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Some of the protesters in the January 19 march called for greater freedom in Russian society.

MOSCOW -- Russian security forces have detained at least 10 people who were taking part in a march in Moscow on January 19 to commemorate a human rights lawyer and a journalist who were killed by Russian neo-Nazis more than a decade ago.

The march has taken place each year in Moscow since lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova were killed in the Russian capital on January 19, 2009.

This year, however, some of the 1,500 marchers used the event to declare their opposition to constitutional changes proposed on January 15 by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

They were quickly pulled aside by authorities and taken to police vans.

One activist, Konstantin Fokin, arrived at the gathering point for the march carrying a poster with the slogan, "Putin, leave!"

He was detained by security forces before the march began.

The changes Putin proposed during his annual state-of-the-nation speech would redistribute power within the Russian government, giving more authority to positions that Putin himself could take over after his presidential term expires in 2024.

Participants at the head of the January 19 march carried copies of the Russian Constitution and a funeral wreath while protesting Putin's proposals. They also demonstrated against the persecution of political activists by Russian authorities.

Some organizers of the march told RFE/RL on January 19 that the main threat posed to anti-fascists in Russia used to be from neo-Nazis but is now coming from Russian government authorities.

The Markelov and Baburova killings sparked accusations that the Kremlin was not doing enough to hunt down the attackers of activists and journalists.

Two young neo-Nazis, Nikita Tikhonov and Yevgenia Khasis, were convicted of the dual killings in 2011. Tikhonov was sentenced to life in prison for murder and Khasis to 18 years for helping him.

Markelov had represented investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was murdered in 2006, as well as Chechen civilians abused by Russian troops.

Ukrainian journalist Taras Ibrahimov (file photo)

Russia's Border Guard Service, a branch of the Federal Security Service (FSB), has banned Ukrainian journalist Taras Ibrahimov from entering Russia and the Russian-occupied Ukrainian region of Crimea until the middle of 2054.

Ibrahimov, who works with the Crimea Desk of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, told RFE/RL on January 18 that he had been handed the order in person without explanation.

"I definitely believe this is connected with my journalism and my work for publications that actively cover the cases of Crimean Tatars in Crimea and in Russia," Ibrahimov said.

He said that he was also photographed and fingerprinted at the administrative line between Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014, and the rest of Ukraine.

In February 2019, photographer Alina Smutko, who also worked with the Crimea Desk of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, was banned from entering Crimea and Russia until 2028.

In November 2018, another Ukrainian journalist who also works with the Crimea Desk of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, Alena Savchuk, was also banned from entering Crimea and Russia until 2028.

Rights groups and Western governments have denounced what they describe as a campaign of repression by the Russian-imposed authorities against Crimean Tatars and others who have spoken out against Moscow's military seizure and occupation of the peninsula.

In its annual global report on freedom of religion in 2019, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said that "Russian authorities continued to kidnap, torture, and imprison Crimean Tatar Muslims at will" in Russia-occupied Crimea.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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