Dmitry Rogozin

The Moscow District Court of St. Petersburg dismissed a lawsuit of nine St. Petersburg to the singer Louise Veronica Ciccone known to the world as Madonna. Activists of a so called Trade Union of Russian Citizens (PGR, a social organization of the orthodox and conservative character) and their supporters were suing the singer and the organizers of her concert in St. Petersburg for the sum of 333 million rubles. However, the plaintiffs will have to pay – in order to compensate the legal costs of the defendants.

The concert of the Madonna took place in St. Petersburg SKK (the Petersburg Sports and Concert Complex) on August 9, 2012. Nine people from the audience saw propaganda of homosexuality and, accordingly, a violation of the city law prohibiting that in the speech of Madonna. They filed a lawsuit for the sum as compensation for moral damage from her concert. The defendants were the singer herself, Petersburg Sports and Concert Complex, and Planeta Plus JSC (a division of PMI Corporation, engaged in organization of prestigious concerts).

The writ was served on Madonna to her residence in New York, but neither she nor her representatives were not in court. A notice of obtaining the writ wasn’t reported in St. Petersburg.

The judge Vitaly Barkovsky ruled Madonna innocence in violation of Russian and St. Petersburg legislation. The court overruled the claims to the organizers of the concert as well. However, the plaintiffs believe that they are right. They believe that the verdict was affected by the world fame of the singer and they intend to challenge the judgment. However, it is necessary to note that legal and judicial practice in Russia on cases of this kind has not yet firmly established. To a large extent, the restraint of the court was determined by the lack of precedents developed in the U.S. and Europe.

Recall, after a concert Vice Premier Dmitry Rogozin used a known abusive word of the singer Madonna, commenting in his microblog on Twitter her performance in protection of participants of Pussy Riot group. And although the name Madonna was not called, it was clear both from a record context, and from the subsequent correspondence of the high-ranking blogger with readers that it was referred specifically to her.



Opposition protests turn deadly in Bangladesh

At least two killed and dozens hurt during opposition rallies demanding care-taker system to oversee next year’s pollsPolice in Bangladesh have fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse protesters staging blockades across the country as part of an opposition campaign for an independent caretaker administration to oversee next year’s national election.

At least two people were killed and dozens hurt across Bangladesh on Sunday when police and ruling party activists clashed with opposition protesters.

Police and witnesses said supporters of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), led by former Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia, and its allies set ablaze about 30 buses, trucks and cars in the capital Dhaka and other parts of the country.

Demonstrators threw scores of small hand-made bombs, burnt tyres and vehicles.

“We are trying to contain the battles between activists and police, which has prevented movement of vehicles and forced residents from the streets,” a police officer said.

Police in the capital arrested about 50 people for using violence, Masudur Rahman, Dhaka police spokesman, said.

About 10,000 police were deployed to try to keep highways open in the country, but officials said traffic on many roads grounded to a halt, including the highway from Dhaka to the main port of Chittagong.

“We allowed peaceful protests. But once they started attacking cars and buses and throwing cocktail bombs, we used non-lethal weapons such as rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse them,” Imtiaz Ahmed, deputy police commissioner of Dhaka, said.

Police said one person died in a knife attack as protesters from the main opposition BNP and supporters of the ruling Awami League party clashed in the old part of Dhaka.

A second man was killed in the northwestern town of Enayetpur, the police said.

Constitutional amendment

Police also clashed with protesters in the cities of Khulna, Rajshahi, Barisal and Sylhet. In the northern town of Palashbari security forces fired non-lethal shots at hundreds of protesters blocking a road, officials said.

The BNP called for Sunday’s blockade to force Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to restore a system of holding parliamentary elections under a non-party caretaker administration, instead of it being supervised by the party in power.

The BNP and allies including Jamaat-e-Islami, the country’s largest Islamic party, want the caretaker system to be re-instated to guard against what they say would be an attempt by Hasina’s party to rig the election results.

Hasina government over-ruled the caretaker provision in a constitutional amendment last year.

The two women, both in their mid-60s and who have served two terms each as the country’s leader, are likely to face each other again in the next election due by end of 2013.




Doumentary:Secrets of the Dead – Umbrella Assassin

Terrorists with roadside bombs have the world’s attention at the moment, but once upon a time a different breed of killer stalked the earth. It wasn’t so long ago, and for those who remember the strange death of the Bulgarian writer Georgi Ivanov Markov in 1978, revisiting of the case on “Secrets of the Dead” series will tickle some brain cells. For those new to the tale, the episode, titled “Umbrella Assassin,” will be even more compelling. It turns out that those James Bond movies were not fiction after all.  Mr. Markov wrote novels and plays that displeased the hard-line Communist president of Bulgaria, Todor Zhivkov, and in 1969 he defected to the West, eventually ending up in England doing commentary for the BBC and Radio Free Europe.

Documentary:In Memoriam Alexander Litvinenko

The search for the possible perpetrators lead to a political difficult situation that reminded us of the dark days of the Cold War.

Three years ago Aleksander Litvinenko told his life story to documentary maker Jos De Putter. It is a wild tale full of conspiracies, assassination attempts and imputations. Litvinenko talks about his time with the secret service, about his experience in Chechnya, and in particular about the series of bomb attacks on Russian territory that led to the seizure of power by Vladimir Putin. According to Litvinenko those attacks were the work of the secret service.

Write for Rights 2012/Iran: A husband’s message to activists

by Kristin Hulaas Sunde

Narges Mohammadi, an Iranian human rights activist and a mother of young twins, was sentenced earlier this year to six years in prison on charges related to her human rights work. Right now, thousands of activists are taking part in Write for Rights 2012, appealing to Iran’s authorities to release Narges. Her husband, Taghi Rahmani, sent this message to letter writers worldwide.

Your organization has always been a great support for me and I say that as someone who has spent 14 years of my life behind bars. My wife, Narges Mohammadi and I, as human rights activists, have always been warmed by Amnesty International’s dedication to promoting human rights.

For me, Amnesty International is the symbol of an organization that wants human rights for all people. An organization that, free from any political affiliations, urges governments and other entities to respect human rights.

Such efforts reaffirm that you can still hope that all people, regardless of their colour, race, religion, beliefs and class are entitled to enjoy human rights, wherever in the world they live, because they are all human beings.




Corruption Still Seen to Be Widespread Problem

By Jack Phillips

Communist North Korea, lawless Somalia, and war-torn Afghanistan are regarded as the most corrupt countries in the world says a new report on perceptions of corruption. Countries like Greece and Egypt are also seen to have crippling problems, according to the latest findings from Transparency International.

The new rankings did not offer much surprise, except that several countries that went through the “Arab Spring” unrest were listed as perceived to be more corrupt than they were a year prior. Egypt, the site of numerous protests and riots that toppled longtime President Hosni Mubarak and currently are directed at President Mohamed Morsi, slipped lower in the rankings from 112th to 118th.

Transparency International’s corruption ranking is based on how corrupt its public sector is perceived to be and is not a quantitative assessment of the incidents of corruption occurring in each country. Nonetheless, the report underscores that corruption remains a persistent and widespread problem across the world.

“Corruption destroys lives and communities, and undermines countries and institutions. It generates popular anger that threatens to further destabilize societies and exacerbate violent conflicts,” reads a release from Transparency International.

“Corruption translates into human suffering, with poor families being extorted for bribes to see doctors or to get access to clean drinking water,” says the release.

Around two-thirds of the 176 ranked countries scored 50 or less out of 100.

“A growing outcry over corrupt governments forced several leaders from office last year, but as the dust has cleared it has become apparent that the levels of bribery, abuse of power, and secret dealings are still very high in many countries,” said Transparency International in a statement.

Countries perceived by their citizens to be least corrupt are Denmark, Finland, and New Zealand, which were tied for first, scoring a 90 on the metric, while Australia, Sweden, Norway, Canada, and Switzerland also ranked high. The United States was ranked 19th, scoring 73.

With a score of 36, Greece ranked last in Europe replacing Bulgaria for last place. Greece has received a number of loans from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. Italy and Romania also ranked relatively low, scoring 42 and 44 respectively.

In Latin America, Venezuela was ranked last with a score of only 19, while Uruguay and Chile scored 72—the best in the region.

The group said that priorities in combating corruption include better measures on lobbying, political financing, and making public spending and contracting more transparent.



Hillary Clinton fears efforts to ‘re-Sovietize’ in Europe


Associated Press
DUBLIN (AP)  U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned Thursday about a new effort by oppressive governments to “re-Sovietize” much of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, taking particular aim at Russia for its crackdown on democracy and human rights groups just hours ahead of critical talks with that country’s foreign ministerClinton’s meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will focus on the violence in Syria. They’ll be joined in Ireland’s capital by the U.N. mediator for the Arab country, Lakhdar Brahimi, in a three-way attempt to breathe new life into diplomatic efforts to stem the violence.  . However, speaking to a group of lawyers and civil society advocates on the sidelines of an international human rights conference, Clinton took aim at what she described as a new wave of repressive tactics and laws aimed at criminalizing U.S. outreach efforts. The trends are indicative of a larger reversal of freedoms for citizens of Russia, Belarus, Turkmenistan and other countries that emerged from the breakup of the Soviet Union two decades ago.   “There is a move to re-Sovietize the region,” Clinton lamented.   “It’s not going to be called that. It’s going to be called customs union, it will be called Eurasian Union and all of that,” she said, referring to Russian-led efforts for greater regional integration. “But let’s make no mistake about it. We know what the goal is and we are trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it.” In a windswept tent outside the Dublin conference center hosting the annual meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Clinton heard tales of struggle from 11 human rights advocates.   Andrey Aranbaev, an environmentalist from Turkmenistan, accused Western nations of forsaking his compatriots. “My country Turkmenistan is world-famous for two things: one of the largest gas supplies and gross human rights violations,” he said through an interpreter. “Almost all international actors are talking about Turkmenistan’s gas. But almost no one is talking about the gross human rights violations.” “Human rights and democracy in Turkmenistan was sold for gas,” Aranbaev added. Igor Kochetkov of the Russian LGBT Network said Russian authorities were trying to prohibit even the discussion of discrimination based on sexual orientation. And Olga Zakharova, a journalist with Freedom Files in Russia, said even use of social media was becoming more restrictive. Clinton said she understood the complaints many of them lodged. “We agree with your assessment that the space for civil society and the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms is shrinking, and governments are becoming much more aggressive in trying to stifle dissent, prevent the free expression and exchange of views,” she said. “It’s distressing that 20 years into the post-Soviet era … so many of the hoped-for indicators of progress are retreating,” Clinton said. “And the impact on individuals and organizations is becoming more oppressive.” Clinton said there is a concerted effort to eliminate both American and international assistance for human rights advocates. “We are trying to fight that, but it is very difficult,” she said. “We will have to come up with new ways to support you, since everything we have been doing in some places, most notably Russia, is being criminalized. And the impact is not so great on us, but it’s terrible on you.” The problem is compounded by America’s limited influence with some governments, she added. In Belarus, “we have struck out so far,” Clinton said. Ukraine, she said, is “one of our biggest disappointments.”And in Turkmenistan, the U.S. raises human rights issues all the time. “We get no response,” she said.  Speaking later to the 57-nation OSCE, Clinton offered more muted criticism of Russia. She reiterated concerns about a new Russian law that requires organizations and journalists receiving foreign funding to register as “foreign agents,” a move the U.S. believes is designed to stifle internal criticism of President Vladimir Putin’s government. His foreign minister, Lavrov, was in attendance. Associated Press writer Shawn Pogatchnik contributed to this report.