Accessibility links

Breaking News

Watchdog

Idrak Mirzalizade was a well-known stand-up comedian in Moscow.

Russia's Interior Ministry has banned a stand-up comic of Azerbaijani origin, Idrak Mirzalizade, from entering and residing in the country for life over his on-stage joke about Russians.

The ministry said on August 30 that the presence in the Russian Federation of Mirzalizade, a Belarusian citizen who holds permanent residence in Russia, was "undesirable" because of his statements that "incited hatred and enmity toward ethnic Russians."

"The Interior Ministry of Russia considers unacceptable any statements directed at destabilizing interethnic relations no matter the form in which they were expressed," a ministry statement said, adding that it will undertake measures in the future to prevent "extremist manifestations."

Mirzalizade, who is a well-known stand-up comedian in Moscow, has said the performance at the heart of the controversy was about problems faced by non-Russians when they want to rent an apartment in the Russian capital.

In the performance, the comedian jokes about what would happen if the perception of Russians by others was based on separate incidents, drawing a parallel with situations that shape prejudices about non-Russians living among Russians.

Mirzalizade served 10 days in jail this month for the performance.

Though he has maintained his innocence, he has also publicly offered apologies several times to "all who felt insulted by some parts of my performance, which were taken out of context."

Earlier in June, the comic wrote on Instagram that two unknown men attacked him after he received several threats because of his performance.

He also posted a video showing the moment of the attack.

Mirzalizade is an ethnic Talysh, which is a Persian-speaking ethnic minority in Azerbaijan.

Moscow municipal lawmaker Dmitry Baranovsky (file photo)

MOSCOW -- A Moscow court has sentenced another supporter of jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny to 18 months of so-called "restricted freedom," a parole-like sentence, for allegedly violating restrictive measures aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

The Moscow Court of Common Jurisdiction said on Telegram that the Preobrazhensky district court handed down the sentence to Moscow municipal lawmaker Dmitry Baranovsky on August 30 after he was found guilty of publicly calling for people to take part in unsanctioned rallies to support the Kremlin critic in January.

According to the court ruling, Baranovsky is not allowed to leave his home from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., attend public events, or leave Moscow or the Moscow region without police permission for 18 months.

Last week, the same court sentenced another municipal lawmaker, Lyusya Shtein, to one year of restricted freedom on the same charge.

Earlier this month, other defendants in the case, Navalny's spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh and his Moscow team coordinator Oleg Stepanov were sentenced to 18 months and one year of restricted freedom respectively.

Navalny's brother Oleg was found guilty of the same charges this month and handed a one-year suspended sentence and a one-year probation period.

Other Navalny associates and rights activists have been given similar sentences on the same charges.

Aleksei Navalny was arrested on January 17 after returning to Russia from Germany, where he was treated for poisoning with a Novichok-type nerve agent that he says was ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

5 Things To Know About Russian Opposition Leader Aleksei Navalny
please wait

No media source currently available

0:00 0:01:33 0:00

The Kremlin has denied any role in the incident, which was the latest of numerous attacks on the 45-year-old lawyer.

More than 10,000 people were rounded up during nationwide rallies protesting Navalny's arrest organized in more than 100 Russian towns and cities on January 23 and January 31.

On February 2, Navalny was convicted of violating the terms of his suspended sentence related to an embezzlement case that he has called politically motivated. The remainder of Navalny's suspended sentence, 2 1/2 years, was then replaced with a real prison term.

That ruling sparked new protests that were also forcibly dispersed by police.

More than 1,400 people were detained by police in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other Russian cities during those demonstrations.

Load more

About This Blog

"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.

Subscribe

Journalists In Trouble

RFE/RL journalists take risks, face threats, and make sacrifices every day in an effort to gather the news. Our "Journalists In Trouble" page recognizes their courage and conviction, and documents the high price that many have paid simply for doing their jobs. More

XS
SM
MD
LG