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Russia Reform Monitor - No. 2130

Russia's latest protests... and what they portend;
Lights (and cameras) out in Russia's courts

Edited by Amanda Azinheira, Kaitlyn Johnson and Garrett Lynch
April 28, 2017

March 25: 

Russian state news and propaganda outlet Sputnik is applying for press accreditation from the White House. 
According to the Washington TimesSputnik has applied for a White House press pass as well as membership in the White House Foreign Press Group. The Group's head, Philip Crowther, stated that - despite its controversial profile as a mouthpiece for Kremlin propaganda - the Russian outlet should have no problem receiving credentials. 

March 26:

Russian police have arrested opposition politician Alexei Navalny as part of their response to widespread anti-corruption protests across the country. 
Reuters reports that Navalny was one of hundreds detained in the biggest wave of anti-Kremlin demonstrations since 2012. Navalny was the instigator of the protests, which he called for after his film detailing Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev's corruption was largely ignored by the Kremlin. While the largest protest (approximately 600 people) took place in Moscow, demonstrations occurred in cities across the country, stretching to Vladivostok in the Far East. 

March 27:

Russia's protest movement is going through a generational shift. Last week's protests drew large numbers of teenage and early twenties activists - a generation that was previously politically apathetic. 
According to the New York Times, this shift could be a sign of a changing political landscape. Change in the country has traditionally been driven by younger generations, and their involvement in opposition activity today - after a long period of relative passivity - could end up serving as a catalyst for reform. 

March 28:

Russian officials are moving to shut down Alexei Navalny's anti-corruption foundation following nationwide protests generated by the opposition leader. 
According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Russian officials cut off electricity to the building during the foundation's broadcasts of the protests. Officials then closed the foundation's office, seized equipment, and arrested key staff members, including Navalny. Foundation staff were brought up on misdemeanor charges and given sentences ranging from one week to 25 days behind bars. 

March 29:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a new law further limiting permissible activity on the part of the Russian media. The law bans livestreaming during court trials and pretrial sessions - something which was made legal in 2012. 
According to The Moscow Times, the move further limits transparency in the Russian judicial system. The broadcasting of trials was largely responsible for the public attention that surrounded the legal proceedings of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, punk provocateurs Pussy Riot, and other Russian activists. 

March 31:

The Moscow Times reports that a new study by the Sigma Expert agency has found that Russian cities with the highest participation in recent protests also had the lowest voter turnout in last September's elections. Ten cities were identified as having the highest percentage of their population participate in the anti-corruption protests. Out of those ten, nine had below average voter turnout in the most recent parliamentary election in September 2016. Makhachkala, the capital city of Dagestan in the North Caucasus, was the only one of the group to witness above average voter turnout in the last parliamentary election, although experts note that the region is known to inflate electoral participation figures. 

April 1:

Chechen authorities are being accused of massive human rights violations following the release of an investigative story by a leading Russian newspaper. The report in opposition daily Novaya Gazeta confirmed suspicions that Chechen officials are rounding up and killing gay men in the Muslim majority region. Over 100 men aged 16 to 50 have been detained to date, 
reports the New York Times. A spokesman for Chechnya's leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, has denied the allegations, stating that authorities "cannot repress people who just don't exist in the republic."

Related Categories: Russia and Eurasia Program

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