Getting away with torture in Russia’s criminal justice system

Every year, Russian courts issue about 1,000 sentences under Article 286, Part 3 of Russia’s Criminal Codex. While there is no formal definition of “torture” in Russian criminal law (which makes government torture very difficult to track), it is Article 286, Part 3 that punishes violent overreach by government officials and members of the military. While 1,000 convictions per year may sound like a lot, that number has been gradually declining: In 2009, more than 1,800 convictions were issued under the statute, while in 2018, that number sank to less than 800. While acquittal rates in all Russian criminal cases are extremely low, they are relatively high in Article 286 cases. A new report by attorney Maxim Novikov, who works with the human rights group “Zona Prava” (Rights Zone), adds hard to find-context to those statistics and many others. The report, titled “Violence by Security Forces: Crime Without Punishment,” examines more than 250 court rulings as well as judicial statistics. Because some rulings were redacted to exclude information about torture or the compensation civilians received, Novikov used 109 rulings as the primary basis for his report.

Russian producer releases horror series for Snapchat

The producer Timur Bekmambetov has created a zombie apocalypse series for Snapchat, the popular American social platform in which photo or video messages are deleted from the receiver’s device after they are viewed. TASS reported that the series, Dead of Night, is shot for a vertical screen from the perspective of a young woman recording the apocalyptic events around her as she attempts to survive.

By unknown means, Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation reportedly obtains list of Moscow online voters

Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) has reportedly obtained a complete list of the Moscow residents who were registered to vote online during the city’s limited run of a new Internet election system on September 8. The list includes 12,000 names (9,810 people ultimately submitted online ballots) as well as contact information.

In YouTube video, National Guard officer in Buryatia calls on colleagues to ignore ‘criminal orders’ to arrest protesters

A National Guard officer in Buryatia has declared in a video shared on YouTube that police illegally arrested demonstrators in Ulan-Ude, where local residents have demanded the invalidation of September 9’s mayoral election results. In his video appeal, Viktor Khorzhiev also calls on colleagues in the National Guard not to obey “obviously criminal orders.”

From Bach to ‘Dancing Queen’ and ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ here’s the music Russia’s government is using to inject the youths with ‘cultural literacy’

Russia’s Culture Ministry has issued a new set of recommendations for what it calls “The Schoolchild’s Cultural Standards.” This new educational project is intended to bolster “the spiritual, aesthetic, and artistic development of Russian schoolchildren and increase the cultural literacy of our rising generation.”

The Russian officials responsible for authorizing supposed CIA informant Oleg Smolenkov’s trip abroad have reportedly been punished

The state officials who allowed suspected CIA informant Oleg Smolenkov to leave Russia have been punished, a source told the news agency Interfax. Smolenkov took his family to Montenegro on vacation in 2017 and never returned. According to Interfax’s source, the trip was permitted, despite the fact that Russia barred state officials from traveling to Montenegro at the time.

‘From cultural capital to gangland’. An election monitor explains how chaos in St. Petersburg has led to mass fraud

Days after election day, the results in St. Petersburg still haven’t been announced. In precincts where opposition candidates apparently won, election officials are busy with recounts that have handed opposition seats to candidates from United Russia, the country’s ruling political party. To learn more about this chaos, Meduza spoke to the “Golos” election monitoring group’s local coordinator in St. Petersburg, Natalia Menkova, who says her beloved city has succumbed to “gangland” rule.