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Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny (file photo)

Members of the German Bundestag have described the treatment of Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny as "targeted torture" and demanded the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture review the conditions of his detention.

The letter, posted on Facebook on April 10, called Navalny’s treatment "incompatible" with the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture, saying Russia is a party to the convention as a member of the Council of Europe.

The letter is signed by Manuel Sarrazin, with Germany’s Green Party, and a bipartisan group of 11 other members of the Bundestag, the lower house in Germany's parliament. It was made available on Sarrazin's Facebook page in German and Russian.

"Notwithstanding the arbitrariness and illegality of the judgments pronounced against you, we demand a review of your conditions of detention by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture," the politicians said.

The lawmakers said they believe the legal process against him was not carried out under the standards of rule of law and consider the judgment politically motivated and arbitrary with the goal of silencing him.

They said they were following reports about his imprisonment and health condition with great concern and expressed their "full solidarity" with him.

Navalny was imprisoned after returning to Russia in January from his recuperation in Germany after his exposure to a nerve agent last August in Siberia. He has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of ordering security agents to assassinate him, something the Kremlin denies.

Navalny was treated in Germany after the poisoning, and Sarrazin said that he had the impression that Navalny’s treatment was meant to reverse his partial recovery.

Navalny has complained of back pain and numbness in his hands and legs and accused the authorities of withholding adequate medical treatment.

Navalny declared a hunger strike last week, raising even more concerns about his overall health.

Attorneys for Navalny, 44, said after visiting him on April 8 that he was suffering from two herniated disks in his back and a third bulging disk, and said he is losing about 1 kilogram a day.

With reporting by dpa and Der Tagesspiegel
Roman Anin (file photo)

Russian security agents have searched the home of one of the country's most prominent investigative journalists and brought him in for interrogation, in what his lawyer and editorial team said was related to coverage of one of country's most powerful men.

The raid by Federal Security Service (FSB) agents on April 9 targeting Istories editor-in-chief Roman Anin drew swift condemnation from international investigative-journalism organizations, which described it as the latest assault on media in the country.

After FSB agents searched his Moscow apartment on April 9, Anin was taken to the Investigative Committee in connection with inquiries into "violation of privacy by abusing his professional functions," his lawyer Anna Stavitskaya said. He was later released after refusing to testify and is expected to be interrogated further on April 12.

Istories said on its Telegram channel that its offices had been searched as well.

Anin's lawyer and his editorial team say the investigation is related to a previous case opened in 2016, after the investigative journalist published an explosive report in Novaya gazeta newspaper suggesting state-owned oil giant Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin had links to a yacht valued at $100 million.

The raids also come just weeks after Anin published an investigative piece suggesting the new deputy head of the FSB, Sergei Korolev, has ties to the leaders of several Russian organized criminal groups.

Anin had previously worked for Novaya gazeta, Russia's most prominent opposition newspaper. The publication was found guilty of defamation after Sechin filed a complaint about Anin's report.

In a statement, Novaya gazeta's editorial board said the case was reopened in March, this time against Istories.

"Everything that is happening now with Roman Anin is revenge," the editorial board said. "We will by all legal means and publicly protect our friend and colleague."

Gerard Ryle, director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), said his organization was "closely monitoring the treatment of our cherished member, and partner in investigative reporting, Roman Anin."

"On the face of it, this appears to be a dark day for freedom of the media in Russia," Ryle said. "We stand fully behind Anin's fearless exposure of figures from the criminal and political underworld."

The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) also expressed concern about Anin.

"Anin is one of the best journalists in the world and has led numerous groundbreaking investigations into organized crime and corruption in Russia," OCCRP publisher Drew Sullivan said.

"This is another step in the ongoing squeeze on the remaining independent media in Russia by the authorities," Sullivan said. "Roman is truly an independent voice whose work serves the people of Russia. We are watching the situation closely."

Established last year, Anin's Istories specializes in investigative reports. Among its recent articles are a report on FSB officers surveilling imprisoned opposition leader Aleksei Navalny and an exposé into the wealth of Kirill Shamalov, the former son-in-law of President Vladimir Putin.

With reporting by AFP, RFE/RL's Russian Service, and Novaya gazeta

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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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