Roskomnadzor, Russia’s media regulation and censorship agency, has announced that it received an order from the country’s Prosecutor General’s Office to limit access to a specific Instagram post within Russian borders. Roskomnadzor described the post as an image depicting “indecent acts involving the state flag of the Russian Federation.” The agency independently added the image to its registry of banned content and notified Instagram of that fact; it also demanded that Instagram delete the post.
As of the morning of July 16, 27 registration applications from Moscow City Duma candidates have been rejected, Interfax reported. 426 people in total began the candidacy application process, but only 290 of them submitted registration documents. 216 candidates, some nominated by a political party and some running as independents, have already completed the registration process.
Mediazona, a media outlet born out of the 2012-2013 Pussy Riot case, covers human rights, legal cases, and prison culture in Russia in unusual detail through up-to-the-minute reports. Now, it has added a podcast, Golos Zony, to its toolkit. The title of the new podcast means “The Voice of the Zone,” a common term for Russian prisons.
July 15, 2019, marks a decade since the day human rights advocate Natalya Estemirova was murdered. Estemirova was a history teacher in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, until she decided in 2000 to turn her passion for human rights into a full-time job. In 2000, she took a position at the Grozny branch of Memorial, an international human rights organization that drew its mission from remembering the Stalinist purges but quickly came to be a bastion for contemporary civic advocacy as well. On July 15, 2009, Estemirova was kidnapped outside her home and killed. Human rights organizations around the world are still demanding an impartial investigation of that crime and legal consequences for those responsible. Journalists Shura Burtin and Yulia Orlova sat down with Estemirova’s friend Tanya Lokshina, the deputy director for Europe and Central Asia at Human Rights Watch, to hear her memories of Estemirova’s life and work.
On July 15, Moscow’s Trubnaya Square was filled with protesters demanding that the local election commission allow independent candidates to run for seats in the Moscow City Duma. Approximately 1500 people took part in the demonstration, including would-be City Duma candidates Lyubov Sobol and Ilya Yashin, both of whom already play prominent roles in local politics. Yashin arrived at the protest immediately after attending a Moscow City Election Commission hearing during which his application for candidacy was rejected. During the hearing, the Election Commission argued that more than 10 percent of the signatures on Yashin’s candidacy petition were fake even though a number of the supposedly made-up signatories submitted statements confirming their identities. Yashin and his peers called on their supporters to come back to Trubnaya Square every day at 7:00 PM to demand fair elections for the City Duma. The first such demonstration took place on July 14 and resulted in 39 arrests.
Sergey Meshcheryakov, 77, works for TsNIIMash, the Russian research center that handles many of the country’s missile and rocket construction demands. In 2018, his then-75-year-old colleague Viktor Kudryavtsev was arrested on treason charges. Now, Meshcheryakov has joined Kudryavtsev as a suspect in the case; he has been placed under house arrest. Both TsNIIMash employees as well as a third colleague, Roman Kovalev, are reportedly suspected of emailing confidential information about hypersonic technologies to employees of a Belgian institute with whom they were collaborating. Russian scientists and human rights activists have expressed concern that if their colleagues are sentenced to prison time, they may spend the rest of their lives behind bars.
Valery Kanakin has been fired from his post as the leader of the FSB’s Alpha special forces division, the leader of an organization for the division’s veterans told Interfax. That source, Sergey Goncharov, added that Kanakin would soon be taking his place at the helm of the veterans’ group. The FSB itself has not yet commented on the reported firing.
Maria Motuznaya, who was charged with extremism and offending the feelings of believers after posting an album of memes on the social media site VKontakte, has returned to Russia. She left the country for Ukraine in 2018, but the case against her was closed after the Russian government partially decriminalized its primary anti-extremism law.
On July 14, hundreds of protesters gathered in central Moscow to demand that opposition candidates be permitted to register for the city’s September legislative elections. Many of those candidates already serve as municipal deputies in Moscow’s neighborhoods, and they initiated the event under the guise of holding “office hours” with their constituents. The deputies and their supporters gathered in Novopushkinsky Square before marching to Moscow City Hall and to the headquarters of the Russian capital’s Election Commission. They demanded a meeting with the Election Commission’s chair but managed to speak only with one of his assistants, who said the leader of Moscow’s election apparatus was on vacation at the time. Later in the day, the protesters attempted to pitch tents in the yard outside the Election Commission building. That proved to be one step too far for the city’s police, who immediately began forcefully dispersing the protesters. About 40 people were arrested as a result, including City Duma candidates Ilya Yashin, Lyubov Sobol, Yulia Galyamina, and Ivan Zhdanov.
The Bol’ (Pain) music festival may have closed at the end of last weekend, but Moscow still can’t stop talking about it. Bol’ was founded in 2015 by promoter Stepan Kazaryan to support young, highly talented Russian indie artists. Since then, thanks to much hard work on the part of the concert agency Pop Farm, Bol’ has grown into a global event that features international headliners, massive venues, fully-equipped theater stages, and a food court. This year’s Bol’ has, for many music lovers, set the bar for the summer festival season. Those who made it to Moscow can’t stop thinking, writing, and talking about the event. We were no less impressed: Here’s our list of the top artists from this year’s Bol’. Now is the perfect time to listen and get nostalgic about the festival or discover powerful voices you had never heard before.