Memorial believes mathematician Dmitry Bogatov is political prisoner

posted 2 Jun 2017, 11:55 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 2 Jun 2017, 11:58 ]
23 May 2017


Dmitry Bogatov, a Muscovite, has been charged, quite without evidence, of incitement to terrorism against the government. There are grounds to suggest that one of the aims of his prosecution has been to deter potential protesters.

Immediately after the unexpected nationwide mass protests on 26th March 2017 there were criminal investigations instigated in connection with this protest, as well as in connection with calls for mass protests on 2nd April. A large investigative group was formed to work on these cases.

There are grounds to believe that one of the aims of these demonstrative actions by the authorities was the deterrence of potential protesters. One of the victims of this campaign has been Dmitry Bogatov, who did not take part in the events.

The accusation against Dmitry Bogatov is that on 29th March 2017, under the pseudonym of “Airat Bashirov,” he posted on the internet “materials calling for organised mass disruption in the centre of Moscow” on 2nd April and messaging “in which he referred to an unlimited circle of people with the aim of inciting them to carry out actions threatening to the population and creating danger to human life, and similarly leading to other serious consequences.”

On 6th April Bogatov was detained in his apartment in Moscow.

On 7th April, Evgeny Naidenov, judge of Moscow’s Presnensky district court, refused a request by investigators to remand Dmitry Bogatov in custody under Article 212, Section 3, of the Russian Criminal Code (“Incitement of mass disruption”) on the grounds that he had been charged with a minor offence.

However, Bogatov was not released, but taken to the Investigative Committee in handcuffs. On the night of 7 – 8 April, the charges against him were changed to those of “preparation for organisation of riots” (Article 30, Section 1; Article 212, Section 1 of the Russian Criminal Code) and “public incitement to carry out terrorist activity through the internet” (Article 205.2, Section 2, of the Russian Criminal Code).

On 10th April the same judge from the Presnensky district court remanded Bogatov in custody for two months. At the remand hearing, Bogatov’s lawyer unsuccessfully requested that CCTV footage in which it is clear that Bogatov left a supermarket with his wife 4 minutes before the material he is accused of publishing on the internet was posted. And Bogatov’s walk home, according to the lawyer, takes about 17 minutes.

The only piece of evidence in the investigation is the web address (IP) that “Airat Bashirov” used. This address belongs to Dmitri Bogatov. However, it is known that on 19th July 2015 on his IP-address, Bogatov registered an exit node of Tor (The Onion Router), that is he allowed his own address to be used by all those who aim for anonymity on the internet.

Tor allows logging onto sites not directly, but through several node points. The most vulnerable part to this system is the exit node which is last in line and whose IP is known to the terminal site. That is to say, Bogatov had such a node at his home, as do many people throughout the whole world. It is absolutely legal.

Posts in the name of Airat Bashirov have continued to appear on the forum even after the arrest of Dmitry Bogatova.

The person writing under this name has confessed to journalists about the authorship of the posts of which Bogatov has been accused. He has stated that he wanted to tease political opponents and he never dreamed of any kind of terrorism.

We consider that Dmitry Bogatov has been detained for political reasons, and did not commit any crime. Furthermore, in our opinion, it is clear that the investigation deliberately and illegally brought more serious charges against Bogatov in order to secure his detention in a pre-trial detention facility.

Memorial Human Rights Centre (Moscow) demands the immediate release of Dmitry Bogatov and the end of the investigation.

Recognition of a person as a political prisoner, or as someone prosecuted for political motives, does not imply that Memorial agrees with their views or statements, nor supports their statements or actions.

Translated by Frances Robson