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EDITORIAL: Yelena Maglevannaya is Fleeing Neo-Soviet Russia

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Yelena Maglevannaya is Fleeing Neo-Soviet Russia

Yelena Maglevannaya

Yelena Maglevannaya

On February 18, 2009, the Russian government initiated a defamation lawsuit against 27-year-old Yelena Maglevannaya, a reporter for the local newspaper Svobodnoye Slovo (“Free Word”) and the human rights website Civitas.ru in the city of Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad).  She also blogs, in Russian, on Live Journal, and she signed a petition against Russian aggression in Georgia that was joined by many prominent human rights leaders across the country.  

The Kremlin accused Maglevannaya of publishing false allegations about federal prison authorities in a series of articles in which she reported acts of torture being carried out by the local government against Zubayr Isaevich Zubayraev, then housed in the local jail administered by the Russian government (as are all such institutions since all Russian criminal law is federal). At the same time that the lawsuit was filed, Zubayraev’s family in Chechnya, especially his sister, began receiving death threats and fled the country.

Now, Maglevannaya has been forced to flee Russia and seek political asylum in the West, just as if Russia were the USSR, in order to avoid being jailed for the simple act of telling the truth about the activities of the Kremlin.

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