‘It’s very difficult to make a decision for the entire nation’. ‘Meduza’ interviews a high-ranking legislator in Ingushetia, where unusually persistent protests have broken new ground in Russian civil dissent

Mass protests have been ongoing in the North Caucasian republic of Ingushetia since the fall of 2018. At first, residents of the Russian federal subject were protesting a land trade that would shift some Ingush territories to the neighboring republic of Chechnya. When the Ingush parliament began considering a law that would repeal the region’s current referendum requirement for territorial changes, protesters shifted their attention to that amendment. In April, authorities began searching and arresting opposition leaders in Ingushetia, the local Internal Affairs Ministry leader resigned, and government officials stopped speaking with journalists. However, Meduza was able to speak with a vice speaker of the People’s Assembly of Ingushetia, Vasily Svetlichny. He told us that avoiding bloodshed and pursuing diplomacy are both very important but that he believes the protests were provoked externally, not that they emerged from a grassroots effort.

‘No reactive measures were taken’: Russian prosecutors blame mass cancellations of pop and rap concerts on concert organizers themselves

At the end of 2018, official pressure led to the cancellation of more than 40 concerts throughout Russia. A handful of acts appeared to be targeted disproportionately, especially the pop groups IC3PEAK and Friendzone along with the rappers Husky and Eldzhey. Although government involvement played a key role in that wave of suppression, Russia’s youth parliament, which is tied to the State Duma, took the administrative initiative to ask regional prosecutors for reports explaining the causes of the cancellations.

Former Lithuanian ambassador to Russia arrested on allegations of helping Russian banker get Schengen visa

Lithuania’s Special Investigation Service has arrested Rimantas Šidlauskas, the country’s former ambassador to the Russian Federation. The Lithuanian news outlet Delfi reported that the diplomat is suspected of “influence trading”: law enforcement agents believe that he promised to acquire a Schengen Zone visa for a Russian citizen in exchange for that individual’s efforts to “influence a particular group of people.”

35 Russian regions reportedly decline to purchase antiretroviral drugs for HIV patients

Dozens of Russian regions have decreased their participation in purchase programs for antiretroviral therapy (ART) medications for people living with HIV. In 2018, 35 out of 85 regions declined to purchase ART drugs, Kommersant reported based on research conducted by the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition. In 2017, 21 regions did not purchase their own medications for HIV treatment.

Moscow court frees stage director Kirill Serebrennikov from house arrest

Moscow’s City Court has freed three defendants in the “Seventh Studio” case from house arrest, releasing them on their own recognizance, overturning an April 2 ruling by the Meshchansky District Court that extended the suspects’ arrests until July 2019. The new ruling applies to stage director Kirill Serebrennikov, Russian Academic Youth Theater director Sofia Apfelbaum, and former Seventh Studio theater company general director Yuri Itin. Serebrennikov, the most famous of the three, had been under house arrest since August 2017.