadigar Sadiqov, who is serving a six-year prison sentence.
A protester urges the release of activist Yadigar Sadiqov, who is serving a six-year prison sentence.

The event on October 12 was organized by the National Council of Democratic Forces, a pro-democracy movement of Azerbaijan’s united opposition.

The rally was permitted by municipal authorities on condition that it was held at a stadium in a remote part of Baku.

Although the event was peaceful, organizers faced what they called “clear provocations from the authorities in order to discredit the opposition.”

RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service reports that several people tried to raise the black flag of Islamic State militants at the event, prompting rally organizers to ask police to remove those individuals from the area.

Although police detained them, one man with an IS banner was spotted later walking freely in the area.


Russian Justice Ministry Asks To Close Memorial Rights Group

Chairman Arseny Roginsky said Memorial received a telegram from the Supreme Court stating that the lawsuit calling for its liquidation would be heard.

Last updated (GMT/UTC): 10.10.2014 17:59

RFE/RL

Russia's Justice Ministry has appealed to the country's Supreme Court to close the independent rights organization Memorial.

A hearing in the lawsuit to liquidate the group is set to be held November 13, according to the Supreme Court's website.

The lawsuit was filed by the ministry September 24 and accepted by the Supreme Court the next day, Russian news agencies RIA Novosti and Interfax reported on October 10.

Russian prosecutors had earlier attempted to have Memorial officially registered as a "foreign agent" under a new Russian law, but a Moscow court struck down that request.

Reports did not mention on what grounds the Justice Ministry is seeking to have Memorial closed.

Memorial board member Yan Rachinsky said the lawsuit was groundless and vowed that the group would file a complaint about the legal action to Russia’s Constitutional Court.

“The Justice Ministry is restricting citizens’ rights to associate,” Interfax cited Rachinsky as saying. “Furthermore, the Justice Ministry doesn’t have a solid constitutional basis. [It] does not have the authority to interfere with citizens’ constitutional rights.”

Created in the late 1980s by a group of Soviet-era dissidents, including Nobel laureate Andrei Sakharov, Memorial has served as a tireless rights watchdog and important source of Soviet-era records for historians for a quarter century.

Memorial chairman Arseny Roginsky, a former prisoner in the Soviet Gulag, said the ministry had not formally informed the organization about the lawsuit. Instead, it received a telegram from the Supreme Court stating that the lawsuit calling for Memorial’s liquidation would be heard, Roginsky told the Russian news agency RBK.  

Roginsky said the ministry has long had problems with Memorial’s organizational structure. Instead of having a head office that opens local branches across Russia, Memorial consists of dozens of independent grassroots organizations that later joined up, RBK cited Roginsky as saying.

If the Supreme Court rules to close Memorial, it does not mean that these organizations will be shuttered as well, Roginsky said.

“Some will have to reregistered, and then we will figure out a way to unite once again,” he told RBK.

With reporting by RIA Novosti, Interfax, RBK and Gazeta.ru

Russian Civil Rights Activist Shekhtman Detained In Moscow

Police in Moscow have detained Pavel Shekhtman, a Russian civil rights activist and Kremlin critic.

Shekhtman's lawyer told the online news site kasparov.ru that his client was detained on October 8 over recent publications in the Internet, but did not give details.

He said Shekhtman was being held in a Moscow pretrial detention center.

Shekhtman is known for his criticism of the Kremlin over rights abuses in Russia.

In March, Shekhtman was attacked by members of a group led by nationalist opposition politician Eduard Limonov over his criticism of Russia's actions in Ukraine.

Russia annexed the Crimea region form Ukraine in March and Kyiv and the West say Moscow has sent troops and weapons to help pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Based on reporting by kasparov.ru and grani.ru

Kyrgyz Parliamentary Committee Backs Draft Antigay Bill

RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service

A parliamentary committee in Kyrgyzstan on October 7 approved the language of draft legislation that would ban what it calls gay "propaganda."

Kurmanbek Dyikanbaev, a co-author of the bill, told RFE/RL the proposal will be sent to parliament for debate and would become law if approved by the parliament and signed by Kyrgyzstan's president.

The bill calls for "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" to be punished by up to one year in jail.

It says journalists found guilty of "propagating" homosexual relations also will be held accountable.

The bill also bans the creation of groups that defend the rights of  the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.

Dyikanbaev told RFE/RL the proposal aims to preserve "traditional family values" and stands against the legalization of same-sex relations that he says is being "propagated by the West."


Iraqi Yazidi Legislator Awarded Politkovskaya Prize

Vian Dakhil

The only ethnic Yazidi member of Iraq's parliament has won an international award for her efforts to protect members of the minority from the militant group Islamic State.

Vian Dakhil received the London-based organization RAW in WAR's Anna Politkovskaya Award, which honors women working to help those trapped in conflict, on October 6. 

Dakhil, who broke a leg in a helicopter crash in August while delivering aid to Yazidis on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq, vowed to continue her campaign.

She told the Thomson Reuters Foundation: "We are peaceful people, but our men are being butchered, and our women and girls are being tortured, raped, and taken as slaves."

The award is named after Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who exposed human rights abuses in Chechnya and was assassinated on October 7, 2006.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP

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