INCIDENTS AND THREATS
November 4 in Russia is Unity Day, a state holiday filled with official events that celebrate the country's multiethnic makeup. This year, it coincides with the nail-biting vote count in a hotly contested U.S. presidential election that has thrown American political divides into sharp relief. Russian state TV and government officials have made the most of the tension surrounding the race, using it to bring home a Kremlin narrative that depicts U.S. democracy as a deeply flawed, chaotic, and potentially explosive process.
European Union member states have agreed to slap sanctions on Alyaksandr Lukashenka, along with 14 other Belarusian officials, in response to a brutal crackdown on post-election protests. The green light to impose visa bans and asset freezes on Lukashenka and the 14 others was given by envoys from the EU's 27 member states on November 4 and should be confirmed in the bloc's official journal on November 6, sources say.
Belarusian authorities began harassing and jailing political opponents of Alyaksandr Lukashenka several months before the August presidential election that is widely seen as rigged. They were charged with organizing and preparing actions that violate public order. Current Time spoke to relatives of some of those detained, including the wives of opposition politicians Mikalay Statkevich and Paval Sevyarynets.
Officers of Russia's Federal Bailiffs Service (FSSP) have searched the premises of outspoken Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) in Moscow. FBK Director Ivan Zhdanov said on Twitter that the searches were conducted on November 5.
A Ukrainian-Italian dual citizen whose conviction by an Italian court over the death of an Italian journalist during Ukraine's war with Russian-backed separatists has returned to Kyiv after having his sentence overturned. Upon his arrival in the Ukrainian capital on November 4, former Ukrainian National Guard commander Vitaliy Markiv told reporters that he and his lawyers planned to seek compensation from the Italian authorities for his three years in custody. "Those who tried to not just disgrace the armed forces of Ukraine but attempted to dishonor the Ukrainian people as a whole, must be held responsible," Markiv said after his return.
The National Union of Journalists of Ukraine has announced RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service contributor Stanislav Aseyev as the winner of the 2020 Ihor Lubchenko National Prize for the Protection of Freedom of Speech. Aseyev is a journalist and writer from Donetsk, who spent two-and-a-half years in prison held by Russia-backed separatists, who accused him of espionage. Aseyev was released as part of a prisoner exchange on December 29, 2019. (Ukrainian Service)
The 37-year-old Golunov, who works for the Latvia-based information outlet Meduza and who was arrested in June 2019 in Moscow for allegedly attempting to sell illegal drugs, has found two fake witnesses who testified in his case. Overall, in his recent investigation, Golunov has found 11 people who have repeatedly acted as attesting witnesses in cases initiated by the drug control department of the Internal Affairs Directorate of Moscow, or helped the police "expose criminals" during a test purchase. At the same time, the "representatives of the public" had themselves often been convicted on drug charges, some even served time and are now cooperating with the officers who detained them. Lawyer of former police officer in Golunov case stripped of status. (Russian Service)
Russian media reports that an initiative group of the Russian Union of Journalists has expressed support for Ivan Safronov, a former defense industry journalist for the newspapers Kommersant and Vedomosti who most recently worked as an adviser to the head of Russia's Space Agency (Roscosmos) Dmitry Rogozin. The group launched an online flash mob and a petition demanding that prison officials allow him to call his mother. The Lefortovo district court on September 2 ruled that Safronov must be held at least until December 7. The hearing took place behind closed doors as the case is classified. (Russian Service)
“Belsat” TV channel journalists Dmitry Soltan (Buyanov), Artem Bogoslavsky, and Dmitry Kravchuk, who were detained on November 1 while covering the March Against Terror in Minsk, have been declared suspects in a criminal investigation of mass riots and, if convicted, face up to 3 years in prison. Soltan was severely beaten while in custody and, in a separate charge, was sentenced to 13 days in prison for resisting arrest and taking part in an unsanctioned rally. Bogoslavsky and Kravchuk were also issued fines. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
Dozens of murders and abductions of journalists in Tajikistan remain unsolved to this day -- human rights activists talk about at least 70 victims. On the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, the Tajikistan Prosecutor's Office promised to count the cases, but there is still no information. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
RFE/RL has condemned the decision of the Kazakh authorities to deny for the second time the accreditation to two journalists of RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service, known locally as Radio Azattyk, Maria Melnikova and Sanat Urnaliev. In a letter dated October 30 to Kazakh Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tleuberdi, Acting President/VP & Editor in Chief Daisy Sindelar called the decision “arbitrary” and “the latest example of illegal actions” against journalists. (Kazakh Service)
Women in Kazakhstan have posted videos online in which they shave their heads in a sign of protest against the repression of opposition activists. Many are demanding freedom and democratic reforms. As one woman put it: "I live in a prison called Kazakhstan."