Calls to repeal anti- protest law

20 December 2015

By John Crowfoot

“The first sentence passed under a draconian anti-protest law in Russia has proved even more repressive than demanded by the prosecutor,” reported Halya Coynash of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group on 8 December 2015. “Judge Natalya Dudar from Moscow’s notorious Basmanny Court has sentenced civic activist Ildar Dadin to three years imprisonment against the two years demanded.” 

This view from across the border in Ukraine continued: 

“Dadin is well-known to Ukrainians for his active support for Euromaidan, which is likely to have contributed to this appalling sentence. It is also probably part of a mounting crackdown on peaceful opposition to the current regime.” 

Halya Coynash’s report about the Kremlin’s first use of Article 212.1 is well worth reading, together with recent items, of course, on this website (see “Person of the Week” Weekly Update, 14 December 2015, 46 (188) ) 

A campaign for repeal 

How are activists in Russia, especially in Moscow with its post-Soviet tradition of large demonstrations, to fight against this new law now it has been applied for the first time? After all, any long-term campaign could mean their own arrest and prosecution. 

An appeal on 19 December to fellow activists [see Facebook page Free Ildar Dadin - left is the title logo from this page] gives a glimpse of the mood among Dadin’s fellow protestors and outlines the actions they may take over the coming months. 


We held a meeting today during which we decided on our future strategy. We determined the means by which we shall try to repeal Article 212.1: by working with the Constitutional Court and by putting pressure on the authorities. 

What can activists do? 

One, they can distribute information. They can write and retweet news about Ildar on social networks and develop logos for avatars. They can put up stickers, hand out leaflets and wear badges (we have to design those). 

Two, there should be contact with official bodies in Russia and abroad. That means organising petitions, targeted picketing and street actions; mass appeals to embassies, human rights organisations and official bodies. 

Three, we must work with the potential victims of Article 212.1, providing them with brief instructions on how to deal with the police and the courts. 

In addition, we should draw up a list of organisations, political parties, groups of activists and media outlets that are prepared to join together in the fight against Article 212.1. 

If someone wants to start work on one of these a particular, contact us.” 

This address was delivered after a meeting to discuss future tactics by Anastasia Zotova [pictured left - photo from Facebook page, where a film of the speech can also be found], Dadin’s fellow-protestor. She is also his girl-friend. *

“Russia’s jailing of a peaceful opposition activist for violating the country’s new law on public assemblies is a shocking and cynical attack on freedom of expression,” Amnesty International said in a press release on 7 December 2014. 

“Ildar Dadin was sentenced to three years in jail by a Moscow court for repeated anti-government street protests. He is the first person to be jailed using the law, which was introduced in 2014 and punishes repeated breaches of public assembly rules.”