The prisoners of conscience of Sochi2014

Russian activist Yevgeny Vitishko

The re-arrest today of yet another environmental activist in Russia’s Krasnodar region where the Sochi Winter Olympic Games will open on 7 February, as well as his brief detention along with five colleagues last night, are more evidence of growing efforts to clamp down on civil society ahead of the Games, Amnesty International said.

 Igor Kharchenko of the Russian NGO Environmental Watch for North Caucasus (Ecologicheskaya Vakhta po Severnomu Kavkazu) is currently being held by police in Krasnodar, the regional capital, where they had arrived ahead of the Olympic torch relay. He was arrested today under the pretext that his car had been ‘involved in a crime’, shortly after three masked men had smashed in the front and back windows of the vehicle.

‘Just days away from the official opening of the Sochi Winter Olympics, the Russian authorities are using every trick in the book to muzzle freedom of expression and silence dissenting voices,’ said Sergei Nikitin, Director of Amnesty International’s Moscow Office.

Kharchenko is one of six activists from Environmental Watch who were also detained last night for several hours in Krasnodar before being released. They felt compelled to scrap plans for a Sochi launch of their report exposing environmental damage caused by the construction ahead of the Games.

Their detention came the same day that their fellow environmentalist Yevgeny Vitishko was arrested in the Krasnodar Region city of Tuapse and sentenced to 15 days of administrative detention, purportedly for swearing in public.

‘This spate of harassment of civil society activists bodes ill for the coming weeks, and raises fears that the Sochi Games will be a human rights-free zone. Even more troubling is what will happen to Russian activists after the Olympic medals are handed out and the international attention fades,’ said Sergei Nikitin.

‘Silencing civil society does nothing to increase security around the Sochi Games and instead broadcasts to the world how the Russian authorities are failing spectacularly to uphold and protect international human rights standards.

As the start of the Sochi Winter Olympics comes closer, harassment against civil society activists has intensified, Amnesty International said today after the arrest of an environmentalist for allegedly swearing in public.

Yevgeny Vitishko was arrested today in Tuapse, part of the Sochi area where the Games will take place. He has been reportedly charged with ‘petty hooliganism‘, allegedly for swearing previously at a bus stop. At a court hearing today he was sentenced to 15 days of administrative detention.

‘Vitishko’s name has now become synonymous with harassment of civil society activists in the run-up to Sochi Games. Vitishko and his friends have been trying to expose environmental violations during the preparation of the Sochi Olympics. For this they are being punished. By trying to lock him up as a ‘petty hooligan’ the authorities are trying to gag him,’ said Denis Krivosheev, Europe and Central Asia Deputy Programme Director.

‘The concern is what will happen to civil society after the closure of the Olympics after the international focus moves away.’

Yevgeny Vitishko and his fellow activists have been actively involved in protests regarding the deforestation and illegal construction and fencing in areas of protected forest around Sochi.

In 2012, he received a suspended sentence in connection with an environmental protest. Last December, a court in Tuapse ruled that he should serve three years in prison for violating a curfew associated with the suspended sentence. His appeal hearing was reportedly scheduled for 22 February 2014, but now all information regarding it has been conspicuously removed from the court’s website.

Amnesty International has already raised concern about his unfair trial which resulted in a court decision to send him to prison colony for three years. His arrest comes as he is awaiting his appeal hearing.

Vitishko’s supporters fear that he will be held in custody until the day of his appeal under administrative charges, and then be sent to a prison colony.

Rights groups have accused Russian officials of harassing activists and journalists in the Sochi area, detaining them on trumped-up charges.

The Olympics are projected to cost $51 billion, or more than every other Winter Olympics combined. The high price tag is being blamed on Sochi being extremely ill-suited to host an Olympics and rampant corruption.

On Wednesday, Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina were set to make their first public appearance in the United States after being released from a Russian prison (23dec.). They were scheduled to speak at a Brooklyn concert organized by the human rights advocacy group and featuring stars such as Madonna.

Alekhina said she wants Americans to look beyond the grandeur of the projects and buildings of the games.

‘They are foreign objects in Russia,’ she said. ‘The only thing that connects Russia to these objects is taxpayers’ money, which has been stolen and has been used to build these Olympic objects.’

Alekhina called on President Barack Obama to increase pressure on Russia over alleged human rights abuses, and said she and Tolokonnikova are handing over a petition to Putin to help ‘end this bullshit.’

‘Aren’t you sick of it all, Putin?’ Tolokonnikova asked.

International response to prior calls to boycott the games has garnered some largely symbolic gestures. Obama included three openly gay athletes in the official U.S. delegation to the Sochi Winter Olympics in a rebuke of Putin’s anti-gay laws. And Norwegian Health Minister Bent Høie said he is taking his male spouse to the opening ceremony. But twelve peaceful protesters remain incarcerated after police arrested them at the anti-Putin demonstrations in Moscow two years ago, the pair from Pussy Riot said.

Now that the band is an icon for the struggle against human rights abuses in Putin’s Russia, the two women said it will also act for the rights of prisoners in the United States.

Tolokonnikova and Alekhina said they plan to visit prisons and meet with nonprofit organizations to learn about the issue of solitary confinement in the U.S. ‘We’re very interested in the fact of how NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) in the U.S. work and collaborate with penitentiary institutions,’ Alekhina said. ‘One of our main goals is to exchange experience.’

‘Pussy Riot inspired a new generation of activists around the world, Samir Goswami, managing director of the Amnesty International USA program Individuals and Communities at Risk said, adding that their supporters followed in the footsteps of those who helped Amnesty International obtain the release of some 44,000 prisoners since its international inception in 1961.

‘Pussy Riot were street performers,’ he said. At the subway, on the streets, they would call on people to take their rights seriously. ‘There are street performers in the U.S. whom we pass every day, but we don’t realize that they can help elevate human rights to the global conversation.’

‘They found a lot of support from folks in the U.S., especially from Russia’s diaspora community in Brooklyn, who called passionately for their release,’ Goswami said. ‘But they’re also learning about the prison conditions in the U.S. and plan on doing some research here.’

Kremlin Suspends Questioned Reform of Wildlife Reserves. Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered to amend recent environmental legislation that critics said could allow for real estate development in Russia’s protected territories. A law passed in December allows for the downgrading of any of the 102 Russian wildlife reserves to natural parks, where construction is permitted under certain conditions.

The law, which passed quickly through parliament, caused outcry from eco-activists, who said it could be exploited to build commercial real estate in wildlife reserves.

Krasnodar is a city located in the Southern Russia based on the Kuban River situated 80 kilometers away to the North East of the Black sea port. The prevailing political stability and the numerous administrative efforts taken by the regional administration has made the Krasnodar region one of the most favorable investment destinations in Russia.

More than 60 countries have investment cooperation in this region and 773 companies having foreign capital are already part of the regions economy. Majority of the FDI coming in this region is mainly concentrated on food industries, woodworking and fuel.

To finance venues and apartments in the Caucasus Mountains and along Sochi’s coast, state-owned Vnesheconombank, known as VEB, lent $7.4 billion to a who’s who of Russia’s elite. Among the biggest loan recipients are companies controlled byVladimir Potanin, chief executive of OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest nickel producer. Joining him are Oleg Deripaska, chief executive of United Co. Rusal, the No. 1 aluminum company; Alexey Miller, chief of state-controlled gas provider OAO Gazprom; and German Gref, chief of state-controlled OAO Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank.


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Meteorite sui monti Urali: 500 feriti, Mednev ‘pianeta vulnerabile’

pioggia di meteoritiAlmeno 500 persone sono rimaste ferite, tre in modo grave, in Russia in seguito all’esplosione nell’atmosfera di un meteorite sopra la regione di Chelyabinsk, sui monti Urali. Lo ha riferito il ministero dell’Interno russo. Secondo le prime informazioni, i feriti che hanno fatto ricorso all’assistenza medica, hanno riportato tagli causati dai vetri andati in frantumi per l’intesa onda d’urto seguente alla disintegrazione del bolide del diametro massimo di dieci metri, che secondo gli esperti è avvenuta a pochi chilometri d’altezza. Inizialmente si era pensato a uno sciame meteoritico, ma è stato subito escluso dopo aver osservato i numerosi filmati che sono stati registrati. Fonti ufficiali russe hanno spiegato che si è trattato di un meteorite ‘sporadico e non associato a una pioggia di meteoriti che si è disintegrato nella parte bassa dell’atmosfera’. Il fenomeno si è verificato a circa 80 chilometri dalla città di Satka, non lontano da Chelyabinsk, alle 9,22 ora locale (le 4,22 ora italiana) ed è stato registrato anche a Tyumen, Kurgan, nella regione di Sverdlovsk e nel Kazakistan settentrionale.

L’onda d’urto ha investito un’ampia zona, che è stata solcata da una scia di fumo bianco lasciata dal bolide. I vetri di numerosi edifici si sono infranti, ferendo centinaia di persone, per fortuna solo due-tre in modo grave. Polizia e vigili del fuoco sono subito intervenuti per ispezionare gli edifici danneggiati. Tutte le scuole e gli asili della regione sono stati chiusi. Secondo i servizi di emergenza russi il fenomeno non ha causato un innalzamento dei livelli di radiazioni, che sono rimasti nei parametri abituali per la regione. L’agenzia russa per l’energia atomica Rosatom ha riferito che le installazioni negli Urali non hanno subito danni.

Il primo ministro russo Dmitri Medvedev, intervenuto al Forum economico a Krasnoyarsk, ha detto che quanto avvenuto Chelyabinsk ‘è la prova che non solo l’economia è vulnerabile, ma l’intero pianeta’.

(fonte Corsera)

Alcune foto dal Day12 di London2012

A Londra 2012 è il Day 12. Ecco alcuni scatti

Inizia la  BMX Cycling, Luis Brethauer, Germania è alle prove sulla pista di BMX.

Darius SongailaLithuania e Andrey KirilenkoRussia vanno al secondo round. Sono i quarti di finale.

Claressa Shields of the United States vince contro Marina Volnova, Kazakhstan durante l’incontro di pesi medi – Women’s Middle (75kg) – nelle semifinali di  Boxing. #Day 12.

Sofya Ochigava (L), Russia,  celebra con un abbraccio la propria vittoria contro l’avversaria Adriana Araujo, Brazil. Sono i pesi leggeri dei femminili di Box (60kg), nelle semifinali del Day 12 di London 2012 Olympic Games all’ExCeL.

Pugni in aria per Behdad SalimikordasiabiIran, durante la finale di sollevamento pesi maschile dei 105 kg.  London 2012, Olympic Games, ExCeL

Sarah Attar of Saudi Arabia compete su gli 800m nella batteria donne, al primo round. Sempre #Day 12, London 2012, Olympic Games, questa volta siamo all’Olympic Stadium.

Ashton Eaton  gareggia nel Decathlon maschile nel lancio del peso nel #Day 12 di London 2012,  Olympic Games, all’Olympic Stadium.

Cornice spettacolare per Londra 2012 nella competizione di Mountain Bike. Un pilota dalla Polonia è visto in azione durante una sessione di allenamento in mountain bike al Hadleigh Farm. Le competizioni donne inizieranno l’11 agosto, quelle degli uomini il giorno successivo.

Il cinese Yang Yansheng compete per qualificarsi  nel men’s Pole Vault nel #Day 12 dei Giochi.

Amy Sene nel lancio del martello (the Hammer Throw). Sono le qualificazioni di women’s Hammer Throw nel #Day 12.

Roland Kokeny (R) e Rudolf Dombi, Hungary celebrano il podio dopo aver vinto l’oro nel Men’s Kayak Double (K2) 1000m Canoe Sprint- E’ la finale del #Day 12 di London 2012, Olympic Games, all’Eton Dorney.

L’inglese Daniel Awde compete nel Decathlon, nella specialità salto in lungo. Day 12, London 2012, Olympic Games.

Leung Chu Yan di Hong Kong, China, è in gara contro Timo Boll, Germania, durante il match per la medaglia di bronzo del Team Table Tennis, il tennis da tavolo. Day 12, London 2012, Olympic Games, ExCeL.

L’Ungheria vince l’oro nello sprint finale dei 500m Kayak a quattro, donne, (women’s Kayak Four (K4) 500m Sprint final). (L-R) Krisztina Fazekas, Katalin Kovacs e Danuta Kozak celebrano la medaglia d’oro durante la gara in Canoa nel Day 12 di London 2012, Olympic Games, all’Eton Dorney.

Prende il via l’evento dei 5000m maschile. Gli atleti competono all’Olympic Stadium.

Il tedesco Sebastian Brendel vince la medaglia doro nel singolo canoa degli Uomini (C1) 1000m Sprint Finale il giorno 12 del 2012 Giochi Olimpici di Londra a Eton Dorney.

Un atleta si riscalda prima dello Sprint Canoa il giorno 12 del 2012 Giochi Olimpici di Londra a Eton Dorney.

Dancers backstage about to perform before the start of the women’s Artistic Gymnastics women’s Individual All-Around final on Day 6 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at North Greenwich Arena on 2 August.

Il Red Foxes dance team in action durante la partita di turno del Basket per gli uomini di Australia e Gran Bretagna, nell’ottavo giorno delle Olimpiadi di Londra 2012 presso l’Arena Basketball, lo scorso 4 agosto.

Un performer schiaccia a metà partita, durante il men’s Basketball preliminary round match tra Francia e Nigeria. E’ il Day 10 del  London 2012 Olympic Games al the Basketball Arena e il 6 agosto. Vince la Francia 79-73.

Alexis Vastine, Francia, sembra non farcela dopo la sconfitta con Taras Shelestyuk,  Ucraina. E’ l’incontro di box uomini peso 69 kg all’ExCel.

James Kirani di Grenada è sul podio per festeggiare la vittoria. E’ la cerimonia che festeggia l’oro nei 400m maschili nell’undicesimo giorno di Olimpiade all’Olympic Stadium, durante i Giochi Olimpici di London2012.

Freddie Evans celebra la vittoria Freddie Evans di Gran Bretagna festeggia dopo la vittoria sul Custio Clayton del Canada durante Welter degli uomini (69kg) il Boxing Day 11 a ExCeL.

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