The Russian LGBT Network, which announced on January 14 that it had received word of a new wave of arrests and torture in the Russian republic of Chechnya, has begun facilitating the evacuation of those affected by the current crisis. The LGBT Network noted in a press release that new information about the anti-LGBTQ persecution has emerged as some victims have been able to escape Chechnya and reach the Network’s representatives.
Opposition politician Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) has asked Russia’s Federal Investigative Committee to press felony charges against the billionaire Oleg Deripaska. In a statement shared online on Tuesday, Navalny’s organization said Deripaska and several of his associates are responsible for “ordering” and “bankrolling” a prostitution case against the “sex trainers” Anastasia Vashukevich (also known as “Nastya Rybka”) and Alexander Kirillov (“Alex Leslie”). According to FBK, Deripaska and his associates committed bribery, while the police officers pursuing the case accepted bribes and unlawfully prosecuted Vashukevich and Kirillov.
With negotiations between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin set to take place today, 11 protestors have reportedly been arrested outside the Japanese Embassy in Moscow. The activists, who are associated with the Left Front movement and the Russian Communist Party, were protesting in opposition to the possibility that the Kuril Islands would be transferred from Russian to Japanese control. Sergei Udaltsov, the coordinator of the Left Front movement, posted on Twitter about the arrests and claimed that approximately 100 people participated in the protest.
A passenger on a flight from Surgut to Moscow has been arrested in the town of Khanty-Mansiysk after demanding that the flight leave its assigned route and head toward Afghanistan, Russia’s Investigative Committee announced in a press release.
On January 22, a Moscow court unexpectedly freed the “sex trainers” Anastasia Vashukevich (also known as “Nastya Rybka”) and Alexander Kirillov (“Alex Leslie”). The two were arrested on January 17 at Sheremetyevo Airport in connection with a prostitution investigation.
The State Duma has adopted the third and final reading of legislation that will make it more difficult for college graduates to evade conscription. Senator Frants Klintsevich, who chairs the Federation Council’s Defense Committee and co-authored the bill, says lawmakers want to crack down on former students whose draft deferments have expired.
Officials in Moscow are urging the Chechen authorities to walk back a recent court decision that forgave 9 billion rubles ($135.3 million) in debt owed to a Gazprom subsidiary by local customers. The Grozny court’s ruling granted a request by Chechen prosecutors to cancel the debt on the grounds that its statute of limitations had expired. Prosecutors also warned that the debt “had created social tensions and could provoke protests.”
The Moscow City Court has rejected suspected spy Paul Whelan’s attempt to appeal his arrest. On January 22, in a closed hearing, prosecutors revealed that Whelan was apprehended in possession of classified information. His lawyer, Vladimir Zherebenkov, later confirmed to journalists these allegations, also stating that Whelan has met with diplomats from the U.S., Ireland, and Canada, where he has citizenship. Whelan is also a British subject.
Opposition politician and anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny announced on Monday that he has learned about recordings of telephone calls apparently involving Oleg Deripaska and some of Deripaska’s associates. Navalny says an anonymous source contacted him “a couple of months ago” with several tapes uploaded to YouTube. Navalny says he believes the recordings are authentic, arguing that the voice on file sounds like Deripaska’s. He also points out that Deripaska filed a lawsuit in the town of Ust-Labinsk (where the billionaire is registered) demanding that Russian Internet service providers block access to this data.
“Nastya Rybka” gained notoriety in February 2018, thanks to an investigative report by Alexey Navalny. After several women staged a bizarre demonstration at its Moscow office, Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation went looking on social media to identify its unwelcome visitors. One of these people turned out to be a 27-year-old Belarusian citizen named Anastasia Vashukevich, also known as Nastya Rybka. In September 2017, the same woman announced a “Navalny hunt,” vowing to honeytrap the anti-corruption activist and post the sex video online. Searching Vashukevich’s Instagram account, Navalny’s researcher also discovered photographs showing her on billionaire Oleg Deripaska’s yacht, together with a man journalists recognized as Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Prikhodko. When the Anti-Corruption Foundation reported this information, reposting the images, Deripaska got a court to order Russian Internet providers to block Navalny’s website.