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Battle to the death on the streets of Kyiv: the assassination of Denis Voronenko a former communist lawmaker in Russia’s lower house November 27, 2018

Posted by bohdan.warchomij in : Metaphor Online, The Financial Times , trackback

The Kerch Straits Blockade

The Kerch Straits Conflict 26 November 2018. The assassination of Denis Voronenko in Kyiv this morning 27 November 2018. Boris Nemtsov politician assassinated Moscow 2015. Boris Berezovsky 2013. Anastasia Baburova and human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov shot in Sevastopol 2009. Sergei Magnitsky lawyer 2009 died in police custody Moscow. Natalia Estemirova 2009 shot point blank in the head and dumped in woods near Moscow. Anna Politovskaya journalist shot point blank in an elevator in her building Moscow 2006. Alexander Litvinenko 2006 death by radiation poisoning in London. Sergei Yushenkov 2003 shot outside his home in Moscow. Yuri Shchekochikhin, 2003 died 2003.  The list goes on and the trend becomes more than obvious.

Freedom House provides a more detailed list of contract killings.

Political prisoners

Last month, the Russian human rights organization Memorial published a list of 50 current political prisoners and 108 prisoners held for their religious beliefs. The latter figure is expected to grow as authorities crack down on banned minority groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Many more political and religious prisoners have been incarcerated over the course of Putin’s reign. Below are a few of the more high-profile cases.

  • Aleksey Pichugin (June 19, 2003 – present): Pichugin, a former security official at the Yukos oil company, was arrested in connection with the government’s campaign to jail and seize the assets of billionaire and opposition supporter Mikhail Khodorkovsky. He was sentenced to life in prison on murder charges after a deeply flawed trial. Khodorkovsky himself left the country in 2013 after serving 10 years behind bars for supposed fraud and tax evasion, and his business partner Platon Lebedev was released a year later.
  • Yaroslav Belousov (May 28, 2012 – September 8, 2014): Belousov, a political science student and member of a national democratic movement, was taken into custody after participating in a May 2012 protest against Putin’s inauguration for a third term as president. Having spent more than 20 months in pretrial detention, he was ultimately sentenced to 27 months in prison and released shortly thereafter. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in his favor in 2016, but the Russian Supreme Court rejected the decision. Belousov was just one of hundreds of people to face arrest for the protest, dozens of whom were charged and prosecuted. For example, well-known opposition activist Sergey Udaltsov spent more than three years in prison on charges of organizing “mass disorder.”
  • Pussy Riot (August 18, 2012 – December 23, 2013): Three members of the feminist protest band Pussy Riot—Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alyokhina, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova—were sentenced to two years in prison for recording an anti-Putin video in an Orthodox Church. While Samutsevich was released on appeal shortly after her conviction, Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova were freed in December 2013 as part of a larger amnesty.
  • Zarema Bagavutdinova (July 4, 2013 – July 3, 2018): Bagavutdinova, a human rights activist in Dagestan, was recently released after serving five years in prison for supposedly aiding terrorist groups. Among other activities that angered authorities, she had made comments to the media that were critical of the security services.
  • Oleg Sentsov (May 10, 2014 – present): Sentsov, a Ukrainian filmmaker, was detained along with activist Oleksandr Kolchenko in Russian-occupied Crimea and accused of plotting terrorist acts. They were sentenced in Russia to 20 and 10 years in prison, respectively, after a proceeding that included testimony allegedly extracted under torture. Since May 16, 2018, Sentsov has been on a hunger strike, demanding the release of all Ukrainians detained in Crimea and Russia.
  • Oleg Navalny (December 30, 2014 – June 29, 2018): Navalny was sentenced to three and a half years in prison on what were widely seen as spurious fraud charges designed to intimidate his brother, prominent opposition leader Aleksey Navalny, who was also convicted but received a suspended sentence. Aleksey Navalny has been arrested many times over the years and was disqualified from challenging Putin in this year’s presidential election, but he has never faced a lengthy prison term, presumably because such a move would invite greater domestic and international criticism.
  • Oyub Titiyev (January 9, 2018 – present): Titiyev, a leading human rights defender in Chechnya, was arrested on dubious charges of marijuana possession. He has remained in custody while awaiting trial and faces up to 10 years in prison. Since his arrest, his organization’s office in neighboring Ingushetia has been burned down, his colleagues have been assaulted or threatened, and his family was forced to leave the country.

 

The death of Denis Voroneneko in Kyiv

“A former Russian MP who fled to Ukraine and became a prominent Kremlin critic has been gunned down in Kiev. Denis Voronenkov, a former communist lawmaker in Russia’s lower house, was shot by an unknown assailant outside the Premier Palace hotel, a favoured haunt of local businessmen and foreign dignitaries. Voronenkov’s bodyguard was wounded in the attack, police said, while the assailant was fatally wounded and died in hospital. Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s president, and Yuriy Lutsenko, the general prosecutor, immediately accused Russia of orchestrating the mob-style hit. Voronenkov was a witness in treason proceedings in Kiev against Viktor Yanukovich, the former president, over Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Voronenkov took up Ukrainian citizenship after he and his wife, fellow lawmaker Maria Maksakova, fled to Ukraine last year. Mr Poroshenko described Voronenkov’s murder as “an act of state terrorism by Russia, which he was forced to flee for political reasons”. The killing had “the clear fingerprints of the Russian secret services that have been [seen] many times in various European capitals”, said Mr Poroshenko. It was “not a coincidence” that an explosion at a Ukrainian munitions depot happened earlier on Thursday, but provided no evidence to support his claims. Ukraine suspects Voronenkov was killed either over the proceedings against Mr Yanukovich or because he had evidence of corruption in the Russian security services, said Mr Lutsenko. ” The Financial Times

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