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Court Upholds ‘Terrorism’ Convictions While Hundreds Remain in Prison

Last week, Russia’s Supreme Court upheld the terrorism-related convictions of 19 men who are all serving prison sentences ranging from 10 to 24 years because of their alleged affiliation with Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HuT), an Islamic organization banned in…
Supreme court appeal hearing held via videoconference, September 2020.
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Dennis Christensen Waits in Prison; Many Other Worshippers Await Prosecution

Everything seemed to be in place for Dennis Christensen to leave a Russian prison in early July. On June 23, a judge paroled him, after he served half of a 6-year sentence, while also ordering him to pay a 400,00 ruble (US$5,714) fine. Mr. Christensen…
Dennis Christensen (behind the windows) talks with his interpreter at the Zheleznodorzhy District Court in Oryol, January 28, 2019
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Arrests, Prison, Harassment for Peaceful Religious Practice

(Moscow) – Law enforcement authorities across Russia have dramatically escalated the nationwide persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the past 12 months, Human Rights Watch said today. One year after President Vladimir Putin said that…
Special Rapid Response Unit raid a Jehovah’s Witness home in Nizhny Novgorod Oblast.
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Camp Raid the Latest in Deepening Crackdown on Members

Last week, police near Norilsk, in northern Russia, raided a campsite where more than 50 Jehovah’s Witness followers had gathered to pray. It was the latest example of an escalating crackdown on Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are targeted…
A woman holds a bible during a service
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500,000 People Displaced in Recent Hostilities Stuck at Turkish Border

(Beirut) – A Syrian-Russian military alliance strike on a displacement compound in mid-August is an apparent war crime, Human Rights Watch said today. Witnesses said there was no apparent military target for the…
Residents rescue injured child after strike on the displacement center in Hass on August 16, 2019.
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Raids, Arbitrary Arrests, Torture of Activists

(Berlin) – Russian authorities have brought unfounded terrorism charges against 24 Crimean Tatars, 20 of whom were arrested during heavily armed raids on their homes in the spring of this year, Human Rights Watch said today. Security…
Crimean Tatar activists protest politically motivated arrests of terrorism charges in Moscow’s Red Square on July 10, 2019.
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International Norms Ignored as Civilians Suffer

(Beirut) – The Russian-Syrian joint military operation has used internationally banned and other indiscriminate weapons in unlawful attacks on civilians in northwest Syria in recent weeks, Human Rights Watch said today. According to the…
A man inspects the destruction left by overnight air strikes targeting residential areas at Kafr Nabl in the rebel-held Idlib Province, Syria, May 20 2019.
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Religious Persecution, Other Abuses

(Moscow) – Law enforcement authorities across Russia have carried out a sweeping campaign against Jehovah’s Witnesses in recent months, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities have carried out dozens of home searches,…
Since 2007, dozens of pieces of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ literature have been banned and placed on the federal registry of banned extremist materials. Picture here, stacks of booklets distributed by a local leader of a Jehovah's Witnesses congregation in the
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Amid Ongoing Bombings, More Protection Needed for Education

In areas of Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Syria’s capital Damascus held by anti-government armed groups, schools have closed for fear that Syrian and Russian warplanes will bomb them. Instead, local residents have opened informal schools…
Children walk through the rubble of the Tamayuz (“Excellence”) kindergarten in the town of Hamouriyeh after it was hit by a Syrian-Russian airstrike on November 8, 2017. © 2017 Private
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Arbitrary Detentions; Separatism, Terrorism Charges

(Berlin) – Russian authorities in Crimea have intensified persecution of Crimean Tatars, under various pretexts and with the apparent goal of completely silencing dissent on the peninsula, Human Rights Watch said today. Crimean Tatars are a Muslim…
Law enforcement officials during a search in Bakhchysarai, Crimea on January 26, 2017
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Recent Attacks on Saraqeb Caught on Video

Videos and photographs taken last weekend in the city of Saraqeb, in northwestern Syria, show the unmistakably bright trails produced by incendiary weapons. The ZAB incendiary submunitions used in the attacks are delivered by RBK-500 bombs and contain…
Screenshot of a video taken in April 2017 in Saraqeb, northwestern Syria, showing the bright trails produced by incendiary weapons.
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Despite Promises, Syrian Officials Withhold Permits

Convoys filled with lifesaving aid stand idle on the Syria-Turkish border. The Syrian government has failed to issue permits to the United Nations to access and distribute aid to opposition-held Aleppo. The UN humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland also blamed…
Commercial Turkish trucks wait to cross to Syria near the Cilvegozu border gate, located opposite the Syrian commercial crossing point Bab al-Hawa in Reyhanli, Hatay province, Turkey, September 16, 2016.
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Video Footage Shows Incendiary Weapons Mounted on Russian Attack Aircraft

Several major media outlets are reporting that Russia’s state-run television has broadcasted footage appearing to show Russian aircraft at its airbase in Syria equipped with “cluster bombs.” The clip was deleted from YouTube after analysts published the…
Footage showing what Human Rights Watch arms experts have identified as RBK-500 ZAB-2.5SM incendiary bombs mounted on a Russian attack aircraft at a Russian air base in Syria, June 18, 2016.
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In today’s Russia, denying God’s existence can carry big risks. Just ask Viktor Krasnov, currently on trial in Stavropol for “offending religious feelings of believers,” and facing a possible year in prison. Krasnov is an avid…
A man walks under an umbrella during a snowfall, with St. Basil's Cathedral seen in the background, in Red Square in central Moscow March 31, 2014.
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Over the last year, reporting about FIFA, football’s scandal-plagued governing body, has focused on arrests, corruption, and worker rights abuses in the upcoming World Cup host countries, Russia and Qatar. So today’s news that…
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Last week Russian state media gave big play to allegations that Ukrainian forces had used white phosphorus as an incendiary weapon in eastern Ukraine. In the midst of it, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged an investigation into the use of…
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It is the end of the school day, teenage students gather in the playground before heading home. An aircraft buzzes overhead. A second later, chaos – at least 10 are dead and dozens wounded. Video images of the young victims – the dead, dying and severely…
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