Sneaky Tricks Putin is Pulling to Stave Off Criticism During the Olympics

Russian President Vladimir Putin talks with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach at a welcoming event ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics (Photo Credit: David Goldman-Pool/Getty Images).

Russian President Vladimir Putin talks with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach at a welcoming event ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics (Photo Credit: David Goldman-Pool/Getty Images).

By Ludmila Krytynskaia, Amnesty USA Russia Country Specialist

President Vladimir Putin lifted a blanket ban on protests and rallies in Sochi shortly before the Olympic Games were launched, thereby fulfilling his promise to the International Olympic Committee to relax the rules governing protests in the city.

The easing of the protest ban coupled with the release of dozens of high-profile prisoners last month – including former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky and members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot – has led to speculation in the Western media about whether these decisions were a sign of a political thaw in Russia, a result of diplomatic behind-the-scenes maneuverings or just a public relations stunt to stave off criticism of the human rights situation in the country on the eve of the Olympics.

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Something’s Rotten in the State of Denmark: A Tale of Two Identities

Josh Bryan is an American transgender man living in Denmark © Private.

Josh Bryan is an American transgender man living in Denmark © Private.

Josh Bryan is an American living in Copenhagen, where he helped to launch a recent Amnesty International report on discrimination against transgender people in the European Union. Below, he tells his story how strict Danish legislation has left him trapped in a system that doesn’t recognize his true identity while demanding that he surgically change his body.

My story is about being stuck in two legal identities. I live in Denmark, a country that prides itself on its liberalism and welfare for its citizens. However, the Danish legislation is very strict when it comes to transgender people – people whose gender identities don’t align with the legal gender they were assigned at birth – and that is why I’m now trapped in the system.

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Before the Sochi Olympics, Let President Putin Know He’s Not Fooling Anyone

Mikhail Kosenko has had psychiatric treatment forced upon him after participating in a peaceful protest in Bolotnaya Square (Photo Credit: Vasily Maximov/AFP/Getty Images).

Mikhail Kosenko has had psychiatric treatment forced upon him after participating in a peaceful protest in Bolotnaya Square (Photo Credit: Vasily Maximov/AFP/Getty Images).

Mikhail Kosenko had an ordinary life. He spent a lot of time in libraries and bookshops. His sister describes him as an intelligent, well-informed person.

Then one day, he decided to peacefully and publicly express his opinion. Against President Vladimir Putin.

In Russia, such opinions are not welcome. They are violently discouraged.

Stop the crackdown against people like Mikhail.

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Authorities Starting to Target Hospitals and Medical Personnel in Turkey

A bill passed by the Turkish parliament last week could give authorities new powers to prosecute doctors for giving unauthorized care (Photo Credit: Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images).

A bill passed by the Turkish parliament last week could give authorities new powers to prosecute doctors for giving unauthorized care (Photo Credit: Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images).

One of the most shocking aspects of Turkey’s violent crackdown on peaceful protest has been the willingness of authorities to target medical personnel. Since then, not only have authorities not been held responsible, but the government has moved to increase legal pressure on medical personnel.

Amnesty has played a central role in researching this abuse. In its report on the Gezi Protests, Amnesty researchers describe in detail the extent to which those caring for the injured were themselves subject to police abuse.

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