In the news today: a posthumous victory for Sergei Magnitsky; Ukraine’s electoral code; a Chechen murder in Berlin; a (lucky) tank in Belgrade; and Mongolian fashion.
ECHR Rules in Favor of Russian Whistleblower
The European Court of Human Rights found “multiple violations” of the European Convention on Human Rights in the treatment of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky while in detention, the BBC writes. Magnitsky was arrested in Moscow in 2008, days after accusing Russian authorities of embezzlement. He died in pretrial detention in 2009 after allegedly being beaten to death, and prosecutors later accused him of evading 522 million rubles in taxes (around $17 million at the time). The current verdict said that Magnitsky was denied needed medical care; the length of his detention was unjustified; and that the posthumous trial was “inherently unfair.” The ruling also required the Russian state to pay Magnitsky’s widow and mother €34,000 ($41,500), the BBC notes.
Kyiv One Step Closer to Open-Party List Electoral Code
Ukraine is making strides towards greater legislative transparency, after outgoing Parliamentary Speaker Andriy Parubiy signed yesterday an amendment to the existing electoral code in line with suggestions from international organizations, RFE/RL writes. In order to become law, the proposal also needs the approval of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. While half the legislative body’s seats are allocated proportionally based on party lists, according to the current law only the first five candidates on the lists are made public. The proposed change will make all the names known, and also eliminate single-mandate constituencies in future elections, thus cracking down on vote-buying. The move is part of a turn of the tide after Zelenskiy’s Servant of the People party won 254 seats in last month’s parliamentary elections, giving it an outright majority and the power to appoint members of the government and adopt any law.
Kremlin Denies Involvement in Berlin Murder
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has “categorically” denied any link between the killing of a Chechen exile in Berlin and “official Russia,” in a conference call today with reporters cited by Reuters. Last Friday, Zelimkhan Khangoshvili was shot dead in a Berlin park, with local police apprehending the alleged suspect, a Russian man, the BBC reports. Khangoshvili, an ethnic Chechen, had fought in the second Chechen war against Russian forces in the North Caucasus, in 2001-2005, and fled to Germany after an attempt on his life in Tbilisi in 2015. Georgian lawyer Tamta Mikeladze, whose Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC) took up Khangoshvili’s case, told the BBC that, according to Khangoshvili, the 2015 attack had been connected to his participation in the Chechen war. “He was a field commander and a close ally of Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov. Due to his war experience, the Russian special services’ interest in him was high. Some of his comrades were also killed after the war,” Mikeladze said.
A Divisive Lucky Charm for Red Star Belgrade
Serbian football (soccer) club Red Star Belgrade has divided fans and riled foes after placing a Yugoslav-era tank outside its stadium in the Serbian capital ahead of a decisive game in the Champions League playoffs, the BBC reports. Red Star fans, who have dubbed themselves “the Northern Army,” have used the tank symbol in the past. “The famous slogan of the fans was that the Star Machine worked, and now the tank in front of the north stand will symbolize the call. The Northern Army is stronger with a combat vehicle,” read a message posted on the football club’s website, cited by the BBC. However, such military symbolism was not taken lightly in neighboring Bosnia and Croatia, with Croatian daily Jutarnji List describing it as a “morbid provocation,” according to the BBC. Still, the tank seems to have worked its magic, as the Belgrade team qualified to the Champions League group stage after a 1-1 home draw with Swiss team Young Boys last night, Reuters writes.
Talented Sister Trio Puts Mongolia on Fashion Map
A Mongolian fashion brand has set out to show the world that the country’s fashion is about more than just cashmere. Michel&Amazonka combines local trends with high-end fashion, offering “European clothes with handsewn ethnic embroideries or embellishments,” as the Mongolian sisters behind the brand – Michel, Amazonka, and Munkhjargal Choigaalaa – told Forbes in an interview. They import their materials from abroad, although they are considering collaborations that would enable them to “introduce cashmere products into the line,” in a nod to one of the country’s most well-known exports. One of their goals is to expand the brand’s market and reach more customers, they told Forbes, although being female business owners, as well as mothers and wives, requires a balancing act for each of them, they said.