Hunger Strikes, Arms Deals, and Human Rights

June 3, 2013
Assad and Putin/ Photo by Policymic

A quick recap of top Russia stories today:

– Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina has ended her hunger strike after prison officials finally conceded to her demands. One of three members of the female punk rock band, jailed for performing a protest song inside Moscow’s main cathedral, went on a hunger strike in protest of the stringent security measures and her exclusion from her parole hearing. As the Moscow Times is reporting, “Her lawyer, Irina Khrunova, said Alyokhina had ended the strike after a number of her demands, which included the reversal of excessive security measures in the prison, were met.”

-There is increasing evidence that Russia’s threat of selling its advanced S-300 air defense systems has become one of its most useful tools in geopolitics, especially in the Middle East. Wikileaks cables have shown how the S-300 system was previously used to leverage favorable outcomes for Russian interests, and that the threat of selling the system is used as a bargaining chip by Russia. Reuters reports, “Russia’s pledge to deliver anti-aircraft missiles to Damascus at a time when world powers are trying to end Syria’s civil war is consistent with a pattern of using the weapons system as a bargaining chip in its power struggle with the West.”

-Amid the vocal Russian support for economist Sergei Guriyev, who was pressured into leaving Russia recently, Russian Human Rights Council head Mikhail Fedotov has voiced his concern over the treatment of the former government advisor. Russia Beyond the Headlines has quoted him as saying, “I do not see anything unlawful in the work done by Guriyev and the other experts invited by us to conduct a public and scientific examination of [former Yukos CEO Mikhail] Khodorkovsky’s case.”