TODAY: UN Rights Chief criticizes Russian failings; support for Khodorkovsky whistleblower; wife of jailed activist threatened. Russian anger at militant’s US talk invite; top official proposes mandatory DNA database for migrants; China denies collaboration with Russia in Kurils; Pope meets the President
‘Murders, intimidation and harassment of human rights defenders and investigative journalists and independent media, and apparent serious miscarriages of justice’. Having met with Russian officials, including President Medvedev, the UN’s top human rights official, Navi Pillay, spoke of a litany of setbacks in terms of human rights, though she did also praise ‘some incremental moves toward reform’ and some recognition ‘at the top’. The European Parliament has adopted a resolution On the Rule of Law in Russia, which conveys concern about the current situation in the Russian judicial system, concerns apparently similar to those voiced by President Medvedev. RFE/RL reports that Russia’s Association of Human Rights Organizations has pledged it will assist Khodorkovsky whistleblower Natalya Vasilyeva to face the consequences of her admissions. Apparent corroboration of the court aide’s claims about the verdict can be found on the Other Russia. Read here an interview with Cyril Tuschi, the director of the recently premiered twice-stolen documentary about the Yukos founder. The wife of jailed Russian activist Sergei Udaltsov has apparently been threatened at her home.
Belarus has begun the trials of opposition protesters detained after the December 19 elections with that ofactivist Vasily Parfenkov, who has received four years in a top-security jail forhis part in the rally. Representatives of the Russian embassy in Belarus will, it has been asserted, be present at the court hearings of the criminal case of Russian citizens Artyom Breus and Ivan Gaponov. ‘Lukashenka […] is a Stalinist thug, and there is no justice in his courts. But […] he is susceptible to pressure’, says the Economist.
Russia is reportedly ‘bewildered and outraged’ after suspected Russian militant, Ilyas Akhmadov, who allegedly served as an aide for Chechen terrorist Shamil Basayev, was invited as a guest speaker for a panel discussion at John Hopkins University in Maryland. ITAR-TASS reports that two Nalchik residents with hexogen traces on their hands have been detained in the Moscow metro. The head of Russia’s Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin has urged the government to introduce mandatory fingerprinting and DNA registration of all migrants who seek work in the country, as a way of bolstering security. Talks between the U.S. and Russia over a new anti-ballistic missilesystem for Europe have apparently floundered on the issue of whether the system could be a joint operation.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has denied a report that Chinese and Russian companies have agreed to start a joint venture in the disputed Kuril islands. Moscow is urging Japan to thoroughly investigate an incident in which the Russian flag was desecrated in front of the Russian embassy in Tokyo. The Kremlin has, according to Ria-Novosti, expressed skepticism about Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s apparent desire to renew dialogoe with Russia. Is the Kremlin considering replacing South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity?
‘I should learn Russian’: Pope Benedict shows goodwill at a relation-smoothing meeting with President Medvedev at the Vatican.
PHOTO: According to Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin, to decrease migrant crime, authorities must fingerprint all foreigners coming to Russia and collect their DNA samples. He said fingerprinting all Russian citizens is also possible, and added that 35 million people have already undergone the procedure voluntarily. (MT)