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Pussy Riot member Nika Nikulshina (file photo)

A Moscow court has sentenced a member of the Russian protest group Pussy Riot to 15 days in jail for allegedly disobeying police orders, just two days after she was released on a similar charge.

Nika Nikulshina was detained late on July 2 in Moscow for expressing “gross obscene language" in a public place and refusing to cooperate with police, according to court documents obtained by the independent news website Mediazona.

In court on July 3, Nikulshina and an artist friend who was detained alongside her, Roman Durov, said that they were not actually in Moscow, but rather in the Moscow region resting at their dacha.

They claimed "unknown people in civilian clothes" and a district police officer came to the dacha, took their cell phones, and transported them to Moscow to be detained.

Nikulshina had just left jail on July 1, after serving 15 days for refusing to go to a police station for questioning.

Police said at the time they intended to question Nikulshina about whether she was planning any activities to disrupt Euro 2020 soccer events in St. Petersburg.

In recent weeks, authorities have put four other members of Pussy Riot in jail for 15 days as part of a crackdown on the protest group. Lyusya Shtein, Maria Alyokhina, and Anna Kuzminykh were found guilty of disobeying police orders, while Aleksandr Sofeyev was sentenced for minor hooliganism.

Nikulshina and several other members of Pussy Riot were sentenced to 15 days in jail for interrupting the 2018 World Cup final in Moscow between France and Croatia by running onto the field wearing fake police uniforms. The group says such stunts are aimed at challenging government policies and raising awareness of human rights issues.

Pussy Riot came to prominence in 2012 when some of its members, including Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina, burst into Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral to protest ties between the Russian Orthodox Church and then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Their protest, the performance of a song they described as a "punk prayer," took place as Putin was campaigning for his return to the presidency.

The pair were convicted on a charge of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" and sentenced to two years in a penal colony.

Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were close to completing their sentences when they were granted amnesty in December 2013.

With reporting by RFE/RL’s Russian Service and Mediazona
Internet users in Uzbekistan have reported disruptions to Twitter, TikTok, VKontakte, and other social networks. (file photo)

Uzbekistan’s communications regulator has restricted access to several social media websites for violating personal data laws.

O'zkomnazorat announced the restrictions on July 2 without mentioning which social media sites fall under the order.

However, Internet users in Central Asia’s most populous country reported disruptions to Twitter, TikTok, VKontakte, and Skype. In particular, the restrictions reportedly involve throttling, or reduced speed when using the networks.

O'zkomnazorat said social media websites had violated a new personal data law in effect since April which requires Internet companies to store the personal data of Uzbek users on servers in the country.

Use of the social networks will be "limited in accordance with the established procedure until the identified deficiencies are eliminated," the regulator said.

In recent weeks, O'zkomnazorat has issued warnings to Twitter, Russia’s VKontakte, Twitter, Tencent’s We Chat, TikTok owner ByteDance, and Microsoft’s Skype over violations of the personal data law.

The latest restrictions on information in Uzbekistan come as the authoritarian state prepares for a presidential election in October, with President Shavkat Mirziyoev almost certain to win another term.

Ahead of the election, authorities have tightened rules on the Internet and increased pressure on journalists and bloggers.

In March, amendments to communications laws criminalized insulting or defaming the president online and making online calls for "mass disturbances."

Mirziyoev has positioned himself as a reformer since taking office following the death of his authoritarian predecessor, Islam Karimov, in 2016, releasing political prisoners and opening his country to its neighbors and the outside world.

Human rights groups say the reforms have not gone far enough.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Russian and Uzbek services

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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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