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«The Russian Federation has a centralized political system, with power concentrated in a president and a prime minister, a weak multiparty political ...»

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RUSSIA

The Russian Federation has a centralized political system, with power concentrated

in a president and a prime minister, a weak multiparty political system dominated

by the ruling United Russia party, and a bicameral legislature (Federal Assembly).

The Federal Assembly consists of a lower house (State Duma) and an upper house

(Federation Council). The country has an estimated population of 142 million.

Security forces generally reported to civilian authorities; however, in some areas of the Northern Caucasus, there were serious problems with civilian control of security forces.

There were numerous reports of governmental and societal human rights problems and abuses during the year. The restrictions on political competition and interference in local and regional elections in ways that restricted citizens' right to change their government continued. There were reports of: attacks on and killings of journalists by unidentified persons for reasons apparently related to their activities; physical abuse by law enforcement officers, particularly in the North Caucasus region; and harsh and often life-threatening prison conditions. Arbitrary detention and politically motivated imprisonments were problems. The government controlled many media outlets and infringed on freedoms of speech and expression, pressured major independent media outlets to abstain from critical coverage, and harassed and intimidated some journalists into practicing selfcensorship. The Internet remained by and large free and provided citizens access to an increased amount of information that was not available on state-controlled media. The government limited freedom of assembly, and police at times used violence to prevent groups from engaging in peaceful protest. Rule of law and due process violations remained a problem.

Corruption was widespread throughout the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, and officials often engaged in corrupt practices. Corruption in law enforcement remained a serious problem. Political and executive influence on the judicial system was observed in some high-profile cases. The government made it difficult for some nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to carry out their work.

Unidentified assailants physically attacked NGO leaders who took positions opposed to government policies or private interests. Security services and local authorities at times fabricated grounds for legal justification for searches and raids on civil society groups. Violence against women and children, including domestic violence, remained a significant problem. Trafficking in persons continued to be a significant problem. During the year xenophobic, racial, anti-Semitic, and ethnic

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attacks and hate crimes, particularly by skinheads, nationalists, and right-wing extremists, continued to be significant problems. There were instances of societal discrimination, harassment, and violence against religious and ethnic minorities.

There continued to be some governmental and widespread social discrimination against persons with disabilities, ethnic minorities, and dark-skinned immigrants.

Worker rights were limited. Labor activists reported police used intimidation techniques against union supporters, including detention, interrogations, and provocation of physical confrontation.

The conflict between the government and insurgents, Islamist militants, and criminal forces in the North Caucasus led to numerous human rights violations by all parties, who reportedly engaged in killing, torture, abuse, violence, and politically motivated abductions, often with impunity. In Dagestan and KabardinoBalkariya, the number of attacks on law enforcement personnel increased markedly. Violence generally decreased in Chechnya and Ingushetiya in comparison with 2009, but there were some high-profile attacks on regional government targets. The number of persons killed in the region declined slightly from 2009; however, the number of injured, especially among civilians, increased significantly. Thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the region lived in temporary centers that failed to meet international standards.

–  –  –

There were reports the government or its agents committed politically motivated killings and other arbitrary killings, particularly in the Caucasus region (see section

1.g.). In many cases the government did not punish the perpetrators.

In the Caucasus areas of conflict, there were numerous killings during the year by both authorities and militants (see section 1.g.).

On January 20, Tomsk resident Konstantin Popov, who was arrested for public intoxication, died in police custody after policeman Alexey Mitayev beat him and shot him in the genitals. Authorities arrested Mitayev and charged him with assault and abuse of authority. Mitayev faced 10 years in prison on charges of "intentional infliction of a grave injury leading to death by negligence" and "exceeding official

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powers with the use of force." On January 22, the Kremlin fired the chief of the Tomsk police force, General Viktor Grechman, in reaction to the killing. First Deputy Prosecutor Aleksander Buksman called for the control of holding cells for drunks to be transferred to the health and social development ministry.





The Ministry of Defense reported 14 deaths as a direct result of hazing during the year (see section 1.c.). However, the Committee of Soldiers' Mothers estimated the actual number of deaths during the year due to violence among soldiers, including those who died in hospitals, upon discharge or because of lack of medical care, to be approximately 2,000. As in past years, human rights observers noted that few of the persons accused in such incidents were prosecuted or otherwise held accountable.

According to the publication Kommersant, in May, Roman Suslov, a 21-year-old draftee, was found hanged on a train bound for his military posting. Although the army claimed he committed suicide, Suslov's body showed clear signs of violent death and no signs of hanging. Suslov had sent a text message to his parents on the day of his death warning of the brutal conditions in the military, writing "they will either kill me or make me disabled." The authorities opened an investigation only after repeated demands by his parents.

On May 31, Albert Kiyamov fell to his death out of a fourth story barracks window, five days after reporting for military duty. Although the death was ruled a suicide, Kiyamov had endured days of beating and humiliation at the hands of his sergeant, Sergey Lugovets, against whom criminal charges were filed.

There was a report of a death during the year related to denial of medical care in a pretrial detention center. On April 30, Vera Trifonova died after awaiting trial for more than four months in the Matrosskaya Tishina pretrial detention center. The lead investigator in the criminal case against her was charged with criminal negligence. Human rights observers charged that she was denied treatment for her worsening condition in order to force her to make a false confession (see section

1.c.).

No charges resulted from an investigation into the 2009 death in a Moscow pretrial detention prison of lawyer Sergei Magnitskiy (see section 1.c.).

–  –  –

several members of the White Wolves fascist organization, finding nine of them responsible for 11 killings. This group was reportedly linked with the nationalist group Combat 18. Chuvashov had earlier convicted members of another nationalist group of killing 20 persons and attempting to kill 12 others. At year's end no suspects were apprehended in the case.

According to the Glasnost Defense Foundation, a number of journalists were killed during the year, possibly for reasons related to their professional activities. The government officially reopened investigations into the killings of several journalists from previous years (see section 2.a.), although by year's end there were arrests only in one case, that of the lawyer Stanislav Markelov and Novaya Gazeta reporter Anastasiya Baburova. Many of the killings were related to the conflict in the North Caucasus (see section 1.g.).

On December 23, the Moscow city prosecutor's office filed a criminal case against Nikita Tikhonov and Yevgenia Khasis, who were arrested in November 2009 and charged with the January 2009 shooting death of human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasiya Baburova. The attack occurred shortly after Markelov held a press conference to criticize the early parole of Colonel Yuriy Budanov, who in 2000 raped and strangled an 18-year-old Chechen girl. The prosecutor's office charged the pair with murder. Both individuals were reportedly closely associated with the Russian nationalist group Russian Way.

There were no developments in the January 2009 fatal beating of 20-year-old activist Anton Stradymov in Moscow. Stradymov was a member of the National Bolshevik group. He had also participated in a number of "dissenters marches," a form of political opposition protest begun in 2006.

There were no developments in the shooting death in November 2009 by unknown persons of antifascist activist Ivan Khutorskoy.

There were no developments in the October 2009 killing of prominent Ingush human rights activist Maksharip Aushev or the December 2009 killing of several of his relatives. Despite the promise of Ingushetiya’s president, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov Yevkurov, that there would be a vigorous investigation of Aushev's killing, no arrests were reported.

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There were no developments in the December 2009 killing of Gennadiy Prudetskiy director of the charity Social Defense for Victims of Repression. Investigators believed his shooting death could be related to his work with the charity.

There were no developments in the cases of Muslim religious scholars Saihadji Saihadjiev, Nustap Abdurakhmanov, and Akhmed Hadjimagomedov, who were abducted and killed in 2008 in Dagestan.

Rebel forces committed extrajudicial killings in the conflicts in the North Caucasus area (see section 1.g.).

–  –  –

Reports of politically motivated disappearances in connection with the conflicts in the Northern Caucasus continued. According to Caucasian Knot, an online Russian news agency specializing in reporting on the Caucasus, there were 52 cases of kidnappings or illegal detentions in the region, and only 16 of those persons were confirmed to have returned home (see section 1.g.).

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment The constitution prohibits such practices; however, there were numerous, credible reports that law enforcement personnel engaged in torture, abuse, and violence to coerce confessions from suspects, and there were allegations authorities did not consistently hold officials accountable for such actions. There is no law defining torture, and prosecutors are only able to bring charges of simple assault or exceeding authority against police suspected of engaging in torture.

Physical abuse of suspects by police officers usually occurred within the first few hours or days after arrest. Some of the methods reportedly used included beatings with fists, batons, or other objects. A February 2009 report by the commissioner for human rights (ombudsman) noted that one-third of the complaints submitted to his office involved human rights violations by law enforcement authorities.

On February 11, police in Bashkortostan detained Dmitry Apanin, a fifth-year university student. News reports indicated officers mistook Apanin's severe stutter for evidence of intoxication and took him to a detoxification center. There, he was allegedly beaten, which resulted in breaking one of his spinal vertebrae.

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On June 17, police in Dagestan beat human rights lawyer Sapiyat Magomedova at a police precinct after she tried to gain access to a client.

On August 31, Kstovo police allegedly beat 17-year-old Nikita Kaftasev, after detaining him on suspicion of committing an unspecified crime. The boy was dropped off at a city hospital the next morning, where he underwent emergency surgery; he reportedly sustained permanent damage to his genitals.

Security forces at times beat journalists and protesters (see sections 2.a. and 2.b.).

During the year, reports by refugees, NGOs, and the press suggested a pattern of police beatings, arrests, and extortion when dealing with persons who appeared to be of Caucasus, Central Asian, African, or Romani ethnicity.

In June a Moscow court dismissed the case against former Yukos Oil Company vice president Vasiliy Aleksanyan due to an expiration of the statute of limitations.

Aleksanyan, who was charged with assisting Yukos in tax evasion in 2006 but never tried, was HIV positive and had been diagnosed with lymphatic cancer and tuberculosis. He initially was held in a prison, rather than a hospital, but was released in 2009.

On February 11, the chair of the Investigative Committee--a federal autonomous investigative body--Aleksandr Bastrykin ordered the reopening of a 2008 police beating case of several young men near Moscow's Sokolniki Metro Station. Police reportedly used billy clubs and electric shock in the beating. According to the Web site avtonom.org, a case had been opened against the police but later closed due to a lack of evidence.

There continued to be instances of attacks on political and human rights activists, critics of government policies, and persons whom the government considered supportive of the opposition. For example, government forces engaged in the conflict in the North Caucasus reportedly tortured and otherwise mistreated civilians, as well as participants in the conflict (see section 1.g.).

In March Amnesty International reported an attack on Vadim Karastelev, a member of the Novorossisk Human Rights Committee. He was severely beaten by two men outside his home. The attack occurred a day after his release from police detention, where he had been under arrest for seven days for an administrative

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offense--organizing a demonstration and allegedly disobeying police orders.

Karastelev had earlier distributed leaflets calling for public support for police reform and support for former policeman Aleksey Dymovskiy, who is widely known for his Youtube video calling on President Medvedev to reform the police.



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