Tag Archives: Amnesty International

Free Pussy Riot Public Reading (NYC, August 16, 7:30 p.m.)

FREE PUSSY RIOT Public Reading 

 Worldwide LIVE STREAM starts Thursday August 16 @ 7:30 EDT HERE

Co-sponsored by Amnesty International & Breslin Bar and Dining Room
Liberty Hall at Ace Hotel
Produced by JD Samson and FreePussyRiot.org


Flyer by Ginger Brooks Takahashi

Tomorrow night, August 16th @ 7:30pm EDT, on the eve of the trial’s verdict, Pussy Riot’s inspirational court room statements will be read by supporters of the Free Pussy Riot movement, including Chloe Sevigny, Eileen Myles, Karen Finley, Johanna Fateman, Mx Justin Vivian Bond (+ others to be announced) info here.

The event is co-sponsored by Amnesty International & Breslin Bar and Dining Room at Liberty Hall at Ace HotelProduced by JD Samson and FreePussyRiot.org

The verdict for the Pussy Riot trial will be stated on Friday August 17 @ 3pm Moscow Time (8am EST). ALSO: There will be a march and rally on Friday, info here. Free Pussy Riot encourages any artists / activists to join on Thursday evening and Friday in solidarity with the three detained women, Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich of Pussy Riot.
WHO: 
FREE PUSSY RIOT
In support of the release of the members of the feminist performance art group Pussy Riot: Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich.
http://www.freepussyriot.org/
https://twitter.com/freepussyriot
#FreePussyRiot
#LetOurSistersGo

WHAT: 

On the eve of the verdict in the Pussy Riot trial, an energetic evening of readings of the inspirational court room statements by the detained women of Pussy Riot. The narrated program will also include selected prison letters and other translated material along with court room attendees written observations.

 The event will be streamed live HERE.

Writers:
Katja Samutsevich
Nadia Tolokonnikova
Masha Alyokhina

Confirmed Readers:
Chloe Sevigny
Eileen Myles
Karen Finley
Johanna Fateman
Mx Justin Vivian Bond

WHERE: 
Breslin Bar and Dining Room presents Liberty Hall at the Ace Hotel
20 West 29th Street
New York, NY 10001

WHEN:
Thursday, August 16th
Doors open at 7:30pm EDT
Free and open to the public

***
Additional information about Pussy Riot:

For more information, to talk with the Free Pussy Riot liaison or the event’s organiser JD Samson, please contact Inge Colsen – inge@girlie.com and cell: 212-203-5240

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Amnesty International to Russian Authorities: Free Sergey Udaltsov!

www.amnesty.org

UA: 356/11 Index: EUR 46/045/2011 Russian Federation Date: 13 December 2011

URGENT ACTION

Opposition leader held for protest attempt

Russian opposition leader Sergey Udaltsov has been in detention in Moscow since 4 December, solely for attempting to lead peaceful protests against alleged election fraud. He is in need of medical treatment and should be released without delay.

Leader of the political movement Left Front, Sergey Udaltsov, aged 34, is currently held in a detention centre in Moscow. He is being denied adequate medical treatment that he requires following several hunger strikes while in detention over the past weeks. He has problems with his kidneys and reportedly lost consciousness a few times while in detention. A doctor has told his lawyer that he believes Sergey Udaltsov needs hospital treatment.

On 4 December, the day of parliamentary elections in Russia, Sergey Udaltsov was detained outside a metro station in Moscow by plain-clothed officers and sentenced to five days administrative arrest, for allegedly refusing to obey lawful police orders. A friend with him at the time told the court that the police report named a different location as the place of detention, and the officers did not immediately identify themselves as police.

On 7 December he was transferred to a hospital. The administrative arrest warrant expired on 9 December and he tried to leave hospital to go to a demonstration, but police forced him to stay in hospital, possibly to ensure he could not attend. On 10 December he was taken by police to a court and given another sentence of 15 days administrative detention, for allegedly having absconded from detention following an arrest on 12 October 2011. On 11 December, he was returned to hospital. On the morning of 12 December, police reportedly put pressure on his doctors, forcing them to release him and had him transferred back to the detention centre.

Amnesty International considers Sergey Udaltsov a prisoner of conscience, who should not be detained at all.

Please write immediately in Russian or your own language:

Urge the authorities to release Sergey Udaltsov immediately and to give him access to necessary medical care.

Call on the authorities to stop the harassment and persecution of peaceful protesters.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 24 JANUARY 2012 TO:

Head of Special Police Detention Centre Nr. 1
Colonel Dmitry Sukhov
Simferopolski Boulevard 2
117638 Moscow
Russian Federation

Fax: +7 499 317 1754

Salutation: Dear Colonel

Head of Directorate of the Ministry of the Interior for Moscow
Lieutenant General Vladimir Kolokoltsev
Directorate of the Ministry of the Interior for Moscow
Petrovka 38, 12706
Moscow
Russian Federation

Fax: +7 495 698 6631

Salutation: Dear Lieutenant General

And copies to:

Head of the Presidential Council on Development of Civil Society and Human Rights
Mikhail Fedotov
Staraya Ploschad 4
103132 Moscow
Russian Federation

Fax: +7 495 606 4855

Email: fedotov_MA@gov.ru

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.

Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.

Additional Information

Sergey Udaltsov has been detained numerous times over the last two years for organizing or participating in peaceful protests. He had been detained twice in October 2011 for peacefully protesting against what he considered violations of election procedures, such as the denial of registration of opposition parties and the lack of public participation in politics in general. On 12 October he was sentenced to 10 days administrative arrest and spent the last days of this arrest term in hospital. He left the hospital on 20 October once he felt better. He was not under guard at that time and the doctors had not been instructed to send him back to the police detention centre. Eyewitness accounts and photo and video material seen by Amnesty International strongly suggest that he did not violate the law prior to being detained on 12 October.

Since October, Sergei Udaltsov has taken part in a number of public events. His address is well known to the police. His arrest on 10 December would appear to have been motivated primarily by the desire to prevent his participation in anticipated post-election protests.

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Amnesty International: Hundreds held in Russian election protests

www.amnesty.org

5 December 2011

Hundreds held in Russian election protests

The Russian authorities must release all of the peaceful protesters detained over the weekend amid allegations of fraud in Sunday’s parliamentary elections, Amnesty International said today.

More than 300 opposition activists and bystanders were reportedly arrested by police in cities across Russia amid protests against alleged manipulation of votes by presidential candidate Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party.

“These disgraceful detentions highlight once again the failure of the Russian government to respect its citizens’ rights to freedom of expression and assembly,” said Nicola Duckworth, Director of Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Programme.

“The vast majority of those arrested since Sunday have sought merely to peacefully express their protest. They are prisoners of conscience and they must be released immediately.”

Across Russia police moved swiftly to pre-empt and disperse potential protests. In Moscow, opposition parties called for demonstrations on Red Square and Triumfalnaya Square against election fraud. Police responded by detaining potential demonstrators and onlookers.

Several well known opposition activists were detained at home or on their way to demonstrations, with some being sentenced to up to 10 days of administrative detention.

“Our staff in Moscow watched as several peaceful people were whisked off the street by police without any provocation,” said Nicola Duckworth.

“Others didn’t even make it to the protests and were instead seized pre-emptively.”

Among the opposition politicians detained is Andrei Gorin from the Other Russia, who was reportedly beaten and sentenced to 10 days’ administrative detention.

Left Front activist Sergey Udaltsov was arrested by plain clothes police officers on his way to a demonstration and has been sentenced to five days’ administrative detention.

Amnesty International is also concerned about the harassment of Golos, an independent election monitoring NGO.

Golos head Lilya Shibanova was detained at Moscow airport and her computer was confiscated, with police claiming its software may pose a security risk.

The NGO was fined for allegedly violating its obligations as an independent election monitor, while its website also came under attack from hackers.

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The Campaign against Petersburg’s Proposed Homophobic Law

Breaking News: Interfax, Gazeta.Ru and other sources are now reporting that during its session today (November 23), the Petersburg Legislative Assembly has decided to postpone indefinitely the second reading of its draft law banning the “promotion of homosexuality.” United Russia deputy Vitaly Milonov, the bill’s author, is quoted as saying that the postponement was necessary in order to “clarify all the legal definitions involved in this law.”

The Mariinsky Palace, home of the legislative assembly, was picketed this morning by several dozen LGBT activists and their supporters.

It’s clear that the spirited fightback by local activists and the extremely negative publicity the proposed bill has generated in the international press and international public opinion have begun to sway minds in the legislative assembly.

Help activists keep up the pressure by:

_____

Amnesty International Slams Gay Law
By Sergey Chernov
The St. Petersburg Times
November 23, 2011

A protester holds a sign Sunday reading ‘I’m a lesbian. A person, not propaganda.’ Photo: Sergey Chernov

The St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly is encountering increased criticism from within Russia and abroad as it gets ready to pass United Russia’s anti-gay law in a second reading. Meanwhile, Russian officials are talking about expanding the anti-“gay propaganda” law proposed by Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev’s party to the entire nation.

Amnesty International, which condemned the draft law as “draconian,” warned that the measure will rule out nearly all public events carried out by or on behalf of LGBT people and organizations and their reaching out to the media and the Internet, severely curtailing the publication of anything relating to LGBT rights or providing assistance or advice.

“This bill is a thinly-veiled attempt to legalize discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people in Russia’s second-biggest city,” Amnesty International Europe and Central Asia Director Nicola Duckworth said in a statement Friday.

“The notion that [LGBT] rights activists are somehow converting Russia’s youth through ‘propaganda’ would be laughable if the potential effects of this new law weren’t so dangerous and wide-reaching… Instead of seeking to restrict freedom of expression and assembly for [LGBT] people, the Russian authorities should be doing more to safeguard their rights and protect them from discrimination and violence.”

Earlier, the European Parliament Intergroup on LGBT Rights addressed the Legislative Assembly in an open letter, reminding it that Russia is party to both the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which make clear that the freedom to receive and impart information cannot be limited, except under the ambit of public order.

“We’re getting great behind-the-scenes support, with certain [European] deputies and ministers calling the Legislative Assembly’s deputies and [its United Russia chair Vadim] Tyulpanov and speaking to them,” said Igor Kochetkov, director of the LGBT rights organization Vykhod (Coming Out).

“Sometimes even we don’t know who exactly is calling, but we know that it’s happening.”

The All Out web site launched a petition against the bill Monday. It had been signed by 115,345 people around the world by Tuesday evening. [Editor’s Note. On Wednesday morning, it had been signed by 157,265 people.]

On Saturday, LGBT activists seized the podium of a forum for NGOs from Northern Europe and Russia, whose priority topics were equality, tolerance and gender equality. Local officials spoke about the tolerance program and human rights protection in the city.

Kochetkov, who managed to get hold of the microphone between the speeches, urged the forum to draft a resolution on the issue, and the forum’s international participants to inform their governments about gross violations of human rights in Russia.

Activists in the audience had posters, one of which read “Tolerance is for society, not only for international forums!”

The draft law, which was introduced by the chair of the Legislative Assembly’s legislation committee and United Russia deputy Vitaly Milonov on Nov. 11, was passed by the Legislative Assembly almost unanimously in its first hearing on Nov. 16.

Thirty seven deputies voted for the law, one against and one abstained.

The second hearing was scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 23. The bill will become a law when it has passed three hearings and is signed by the governor.

In the past week, the bill was backed by a federal official and a number of Moscow deputies who suggested a similar draft law might be introduced in Moscow as well.

Valentina Matviyenko, Chair of the Federation Council and former St. Petersburg Governor, supported the bill when speaking in the Ryazan Oblast on Thursday, adding it might be expanded throughout the whole of Russia.

“If I were a member of the Legislative Assembly, I would support this bill, because no one has the right to involve a child in things like that,” Matviyenko was quoted as saying.

“And everything that destroys the mind and health of a child, a minor — all this should be strictly blocked. If this law has a positive effect, then we can consider expanding it to the national level.”

Natalya Yevdokimova and Ksenia Vakhrusheva of the Yabloko Democratic Party see the bill as a populist pre-election stunt by United Russia as polls show the party rapidly losing popularity.

Alexander Vinnikov of the St. Petersburg Human Rights Council sees the bill as more than just a pre-election stunt.

Drawing comparison to anti-gay legislation in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union that adopted laws punishing homosexuals in the 1930s, Vinnikov explained the bill as an attempt at consolidating society on the foundation of hatred toward a minority.

“Every totalitarian regime started from persecuting gays. I urge the public to condemn this bill as a drift toward totalitarianism,” he said Tuesday.

As public protests in St. Petersburg continued, the activists encountered arrests and violence. Two activists were detained outside the Legislative Assembly on Nov. 16 and charged with holding an unauthorized rally.

On Sunday, after the largest rally against the bill held so far, which took place on Palace Square near the Winter Palace, several supporters were beaten by young men wearing black coats and hoods. The rally consisted of a dozen activists standing with posters, while about 150 supported them with applause.

A group of social workers were assaulted soon after the rally as they walked near the Moika River, close to Palace Square. Six to eight attackers charged them, punching and kicking them, activists said.

The attack left a young Russian woman with a bruised face, another with a cut lip, and one German man with a broken tooth, according to Vykhod’s press officer Gulya Sultanova.

_____

http://www.amnestyusa.org/news/news-item/russia-st-petersburg-urged-to-halt-draconian-anti-gay-bill
November 18, 2011
Russia: St. Petersburg urged to halt draconian anti-gay bill

Amnesty International today urged authorities in Russia’s second largest city not to enact a homophobic bill, saying it would threaten freedom of expression and fuel discrimination against the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community.

The bill, which St. Petersburg’s city assembly passed nearly unanimously on the first of three readings on Wednesday, effectively bans public events by LGBTI people and organizations under the pretext of protecting minors.

If enacted, the law would allow authorities to impose fines of up to the equivalent of US$1,600 for “public actions aimed at propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality, and transgenderism among minors.”

“This bill is a thinly veiled attempt to legalize discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people in Russia’s second-biggest city,” said Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Programme Director.

“The notion that LGBTI rights activists are somehow converting Russia’s youth through ‘propaganda’ would be laughable, if the potential effects of this new law weren’t so dangerous and wide-reaching.”

Local LGBTI rights activists have blasted the law, saying it will provide legal cover for banning any of their actions, including the distribution of information leaflets or even actions against homophobia.

Under the measure, freedom of assembly and expression for LGBTI groups would be prohibited anywhere children might be present. This would rule out nearly all public events carried out by or on behalf of LGBTI people and organizations.

The publication of anything relating to LGBTI rights or providing assistance or advice – including informative leaflets as well as publications in the media and on the internet – would also be severely curtailed.

Other Russian cities like Moscow have planned legislation to ban “propaganda for homosexuality”, while Arkhangelsk and the region of Riazan have already introduced such legislation.

Although consensual same-sex activity was decriminalized in Russia in 1993, LGBTI people still face widespread discrimination and violence.

LGBTI activists’ attempts to organize Pride marches, cultural festivals and other events in major cities, including St. Petersburg, have frequently been met with official red tape and violence from anti-gay groups, among them people associating themselves with the Orthodox Church. Violent attacks against LGBTI activists often go unpunished.

“Legislation like that proposed in St. Petersburg will only further marginalize LGBTI people, and must be stopped,” said Nicola Duckworth.

“Instead of seeking to restrict freedom of expression and assembly for LGBTI people, Russian authorities should be doing more to safeguard their rights and protect them from discrimination and violence.”

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Amnesty International: Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denies clemency to Troy Davis

BREAKING: The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denies clemency to Troy Davis

It is with a very heavy heart and a deep sense of outrage that I let you know that the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles voted to deny clemency to Troy Davis.

This means that very little is standing in the way of the state of Georgia executing a potentially innocent man this Wednesday, September 21st at 7pm.

The actions of the Board are astounding in the face of so much doubt in the case against Troy Davis. However, we are not prepared to accept the decision and let anyone with the power to stop the execution off the hook.

Join us in calling on the Board to reconsider its decision, and on the Chatham County (Savannah) District Attorney Larry Chisolm to do the right thing. They have until the final moments before Troy’s scheduled execution to put the brakes on this runaway justice system.

We have seen an unprecedented level of support from our members, coalition partners and all sorts of concerned individuals across the political spectrum.

I was blown away as I carried one of the many boxes containing your petition signatures up to the Parole Board office last Thursday. Close to a million signatures have been collected from the many organizations working with us. I looked back as we were marching down Auburn Avenue in Atlanta Friday night and I could not see an end to the crowd. About 3,500 people came out!

The movement here is very alive. It is electric. And I have no doubt that we will raise the volume together against what could be an unthinkable injustice.

Join your voices with us – we will not allow Troy Davis to be executed, not in our names! Troy Davis and his family have counted on us for many years now and we will not let them down. Please take action – human rights and a human life are on the line. Please contact Georgia’s District Attorney and urge him to stop the execution of Troy Davis.

Make the state of Georgia hear you! Tell them that executing Troy Davis will only deepen the cycle of violence and injustice.

In Solidarity,
Laura Moye
Director, Death Penalty Abolition Campaign
Amnesty International USA

P.S. We’ll be organizing a Day of Protest today to express our outrage at the recent decision to deny Troy Davis clemency. And on Wednesday (Sept. 21), we’re calling for a Day of Vigil on Troy’s impending execution date. If you are able to organize locally for either of these events, please tell us about your plans.

_____

www.amnestyusa.org

Amnesty International Condemns Decision to Deny Troy Davis Clemency, Calling It An ‘Outrageous Affront to Justice’

Contact:  Wende Gozan Brown at 347-526-5520, wgozan@aiusa.org

(Atlanta) – Following the announcement that the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denied clemency to death-row inmate Troy Anthony Davis, Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International AIUSA (AIUSA), released the following statement:

“It is unconscionable that the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles has denied relief to Troy Davis. Allowing a man to be sent to death under an enormous cloud of doubt about his guilt is an outrageous affront to justice.

“In 2007 the Board vowed that no execution would go forward unless there was ‘no doubt’ about guilt, a vow that has now been rendered meaningless. To fail to re-examine the facts, including allegations about an alternate suspect, and allow this execution to go forward is an injustice to both the Davises and the MacPhails. Amnesty International urges the Board to reconsider its decision immediately, and for District Attorney Larry Chisolm to seek to vacate the death warrant. Should Troy Davis be executed, Georgia may well have executed an innocent man and in so doing discredited the justice system.

“The case against Davis unraveled long ago. Seven out of nine original state witnesses recanted or changed their original testimonies, some alleging police coercion. Ten people have pointed to one of the remaining witnesses as the actual killer. There is no murder weapon that links Davis to the crime. Any notion of physical evidence that demonstrates Davis’ guilt has been debunked.”

_____

www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/cases/usa-troy-davis

Too Much Doubt

Troy Davis was convicted of murdering a Georgia police officer in 1991. Nearly two decades later, Davis remains on death row — even though the case against him has fallen apart.

The case against him consisted entirely of witness testimony which contained inconsistencies even at the time of the trial. Since then, all but two of the state’s non-police witnesses from the trial have recanted or contradicted their testimony.

Many of these witnesses have stated in sworn affidavits that they were pressured or coerced by police into testifying or signing statements against Troy Davis.

One of the two witnesses who has not recanted his testimony is Sylvester “Red” Coles — the principle alternative suspect, according to the defense, against whom there is new evidence implicating him as the gunman. Nine individuals have signed affidavits implicating Sylvester Coles.

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Bono: The Russian Police State’s Silent Partner?

It’s a moving moment when the Declaration of Human Rights spools across the  screens during MLK and when the Amnesty International lanterns spotlight the plight of Aung San Suu Kyi and the people of Burma. ‘From Burma Action and Amnesty International, let’s hold her up. Let’s tell the powers that be that they can’t touch her, she belongs to us.’
from an account of U2’s August 25th concert in Moscow, posted on the band’s official website

The St. Petersburg Times
Friday, August 27, 2010
Chernov’s Choice

Bono, U2’s outspoken frontman, was strangely closemouthed after the Russian police arrested five Amnesty International volunteers and shut down the stands of Amnesty International, Greenpeace and U2’s own anti-AIDS organization, ONE, before the band’s high-profile concert in Moscow on Wednesday.

The police and plainclothes agents qualified stands, posters and leaflets as an “unsanctioned” rally and ordered them to stop their “illegal” activities. The activists, who say their presence and activities were authorized by the concert’s promoters and were part of the concert agreement with U2 itself, were even ordered to take off their T-shirts.

In the late 1980s, St. Petersburg rock band Akvarium refused to perform when a musician in the audience was arrested, and was fully supported by the public, who kicked up a storm of noise until the police were forced to release the man.

In today’s Russia, the world-famous band U2 swallowed the sanctions, and duly played a full set to the audience of 55,000 without even mentioning the incident from the stage. No mention was made of Sunday’s banned concert in defense of the Khimki forest, which is being destroyed to make way for the construction of a Vladimir Putin-backed highway, despite the fact that the band had met activists and musicians who opened Bono’s eyes to the issue earlier on Wednesday.

Words were found for President Dmitry Medvedev, however. “President Medvedev could not have been more gracious to me,” he told the audience.

The arrested activists were taken to the police station and released several hours later, when the concert was over.

“A spokeswoman for U2 said the band did not yet have the details of the detentions and could not immediately comment,” Reuters reported later. No mention of the incident was to be seen on U2’s web site Thursday, when the situation was widely reported by news agencies and the media.

Defending harassed activists is not, perhaps, quite so much of an ego-massage as drinking tea with Medvedev in his Sochi residence, discussing musical tastes and global issues, without daring to touch such sensitive topics as the human rights situation or ecology in Russia itself.

To be fair, Bono did manage to do one good thing. He invited Yury Shevchuk to sing a song with him. DDT frontman Shevchuk is a well-known opponent of the Kremlin and defender of the Khimki forest who had to sing without a microphone at Sunday’s protest concert because the police had impounded a truck carrying the PR system. Handing a microphone to Shevchuk was a great symbolic act, even if the song was the safe “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.”

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“Corruption as a means to ending poverty”

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE67N4DM20100824

The two men also shared jokes about their tastes in music, with Bono declaring: “I come here to cross the great divide between me, a Led Zeppelin fan, and you, the Deep Purple fan.”

Medvedev, who has made much fuss of his devotion to the veteran British hard rock group, chuckled but replied in English that he also counted Led Zeppelin amongst his favorites.

Bono later said in a statement that he and the Kremlin chief had also discussed corruption as a means to ending poverty.

UPDATE. Bono’s lovely tea by the seaside with the Deep Purple fan club president seems to have had no effect on the shabby juggernaut known as the Russian police state. Here is what happened at his musical ensemble’s concert in Moscow yesterday:

http://www.atu2.com/news/police-incident-before-u2s-moscow-concert.html

We’re seeing reports via Twitter that police shut down booths/tables belonging to some of U2’s favorite humanitarian groups before tonight’s concert in Moscow, and that one volunteer may have been arrested.

This Greenpeace Russia blog post seems to be saying that information tents belonging to Greenpeace, the ONE Campaign, and Amnesty International were closed by police, who said that volunteers “staged a picket” unlawfully (via Google Translate) outside the concert. The post says that Bono has been informed and that U2 is “perplexed” over what happened.

There were articles in Russian media this week saying that 2,100 police officers and Interior Ministry troops would be handling security and, indeed, many of the fan photos being posted from inside the stadium (like the one above right from @kardanik) show security almost everywhere you look.

Update: This story from Gazeta.ru says “several” Amnesty International activists who were holding up signs with humanitarian slogans were detained.

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