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Russia Geopolitical Watch – From July 9 to July 15, 2022

Russia Geopolitical Watch Team: Lauren Lemaire-Hec, Manik Tadevosian, Enzo Pavodan, Simon Bouclier, Amandine Paillette, Olga Shevchuk

07/11/2022 : State Duma proposes a complete ban on “propaganda of non-traditional relationships” -Lauren Lemaire-Hec-

On 11 July, the State Duma’s Committee on Information Policy, Technology and Communications proposed a complete ban on the promotion of non-traditional relationships in Russia – on the internet and in the cinema, regardless of the age of the content consumers. The committee’s chairman, Alexander Khinshtein, announced the proposal on his Telegram channel. “I fully support Vyacheslav Volodin’s position on banning propaganda of non-traditional values.” Indeed, the Chairman of the State Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, had proposed to ban “propaganda of non-traditional values” in Russia. In the end, a law banning the promotion of non-traditional sexual relations to minors was adopted in Russia in 2013. According to Alexander Khinshtein, “today such a ban (propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations) applies exclusively to children. Of course, this is clearly not enough.”

Extending the ban, the proposal also suggests introducing administrative liability for violations of the ban.

Today, under Article 6.21 “Propagation of non-traditional sexual relations among minors” of the Russian Code of Administrative Offences, it is possible to be fined up to one million roubles, arrested for up to 15 days or temporarily suspended from business (for legal entities). This was recently illustrated on 12 July 2022 in the case of Yuri Dudya, a journalist who was fined 120,000 roubles for posting an interview with homosexual artist Fyodor Pavlov-Andreevich on Youtube. 

07/13/2022: The Independent Union of Journalists and Media Workers (JMWU) is threatened with dissolution due to the «discrediting of the Russian army» – Olga Shevchuk –

On July 13, a preliminary hearing was held in Moscow on the case of the liquidation of the independent organization  Union of Journalists and Media Workers». According to the prosecutor’s office, the union publishes information «discrediting the Russian army» and «undermining public security and the state». Previously, the union had publicly condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and expressed its solidarity with Ukrainian journalists.

«We, Russian journalists and media professionals, are deeply shocked and outraged that the authorities of our country have started a war against Ukraine… Our colleagues from different countries cover what is happening in the conflict zone. Today, they are risking their health and their lives doing extremely important work for society», said in a post published on February 24 on the organization’s official website.

On May 16, the Moscow prosecutor’s office informed the union about the inspection of its activity and demanded it to provide financial statements, event programs, as well as texts of public speeches of its members. Representatives of the organization Sofya Rusova and Igor Yasin were also summoned to the police. The union has not yet been informed of the results of the audit.

07/13/2022: Political opponent Ilya Yashin is imprisoned in a criminal case of «false information about the Russian army» – Olga Shevchuk –

On July 13, by order of the Basmanny District Court, Ilya Yashin, a former Moscow city deputy and associate of Alexei Navalny, was arrested and sent to a remand center until September 12. The hearing was held behind closed doors at the request of the investigation. The ​​opposition politician, one of the few remaining in Russia after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, was charged under the article «false information about the Russian army” (Article 207.3 of the Criminal Code) «based on political hatred.” He faces up to 10 years in prison.

«Since February 24, I knew very well that I would be arrested… When the war started, I promised that I would not run away and that I would speak the truth out loud for as long as I could,» Ilya Yashin announced on his social networks after learning of the judge’s decision.

On June 27, he had already been arrested for «disobedience to the police” and sentenced to 15 days’ arrest.

07/13/2022: During the negotiations in Turkey, the representatives agreed to create a coordination center for the export of Ukrainian grain – Enzo Padovan –

On July 13, a new step was achieved regarding the negotiations for the Ukrainian grain exports, which were frozen since the conflict’s beginning: in the next few weeks, a coordination center for cereals trade will be created in Istanbul. The center will regroup representatives from Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, and UN negotiators. The agreement currently discussed should allow Ukrainian ships to escort merchant cargos out of the Black Sea (without prior Russian control), but they will be searched by Ankara’s ships when they come back. The reason why is that Vladimir Putin’s government has suspected Kyiv to use such convoys to ship back Western military equipment. Therefore, to avoid those accusations, Turkish authorities will be allowed to control the merchants’ cargo.

In addition, this was the first time an official discussion has taken place between Ukraine and Russia, since the peace talks’ end back in May. Hulusi Akar, Turkish Minister of Defense, commented this exchange by explaining that the main technical issues had been solved, but also that one last talk will take place next week to work on the final details, and sign the last documents. UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, said that he was “optimistic” regarding the agreement, and considers that this is one first step towards a renewal of Ukrainian exportations.

07/14/2022: Following a Russian strike killing 23 civilians in Vinnytsia, west of Kiev, the Ukrainian president reiterates his demand for the creation of a “special tribunal” – Amandine Paillette 

On July 14, on the 141st day of the Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory, the town of Vinnytsia, west of Kiev, was the target of a military strike that killed 23 people. The Ukrainian army announced that three missiles fired from Russian submarines positioned in the Black Sea had hit a building in the city center. The building housed shops, offices and a parking lot.  The Ukrainian emergency services have reported that 29 people are missing, 71 are hospitalized and about 100 are injured.

Following this event, Volodymyr Zelensky deplored “This day demonstrates once again that Russia must be officially recognized as a terrorist state. No other country in the world allows itself to destroy peaceful cities and ordinary human lives every day with cruise missiles and artillery“. The Ukrainian president used the speech to call again for a “special court” to be created to “judge the crimes of Russian aggression against Ukraine.

The Russian military justified the attack, saying that a meeting of the Ukrainian Air Force with representatives of foreign arms suppliers was underway in the targeted premises. According to the Russian authorities, the target was military and not civilian. The Russian Ministry of Defense specified that the target was the “Officers’ House“, a place temporarily used as a reception point but also for training Ukrainian officers. Russia’s representative to the UN said “Russia only strikes military targets in Ukraine. The attack on Vinnitsa hit the Officers’ House, which the Ukrainian armed forces used for training.

 

07/15/2022 : British national Paul Urey died in the Donetsk region – Manik Tadevosian- 

On 15 July, separatist authorities in eastern Ukraine announced the death of a British national, Paul Urey. According to the separatists’ rights officer in the Donetsk region, Daria Morozova, he died because of chronic illnesses and stress. She said on Telegram that “despite the seriousness of (his) crimes, Paul Urey was receiving adequate medical help.” Captured in April, Paul Urey had been accused of fighting on the side of Ukraine. However, the International Legion for the Defense of Ukraine, which groups together foreign volunteer fighters, denied this information, saying that Mr Urey was an employee of the non-profit humanitarian organization Presidium Network. 

Following this event, the Russian ambassador in London was summoned by the British Foreign Office. British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she was “shocked” by the news of the death of Briton Paul Urey, warning that Russia should “take full responsibility.” 

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