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The Moscow-based Memorial Human Rights Center has deemed Ahtem Chiygoz a political prisoner. 

A court in Russia-controlled Crimea has prolonged the pre-verdict detention of Crimean Tatar activist Ahtem Chiygoz, who is on trial in connection with resistance to Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014.

SIMFEROPOL -- A court in Russia-controlled Crimea has prolonged the pre-verdict detention of Crimean Tatar activist Ahtem Chiygoz, who is on trial in connection with resistance to Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Chiygoz's lawyer, Nikolai Polozov, told RFE/RL on June 22 that Crimea's Russia-installed High Court agreed to a prosecutor's request to prolong the defendant's pre-verdict detention for another three months, until October 8.

Polozov said he had asked the court to release his client, citing various reasons, including the fact that Chiygoz'’s mother is terminally ill.

On June 20, following protests by supporters and rights activists, authorities allowed Chiygoz to have a 10-minute visit with his mother.

Chiygoz is charged with organizing public disorder. His trial started in October.

He was detained in January 2015 in connection with unrest outside the Crimean parliament on February 26, 2014, when Crimean Tatars and other pro-Ukrainian activists clashed with pro-Russian activists.

The next day, armed men in uniforms without insignia seized the parliament building and a selected group of legislators voted to join Russia several days later.

After sending in troops, Russia cemented its control over Crimea in March 2014 by staging a referendum condemned as illegitimate by Ukraine, the United States, and a total of 100 UN member states.

The Moscow-based Memorial Human Rights Center has deemed Chiygoz a political prisoner.

Rights groups say Crimean Tatars and others who opposed Russia's takeover have faced discrimination and abuse at the hands of the Moscow-imposed authorities.

Supporters of LGBT rights marched in a gay-pride rally in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, on June 18.

After the World Health Organization warned participants in European gay-pride festivals to take precautions against hepatitis-A, the Russian government went one step further – recommending that all Russians traveling to Europe get vaccinated.

The Russian government is urging everyone traveling to Europe to first get a vaccination against hepatitis-A.

Russia's consumer-protection agency, Rospotrebnadzor, issued the warning on June 22, citing a June 7 World Health Organization (WHO) report documenting outbreaks of the disease in 15 European countries, as well as the United States and Chile.

The WHO reported 1,173 cases in Europe, 706 cases in Chile, and an unspecified number in the United States.

The WHO bulletin warned that the outbreaks affected "mainly men who have sex with men" and that the countries involved remain "low endemicity countries."

It noted "particular concern" because of numerous lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) pride festivals scheduled for this summer, including the World Pride Festival in Madrid between June 23 and July 2.

The WHO recommended that those attending such events discuss vaccinations and other precautions against sexually transmitted diseases with their physicians before departure.

Russia's Rospotrebnadzor went quite a bit further, recommending hepatitis-A vaccinations for everyone traveling to "the countries of the European region."

The socially conservative government of Russian President Vladimir Putin and its supporters have often sought to portray Western Europe as dangerously hedonistic, creating the epithet "gay-ropa" as a blanket term for the region.

They have portrayed efforts by Western organizations to fight discrimination and promote tolerance in former Soviet countries such as Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine as attempts to undermine "family values."

Russian and international activists have sharply criticized the Russian government in recent weeks over its failure to investigate seriously allegations that gay men were being persecuted, tortured, and even murdered in the North Caucasus republic of Chechnya because of their sexual orientation.

On June 20, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that a 2013 Russian law banning the "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relationships" to minors violates the right to freedom of expression, is discriminatory against gays, and promotes homophobia. The court said the law "served no legitimate public interest."

Russia said it would appeal the court's ruling.

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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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