Thursday 24.9.2020 in Latest Developments in Russia Country Page
Watch: Thousands march across #Russia’s Far East city of Khabarovsk on the border with #China to protest the arrest of the regional governor on murder charges, continuing a two-week wave of protests that have challenged the Kremlin.https://t.co/Uzq5IpGXwP pic.twitter.com/v8bkKJ2lrA— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) July 25, 2020
Thousands protest in support of ousted Governor
On 11th July2020, up to 12,000 Khabarovsk residents took part in a rally in support of Sergei Furgal, former governor of Khabarovsk Krai, after he was arrested on 9th July 2020. Furgal, who served as governor from September 2018 until he was removed from office in July 2020, was detained on suspicion of organising the murders of two entrepreneurs back in 2000, and is also under investigation for involvement in other crimes in the Khabarovsk and Primorsky Territories, as well as in the Amur Region. The protests were also generally against the Kremlin's politics in the region, as protesters termed Furgal’s arrest and removal from office by President Vladimir Putin as being politically motivated. The protesters demanded the former governor’s reinstatement and called for objective investigations.
The following day, on 12th July, the protesters gathered at noon on Lenin Square and marched along the carriageway of the central streets. The procession continued that evening with four young people being detained by the police. On 13th July 2020, the protesters held another rally, as the Khabarovsk protests continued in the following days.
Reports indicated that several protesters in Khabarovsk were later fined or arrested, both for participating in unsanctioned protests and for organising the demonstrations.
Activists detained for protesting Constitutional reforms
On 18th July 2020, police officers in St. Petersburg detained activists Yevgeny Musina and Marina Ken for blocking traffic on Nevsky Prospekt while protesting against amendments to the Constitution. Reports indicated that officers from the General Administration for Combating Extremism had been seen near the detainees’ houses the day before. They were charged with administrative offences for stretching a banner across the road with the inscription: "Change the government, not the constitution."
As previously reported on the Monitor, amendments to the Russian Constitution were proposed by President Putin in January 2020. After garnering support of 79% of valid votes in a national referendum held in late June 2020, the amendments took effect on 4th July 2020.
The changes have far-reaching impact, including extending presidential term limits, allowing the president to fire federal judges and effectively banning gay marriage.
Channel host beaten for filming the protests
On 24th July 2020, it was reported that one of the hosts of the YouTube channel "Navalny.live", Dmitri Nizovtsev, was attacked for filming the protests in support of Sergei Furgal (see above in Peaceful Assembly section). Nizovtsev's report on the YouTube channel on 18th July 2020, when the largest protest took place, gathered over 1.2 million views.
Journalist detained while covering pickets, pickets follow in support
On 19th July 2020, single pickets were held in Moscow and St. Petersburg in support of the journalist Mila Zemtsova, who was detained a day before while covering single pickets against amendments to the Family Code. She was detained despite presenting her journalist identification card, and was accused of organising the single protest actions along with LGBT activists. Eight picketers supporting Zemstova were detained, and four of them were fined for crossing the streets in an illegal place.
The draft amendments to the Family Code could lead to a significant infringement of the rights of transgender people and include proposals to prohibit same-sex couples and transgender people from getting married and adopting children.
Public hearing held for draft order on reporting requirements for non-profit organisations
On 23rd July 2020, a public hearing of the draft order on the reporting requirements on the use of donations received by non-profit organisations (NPOs) was held in the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation. The hearings were organised by the Commission for Charity and Social Work, the Commission for the Development of the Non-Profit Sector and Support of Socially Oriented NGOs.
A week later, the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation held an expert discussion on the draft order, where they discussed, among other issues, the reporting frequency by NPOs under the order.
State funded financial support extended to creative NGOs
In July 2020, the Ministry of Culture proposed to amend the rules for granting subsidies to creative NGOs so as to support these organisations in light of COVID-19 restrictions which banned the holding of mass events. Non-profit organisations in the field of musical, theatrical, visual and folk art were slated to benefit from the state-funded subsidy.