Rights Groups in Russia

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OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 29: This week, Russian citizens have been arrested for displaying Nazi symbols, protesting in the presence of Putin and... intolerance towards Cossacks

posted 17 Nov 2017, 04:27 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 17 Nov 2017, 08:51 ]

17 November 2017

OVD-Info is a Moscow-based NGO that monitors politically-motivated arrests in Russia. Every Friday it sends out a mailing with the latest information on freedom of assembly, which is translated here. To receive the mailing in Russian, visit here. These English translations of OVD-Info's weekly bulletins are published by openDemocracy and are republished here by kind permission with due acknowledgement.

This week we report on how OVD-Info found its way to the top of the Yandex search engine, what’s wrong with the charges against a defendant in the 26 March case, and how Russian police gather information from people who have been arrested.

We begin with the news:

The FSB has opened a criminal investigation against the leader of the Artpodgotovka movement, Vyacheslav Maltsev, for organizing a terrorist group. Despite this, Maltsev apparently has “no problems at all.” He recently stated that he has been given political asylum in an EU country.

The Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov, sentenced to 20 years in prison for preparing (non-existent) acts of terrorism in Crimea, has spent the past two weeks in solitary confinement. He had been moved to the White Bear prison colony in the Labytnangi settlement (in Yamalo-Nentsky autonomous district) where he was immediately placed in solitary confinement. In this way the prison carried out a decision by the authorities of the pre-trial detention centre in Irkutsk, where Sentsov had formerly been held, who had decided the prisoner had been in serious violation of regulations, but had not had time to punish him.

In Chelyabinsk, environmental activist Irina Mochanova is under criminal investigation for using violence against a representative of the authorities while holding a one-person protest in front of the presidential cortege The activist was protesting against the construction of the Tominsk mining plant.

Law enforcement do not forget about the dangerous criminals who exploit the internet for their nefarious purposes. Krasnodar blogger Leonid Kudinov has again been jailed for a video containing a swastika. In the video, Kudinov urges the police to stop using Article 20.3 of the Administrative Law Code against activists, and to take into account the context in which a Nazi symbol may be used.

In Kaluga, a business manager, Ivan Liubshin, has been found guilty of extremism and of rehabilitation of Nazism on account of posts he made on the VKontakte social media site. Liubshin was fined 400,000 roubles; prosecutors had asked for him to be jailed for four years. The prosecution was brought on the basis of posts which included film of the joint military parade of the forces of the Third Reich and the Red Army in Brest in 1939, and also a song from the Soviet-Polish war of 1920.

Meanwhile in Crimea an activist has been charged with “embracing the ideas of intolerance towards the social group of the Terek Cossacks and defaming the given social group.” In this case, the investigators also established the alleged crime by reviewing social media. During a police search of the activist’s apartment, he was beaten.

In the regions the authorities are gradually moving to ban rallies in cities (especially in downtown areas). In Murmansk, during an inspection by prosecutors, a document dating from 2011 was discovered stating that the local “Hyde Park” (the name given to areas where protests of less than 100 people are permitted without special authorisation by the authorities) had the status of an “object of cultural heritage” and therefore events could be held there only with the permission of the Committee for Culture and Art. The first decision the Committee took was to ban a rally against corruption. In Petrozavodsk a more straightforward approach was adopted: the main street was simply removed from the list of local “Hyde Parks.”

Our publications

We have written about how during the “revolution” we suddenly became one of the top ten resources cited on Yandex-News (where in fact we don’t belong at all, since we are not licensed as a media outlet). It is interesting that the figures we published relating to the detentions that took place at that time were in contest with figures provided by the police: sometimes the police figures had the most citations, sometimes ours were predominant. But the main thing is that in our article we explain why we (and, in fact, you) need this information.

In Russia the notion of a “criminal misdemeanour” may be introduced. We explain what this is, and the different views as to whether it is necessary.

If you have been arrested, it is worth being cautious in what you say to other people in the police van, despite a natural sense of solidarity you may have with them. We relate how police gather information among detainees.

Dmitry Borisov, a defendant in the March 26 Case, has been charged with kicking the helmet of one of the five police officers who were carrying him to the police van. As a result, Borisov faces a prison term of up to five years. Three police officers, who are witnesses in Borisov’s case, have said they did not see the accused strike the police officer. We have investigated the video of Borisov’s arrest in an attempt to understand whether it might indeed have been possible for Borisov to kick the officer on the helmet. Our conclusion is very unexpected, but men will probably understand.


OVD-Info needs volunteers. We need volunteers to staff our telephone hotline, we need young lawyers, people to work with databases, IT experts, illustrators, and many others. Persecution on political grounds is very widespread in Russia at present, so we have much work to do. We cannot manage without volunteers. Join our team - we shall be delighted!


Our thanks to everyone who continues to support our work. Find out how you can help us here.

For more information on OVD-Info, read this article from the organisation's founder on how OVD is breaking the civil society mould here.

"Our Demands" - A Statement by the Congress of the Intelligentsia and members of the human rights community

posted 13 Nov 2017, 06:32 by Website Service   [ updated 13 Nov 2017, 07:25 by Rights in Russia ]


27 October 2017 

On 30 October 2017, 80 years after the very worst of the repressions carried out by the Soviet regime – repressions which took place from the very first months of its existence and were targeted against the Russian nation as a whole – a monumental event will take place; the unveiling of a memorial to the victims of those political repressions of the 1930s. This was not an easy pill for the country’s current government to swallow, but after many delays and much hesitation, the decision has finally been taken. The memorial is a mark of recognition for the crimes which took place in the 1930s, but unfortunately a line has not yet been drawn under this tragedy.

It is commonly acknowledged that the Stalinist repressions began with the persecution of opponents in the press and at party rallies, and ended with torture in the basements of the Lubyanka, single shots in the back of the head and mass executions.

Eighty years has passed since then, but the past is gradually reappearing before our eyes. The new terms which have become common currency (“foreign agent”, “undesirable organisation” and “fifth column”) barely differ from those which they replace (“enemy of the people”, “spy” and “saboteur”). The prevailing atmosphere is increasingly one of suspicion, animosity and a search for enemies, with this trend becoming particularly apparent from 2012 onwards.

Instances of harassment of the opposition – by its very nature the chief mechanism which provides feedback from society to the state – are multiplying by the day.

We are witnessing the persecution of political opponents by the state-owned media and real-life attacks on the victims of this persecution. The most striking example is the murder of Boris Nemtsov, but others include the attempted murder of Yulia Latynina, the acts of violence against Aleksei Navalny and the multitude of threats against all those who have the courage to voice criticism of the state. On 23 October, Tatyana Felgengauer, an Ekho Moskvy journalist, was the victim of an attempt on her life. Several days beforehand, a number of broadcasts had been aired on the television channel Rossiya 24 stating that the radio station Ekho Moskvy was engaged in “anti-state activities.” All of these are undoubtedly links in the same chain.

Another striking example from recent months is the judicial proceedings against Yury Dmitriev, who has spent three decades of his life searching for unmarked graves and burial pits of those shot by firing squad, with the aim of keeping alive the memory of these perished fellow countrymen. On 30 October, the date on which the memorial will be unveiled, Dmitriev will be in a pre-trial detention facility awaiting sentencing and a long stay in prison.

Modern-day Russia can be compared to a train travelling along the same tracks which led the country to disaster in 1937-1938, and we must do everything in our power to put the brakes on this train before it is too late.

The problems which have come to a head in our country require inclusive and open debate rather than name-calling. Those who describe themselves as dissidents believe that Russia should follow a European path rather than an isolationist path which will lead to it ending up as a colossal North Korea.

We are calling on the authorities to realise that a modern-day society cannot meaningfully exist unless its governing powers are matched by a strong opposition which has equal rights and opportunities to disseminate its ideas, and which is afforded equal protection by the state. This is vitally important for society as a whole and for the authorities themselves.

We demand that the authorities stop their campaign of persecution against dissidents on federal television channels, and that the political broadcasts on these channels which are responsible for this vile bullying behaviour be shut down.

We demand that the politically motivated and shameful trials against Kirill Serebrennikov, Yury Dmitriev and other individuals be halted, and we also demand the release of all political prisoners.

The erection of a memorial to the victims of political repression under the Stalinist regime should serve as a guarantee that our descendants will not be forced to unveil yet another memorial in another 80 years’ time, to the victims of the repressions of the 2010s and 2020s.

For the list of signatories, which includes Liudmila Alekseeva, Boris Altshuler, Andrei Babushkin, Valery Borshchev, Vladmir Voinovich, Lev Gudkov, Dmitry Zimin, Andrei Makarevich, Oleg Orlov, Lev Ponomarev, Irina Prokhorova, Liudmila Ulitskaya, Mark Urnov, Aleksandr Cherkasov, Lev Shlosberg and Igor Iurgens, see here 

Translated by Joanne Reynolds

Golos: Main News of the Week: 6 — 12 November 2017

posted 12 Nov 2017, 11:48 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 12 Nov 2017, 12:19 ]

10 November 2017

Source: Golos

Golos on the Elections
We have analyzed the financial accounts of candidates who stood for election as head of regions in the elections on 10 September 2017 and discovered that only five of them showed expenses on consultants. Golos urges the market in political consulting to emerge from the shadows and asks law enforcement bodies to carry out inspections of possible violations.

As you will know, a copy of the document with the final election count must be approved in the correct manner, otherwise a court will not accept the result – if, for example, you wish to challenge other data you see registered in the automated governmental system of recording elections ["GAS Vybory"] and decide to restore justice. For this reason, Golos pays special attention to the quality of the copies of official records issued by district electoral commissions. Our experts have studied examples from 52 polling districts for the gubernatorial elections in Sverdlovsk region and discovered that only one in five records were drawn up correctly.

On 8 November members of the board of Golos met with the new director of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the OSCE, Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, to tell about our plans and achievements. We agreed to continue our cooperation with the Office.

Next Sunday, 12 November, Golos will monitor the snap elections for head of the Gdovsk district in Pskov region. The previous head left his post after he was accused of exceeding his authority in selling a piece of land to his own wife. Strong competition is expected in the elections. Our volunteers will monitor all developments.

Representatives of Golos will also travel to the well-known village of Gvazda, where a village council has been elected without any representatives from United Russia. The next development in Gvazda will be the election of a new head of the rural settlement.

In addition, elections will take place in nine other regions.

Elections in the News 
The electoral commission in Kuban has agreed to hold a referendum on the restoration of direct elections for heads of municipalities — Golos

Yabloko has proposed a lawyer working for Golos as a candidate for membership of the Saratov region electoral commission — Golos

The Central Electoral Commission, however, has recommended a different person as candidate for membership of the Saratov electoral commission. Denis Rudenko will be one of the "reserve members" of the commission — Svobodnye novosti

The opposition intends to initiate a referendum on the reintroduction of direct elections for mayors in Tatarstan — Idel.Realii

The electoral commission of Karachaevo-Cherkesii has refused to permit the holding of a referendum on direct elections — Kavkazsky uzel

The opposition has not been allowed to bring a legal challenge against the outcome of elections of a local council in Asinovsky district, Tomsk region — V Tomske

Businessman Sergei Polonsky has announced his intention to stand as a candidate in the presidential elections — Lenta.ru

The Central Electoral Commission has denied that Polonsky would be able to take part in the 2018 presidential elections — Lenta.ru

Ex-chair of the Komi Electoral Commission Elena Shabarshina has stated she was forced to confess to a crime she did not commit — PRO gorod

Our bloggers
Tatyana Yurasova has discovered that even in Germany elections may be not completely free and fair. She has written a detailed report.

Arkady Liubarev finds out whether there really were errors in the counting of votes, and who supported candidates from the Left and the Ultra-right.

OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 28: Last Sunday’s “Revolution” in Numbers

posted 10 Nov 2017, 04:37 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 10 Nov 2017, 08:34 ]

10 November 2017

OVD-Info is a Moscow-based NGO that monitors politically-motivated arrests in Russia. Every Friday it sends out a mailing with the latest information on freedom of assembly, which is translated here. To receive the mailing in Russian, visit here. These English translations of OVD-Info's weekly bulletins are published by openDemocracy and are republished here by kind permission with due acknowledgement.

This week, the Russian authorities have detained 484 people on the streets. The pretext? A crackdown on an attempted nationalist revolution.

The day of the “revolution”, 484 people were detained throughout Russia:

In Moscow, 404 were detained, including 22 who were going out to eat after attending the latest in the series of Adam Smith Lectures at the Higher School of economics, at least 20 playing Pokémon Go, and a young man with disabilities travelling on a push-scooter.

In St. Petersburg, police detained 21 people, of whom eight were spectators at the Festival of Light and three who are supporters of the reorganization of St Petersburg and Leningrad region into the “Autonomous Republic of Free Ingriya.” According to the latter three, at the time they were detained a pistol with bullets, a grenade and a Molotov Cocktail were planted in their car. Currently, travel restrictions have been imposed on them, and a criminal investigation is underway on charges of “possession of weapons by a group of people.”

In Novosibirsk, police detained 20 people (an approximate figure), one of whom has been remanded in custody for two months on charges of preparing and inciting large-scale riots.

In Rostov-on-Don, police detained 13 people. One man was beaten by police in an effort to force him to confess to a crime.  At the police station, among other things, the police confiscated his glasses and a pen knife.

In Krasnodar, ten people were detained, three of them minors.

In Perm, police detained eight people.

In Krasnodar, seven people were detained, one of whom had been picketing a local government building. The latter was subsequently released from the police station without any charges being brought and returned to the government building to continue his picket.

Iin Saratov, police detained one person, also holding a single-person picket.

In Moscow:

60 people were held for a whole day in police vans.

Detainees were taken to 32 different police stations. In at least 14 police stations, detainees were questioned by officers who arrived from the Investigative Committee. In almost all cases, detainees were not allowed to see lawyers, and at one police station a priest was not allowed in.    

Between 5 and 7 November, 87 people were held in police stations.

52 people were jailed for terms from eight to 15 days in three different special detention centres for “failing to comply with the demands of a police officer.”

Seven detainees were held for at least 12 hours in a police van in front of special detention centre No. 1, without being able either to go to the toilet or to drink water. One of them was held in a van for 24 hours.

Four minors were questioned both by police and by officers from the Investigative Committee.

Two criminal investigations have been opened: one regarding alleged use of force against a police officer; a second regarding alleged incitement to mass rioting and carrying out terrorist activity.

One person’s jail sentence was quashed on appeal.

In total, at least nine criminal investigations have been opened in relation to the events in question: in Saratov, Novosibirsk, Кaliningrad, St. Petersburg, Кazan, Volgograd, Krasnoyarsk and Мoscow (2).

As promised, we conclude this week’s Bulletin with an item of good news: Dmitry Buchenkov, a defendant in the Bolotnaya Square case who had not been present on Bolotnaya Square that day, has absconded from house arrest. At present, he is in one of the countries of the European Union where he has asked for political asylum.

We wish Dmitry and his family the best of luck.

Thank you!

Our thanks to everyone who continues to support our work. Find out how you can help us here.

For more information on OVD-Info, read this article from the organisation's founder on how OVD is breaking the civil society mould here.

Golos: Main News of the Week: 30 October — 5 November 2017

posted 3 Nov 2017, 10:00 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 3 Nov 2017, 10:05 ]

3 November 2017

Source: Golos

Golos on the Elections

On 30 October Igor Borisov, a member of the Human Rights Council, presented a report by the Council to the President, having added to it his own thoughts and commentaries. In particular, he said that the laws of mathematics do not work in Russia, that foreign states are gathering images of Russians via closed circuit TV, and many other extraordinary things. Golos could not leave this evident attempt at twisting the facts without comment and has responded to Borisov point by point.

The head of the Central Electoral Commission Ella Pamfilova also reacted to Igor Borisov’s words. She urged people not to fear closed circuit TV, and said there will be no restrictions on the independent monitoring of elections.

We analysed the text of the report by the Human Rights Council. Although it is not as terrible as may appear from the words of Igor Borisov, it does contain weaknesses, and even harmful proposals. We explain what is wrong with it.

We urge all those who are not indifferent to nominate a candidate! Golos оpens applications for the medal “Defender of Free and Fair Elections.” You can nominate your candidate before 25 November. The award ceremony will take place on 10 December at the Forum of Independent Election Observers.

We are also issuing a public invitation to take part in the round table entitled “The Creation of an Independent Monitoring Network for the Russian Presidential Elections” that will take place on 25 November in Moscow during the Russian National Civic Forum.

We invite those quick off the mark to monitor the Single Referendum Day in Tatarstan. On 19 November, 872 local referendums will be held there on the self-assessment taxation of individuals. We monitored similar events last year and were convinced that something there is not quite right.

In addition, we have renewed the information about electoral legislation so that you can follow all amendments.

Last Sunday we observed elections in Sverdlovsk region. There one candidate in their own village obtained 90% of the votes, but nonetheless could not get elected. You can read about what happened at elections in other regions in our weekly report.

Elections in the news

The Public Chamber may get the right to send observers to elections — Kommersant

The Constitutional Court confirmed the right of candidates included in party lists to challenge election results in court — Kommersant

In the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg it was decided to change the procedure for holding by-elections in municipalities — Fontanka

The Prosecutor’s Office in Pskov discovered that there had been no voting cabins in the voting on the structure of the new convocation of Pskov city Duma — Pskovskaya lenta novostei

Governor Valery Radaev dismissed Pavel Tochilkin as a member of the Saratov region electoral commission — Svobodnye novosti

Our bloggers

Arkady Liubarev has studied the new procedure for voting based on a person’s location and explains in detail how it will work.


“Votes on the blockchain”: how this works and what it gives to voters — Rusbase

Support the fight for free and fair elections here

OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 27: Artpodgotovka - six days to destroy a movement

posted 3 Nov 2017, 07:00 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 6 Nov 2017, 02:49 ]

3 November 2017

OVD-Info is a Moscow-based NGO that monitors politically-motivated arrests in Russia. Every Friday it sends out a mailing with the latest information on freedom of assembly, which is translated here. To receive the mailing in Russian, visit here. These English translations of OVD-Info's weekly bulletins are published by openDemocracy and are republished here by kind permission with due acknowledgement.

This week has seen members of a Russian radical nationalist movement searched, detained and charged with various offences, including terrorism.

This week’s update on freedom of assembly in Russia focuses on the persecution of supporters of Vyacheslav Maltsev who, since 2013, has been promising a revolution on 5 November 2017. Maltsev himself has left the country, and his nationalist-populist movement Artpodgotovka has been designated as “extremist”. Maltsev has urged his supporters to occupy city centres on 5 November 2017 and remain there until President Vladimir Putin resigns from office.

Over the past week six criminal cases have been brought against supporters of Maltsev on charges related to drugs, terrorism, mass disturbances and “incitement of hatred and enmity.” Below we list them in order.

1) Last Thursday, Krasnodar regional court ruled the Artpodgotovka movement “extremist” and banned its activities on the territory of the Russian Federation. The same day the FSB visited the Moscow home of a participant in the movement.

2) On Saturday, an Artpodgotovka activist in the town of Goryachy Kliuch posted a video about the arrest of the movement’s coordinator in Krasnodar, as a result of which she ended up being jailed for 10 days.

3) On Sunday in Cheboksary police detained seven opposition activists from the Аrtvolga group (which is linked with the Artpodgotovka movement).

4) On Monday, the Kazan office of Artpodgotovka and the home of one of its local activists were searched by police.

5) On Wednesday, the homes of four activists in the city of Engels in Saratov region were searched. Two criminal cases were immediately opened on suspicion of incitement of hatred against Sergei Ryzhov and Dmitry Germanov.

In Krasnoyarsk, police removed a supporter of Maltsev from a train. He was subsequently remanded in custody for two months on charges related to alleged rioting (Article 212 of the Russian Criminal Code).

In St Petersburg an Artpodgotovka activist has been jailed on charges (under administrative law) for a third time. In total, this individual has now been jailed for 21 days.

Activists from the movement were detained in Krasnodar and Sochi. They were later jailed.

6) On Thursday, in Volgograd, the home of one of the movement’s activists was searched in connection with a criminal case under Article 228.1, Section 4, of the Criminal Code (large-scale drug trafficking which carries a potential jail term of from 10 to 20 years). The police confiscated leaflets, buttons, stickers and other items linked with the demonstration planned for 5 November. The young man was taken to the local Centre for Combatting Extremism, he was not allowed to see a lawyer, and communication with him has been lost.

In Kazan, one other participant in the movement has been remanded in custodyuntil 29 December on suspicion of inciting hatred or enmity by means of the internet (Article 282, Section 2, of the Criminal Code).

In Arkhangelsk region, one of Maltsev’s supporters was detained. Police confiscated a hunting rifle.

And news came that Sergei Ryzhov is no longer suspected only of “inciting hatred,” but also preparing an act of terrorism (Article 205, Section 1; Article 30 Section 1, of the Criminal Code). He maintains his innocence.

However, it is not only the supporters of Maltsev that Russia’s law enforcement agencies are interested in. Presnensky district court in Moscow, which has yet to understand how Tor works, extended the house arrest of mathematician Dmitry Bogatov, charged with incitement to riot and justification of terrorism, until the end of January.

Incidentally, on 1 November a new law entered into force in Russia enabling the blocking of internet services which make possible access to websites blocked by the authorities.

In Kemerovo, pressure is being put on Kseniya Pakhomova, the local coordinator of the Navalny election campaign, through her relatives. Kseniya’s mother has been fired from the school where she had worked for 20 years. Her boyfriend was suddenly expelled from graduate school and received notification he was to be conscripted. And posters were put up around the town advertising Pakhomova’s services as a prostitute.

In Ulyanovsk an Open Russia activist was fined 20,000 roubles for placing flowers on a memorial to the victims of political repression. In Nizhny Novgorod, activists were detained who had erected a cross in memory of the victims of political repression. Meanwhile, when Putin opened a memorial to the victims of political repression in Moscow, strange as it may seem, no one arrested him.

Aslan Iritov, the leader of a civil society initiative group in Volny Aul district in Nalchik, and his brother have been charged with attacking a police officer. This is despite the fact that Aslan Iritov has no hands. Several days earlier, riot police had burst into his home and seriously assaulted his family. Iritov’s wife had had fingers broken in the attack, and his brother a rib. According to Iritov’s daughter, the criminal charges were brought against her father and uncle after they refused to withdraw their complaint regarding the assault.

Thank you!

Our thanks to everyone who continues to support our work. Find out how you can help us here.

You can now read our regular quarterly report, which sets out all that we have been able to do with your support over the period 1 July - 30 September. This includes 1,333 phone calls about detentions and politically-motivated persecution received, 1,168 urgent news items published, and reports on 148 trials concerning freedom of assembly.

For more information on OVD-Info, read this article from the organisation's founder on how OVD is breaking the civil society mould here.

Denis Bakholdin, charged with taking part in Right Sector, is a political prisoner, Memorial says

posted 30 Oct 2017, 09:27 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 30 Oct 2017, 09:32 ]

20 October 2017

Denis Bakholdin, a Moscow activist who emigrated in the autumn of 2014 to Ukraine, is being held in a pre-trial detention facility in Bryansk. He has been charged under Article 282.2, Section 2, of the Russian Criminal Code (taking part in the activity of an NGO or religious association, or other organization, with regard to which a court order has entered into force liquidating the organization or banning its activities on grounds of extremism). The prosecution considers that the whole time Bakholdin was in Ukraine he was a member of Right Sector, which is banned in Russia.

Bakholdin was detained in a border zone when travelling to Russia to see his mother. He says that for twelve hours he was handcuffed to a radiator and beaten on his legs and head in an attempt to force him to confess. Nonetheless, Bakholdin did not give testify in the case and has refused to take part in investigative procedures.

The sole charge against him at present is participation in Right Sector. The investigation conducted its work so carelessly that it counts commission of the “crime” as starting on 24 October 2014 (the date Bakholdin crossed the border from Belarus to Ukraine), whereas Right Sector was banned by decision of the Russian Supreme Court only on 17 November 2014.

We believe the decision of the Supreme Court banning Right Sector does not stand up to criticism. The ban is based on conjectures and unverified facts, including a fake “appeal by Dmitry Yarosh to Doku Umarov.” Right Sector has denied authorship of this alleged appeal. We believe that no criminal prosecution can be based on a decision of that quality.

Moreover, although Article 282.2 provides a formal definition of the crime (according to which, to be convicted, it is enough to be a participant in a banned group), we point out that, according to the Russian Criminal Code, an action may only be considered a crime, if it constitutes a danger to the public. Bakholdin has not been charged with any dangerous activities. The investigation has failed to make clear in what way, exactly, the activity of Right Sector in Ukraine could be directed at the “violent change of the foundations of the constitutional order and violation of the integrity of the Russian Federation, undermining the security of the state.”

On this basis, we conclude that Bakholdin has been deprived of his liberty despite the fact that there has been no real violation of the law. The struggle against Right Sector is an example of a “witch hunt” in contemporary Russia. It is part of the political campaign directly related to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

We demand the release of Denis Bakholdin.

Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner, or of a prosecution as politically motivated, does not imply that Memorial Human Rights Centre shares or approves the individual’s views, statements or actions.

For more information about this case, see here

Team 29: The Black Box of Eivazov

posted 30 Oct 2017, 08:30 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 30 Oct 2017, 09:09 ]

 If you work at a court, and your rights or those of other individuals are violated there, tell us.

If you have ever worked at a court, then you know about the working conditions of court secretaries. Miserly pay, permanent unpaid overtime, including at nights, and lack of respect for the work they do. Not infrequently these conditions result in this important participant in the judicial process being turned into a passive executor, unquestioningly carrying out the not always lawful instructions of the judicial authorities. Secretaries should be full participants in the judicial process, but at the present time this is impossible. 

In order to change this situation, it is necessary first of all to understand the scale of the problem. We would like you to tell us about:
  • Violations of the employment rights of court staff (for example, if you were forced to work overtime, at nights, without the pay you should have received, if you were not given vacation time); 
  • Violations by judges and court chairpersons (for example, if you were forced to sign documents you had not yourself drawn up, to fabricate records of court hearings that had not in fact taken place, and so on); 
  • Any actions by the court authorities that seem to you to be incorrect and unlawful, violate your rights or the rights of defendants. 
Journalists from Team 29 and Mediazona will use the information provided to publicize the problems of court employees.

There are many problems in the Russian judicial system about which court employees are afraid to speak publicly. In the courts, laws and employment regulations are often broken; court secretaries are obliged to work overtime at nights and weekends; and the average pay of a court secretary in St. Petersburg is about 10,000 - 12,000 roubles. Former secretary of the October district court in St. Petersburg, Aleksandr Eivazov, has spoken about the violations of the law that take place in the courts, and he has been charged under Article 294 of the Russian Criminal Code with obstructing the work of the courts. 

Eivazov faces a sentence of up to four years in prison. At present he is on remand in a pre-trial detention centre. There is no previous case in which an individual facing these charges has been remanded in custody. Amnesty International has recognized Aleksandr as a prisoner of conscience and has demanded his immediate release. Eivazov denounced the drawing up of official courtroom records regarding hearings that had not in fact taken place, a lack of respect for court employees who work for a pittance, and violations of the confidentiality of the jury room. Despite the fact that all these are violations of the law, we know that in Russian courts such things are not rare. Rather they are all but the norm.

When the work of people in the judicial system is not respected and is not adequately remunerated, this cannot help but influence the quality of justice. But as long as court employees are afraid to speak out about these issues, nothing will change. For things to change, it is necessary not only for Eivazov to speak out, but for other court employees to take the same step. It is dangerous to speak publicly. No one wants to share the fate of Eivazov and be prosecuted. For this reason, we invite court employees to speak to us in confidence, via a secure channel of communications.

Source: Team 29

Golos: Main News of the Week: 23 — 29 October 2017

posted 30 Oct 2017, 03:30 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 30 Oct 2017, 03:40 ]

27 October 2017 

Source: Golos 

Golos on the elections 
We have analysed how the new system of voting, based on where a voter actually is, that has replaced the system of absentee voter certificates has been working. The results of our investigation can be read in the latest report by Golos.

The Presidential Human Rights Council has discussed the problems exposed by the Single Voting Day on 10 September 2017. We invite you to read the proposals we presented, some of which were not included in the final report of the Council’s monitoring working group.  

Experts from Golos have taken different views as to the effectiveness of the session of the Human Rights Council and share their impressions of the meeting.

Last Sunday, 22 October, some elections were held in three Russian regions. It was only in Chukotka that candidates from United Russia lost out to independent candidates, taking only one seat of the seven contested.

Representatives of Golos observed elections in Altai region, where it turns out electoral procedures are very poorly known. The details are available in their report.

About Elections – from the News
The head of the Electoral Commission of Saratov region has resigned. — Golos

Election observers in Tatartsan have proposed creating a working group to prevent election fraud. — Golos

The Central Electoral Commission is ready to give its views in court regarding the recount of votes in Timiryazevsky district in Moscow. — Golos

Head of the Central Electoral Commission Ella Pamfilova has spoken in favour of moving the date of the Single Voting Day. — Russian Foundation for Free Elections

The Central Electoral Commission is advocating the creation of groups of independent election observers in all Russian regions. — ТАSS

Head of Tatarstan: “No questions should be asked of school principals on the eve of the elections.” — Inkazan

Supporters of direct mayoral elections in Rostov to go to court. — 161.ru

Former head of a polling district in Magnitogorsk to be prosecuted for electoral fraud. — Znak.com

A "game played behind closed doors”: Nizhny Novgorod court again refuses to hear suit brought by an election observer over alleged malpractice by the local electoral commission. — ”Nizhny speaks”

The General Prosecutor’s Office has announced that Navalny will not be permitted to take part in elections. — RIA Novosti

Chief editor of Ekho Moskvy: Moscow mayoral elections may be moved to March 2018 — Novye izvestiya

OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 26: Pynya, go away!

posted 27 Oct 2017, 05:21 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 27 Oct 2017, 10:59 ]

27 October 2017

OVD-Info is a Moscow-based NGO that monitors politically-motivated arrests in Russia. Every Friday it sends out a mailing with the latest information on freedom of assembly, which is translated here. To receive the mailing in Russian, visit here. These English translations of OVD-Info's weekly bulletins are published by openDemocracy and are republished here by kind permission with due acknowledgement.

This week there is something of everything - arrests, assaults, and bannings. On the other hand, at least three people have been released from prison.

15 days in jail for "Pynya." Traffic police stopped a car in which Olga Romanova and Andrei Titkov, Moscow activists of the “New Opposition” political movement, were travelling. They were detained for a protest with a mannequin hung on the Ustinsky Bridge along with a placard that read “Go Away, Pynya” (“Pynya” being a Putin-meme on the internet). The next day Titkov was jailed for 15 days on the grounds that this protest had created a traffic disturbance. Romanova had been released before the court hearing. At the hearing in the case of Titkov, no one, not even his lawyer who was in the building, was allowed into the courtroom.

The Artpodgotovka group, headed by Vyacheslav Maltsev who has left Russia, has been  ruled to be extremist and banned. Moreover, FSB officers conducted a search of the home of a Moscow activist from the group, Andrei Tolkachev.

Vladimir Shipitsin, an activist from the St. Petersburg Solidarity movement, was assaulted in the entrance hall of his building. The attacker used a knuckleduster, and during the assault said: “Don’t write any more f*cking BS about good people, next time it will be worse.”

Regional election campaign offices of Aleksei Navalny were also attacked. In Khabarovsk, a United Russia Young Guard activist poured paint on the building, while in Kirov someone threw a brick through the offices’ window.

The leaders of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatars, Akhtem Chiygoz and Ilmi Umerov, were pardoned and flown to Turkey. Chiygoz had been charged with organizing mass disturbances that took place in Simferopol in February 2014 and sentenced to eight years in a prison colony. Umerov was charged with inciting separatism for stating that Crimea should be returned to Ukraine, and sentenced to two years in a low security prison colony.

One other person convicted of inciting separatism (and also extremism), leftwing activist from the Kuban Darya Poliudova, was released. Meanwhile Crimea resident Suleiman Kadyrov is still awaiting trial on charges of inciting separatism.

In Moscow the trial began of a teenager accused of using force against a National Guard officer at a demonstration on 12 June.  Read the report by our correspondent.

Record-breaking zeal has been shown by Sochi police. A number of times police in Sochi have brought to court administrative cases against two supporters of Aleksei Navalny: Olesya Khristosenko, for a photograph taken on the porch of the campaign offices in the city; and Konstantin Gudimov for travelling on a bicycle on 7 October. Equally, the court has, a number of times, rejected the case and sent it back to the police. Nonetheless, the police succeeded in getting their way: Gudimov was jailed for 12 days, Khristosenko for eight days. A commentary the lawyer Aleksandr Popkov can be read here.

Trials related to the protests of 7 October have continued in other cities. Some protesters were sentenced to community work, others were fined.

In Nizhny Novgorod, a local resident and participant in the “meeting with Navalny without Navalny” that took place on 29 September was fined 250,000 roubles.

How they treat people in disguise in the Kuban. On the one hand, celebrating Halloween in bars and restaurants is banned in the region. On the other hand, officials from various government departments in Krasnodar, in order to prevent protests against the felling of trees, dressed in bathrobes and, disguised as housewives, went out to welcome the cutting down of trees.

In Murom a concert by the punk rock group Pornofilmy was banned. Vladimir region FSB stated that “the event is intended to potentially initiate a protest by young people” and the lyrics of the group’s songs “propagandize an asocial way of life and inculcate a lack of trust and hatred towards the government authorities and law enforcement agencies.”

Thank you!

Our thanks to everyone who continues to support our work. Find out how you can help us here.

For more information on OVD-Info, read this article from the organisation's founder on how OVD is breaking the civil society mould here.

P.S. Here are the details of two upcoming trials, if you are able to attend:

1 November at 16:00, at Tver district court in Moscow, hearings begin on the merits of the case in the trial of Dmitry Borisov, detained during the dispersal of the rally of 26 March. He has been charged with using force against a police officer.

3 November at 09:30, in Zamoskvoretsky district court in Moscow, a hearing in the case of  Dmitry Buchenkov will be held. He is charged with riot and using force against a police officer on Bolotnaya Square on 6 May 2012, although he was not at the scene.

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