Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Photogallery Russian Activists Commemorate Slain Rights Defender Estemirova

  • Natalya Estemirova poses at the Front Line Club in London on October 4, 2007.
  • Natalya Estemirova (seated left) with journalists and staff members of the Grozny branch of the Memorial human rights group on July 26, 2007
  • Human rights activist Natalya Estemirova in the Chechen capital of Grozny on September 1, 2004
  • The body of slain Russian human rights activist Natalya Estemirova is transported to the village of Koshkeldy, Chechnya, for her funeral on July 16, 2009.
  • Mourners gather for the Estemirova's funeral in Koshkeldy, about 70 kilometers east of Grozny on July 16, 2009.
  • Flowers cover a photo of slain journalist and human rights activist Natalya Estemirova at a protest rally in Moscow on July 16, 2009.
RFE/RL's Russian Service

Russian and international rights organizations have called for justice on the fifth anniversary of the killing of slain Chechen rights activist and journalist Natalya Estemirova.

Amnesty International is holding an event in Moscow to commemorate her death and is collecting signatures for a petition demanding officials thoroughly investigate her death.

Estemirova was abducted in the Chechen capital, Grozny, on July 15, 2009. Her body was found the next day in Ingushetia. 

The Memorial Human Rights Center, where Estemirova worked, said an investigation by authorities showed the possible involvement of law enforcement officers in the crime.

No one has been arrested for her murder.

David Kramer, president of the rights watchdog Freedom House, said Russian officials had "dragged their feet and pushed forward a version of events [of Estemirova's death] that is obviously fabricated, shielding her killers from justice, effectively validating their actions."

Thirteen Killed In Xenophobic Attacks In Russia Since January

A Moscow-based think tank that monitors xenophobia and extremism says 13 people were killed and 61 injured in ethnically motivated attacks in Russia in the first six months of 2014.

According to the latest report presented by the Sova Center for Information and Analysis on July 9, the deadliest attacks in the last six months occurred in Moscow, where five people were killed and 13 injured by suspected ultranationalists.

Two people were killed and seven injured in Russia's second-largest city, St. Petersburg.

The report did not include ethnically or racially motivated attacks in Russia's volatile North Caucasus region or in Crimea, the Ukrainian region that was annexed by Moscow in March.

The main victims of the attacks were migrant workers from Central Asia and the Caucasus, as well as citizens from African states and Japan.

With reporting by Interfax


Family Of Turkmen Conscript Say He Died In Hazing Incident

RFE/RL's Turkmen Service

The family of a Turkmen conscript who died while in service are alleging that he was murdered in a hazing incident.

The body of Private Ihtiyar Hydyrov was handed over to his family in April.

In an interview with RFE/RL on July 7, they said his body bore traces of beating and torture.

Turkmen officials said Hydyrov's death was caused by excessive alcohol consumption.

Hydyrov's family protested the autopsy results and filed a lawsuit, demanding an independent examination.

A court in Ashgabat ruled last month that no additional autopsy is needed.

Hydyrov's relatives say he would call them on a regular basis and ask them to send money "to avoid problems."

They say he prohibited his parents from visiting him, saying it would make matters worse.

Hazing remains a problem in the armed forces of the majority of post-Soviet countries.


Rights Groups Condemn Sentencing Of Former Chechen Politician

RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service

Human rights watchdogs have slammed authorities in Russia's Chechen Republic for sentencing a former Chechen politician, Ruslan Kutayev, to four years in jail.

Kutayev was found guilty of illegal drugs possession and sentenced on July 7.

He was arrested in February, two days after holding an event marking the 70th anniversary of the Chechen deportation to Kazakhstan.

Kutayev is the leader of the Assembly of Peoples of the Caucasus, a nongovernmental organization aiming to unite ethnic groups across the North Caucasus.

The Moscow-based Memorial human rights center has designated Kutayev as a political prisoner on the grounds that the charge against him was fabricated.

In a statement issued on July 7, the president of Freedom House, David J.Kramer, called Kutayev’s sentence "a political retribution."

Kramer urged Chechen authorities to immediately release Kutayev.


European Court Condemns Russia For 2006 Expulsion Of Georgians

The European Court of Human Rights has condemned Russia for the mass deportation of Georgian citizens in 2006.

The Strasbourg-based court ruled on July 3 that the expulsions had been "arbitrary" and violated the European Convention on Human Rights.

It upheld Georgia's claims that Russian authorities had implemented "a coordinated policy of arresting, detaining, and expelling Georgian nationals" living in Russia.

The Georgian goverment said more than 4,600 expulsion orders were issued by Russia from September 2006 to January 2007 and that more than 2,300 were detained and forcibly expelled.

The controversial expulsion campaign came two years before Russia and Georgia fought a brief war over Georgia's pro-Russian breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

With reporting by AFP

HRW Calls French Burqa Ban Discriminatory


Human Rights Watch says a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights approving France's ban on full-face veils is "discriminatory" and breaches the rights of Muslim women.

The court on July 1 upheld France's 2010 blanket ban on wearing the niqab and burqa in public, saying it did not violate religious freedom and aimed to ensure respect for basic democratic values.

Human Rights Watch, however, described the court's decision as "disappointing."

In a statement released on July 3, the U.S.-based rights watchdog said the ban had "a disproportionate impact on Muslim women" and breached the rights to freedom of religion and expression of those who choose to wear full-face veils.

France has the largest Muslim minority in Europe, estimated at 5 million.


Lawyers Hope To Meet Detained Tajik Researcher

RFE/RL's Tajik Service

Lawyers for detained Tajik researcher Aleksandr Sodikov say they have been granted permission to meet with their client for the first time since his arrest.

Abdulkayum Yusufi told RFE/RL that he and his colleague, Hasan Kavrakov, have been told that they will be granted access to Sodikov on July 3.

The two lawyers have been hired by Sodikov's family.

Sodikov's former lawyer, who was appointed by the authorities, met him only once after his arrest last month.  

Sodikov, 31, a Tajik national residing in Canada, was detained in Tajikistan's southern city of Khorugh on June 16, shortly after speaking with civil society activists there.

He was later charged with high treason and spying.

Sodikov said he had been touring Central Asia as part of his doctoral research at Britain’s University of Exeter and the University of Toronto.

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