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A Woman of the Don

<< Rights in Russia – Events (2017) >>

♦  Valentina CHEREVATENKO speaks in London  ♦

Pushkin Club, Rights in Russia and RAW in WAR proudly invite you to meet a remarkable human rights veteran – Thursday, 9 March, 7.30 pm

On 11 March, at the “Women of the World” Festival on the Southbank,  Valentina CHEREVATENKO will receive the Anna POLITKOVSKAYA Award from RAW in WAR. The prize is awarded annually to an outstanding woman from a conflict zone: past laureates include Malalai JOYA-YOUSAFZAI ( Afghanistan, 2013), Marie COLVIN (USA, 2012) and, in 2007, the late Natalya ESTEMIROVA  (Chechnya / Russia, 1958-2009).

The evening event at PUSHKIN HOUSE on Thursday, 9 March  2017, offers a rare chance to meet and talk to Mrs Cherevatenko in a less formal setting. Come and listen to what she has to say about her activities since the early 1990s and the conditions under which the WOMEN OF THE DON have to work today. (The event will be in Russian with interpretation.)



Women of the Don (1993)

VALENTINA CHEREVATENKO is the founding chairwoman of the “Women of the Don”. Established in Novocherkassk (Rostov Region) in the early 1990s, the NGO has  worked for more than twenty years in different fields of human rights.

“WOMEN OF THE DON” has a special emphasis on the rights of women and focus, in particular, on issues of gender discrimination, violence against women, and peace-building initiatives in conflict zones. In the 1990s and early 2000s the NGO worked in the  Caucasus to ease the tensions in the region — Georgia-Abkhazia, Armenia-Azerbaijan and, naturally, in Chechnya — by appealing to the women on both sides of each conflict. More recently the organisation has concentrated on building bridges across the UKRAINE-RUSSIA divide (the town of Novocherkassk and its people have many ties, traditionally, with Ukraine).

“WOMEN OF THE DON” has always provided free legal advice to the public; it promotes dialogue and tolerance; and it pursues a mission to improve mutual understanding and relations between the police and members of society.

In 2014, however, the Russian Justice Ministry designated the “Women of the Don” a “foreign agent” NGO. In February 2016 the Ministry withdrew this denigrating label only to accuse its founding chairperson, a few months later, of offences under the 2012 law. Charged with “malicious evasion” of duties imposed on “NGOs that perform the functions of a foreign agent”, CHEREVATENKO is the first person to face criminal prosecution under the new law in Russia.

In Russia and abroad this decision was greeted with concern and dismay. It has been widely condemned among human rights organisations by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Frontline Defenders. among others.

[For more about Valentina’s current situation in Russian]

Pushkin Club ● Rights in Russia ● RAW in WAR


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(nearest Underground station – Holborn)

The state of Internet freedom

<< No 7 (240), 20 February 2017 >>

Agora publishes its annual report

In 2016 the Agora NGO registered more than 116,000 cases of restrictions on the freedom of the Internet in Russia. This is almost eight times more than last year. These figures appear in Agora’s annual report, published on 7 February, reports Radio Svoboda.

In particular, Agora says that the number of cases of administrative pressure has increased more than tenfold (up to 53,000), while the number of court bans on information have tripled, and restriction on access to the Internet has risen more than 20 times (up to 35,000 in 2016).

Agora spokesman Damir Gainutdinov notes there have been more criminal prosecutions relating to internet activity. The number of known cases in which individuals were sentenced to deprivation of liberty has risen from 18 to 29. Three internet users were sentenced to compulsory medical treatment.

According to human rights activists only 13.5 million individuals enjoy relative freedom of the internet. The remaining 82 million Russian citizenss live in regions where there are serious restrictions on internet use.

Compared to 2015 the situation worsened significantly in 18 of Russian’s 83 Regions; it  improved in only one.
7 February 2017

 Read the report in Russian here

Student questionnaires withdrawn

<< No 7 (240), 20 February 2017 >>

♦  Officials confiscate history questionnaires  ♦

Officials of the Rybinsk education department in the Yaroslavl Region (Central Russia) have seized questionnaires completed by students at the request of the literary scholar Marietta CHUDAKOVA prior to her visit to the town. The children were answering questions about their attitude to politicians: Vladimir LENIN; Josef STALIN; and Boris YELTSIN.

The Internet journal “7х7” reported the incident and Chudakova herself has described the meeting with readers in Yaroslavl on 7th February.

chudakova-mariettaAccording to Chudakova, the collection of students’ opinions is a tradition, and the literary specialist is seeking to expand on the feedback she gathers to these questions in each city she visits. From the start, Chudakova specified, the municipal education department supported her initiative. However, afterwards as the meetings with her were cancelled in some municipal institutions, the employees of the department took away the questionnaires directly from the librarians who were typing up the students’ answers from their papers.
Chudakova comments:
“In all my trips across the country I have never asked for help from officials, and I was certain that this time it would not turn out well. The librarians who were typing out my questionnaires told me that they were left with ‘a very strong impression’. They managed to type out about half of the questionnaires until they were ordered to hand over the paper copies of the answers. They thought this is some sort of fetishism, as in a primitive society, they think that if they take away the manuscripts of the questionnaires, then something is resolved.”

The cancellation of all Chudakova’s planned events in Rybinsk was reported on 2nd February. The online newspaper “Cheremukha” published the response from the town hall’s press office:

“They sent the applications to some organisations too late, there were already other events that were planned there, because these plans were made earlier. As for School No.2, the situation there was a bit different. Because we are now carrying out routine measures for flu prevention in educational establishments, events with large numbers of people are restricted at the moment.”
 Andrei Chekanov, board chairman of the NGO “Open Rybinsk”,said that all the forms had been submitted in good time.

Translated by Frances Robson
9 February 2017

No transfer of Ukrainian prisoners

<< No 8 (239) 20 February 2017 >>

♦  Sentsov and Kolchenko are “Russian citizens”  ♦

Russian officials have again refused to transfer the defendants in the Crimea case, Oleg SENTSOV and Alexander KOLCHENKO, to Ukraine. The Memorial Human Rights Centre has declared them political prisoners.


Oleg Sentsov

According to OVD-Info, the Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Justice, Sergei Petukhov, wrote about this on his Facebook page on 6 February. In the post, he attached a photograph of a document from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. it states that Russia considers Sentsov and Kolchenko to be citizens of the Russian Federation; there is no agreement between Ukraine and Russia, moreover, on dual citizenship, nor is there a mechanism for the transfer of prisoners. Ukraine already received a similar response from Russia in October 2016, when it requested the transfer of Kolchenko and Sentsov. According to the Russian authorities


Alexander Kolchenko

“A. A. Kolchenko obtained Russian citizenship in accordance with the law ‘On the Accession of the Republic of Crimea to the Russian Federation and the Formation of New Subjects – the Republic of Crimea and the Federal City of Sevastopol.”

The bottom line is that Kolchenko and Sentsov did not refuse in writing the automatic granting of Russian citizenship to all inhabitants of Crimea in 2014.

“Terrorist activities”

On 25 August 2015, Oleg Sentsov and Alexander Kolchenko were sentenced to 20 and 10 years, respectively, in a strict-regime penal colony for alleged terrorist activities. They supposedly set fire to the office doors of the [ruling] United Russia party in Crimea and also allegedly prepared terrorist acts and engaged in the unlawful trafficking of explosives. The two men were declared political prisoners by Memorial HRC in May 2016.

Translated by Nathalie Corbett
6 February 2017

Memorial HRC
FAQs about the Sentsov-Kolchenko case (R)

17 February 2017 – Rights in Russia

 17 February 2017 – Trial Postponed For Crimean Journalist Charged With Separatism / Navalny appeals new sentence in Kirovles embezzlement case / Additional protocol on extradition ratified by State Duma / MSF inquiry indicates Russia was behind hospital bombing in Syria / Russia has more than torture to hide in FSB’s ‘Ukrainian Crimea Saboteur Plot’ / Strasbourg to rule if Russia can ban Crimean Tatar Mejlis for opposing its occupation of Crimea / Economic Crisis Increases Return of Adopted Children in Russia


Working to provide information about human rights in Russia

Source: 17 February 2017 – Rights in Russia

Quote for the Day: Pavel Chikov

Working to provide information about human rights in Russia

Source: Pavel Chikov: “Despite being in a minority, [human rights] organisations had always set the tone and agenda of public opinion as well as forming and influencing it, but they have been effectively wiped out thanks to the efforts of the authorities” – Rights in Russia

16 February 2017 – Rights in Russia

 16 February 2017 – Crimean Journalist’s Trial To Start In Simferopol / Russia’s ‘Big Brother’ Law Facing Delays / Support in Russia for bloody dictator Joseph Stalin at record high / Check of application on Geriev’s kidnapping resumed for the fifth time / HRC “Memorial” asks GPO to interfere in case of Abdurakhmanov, native of Chechnya / Krasnodar farmers report detention of Alexei Volchenko / Chechnya: detainees’ relatives have no information about them for over a month


Working to provide information about human rights in Russia

Source: 16 February 2017 – Rights in Russia

Anastasia Zotova: ‘And then they’ll come for you, and no one will notice that either’ [Ekho Moskvy] 

Working to provide information about human rights in Russia

Source: Anastasia Zotova: ‘And then they’ll come for you, and no one will notice that either’ [Ekho Moskvy] – Rights in Russia