Russia – Walk Free Foundation – Global Slavery Index 2014




Escalating ethnic violence in Russian cities,25 coupled with regional conflict has heightened racial tension, particularly towards migrant workers from Central Asia and the Caucasus.26  Five people disappeared in 2013 after an alleged abduction-style detention by security forces in Ingushetia and another incident occurred in Chechnya in early 2013.27 

Russia – Walk Free Foundation – Global Slavery Index 2014.

Belarus arrests 3 leading opposition activists  |

Belarus arrests 3 leading opposition activists  |


The Associated Press

MINSK, Belarus — Belarus arrested three top opposition figures Wednesday who were on their way to Brussels to meet with European Union officials, a move certain to further fuel tensions with the bloc.

The 27-nation EU already has imposed sanctions on authoritarian Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime over its crackdown on dissent and recalled its ambassadors from the ex-Soviet nation, which is wedged between Russia and Poland.

Those arrested were Anatoly Lebedko, the head of Belarus’ largest opposition United Civil Party; Sergei Kalyakin, the leader of the Fair World leftist party; and Alexander Otroshchenkov, a leading activist of the European Belarus group.



Belarus arrests 3 leading opposition activists  |


BBC News – Profile: Russian blogger Alexei Navalny

Anti-corruption campaigner and top blogger Alexei Navalny is one of the pivotal figures leading protests and activism to challenge the results of Russia’s 4 December parliamentary elections.

He is also arguably the only major opposition figure to emerge in Russia in the past five years. And he owes his political prominence almost exclusively to his activity as blogger.

Mr Navalny’s rise as a force in Russian politics began in 2008 when he started blogging about allegations of malpractice and corruption at some of Russia’s big state-controlled corporations, such as energy giants Gazprom, Rosneft and Transneft, and VTB bank.

Previously, he had been a relatively minor figure involved in various opposition groups. He was also involved in nationalist politics and has taken part in a number of the annual nationalist shows of strength, known as the Russian Marches.

via BBC News – Profile: Russian blogger Alexei Navalny.


From the Archives


Contributions by Margit Rowell and Angelica Zander Rudenstine

Published in 1981

320 pages, fully illustrated

Documenting the first exhibition of Russian collector George Costakis’s holdings of early 20th-century Russian artists in the United States, the catalogue Art of the Avant-Garde in Russia: Selections from the George Costakis Collection is an invaluable resource for scholars of art of the avant-garde in Russia. Art historian Angelica Zander Rudenstine’s introduction describes the Costakis Collection’s formation and important details from George Costakis’s biography. Margit Rowell reexamines certain premises about Russian and Soviet avant-garde art in the essay, “New Insights into Soviet Constructivism: Painting, Constructivists, Production Art.” The publication also includes color and black-and-white reproductions of selected works with entries and biographies of the 39 artists in the exhibition.


Costakis naturally tried to leave no stone unturned in his pursuit of the avant-garde. While he feels strongly that he missed collecting the work of many artists—through bad luck, unfortunate timing or lack of knowledge—his overriding principle was always to fill in the picture with more and more artists, and to show them in the various stages of their stylistic developments.

via From the Archives.

via From the Archives.

Justice for Sergei: are some people really untouchable? Not so.

“Deliberate neglect and torture.” An independent medical report implicates Moscow prison authorities in the death of a Russian lawyer who accused the police of corruption.

[vimeo w=400&h=225]

Justice for Sergei – English tv-version from ICU Documentaries on Vimeo.

This is a huge story in the world, and it is definitely worth knowing about; watch this short documentary, and see and explication of the extensive corruption occurring today.  This is a breaking story, those responsible for what the physicians for human rights study determined as torture are coming closer to seeing punishment.

Please Mr. Medvedev, Mr. Putin; I beseech you to act swiftly to show that you will not tolerate this blatant corruption, abuse, torture, such vile acts.  Show that Russia is changed, that Russia can be a responsible global citizen, where other nations may not act towards justice.  Embarrasment is better than a rotten core.  Do not continue to pile cover-ups on top of injustice, become a leader, rather than a victim of intenational criminal actions.  Corruption hurts Russia, it hurts Russians, it will not remain contained in rural regions, without action rampant corruption can degrade your ability to move forward as a nation.

Sergei Magnitsky was a 37 year-old tax lawyer and auditor who worked for the Moscow legal and audit firm, Firestone Duncan. He was married and a father of two.

Sergei was born in Odessa, Ukraine in 1972, and emigrated with his family at the age of 9 to Southern Russia. As a child Sergei loved to read. On family vacations, while the rest of the family and friends would be splashing in the sea, Sergei would sit under a tree with a book. His studiousness was quickly recognized and at the age of 15, he won the Republican Physics and Mathematics Olympiad. When he was 18, he moved to Moscow and attended the prestigious Plekhanov Institute.

The “Russian Untouchables” page collecting videos on Mr. Magnitsky’s murder is a great source for clips on the topic.

To learn more about what happened to Sergei Magnitsky please read below

The death in prison of Sergei Magnitsky, a young Russian lawyer, remains one of the darkest scandals in the blotchy history of Russia‘s criminal justice system. One year on, this HD documentary brings the full details of his tragic story to light.

“Conditions were terrible. In one of the cells the toilet broke and flooded the room with sewage. A mentally ill person would sleep with the prisoners some nights.” These were the conditions in which Sergei lived out his last days in Butyrka Prison in Moscow. After making 450 official complaints about his treatment, and suffering the constant stabbing pains of Pancreatitis, his investigator ‘Silchenko’ tightens the screws – issuing a file stating that Sergei had already been medically treated. “There is a clear feeling he had been put in such conditions, which could bring him to death”, says the independent watchdog who investigated Sergei’s case.

“This is my country and I don’t want such things to happen here. Such lawlessness- I will fight it.” Sergei’s story begins with twenty plain-clothes government officials storming the offices of three Hermitage Fund companies and seizing hundreds of official documents. Investigating the incident, company lawyer Sergei discovered the largest tax fraud in Russian history; $230 million of tax refund – the exact amount the Hermitage Fund companies had paid in taxes the year before – had turned up in the bank accounts of the government officials. When the officials started threatening the company’s lawyers with criminal action, head of Hermitage, Bill Browder said: “‘This isn’t worth it. Get out of harm’s way'”.

Yet Sergei would not be silenced. He testified against the officials, and was immediately thrown into pre-trial detention, without bail, trial, or phone contact with his family. According to the wife of one of Sergei’s cell mates, prisoners were told to inflict “humiliation and beatings” upon Sergei to try to get him to withdraw his confession. And though we hear a confident and well-prepared Sergei in the recordings of his first hearing, his arguments were ignored.”You wanted to scream at the prosecutor who laughed and told jokes whilst [Sergei] spoke”, cries Sergei’s aunt.

“The pain was so intense I couldn’t lie down” Sergei writes in August 2009, “the guard promised to call a doctor, but no doctor arrived”. As Sergei’s health deteriorated rapidly, his investigator Silchenko offered him a deal: ‘testify against Hermitage and go free’. At his second trial, his mother and aunt noticed an extreme physical change in Sergei “he looked exhausted, but he still smiled”. It took only fifteen minutes for Judge Stashina to extend his detention. His heartbroken family left him chained to a radiator in a hallway. Four days later he died. “The death of Sergei showed that there was something severely wrong in Russia”, says his friend Vladimir, “we must acknowledge this, and do something to change it”.

After global outrage at the death of Sergei Magnitsky, Russian President Medvedev ordered an investigation. One year later not a single person has been indicted or charged. All of the Russian officials involved denied an interview.

Russian Untouchables. Episode 1: Artem Kuznetsov

Russian Untouchables. Episode 2: Pavel Karpov

Russian Untouchables. Episode 3. Olga Stepanova.

The Physicians for Human Rights have recently released a report that is the culmination of in depth examination of the facts in the Magnitsky case.


To date, no one has been charged or prosecuted in Russia. Russian investigations have concluded that sudden heart failure caused Mr. Magnitsky’s death.

On April 15, 2011 U.S. Representative James McGovern (D-MA), helped introduce “The Justice for Sergei Magnitsky Act (H.R. 1575) to “make certain individuals ineligible for visas or admission to the United States and to revoke visas and other entry documents previously issued to such individuals, and to impose certain financial measures on such individuals, until the Russian Federation has thoroughly investigated the death of Sergei Leonidovich Magnitsky and brought the Russian criminal justice system into compliance with international legal standards, and for other purposes.”

Speaking from the floor of the House of Representatives, Rep. McGovern said, “In the absence of a formal and independent investigation into his death, the exact circumstances leading to his death remain shrouded under a veil of government secrecy.”

On July 13, 2011 President Obama met with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and discussed issues of democracy and human rights, including the tragedy surrounding the death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

In the fourth medical study of the case released in early July 2011, official Russian experts admitted that inadequate medical care had a cause and effect relationship on Mr. Magnitsky’s death. However, the investigation ignored significant findings about the continuously worsening and cruel conditions Mr. Magnitsky endured. During Mr. Magnitsky’s final hours, he did not receive any necessary medical attention.

A team of PHR forensic experts reviewed official documents made available through the victim’s mother. Our report Our report concludes that:

  • Mr. Magnitsky suffered prolonged severe pain, was denied regular contact with his family, denied medical evaluations for his complaints, fed meals irregularly, and kept under inhumane conditions.
  • The official Russian autopsy protocol (on which all subsequent Russian medical studies were based) was inconsistent with best international practice and deviated significantly from standard US protocols.
  • Tissues from injuries found on Magnitsky’s body after his death were not removed during the autopsy and their forensic analysis has not been carried out.

In June 2011, a lawyer for Mr. Magnitsky’s family filed a lawsuit demanding release of the tissue samples to the family for an independent study. A hearing is set for July 19, 2011. PHR has agreed to examine tissue samples from Mr. Magnitsky if the government releases them and Mr. Magnitsky’s mother provides them to the organization.

Download the Report (pdf)

PHR’s Forensic Experts:

Press Coverage:






Who is Mr. Navalny?

By now, Russia’s reputation for corruption is a cliché, but it is impossible to overstate how it defines public life at every level, all the way to the Kremlin. Russia is one of the few countries in the world to slip steadily in Transparency International’s annual rankings. Out of a hundred and seventy-eight countries surveyed in 2010, Russia ranks a hundred and fifty-fourth, a spot it shares with Cambodia, Guinea-Bissau, and the Central African Republic. Corruption has reached such extremes that businesses involved in preparing the Black Sea resort of Sochi for the Winter Olympics of 2014 report having to pay kickbacks of more than fifty per cent. The Russian edition of Esquire recently calculated that one road in Sochi cost so much that it could just as well have been paved with, say, nine inches of foie gras or three and a half inches of Louis Vuitton handbags. In
October, President Dmitry Medvedev announced that a trillion rubles—thirty-three billion dollars—disappears annually on government contracts. This is three per cent of the country’s G.D.P.

Read more–defending-the-minority-interest

Who is Mr. Navalny?

Alexey Navalny– Трубоеды.mp4

Press Center TV: The territory of Glasnost. Aleksey Navalny. Part 1

Young Lawyer Leads Fight Against Corruption in Russia

UN court rejects Georgia case against Russia over war

The United Nations’ top court has dismissed a case filed by Georgia that accuses Russia and separatist rebels of ethnic cleansing.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague said it could not examine Georgia’s complaint because negotiations had not taken place.

Georgia said Russia and the rebels had used ethnic violence against Georgians in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Russia took control of the two Georgian regions in a brief war in August 2008.

Thousands of ethnic Georgians fled the regions during the conflict and many remain internally displaced in Georgia.

(Via BBC)

Russian military stops issuing soldiers with cigarettes, offers candy instead

Russian military stops issuing soldiers with cigarettes, offers candy instead

Real changes in culture?  Or more cosmetic façades?

Russian Deputy Defense Minister Colonel General Dmitry Bulgakov has announced that the Defense Ministry will no longer purchase cigarettes for soldiers, Russian website reports.

“There are no cigarettes in our new military allowance. We have replaced cigarettes for the army with caramel candies and sugar. However, we can’t prohibit smoking completely. If a soldier wants to smoke, he will have to buy cigarettes with his own money at a store during his period of leave,” Bulgakov said.

Bulgakov also announced that all Russian officers will change their footwear by 2013.

“We have developed special office shoes for officers. They are lightweight shoes made of high-quality leather, which let soldier’s feet breathe. Women’s boots will be substituted too. Now we will distribute refined shoes for our beautiful military women. And, of course, the unpleasant naval jacket with a high collar will be replaced by a convenient sweater.” Bulgakov said.

(Via MosNews)

Siberian Altai Regions to Develop Rural Tourism and Casinos

Siberian Altai Regions to Develop Rural Tourism and Casinos

The French Tourism Institute will help Russia’s Altai region (Altai Krai) to develop a rural tourism, Russian news agency ITAR-TASS reports.

A memorandum of understanding was signed earlier this week between the authorities of Siberian Altai region and the Paris-based Tourism Institute during Moscow’s annual tourism fair Intourmarket 2011.

“French professionals are ready to share their knowledge of industry. The institute experienced productive cooperation with China’s Anhui Province, where together with local authorities they preserves ancestorial forms of life, community customs, and rural architecture,” Altai region official said to the news agency.

He also added that Altai region can easily provide international tourists with all kind of rural tourism activity, including fishing, hunting, mushrooming and picking wild berries.

Almost US$146,000 has been allocated for the rural tourism development from the regional budget last year, which allowed for additional private investments into the industry.

The ultimate plan for the Altai Gaming Zone is to establish 15 casinos, 10 entertainment centers, and 30 hotels that can accommodate up to 3,000 visitors.

Last year, Slovenia’s Hit Company and Hong Kong casino tycoon Albert Yeung, were reported to announce their intention to cooperate with Siberian Coin.

The first Soviet Union casino was open in the late 1980s in Moscow’s Savoy Hotel for only foreign nationals.  The first casino for Russian citizens was launched in 1991.

By the end of 2000, Moscow had over 200 casinos, over 2,100 slot machine parlors, and over 35,000 slot machines in country regions. Ethnic Russians make up 57.4 percent of the population while 30.6 percent are Altai ethnicity and about 7 percent are Kazakhs.

(Via Russia Briefing)