Dozens of Muscovites Arrested in Demonstration for Savchenko; Famous Writers, Journalists Sign Petition

March 8, 2016
Police arrest demonstrators in Moscow protesting imprisonment of Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko. Photo by Thomas Lowe/France 24

LIVE UPDATES: Five Muscovites were arrested today in a demonstration in defense of jailed Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko.

Welcome to our column, Russia Update, where we will be closely following day-to-day developments in Russia, including the Russian government’s foreign and domestic policies.

The previous issue is here.

Recent Analysis and Translations:

Aurangzeb, Putin, Realism and a Lesson from History
– Why the World Should Care About the Assassination of Boris Nemtsov
How Boris Nemtsov Was Murdered: Investigation by Novaya Gazeta
– How Stalin Returned to Russian Contemporary Life – Meduza


Russian Women Have More Opportunities, But Rights Still Violated, Say Human Rights Campaigners

Speaking on International Women’s Day in Russia, Ludmila Alexeyeva, a veteran human rights activist, told Interfax that women’s rights are violated but they have more opportunities.

Alexeyeva, now 88, was among the founders of the Moscow Helsinki Group and remains its chair.

“Things are not so well with women’s rights in Russia. But now 
women have more opportunities for realization of them than in the Soviet era,” said Alexeyeva (translation by The Interpreter):

“By comparison with the Soviet period, we have more women judges. We have more women in our country in business than in government service and politics, but less than men. They say business here is a hard job, and it is hard for women there.”

There are more women in non-governmental organizations not 
associated with politics than those that are, she added.

“In civic organizations, a woman is a normal phenomenon. In May, it will be 20 years since I have been chair of the MHG, I have been re-elected every two years. And men re-elect me. In the civic sector, no one says, ‘woman, shut up.'”  

The group will mark its 40th anniversary this year.

Lev Ponomarev, another veteran of the human rights movement told Interfax that the situation with women’s rights in Russia — as with all rights in general — is not favorable:

“I would say the main problem concerning violation of women’s rights in Russia is domestic violence. Unfortunately, the state does not get involved in this problem.”

Although Russian law favors women when it comes to lesser punishments and statutes preventing the shooting of women, it is difficult to bring a suit related to partner violence as this is considered a private matter. The Russian Interior Ministry reported in 2008 that 14,000 women were killed annually by husbands and other relatives. The UN has criticized Russia’s failure to implement the women’s rights convention.
While there are women in politics in Russia, they tend to be 
figures like Valentina Matviyenko, chair of the Federation Council or upper house of parliament, associated with conservative causes promoting the role of women as wife and mother.
A woman currently in the spotlight is Ella Pamfilova, the Russian human rights ombudsperson, who has been appointed to the Central Elections Commission by President Vladimir Putin and who may be made its chair.

International Women’s Day was long celebrated in the Soviet Union as a day when wives and mothers were given flowers, and few non-communist countries noted it. After the UN Women’s Rights Conference in Beijing in 1995, the day began to be promoted more by the UN and other countries.

– Catherine A. Fitzpatrick 

Ukrainian Camera Crew Detained for Several Hours in Russia While Filming Savchenko Trial
Ukrainian journalists from the TV Channel STB who were covering the trial of imprisoned Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko were detained for several hours by traffic patrol in Kursk Region, and Novosti Donbassa reported.
Anton Naumlyuk, a journalist from Radio Svaboda, reported the detention on his Facebook page. He said three people in a camera crew headed by journalist Elena Shevchuk were detained, despite being accredited by the Russian Foreign Ministry.
The journalists were taken to the Gorshechensky District police station for questioning and their ID was taken.
Police claim that an unpaid traffic ticket is registered on the car they were driving, but Naumlyuk says the crew had been in Russia only a few days and had not committed any offenses nor had they been fined.
Ultimately the crew was released and police explained that their license plate was similar to that of another car wanted for fines, Alyona Lunkova, a member of the crew, reported on her Facebook page.
“You are honest citizens, the car is not pursued, it’s just the license plates are similar, and you are a girl and today is March 8,” the police said as he released the crew.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

Dozens of Muscovites Arrested in Pickets in Defense of Jailed Ukrainian Pilot Savchenko; Writers Sign Petition

Dozens of Muscovites have been detained by police today on Triumfalnaya Square in Moscow for holding solo protests in defense of imprisoned Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko, Grani  Ekho Moskvy.

OVDInfo, the police monitoring group, reports that 37 picketers have been detained and has listed the names of 30 demonstrators in two police vans. Five have already been released pending court dates.

Thomas Lowe of France 24 says arrests are now “en masse.”

By law, protesters are allowed to stage solo pickets but are supposed to be positioned at a distance from each other. Police frequently arrest them anyway when there are a lot of them in particular.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick