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Sergei Mitrokhin (center), head of the Moscow branch of the Yabloko Party, is detained by police outside the State Duma in Moscow on June 19 after a one-person protest against pension reform.

Amnesty International has cautiously welcomed a resolution by Russia’s Supreme Court to provide guidance for administrative cases concerning freedom of assembly, warning that it will mean “nothing” unless it is effectively implemented.

“This long-awaited resolution will hopefully provide some much-needed protections to peaceful protesters in Russia – especially the provisions aimed at reducing their arrests and administrative detentions,” the London-based human rights watchdog said on June 27.

In a statement, Amnesty’s Russia researcher Anastasia Kovalevskaya called the resolution a “half-measure,” saying that “comprehensive and meticulous work is needed to bring Russian legislation on public gatherings into compliance with international human rights law and standards.”

On June 26, the Supreme Court passed the resolution to provide guidance to lower courts hearing cases related to public assemblies.

Amnesty said it includes “several progressive recommendations,” such as by reducing the courts’ ability to impose administrative detention to only extraordinary cases.

The resolution states that the authorities’ requests to change the time and venue of protests should be realistic and the alternative time and venue should accommodate achieving their legitimate aim.

It also states that forcibly persuading employees to join protests may constitute a criminal offense.

Other points in the resolution remain “restrictive,” Amnesty said, such as the proposal that gatherings on private premises are subject to the authorities’ approval.

Over the past year and a half, Amnesty has documented “numerous cases” where people in Russia were denied their basic right to gather peacefully, Kovalevskaya said.

Russian authorities should “drop all restrictive policies on public gatherings and stop treating freedom of assembly as a privilege they can either give or deny to the Russian people,” she added.

Vladimir Dubovsky

Russian activist Vladimir Dubovsky, the coordinator of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny's regional team in the Far East, has been rearrested shortly after finishing a 15-day jail term.

Members of Navalny's team in the region on June 27 said on social media that Dubovsky was arrested as he was leaving a detention facility in the town of Artyom, charged with placing extremist audio on his VKontakte social-media account.

Activists said Dubovsky will spend the night under police detention. Pretrial conditions will likely be decided afterwards.

Dubovsky and several other activists were arrested on June 12 in Vladivostok, the capital of the Primorye region. Three of them, including Dubovsky, were sentenced to jail terms of 14-15 days after a local court declared them guilty of not complying with police orders.

Dubovsky could face prison time if convicted on the latest charges.

Navalny is an anticorruption crusader and vocal Kremlin foe who has often been jailed himself. He was barred from running in the March 18 presidential election because of criminal convictions that he and his supporters say were fabricated to keep him out of electoral politics.

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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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