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The Real Russia. Today. The ‘Babchenko hit list,’ protecting Putin online, and Sentsov's plea

Source: Meduza

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

  • Ukraine manages a leaked "Russian hit list"
  • Another Internet user is sentenced for "online extremism"
  • A battered wife is convicted of killing her husband
  • An ex-cop wants back his seized property
  • The Justice Ministry proposes a curious and potentially lucrative email scheme for prisoners
  • Lawmakers want to stop older teenagers from hiding their medical records from their parents
  • A teacher faces a lawsuit for claiming that questions from Russia's Uniform State Exam leaked early
  • Oleg Sentsov asks his supporters not to join his hunger strike

Now Ukraine is going after the reporters who leaked the "hit list" in the Babchenko case 👮‍♂️

On Tuesday, the Ukrainian website Strana.ua published what appears to be the infamous “hit list” obtained in the sting operation that faked Arkady Babchenko’s murder. After some reluctance, Ukrainian officials confirmed the authenticity of the hit list, which contains the names of 47 journalists, writers, and bloggers. The National Security Agency is also investigating the criminal disclosure of material evidence in an active case. Officials haven’t yet named any suspects in this investigation, but the maximum penalty for this offense is two years community service.

Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko confirmed over the weekend that the “hit list” acquired in the sting operation contains the names of 47 individuals (not 30, as previously reported). The people on the list are mostly well-known Ukrainian and “ex-Russian” journalists, Lutsenko said, including Matvei Ganapolsky, Evgeny Kisleyov, Tatyana Danilenko, Sonya Koshkina, Osman Pashaev, Yuri Makarov, and others.

Late on May 31, a Kiev district court placed a businessman named Boris German under arrest for allegedly organizing the attempted murder of the journalist Arkady Babchenko. At his arraignment, German claimed to be working for Ukrainian counterintelligence.

Putin is safe from another Internet hate crime 🤬

Vladimir Egorov is the latest Russian activist to feel the sting of the country’s unpredictable “anti-extremism” policing. On Tuesday, a court in Tver slapped him with a two-year suspended sentence and three years of probation, after convicting him of inciting extremism through anti-Putin posts on social media. The court also prohibited Egorov from moderating any websites in the future and placed him on a three-year probation period. Prosecutors say he advocated killing Vladimir Putin.

According to Radio Liberty, Vladimir Egorov shared anti-corruption investigations on a local Vkontakte community page. After publishing a report about a particular embezzlement case, he was reportedly attacked at his home. In the summer of 2017, Egorov moved to Ukraine, but he was later expelled to Belarus, which handed him over to Russia, where he had been added to a federal wanted list.

In recent years, Russian law enforcement agencies have regularly prosecuted Internet users for sharing supposedly “extremist” content, even in cases when there is little reason to believe the speech in question could have incited anyone to anything. Police usually target Vkontakte users.

Crime and punishment and abused wives 👰

Russia’s judicial system can’t quite make up its mind about how far women can go when defending themselves against abusive partners. This week, a regional court in Tver convicted a woman of using unnecessary force when she stabbed and killed her husband while he was beating her in a drunken argument. Investigators determined that he punched and kicked her at least 51 times before she parried his last blow and stabbed him in the chest twice with a knife. The woman, who’s only been identified as Mrs. Barkina, was sentenced to a year of probation.

In April, the Moscow City Court acquitted a woman sentenced to six years in prison for killing her husband when he tried to strangle her. In May, an appellate court exonerated another woman sentenced to three years in prison for killing her husband after years of abuse.

The ex-cop with boxes of cash wants his stuff back 💸

Dmitry Zakharchenko, a former police colonel now on trial for large-scale bribery, is reportedly trying to get back his stuff. Zakharchenko’s lawyer has asked the court to review the confiscation of his client’s property, arguing that the seizure warrant was issued two months after the belongings ceased to be classified as material evidence.

In December 2017, Moscow’s Nikulinsky District Court allowed the Attorney General’s Office to seize almost nine billion rubles ($145.4 million) from Zakharchenko, including boxes of cash, 27 apartments and parking spaces, four luxury cars, and a bar of solid gold.

In late May, federal investigators started looking into the disappearance of some of Zakharchenko’s seized money. According to some reports, as much as 320 million rubles ($5.2 million) may have gone missing.

Email tolls for inmates 📧

The Ministry of Justice is generously planning revisions to its internal regulations that will allow prison inmates to send complaints, petitions, and suggestions over email. Less generously, officials will bill prisoners for every email, and the option will only be available at some facilities. Human rights lawyer Andrey Lepekhin told Meduza that the reforms are likely just a budgetary scheme by the Federal Penitentiary Service to grab funding for their computers.

Russian prison officials censor the complaints, petitions, and suggestions written by inmates. “For example, right now, if a prisoner writes a letter from prison, complaining about his sentence, or his verdict, or something like that, then his letter is subject to internal censorship,” Lepekhin explained. “And if he complains about the conditions of his detention or about prison staff, they might not send his letter and they could start threatening him.”

According to current federal regulations, there are several censorship exemptions for incarcerated persons, including appeals to courts, prosecutors, higher-level penitentiary system officials, executive and legislative authorities, public monitoring commissions, human rights agencies, both houses of parliament, and the president. Under the proposed reforms, it’s unclear whom prisoners would be allowed to email.

At the beginning of the year, Russian prison officials reported that the country’s prison population was roughly 602,000 people — the lowest it’s ever been in post-Soviet Russia.

The kids are alright, and here are the records to prove it 👩‍⚕️

Regional lawmakers from Samara have submitted draft legislation to the State Duma that would limit medical privacy for minors between the ages of 15 and 17, granting their parents access to their medical records. The law’s explanatory note warns that “older adolescents are often disinclined to inform their parents about unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, injuries sustained in fights, drug addiction,” and so on. The State Duma will reportedly review the bill in the fall.

Last year, lawmakers in Samara drafted similar legislation, but it failed to win the support of a federal assembly and committees in the State Duma and Federal Assembly.

Exams, tests, and dirty, dirty lies 🎓

Russia’s Federal Education and Science Supervision Agency (Rosobrnadzor) says it will sue a teacher in St. Petersburg for claiming that questions from the State Uniform Exam were leaked to students ahead of the test. Russia’s standardized “EGE” math test was administered nationwide on June 1. A day before the exam, a teacher named Dmitry Gushchin said the test had been compromised, asking students on Vkontakte to say if they encountered any of the math problems contained in the leak.

Rosobrnadzor, which administers the EGE, says Gushchin is peddling false information, insisting that none of the questions he shared on social media actually appeared on this year’s test.

'Cause there's a million ways to go, you know that there are ✊

The jailed Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov has been on a hunger strike since May 14, but he’s asking his supporters not to join his fast, if they’re not in prison. Speaking through his lawyer, Sentsov called on his allies to explore the many other protest options available to them as non-incarcerated people. He has stopped eating, his lawyer explained, simply because he has no other means of demonstrating on behalf of Russia’s Ukrainian political prisoners.

Oleg Sentsov is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence for allegedly plotting a series of terrorist attacks in Crimea. He denies these charges. Human rights advocates have repeatedly asked Vladimir Putin to free the filmmaker from prison, but the Russian president has refused, citing the independence of the courts.

Yours, Meduza