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Sergei Krivenko: On politics and prisoners [Moscow Helsinki Group]

posted 22 Jun 2018, 14:02 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 22 Jun 2018, 14:02 ]

13 June 2018

By Sergei Krivenko, a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group and the Presidential Council on Civil Society and Human Rights; chair of the Council’s permanent committee on military-civil relationships and coordinator of the human rights movement, Citizens and the Army. 

As the mainstream media have reported, Oleg Sentsov has gone on a hunger strike to demand the freedom of Ukrainians currently imprisoned in Russia. 

The site LetMyPeopleGo, created by the Ukrainian civic initiative Euromaidan SOS, lists 70 Ukrainian citizens (as of 6 June 2018) whom Ukrainian civil society considers to be “political prisoners held on the territory of Russia and occupied Crimea” http://letmypeoplego.org.ua/uk/list/

In a recent publication, the Russian human rights project OVD-Info reported 75 Ukrainian citizens either held in pre-trial detention facilities or serving prison sentences in Russia https://ovdinfo.org/articles/2018/06/04/spisok-sencova-kto-vhodit-v-chislo-ukrainskih-politzaklyuchennyh-v-rossii

Memorial Human Rights Centre considers twenty-four of these individuals to be political prisoners https://memohrc.org/ru/pzk-list (this data is from the start of June 2018; the cases of the others are still under consideration). 

And this is no coincidence. 

Have a look – here http://my-files.ru/svkzqo you can see the sentence handed down in the Sentsov-Kolchenko case by the North Caucasus military district court in Rostov-on-Don on 25 August 2015. 

Over forty pages of state legal jargon seem designed to convince a third-party reader that the sentence is just and deserved. 

The accusations brought against Sentsov by the investigators and the prosecution are dreadful: 

“Under the direction of Sentsov, members of the terrorist group he founded committed two acts of terrorism; planned an act of terrorism; attempted to illegally purchase explosive devices; and illegally trafficked firearms and ammunition ass an organised group, under the following circumstances” (verdict, page 3). 

This wording is designed to dispel any shadow of a doubt that Sentsov is a “terrorist”. But let’s break it down. 

In layman’s terms, this is what it means: the “two acts of terrorism” were 1) setting fire to the entrance of the office of the Russian Community of Crimea (there were no casualties and damages to the organisation were valued at 30,000 roubles), 2) setting fire to the Simferopol office of the United Russia party’s Crimean regional branch (there were no casualties and damages to the organisation were valued at 20,000 roubles). “Planning an act of terrorism” – this was a plan (to use the investigator’s words) to blow up the monument to Lenin by the Simferopol railway station; the “attempt to illegally obtain explosive devices” refers to negotiations with the aim of manufacturing explosive devises – but these negotiations were conducted not by the accused Sentsov, but by witnesses in the case; the “illegal trafficking of firearms and ammunition” relates to the discovery of a pistol and ammunition during a search of Sentsov’s home. 

At the same time, the court did not actually object to the opinion of the defence that the accusations were not supported by evidence that Sentsov committed the two aforementioned acts of terrorism, nor by evidence that he was conspiring to blow up the Lenin monument, nor that he was preparing (in the words of the verdict) homemade explosive devices, nor that he purchased and kept firearms and ammunition. But these defence arguments were not taken into account in the sentence. 

Consequently, the case against Sentsov and Kolchenko rests on the testimonials of two individuals, one of whom claimed that his statement in court was given under duress, and a second whom Sentsov denied knowing at all. Yet, Sentsov was given 20 years imprisonment, and Kolchenko was given 10. The verdict of the North Caucasus military district court in the Sentsov-Kolchenko case was upheld on appeal and has already become a document of our era. 

My aim in discussing this verdict is to highlight the fact that large swathes of civil society, in both Russia and Ukraine, still have questions which they would like answered. Many believe that lengthy prison sentences of this kind are unjust given the nature of the crimes committed and the prosecution’s lack of any evidence that the convicted parties were implicated in committing them. They therefore consider that around 70 Ukrainian nationals currently in Russian penitentiary institutions are there for political reasons and not because of any offences. 

The Ukrainian citizens placed in Russian prisons over the past four years who appear on the lists mentioned above are pawns in the appalling and absurd hybrid war in which Russia and Ukraine have been engaged since spring 2014. 

Wars – and that includes hybrid wars – are something that should be stopped. 

As soon as possible. 

So that we can begin to clean up the aftermath. 

An opportunity currently exists for the Russian authorities to take action towards this goal, having learned of the concern among Ukrainian civil society about the fate of its citizens; these latter could be handed over to the Ukrainian authorities so that they could serve out their sentences in their home country. 

Ukraine is a rule-of-law state and a signatory to international human rights conventions. Crimes are committed there as they are in any other country in the world, but the state has put in place and makes active use of mechanisms for holding criminals accountable. There is also an established human rights community in the country which carefully monitors the state’s activities and – as is the case in Russia – attempts to introduce routine public scrutiny. 

Several dozen cases are already being examined in relation to topics as controversial as the calling to account of members of “volunteer battalions” found to have been engaged in criminal activities in Eastern Ukraine. By way of an example, here are several links with information on similar cases: 







The above suggests that if any of the Ukrainian citizens who figure in the lists mentioned above are in fact guilty of crimes, they should be allowed to serve out their sentences in penitentiary institutions in Ukraine. That would also clear up any doubts about the political nature of these charges. 

A legal basis already exists for the transfer of prisoners by the Russian authorities. 

According to Article 63(2) of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, it is possible to transfer persons sentenced to imprisonment so that they can serve out the remainder of the sentence in the state of their nationality, on the basis of federal laws or international agreements signed by the Russian Federation. 

The provisions of federal law governing this mechanism are set out in Chapter 55 of the Criminal Procedure Code of the Russian Federation, entitled “Transfer of Persons Sentenced to Imprisonment for the Execution of the Sentence in the State of their Nationality”. 

The option of transferring persons sentenced to imprisonment so that they can serve out the remainder of their sentence elsewhere is provided for in many international agreements, namely the Convention on the Transfer of Persons Sentenced to Imprisonment for the Execution of the Sentence in the State of their Nationality of 19 May 1978 (ratified by the USSR on 3 April 1979), the Strasbourg Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons of 21 March 1983 and the Additional Protocol thereto dated 18 December 1997, signed on behalf of the Russian Federation in Helsinki on 7 April 2005, the Convention on the Transfer of Persons Sentenced to Imprisonment for the Further Serving of Their Sentences, concluded on 6 March 1998 by the member countries of the CIS, and bilateral agreements concluded between Russia and Ukraine. 

Such transfers have already happened in the past. In 2016, for example, Ukrainian citizens imprisoned on Crimean territory were transferred to Ukraine to serve out the remainder of their sentences. 

The mechanisms are therefore already in place, and it only remains for us to hope that the Russian authorities will make use of them. 

Translated by Joanne Reynolds and Judith Fagelson

OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 60: Torture, Sentsov's hunger strike and the increase in pensionable age

posted 22 Jun 2018, 06:20 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 22 Jun 2018, 06:23 ]

22 June 2018

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

This week’s Bulletin is not the happiest, but despite that we manage to conclude with two bits of good news.  

The hunger strike of film director Oleg Sentsov has entered its 40th day. He is demanding the release of “Ukrainian political prisoners.”

  • We have studied the cases of 88 people linked with Ukraine who have been prosecuted by the Russian authorities. To make it easier to understand what is happening, we can see our interactive project that provides information about each case. At least 26 of those prosecuted have stated that they were tortured. Thirty-one have experienced serious health problems.

  • Four people were detained in Moscow for handing out leaflets about the case of Oleg Sentsov case, while in Kazan a student was sentenced to 20 hours’ compulsory work for holding a single-person picket in support of Sentsov.

  • Oleg Sentsov’s lawyer has said that Sentsov’s problems with his heart and kidneys have worsened, and his kidneys are becoming obstructed. Doctors consider that Sentsov’s condition will become critical over the next few days.

The investigation into the so-called “Network” case continues. Nine young people in Penza and St. Petersburg have been charged with taking part in Network, an alleged terrorist group. The suspects have allegedly made preparations for disturbances in the country. A number of the suspects stated that FSB officers tortured them with electric shocks.

  • Three more individuals are being investigated for involvement in the terrorist group - two for drugs-related offences, one for arson.

  • Dmitry Pchelintsev has said that as a result of torture he only has two molars left, and he has difficulty eating.

  • Pre-trial detention has been extended until 18 September for Dmitry Pchelintsev, Vasily Kuksov, Ilya Shakursky, Andrei Chernov and Arman Sagynbaev.

  • Pre-trial detention has been extended until 22 October for Viktor Filinkov, Yuly Boyarshinov and Igor Shishkin. Members of the public were not admitted to the court hearing at which judgment in the cases of Filinkov and Boyarshinov was announced; a journalist from Mediazona was detained. Filinkov has said that both “physical and psychological” pressure were applied to Boyarshinov while he was in detention.

  • “I answered: ‘Stop torturing me. You are twice my age, I am in handcuffs, how can you even do this?’ To which he answered: ‘You can’t be treated any other way,’ - and again put a plastic bag over my head. I experienced an unbearable sense of a lack of air, panic and terror.”

    This is how FSB officers obtained testimony from 16-year old anti-fascist activist Aleksei Poltavets. Тhe young man confirms he is referred to in the materials of the Network case under the name of Boris. We publish his first-person account here.

Moscow city authorities have refused permission for a demonstration against an increase in pensionable age because of the FIFA World Cup. In Chelyabinsk, parents of students at School No. 152 have been threatened with being arrested if take part in events of that kind.

In St. Petersburg, lawyers of followers of the Church of Scientology were given materials of the criminal investigation that included comments by the FSB investigator.  The comments included: “He knows a lot, but keeps quiet - reinterrogate with an electric aid to memory,” An idiot, but knows for sure that there is no extremism or paid-for services,” “No link with the Church of Scientology Moscow - question him again.” The investigation into the members of the Church of Scientology is being conducted by the same FSB officers as conducted the investigation into the Network terrorist group, in which the suspects were repeatedly tortured with electric shocks.

The blogger from Tiumen Aleksei Kungurov, convicted in connection with a blogpost, was released on 15 June. Kungurov was sentenced to two years in an open prison colony on charges of justification of terrorism (Article 205. 2, Section 1, of the Russian Criminal Code) for a publication entitled ‘Who are Putin’s hawks actually bombing?’ in which he described the situation in Syria. The blogger intends to leave Russia.

The Presidential Human Rights Council has concluded that Oyub Titiev’s complaint that the drugs were planted on him has not been investigated appropriately. Oyub Titiev is head of the Chechnya branch of Memorial Human Rights Centre. He has been charged with possessing marijuana and held on remand since January.


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Open Russia: Weekly Human Rights Report

posted 18 Jun 2018, 14:43 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 18 Jun 2018, 14:44 ]

15 June 2018

"Open Russia’s Human Rights project was set up to provide legal support to people whom the government is persecuting for their opinions, as well as their social and political activity. The initiative offers emergency legal support in cases where there is clearly a political motive. In such cases where our resources are insufficient for legal support, we take part in information campaigns in support of the victims and their families." Source: Open Russia

Hello everyone! It’s Open Russia’s human rights team here.  This week we have a criminal case for an online blog post, a fine for a peaceful lone picket and some other startling news in the world of human rights in Russia. 

Let’s take a look at this week’s news:

Linguist Raided And Interrogated By Anti-Extremism Police For Livejournal Post


Alexey Kasyan, a member of the Faculty of Linguistics at the Russian Academy of Sciences, was raided and his girlfriend interrogated for a post he wrote on his Livejournal blog.  The investigation concluded that Kasyan wrote a post on the popular blog-website which, according to “experts”, was deemed to be extremist in nature. 

Criminal Case For Inscription On World Cup Sign Dropped


Moscow State University student Dmitry Petelin has been fined 1500 rubles for ‘mild hooliganism’ for an inscription he made on a World Cup 2018 sign in Moscow bearing the words “This isn’t a Fan Zone”.  The authorities had previously opened up a criminal case against Petelin, but our lawyers managed to file an appeal to the prosecutor, showing that the inscription Petelin made did not constitute a criminally punishable offence.  On June 9 the criminal case was dropped. 


Activist Fined For Lone Picket

Moscow. June 9

Co-chairman of the worker’s union “University Solidarity” Andronik Arutyunov was detained and left in a cell overnight, later receiving a 20,000 ruble fine.  Andronik had been undertaking a lone picket in support of Dmitry Petelin, the Moscow State University student detained for an inscription he made on a World Cup sign.

Navalny Demonstrator Faces Fourth Month In Arbitrary Detention


Konstantin Saltykov, accused of using force against a police officer during the “Voter Boycott” demonstrations earlier this year, has once again been put under arrest.  This is the fourth month he has spent in a detention centre, and throughout this time no investigative actions have taken place in support of the prosecution.  

Memorial Human Rights Centre: Anatoly Vilitkevich, a Jehovah’s Witness from Ufa, is a political prisoner

posted 18 Jun 2018, 14:09 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 18 Jun 2018, 14:13 ]

8 June 2018

Ufa resident Anatoly Vilitkevich has been charged with an offence under Article 282.2, Section 1, of the Russian Criminal Code (organisation of activity of a religious group, closed down on grounds of extremist activity; with a penalty of up to 10 years deprivation of liberty) in connection with membership of the Jehovah’s Witnesses community banned in Russia. Vilitkevich has been held in detention since 10 April 2018 when his apartment was searched and he was detained by police. On 12 April a district judge in Ufa, L. B. Mokhova, remanded Vilitkevich in custody.

In our view, the charges laid against Vilitkevich solely on the basis that he is a Jehovah’s Witness are discriminatory and violate international law, particularly the right to freedom of religion. The decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, banning the Russian Jehovah’s Witnesses as an extremist organisation, has no basis in law and contradicts Article 28 of the Russian Constitution guaranteeing the right to freedom of conscience and religion.

The case of Anatoly Vilitkevich is part of a campaign of persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses that has assumed a widescale character since the Supreme Court ruled on 20 April 2017 that the administrative centre of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia is an extremist organisation. This campaign took on fresh vigour in April 2018 when, in several regions, searches and arrests took place, targeting dozens of believers, many of whom have been prosecuted under criminal law and remanded in custody.

We note that among those who have spoken out against this campaign of persecution of a whole religious confession are the delegation of the European Union to the OSCE, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and Russian and foreign human rights defenders.

Memorial Human Rights Centre wholeheartedly concurs with this criticism. We demand that the charges against Anatoly Vilitkevich and other Jehovah’s Witnesses, prosecuted for their religious beliefs, are immediately dropped.

Memorial Human Rights Centre will continue to monitor the unlawful prosecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses and other religious groups that have been banned without justification.

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.

OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 59: Journalist goes missing, acquittal of historian Dmitriev quashed, “He’s Not Our Tsar” protesters prosecuted

posted 15 Jun 2018, 07:06 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 15 Jun 2018, 14:00 ]

15 June 2018

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

We believe publicising a prosecution can, on occasion, help bring it to an end or achieve a more just outcome. We can see this in the case of the Moscow State University student, with which we begin this week’s Bulletin.

Prosecutors refuse to prosecute Moscow student for vandalism. Dmitry Petelin, a first year student at the philology faculty of Moscow State University, has been merely fined 1,500 roubles for an administrative violation for writing the phrase “No to the fan-zone” on a cardboard sign set up outside the university buildings.

Several prosecutions are underway against Navalny supporters following the “He’s Not Our Tsar” protests.  Natalia Podolyak, a participant in a Krasnoyarsk protest, has been charged with using force against a police officer. According to the investigation, Podolyak kicked a police officer on the shin. In Chelyabinsk, the homes of Navalny campaign volunteers Yury Vashurin and Iskander Tagaev have been searched in connection with an investigation into alleged hooliganism committed by a group of people. Both individuals are witnesses in the case. The current suspect is Boris Zolotarevsky. coordinator of the local Navalny campaign office.

  • According to OVD-Info, 1,600 participants and chance passers-by were arrested during the “He’s Not Our Tsar” protests in 27 cities. Apart from the prosecutions in Krasnoyarsk and Chelyabinsk, charges have also been brought against individuals in St. Petersburg.

The Supreme Court of Karelia has ruled that the case against Yury Dmitriev, historian and head of the Karelian branch of the Memorial Society, should be sent for a retrial. The court quashed both Dmitriev’s acquittal on charges of child pornography and his conviction for possession of a weapon.

The former head of a Saratov NGO supporting people with diabetes has been fined 50,000 roubles under the law on ‘foreign agents.’ A court ruled that the organisation is a ‘foreign agent’ NGO and fined the NGO 300,000 roubles on account of its ‘political activity.’

After a performance of a play by Teatr.doc about the human rights defender Oyub Titiev, currently being prosecuted in Chechnya, the police ordered the evacuation of Memorial’s Moscow offices and residential apartments next door. The police stated they had received information that there was a bomb in the building. At first, the police did not know in which building the play was being performed and evacuated Teatr.doc’s own premises. As a result of this delay, the actors managed to perform the whole play before the evacuation.

The hunger strike of film director Oleg Sentsov has entered its 33rd day. Sentsov has been transferred to a medical unit at the prison colony where he is held. The Ukrainian Human Rights Ombudsperson has not been allowed to see him.

  • Stanislav Klykh, a Ukrainian sentenced to 20 years in a strict-regime prison colony, has also gone on hunger strike. He was convicted of murdering Russian military service personnel during the First Chechen War. Human rights defenders assert that Klykh was brutally tortured during the investigation and subsequently his behaviour radically changed: at various times he appeared to be either apathetic or excited, and his speech was incoherent. It was not physically possible for him to have taken part in the fighting in Grozny in 1994—1995 since, as witnesses and documents from the institution of higher education where he was a student confirm. From the end of December he was undergoing intensive preparation for exams which he subsequently sat in early January.

  • The documentary, The Trial, about the trial of Oleg Sentsov and Aleksandr Kolchenko can be viewed on our website.

  • “We are going hungry, although each new day of a hunger strike, that sometimes last for several months, irreversibly deprives us of the little strength that we still have and what remains of our energy. Hunger is our natural state.” We publish a letter from Soviet political prisoners held in Perm camp No. 35 and recall the longest hunger strikes by Soviet dissidents.

Leonid Makhinya, journalist and leader of the Volgograd branch of The Other Russia, has gone missing. He has not been seen for a week. Members of his party are concerned he may have been abducted by law enforcement officers.

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Aleksandr Litoi: Fines for "abuse of the right to hold events" as high as 100,000 roubles [OVD-Info]

posted 11 Jun 2018, 06:03 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 11 Jun 2018, 06:24 ]

29 May 2018

By Aleksandr Lito    

Source: OVD-Info 

Bills have been introduced into the State Duma providing for penalties for the "abuse of the right to hold events." A fine of up to 100,000 roubles could be imposed for canceling an approved street demonstration without notifying the authorities. Events will have to be canceled no less than one day ahead of time. At the moment, 15 deputies have already joined the list of bill drafters, and the bill has been submitted to a dedicated committee for consideration. 

Securing order 

Two bills were proposed in the State Duma on 17 May that introduce the concept of "abuse of the right to hold events." One of them stipulates changes to the law about protests. The following passage is planned as part of the bill: "In the event that a public event is canceled more than one day before it is to be held, measures will be taken to inform the public and written notice will be given to the executive authority of the region of the Russian Federation or the local government, in which notification was given about the public event, about the decision made." (Punctuation as in the original) 
Police officers at 5 May protests in St. Petersburg / Photo: David Frenkel 

The Second bill introduces a new article to the Administrative Violations Code (AVC), 20.2.3: "Abuse of the right to hold public events." 

Abuse will constitute "giving notice about a public event with no intention of holding the event or in non-compliance with the requirement of notifying the executive authority of the region of the Russian Federation or the local government about the cancellation of the public event." 

United Russia proposes fines for failure to notify (less than a day in advance) that an event approved by the authorities will not be held. For ordinary citizens, the fine will be from 5,000 to 20,000 roubles; for officials it will range from 10,000 to 30,000; and for legal entities it will range from 20,000 to 100,000 roubles. 

Behind the initiative is United Russia deputy Dmitry Vyatkin. In 2012, he was among the initiators of controversial bills on stricter punishments for violations at protests and bills on "foreign agents." 

"The main point of the bill is to reinforce norms of administrative accountability for notifying that protests have been canceled. The authorities incur expenses during protests, for example on tightened security. Barriers have to be put up, metal detectors have to be put in place," Dmitry Vyatkin told OVD-Info. 

According to Vyatkin, lawmakers do not plan to further elaborate the concept of "giving notice about a public event with no intention of holding the event." The deputy also says that the bill is not associated with any event, but rather is broadly related to analysis of how protests are coordinated in Russia. 

Russian legislation on public protests stipulates that local authorities be notified about any kind of protest activity. During the coordination process, they assess potential risks and, depending on these risks, appeal to law enforcement. Consequently, the expenses of authorities and police for safety at public events can vary greatly, Konstantin Markin explained to OVD-Info. Markin is a lawyer who defends those detained at protests in Moscow. 

At the moment, the bills have been sent to the lower chamber's dedicated committee on the development of civil society, which must reject them or recommend them for a first reading. Vyatkin is the first deputy chair of this committee. 

You can follow the bills in parliament here and here. At the moment, there are 14 deputies among the initiators of the bill, in addition to Vyatkin. 

One of them, Mikhail Emelyanov, first deputy head of the faction A Just Russia, told OVD-Info that he supports their adoption, since they can be used to prevent authorities from refusing to permit protests by announcing the holding of various other events, that often do not in fact take place, in those places where the organisers wished to hold the protest. 

This was how, for example, numerous requests for the protests as part of the "He’s Not Our Tsar " campaign were turned down. 

Unlawful delays 

OVD-Info’s monitoring activities have revealed that the authorities are already attempting to bring administrative actions against certain opposition activists on the grounds of their failure to notify the authorities that an approved demonstration for which they had submitted an application would not take place – even though this is something which happens very rarely. 

This was exactly what happened to Vadim Ananin, the PARNAS and “Open Russia” coordinator in Kirov. 

He had planned to hold a demonstration against Vladimir Putin’s presidential campaign on 24 December 2017, but his application was refused by the local authorities in Kirov, which suggested that Ananin should hold a picket at a Hyde Park-style “Speakers’ Corner” instead. According to the activist, he would normally have sent the town hall a written refusal, but on this occasion merely informed the police that he would be staging a one-man picket. 

“The Kirov local authorities were expecting me to stage a picket and had made the relevant preparations, but did not receive any response from me; in their opinion, this means that I broke the law and should be punished," writes Ananin on his VKontakte page. 

Police officers contacted him for information in connection with an investigation under Article 20.2, paragraph 1 of the Code of Administrative Offences (contravention of the procedure for holding a demonstration by the party responsible for organising it). Ananin told OVD-Info that he had submitted a statement, but the case had not yet been filed before a court. 

According to the lawyer Konstantin Markin, the unannounced cancellation of a demonstration which has been approved beforehand cannot constitute an administrative office. He believes that cases where an individual has announced that he or she will be staging a picket but fails to show up, and the local authorities incur expenses as a result, are civil-law matters, and compensation claims can already be lodged by the authorities against such individuals. 

A fictional example 

The bills laid before parliament are not backed up by statistical evidence of any kind, and the only example cited in the explanatory note raises many questions. 

According to this document, “The most notable example of these abuses is the submission by a single citizen of 660 applications to hold 660 public demonstrations on a single holiday at the start of December 2017, in the same location in St Petersburg (a new public demonstration every minute). All of the demonstrations were approved, but none actually took place. The mandated authorities were obliged to ensure the presence of representatives of the law-enforcement agencies and ambulance crews in the notified location for 11 hours." 

“To be perfectly honest, I don’t have access to facts and figures for St Petersburg. If you do, I’d be interested to see them,” Vyatkin told OVD-Info.

The press service of the Committee on Justice, Rule of Law and Public Safety of the St Petersburg Administration told OVD-Info that it had experienced a situation where the same individual had submitted hundreds of applications for demonstrations, but failed to answer our question as to whether all of the applications were approved at the same time. 

At the end of November 2017, the St Petersburg Town Hall received 1,350 applications from Aleksey Navalny’s supporters who wished to organise meetings with him in connection with the electoral campaign. The applications were submitted by two “parties”, the first of which submitted 650, and the second 700. Not one of the applications was approved.
The applications were submitted by Denis Mikhailov, the coordinator of Navalny’s campaign office in St Petersburg. In a conversation with OVD-Info, he said that the explanatory note was clearly referring to him, although it heavily misrepresented what had actually happened. 

Mikhailov forwarded to OVD-Info the response he had been sent by the Committee on Justice, the Rule of Law and Public Safety of the St Petersburg Administration after submitting his 650 applications. 

This response reveals that the notifications related to 14 different locations rather than a single location. The authorities suggested to the representatives of Navalny’s campaign office in St Petersburg that the demonstrations should be moved to Udelny Park, but this suggestion did not suit Navalny’s colleages; the latter did not notify the authorities that the demonstrations would be held in Udelny Park, and so there would have been no reason for the police and ambulance crews to attend the location. 

Killing the desire 

‘In reality the authorities call the police and incur some kind of expenses for handling pickets and demonstrations. So in the case of a cancellation they request that notification that the action won’t be taking place to at least be sent by email. Organizers practically always meet them halfway. It’s very rare for people to announce a protest and then not show up without giving advance notice’, says Sergei Davidis, representative of the Solidarity movement, an applicant for a large number of pickets and larger-scale opposition demonstrations and marches in Moscow. 

‘I haven’t heard of such situations in which the authorities would suffer some loss, or of recent events which could have been grounds for these legislative proposals. But the business of public demonstrations is a touchy subject for the government in principal. Thus the ever newer limitations on freedom of assembly, a perfect theme for State Duma figures who desire to distinguish themselves, to stand out, and to look useful’, adds Davidis. 

Nikolai Lyaskin, member of the central council of Aleksei Navalny’s new party, ‘Russia of the Future,’ noted in an interview with OVD-Info that the bills will render impossible the tactic of coordinating protests carried out all over Russia during an electoral campaign. 

‘We submit several, sometimes hundreds of notifications of various protests (from demonstrations to street stands), with several applicants in the hope that at least something will be approved. If several are approved, then at the last moment you decide where it’s more advantageous to hold them. Until now it’s been possible to back out of a request ten minutes before the demonstration, but now we’ll have to do it twenty-four hours in advance. In those twenty-four hours they can detain the applicant so that the demonstration can’t take place’, says Lyaskin. 

So submitting applications for ‘reserve’ demonstrations (in case an applicant is detained) – demonstrations which will most likely not take place – will become an administrative offence. 

Additionally, according to the law on public demonstrations, a person who has been fined for two or more offences with regard to demonstrations is limited in his/her right to apply for new ones. However, Lyaskin stressed in his interview with OVD-Info that if these bills do become law, Navalny’s supporters will continue the practice of mass applications for public demonstrations: Lyaskin assumes that the law will be applied very selectively. 

Translated by Mark Nukhols, Nina de Palma, Tatjana Duff 

Nastik Gryzunova and Anastasia Vikulova: “And who are you?” “What, can’t you tell?” Why are people in anonymous uniforms making arrests at rallies? [OVD-Info]

posted 11 Jun 2018, 06:03 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 11 Jun 2018, 06:27 ]

26 May 2018

By Nastik Gryzunova and Anastasia Vikulova 

Source: OVD-Info 


Lately — especially this past year — there have been more frequent instances of citizens being arrested at mass demonstrations by unidentified persons—men wearing something like a police uniform but not having or not showing their badges and refusing any request that they identify themselves and show their ID. What is going on and how we can deal with this is explained by Nastik Gryzunova. 

When you are being arrested at a rally, your simple request to police officers to “identify yourself and show your ID” is scarcely met every time with understanding. Although, seemingly, the rules are transparent. First, “on the uniform of a police officer performing service in public places there should be a badge allowing the police officer to be identified.” Second, “in addressing a citizen, the police officer is required to cite his position, rank, and surname and to present upon the citizen’s request his official identification, after which he must tell him the reason and purpose of his addressing him.” The law “On the police” unambiguously requires officers not to conceal their badges, their names, or their ID. A policeman is a public official, and his chest badge is the first and most obvious means of identifying who is saying "Come along with me," a person with whom one can interact on understood terms clearly described in existing legislation. This is a formal guarantee that the person making the arrest and possibly using force in doing so has grounds and the right to act in this way, is not exceeding his authority — and will not exceed his powers in the future. However, men in uniform without badges, names, or ID making (frequently illegal) arrests at mass demonstrations do not identify themselves as police, and consequently their behavior is unpredictable and logically perceived as a threat (and the organs for protecting law and order are doing nothing to dispel that unflattering impression).

Lately, people detained at mass demonstrations have frequently been told that the people making their arrests have concealed their badges (or simply don’t have any such badges). The only way to tell that these people are in positions of authority and have the right to make certain demands of citizens is by their uniform, which is not easy for everyone to identify. (Also, these people, of course, announce their position of power in words, and “to observe and respect the rights and freedoms of the human being and the citizen” is something they rarely manage to do in the process.) Ultimately, only one thing is known for certain about those who have made the arrest: they were wearing a uniform similar to a policeman’s.
  • I was approached by two men in police uniforms without badges who did not identify themselves and demanded I show them my ID, which I did. (9 May 2018, Tula) 
  • I’m marching on the fiftieth anniversary of October, in one hand I’m broadcasting for “Periskop” and in the other I’m carrying the Russian Constitution. I hear a din go up and try to get through to see, and all of a sudden a ninja with epaulets attacks me. Naturally, he didn’t identify himself or say what was going on in general. (12 June 2017, Blagoveshchensk) 
  • Three minutes later, I was suddenly attacked from behind by unknown men in bulletproof vests and helmets who applied brute physical force, twisting my arms behind my back, and without any explanation of any kind, without identifying themselves, led me out of the middle of the Field of Mars. To my requests that they identify themselves and explain why they were arresting me, they gave no explanations. Their badges were covered, they didn’t give me their full names or positions, and their identity cannot be established. (12 June 2017, St. Petersburg) 
  • On 26 March, at about 16:30, some men dressed like police officers rounded me up at the entrance to the Chekhovskaya metro station. I had committed no crime, there were no legitimate reasons for my arrest, and the arrest was made in violation of numerous provisions of the federal law “On the police” (they did not identify themselves, did not cite the reason for the arrest, did not warn me of the use of physical force, and used physical force without legal grounds). (26 March 2017, Moscow) 
  • We were surrounded by policemen, and one of them said to go to a special bus. No one identified himself to me, and no one explained the reason for this demand. (11 November 2016, Khimki) 
Requests from detainees asking these supposed law enforcement agents to identify themselves or to produce their badge number and papers – in other words, to obey the law – are often dismissed: they are ignored, or met with mockery or even thinly veiled threats.
  • I asked several times why I was being arrested. In response, they beat me and shouted: “Shut up b@%*h! I’ll rip your tongue out!” (26 March 2017, Moscow) 
  • At one point, I was approached by a guy in a police uniform who asked me what I was doing there. I asked him, “And who are you?” He responded: “What, isn’t it obvious?” (8 June 2017, Moscow) 
  • I got on the bus after a prolonged altercation. I wanted to know the names of the people who had taken me away from this celebration of life. They hurled a threat at me in response: “Missy, do you want us to wring your neck or something?” (12 June 2017, St Petersburg). 
Then, when the charges are being drawn up at the police station, if the detainee wants it recorded that the arrest was conducted in violation of the law “On Police”, they are sometimes faced with resistance, and the outcome is always the same: the officers produce neither their badges nor their papers.
  • In the precinct, I asked the police to identify themselves and produce their service papers in accordance with the law on police, as I was intending to complain about their actions. They did not do this (March 2016, Ivanovo). 
The same periodically happens with searches, too – homes and offices are broken into by people who do not produce papers, do not have badges, and are not always in uniform.
  • As far as I could see, they did not show any papers relating to the investigation, what the purpose of their search was, nor who they were or what right they had to enter our home. There wasn’t a single document, even though I asked several people multiple times. (Search and arrest of Sviatoslav Rechkalov, 14 March 2018, Moscow) 
  • The policewoman refused to identify herself or produce her badge, explaining that SHE FORGOT IT. (Search of Navalny’s headquarters, 7 March 2018, St Petersburg) 
We asked a representative of the Moscow police department to explain what is happening and why. He admitted that it is against the law for the police forces to behave in this way, but took a rather philosophical approach to the matter and did not predict any improvements in the situation:

“The only person who can explain why this is happening is the person responsible for their [the police officers OVD-Info] dispatch. There was a similar situation with the Cossacks who made their mark recently [on Pushkin Square OVD-Info]. It was exactly the same thing: who are these mysterious people without badges, in unidentifiable uniforms?”

And within the police forces, is there some kind of understanding that officers simply should not show their papers when making arrests at public events?

No. If [officers] are in uniform, they are required to identify themselves and show their papers. Not to do this is a clear violation of the law – that’s indisputable. If they twist your arms [when you are not offering any resistance], then it really is an incomprehensible situation. In the case of special operations, if police are in are in OMON [special riot police] uniforms with truncheons, no matter the ammunition available, they are not required to identify themselves. Theirs is an exceptional case and, accordingly, they have different protocols which are strictly adhered to.

And is the use of special measures announced in the case of unauthorised public events?

Nothing of the sort. What we’re talking about here are exceptional situations. So, for instance, if gangs are mobilising and we know that they are armed.

But this was a situation where “peaceful citizens gathered on Pushkin Square.” They were peaceful and unarmed, as per article 31 of the Constitution. It’s not really clear why any kind of special measures would be deployed.

Most likely, the officers were feeling a bit more relaxed and uninhibited, and so they did not feel any need to identify themselves or show their papers. Or maybe it was a special operation, who knows? If it was, [officers] aren’t required to identify themselves. In other words, the first scenario constitutes a violation of the law, and the second does not…everyone’s attitudes are different, I understand that perfectly well, and we are all living in the same country. But if you hold certain points of view, then nowadays that kind of thing will be stopped quite strongly and severely.

Following mass protests, when the arrests are flooding in and it’s especially difficult to make sure police officers comply with the law, finding out the names of those making arrests can be done only in a roundabout way and not immediately. Often, it will happen only in court, when the person against whom a case has been brought is finally able to get hold of the case materials, and discover more about themselves and their behaviour from reports, supposedly written by those who arrested them, and signed with names and ranks they’ve never seen before.
  • In the official court record, it said that I was arrested by two OMON agents, born in 1993 and 1994 respectively. But the man who arrested me was a tall, moustached man, over forty – and a witness will confirm this. (12 June 2017, Moscow
The judges base their decisions on reports made by unknown police officers – written in carbon-copy, and with signatures that raise serious questions – against participants in public events, and then write in the official record that the testimony of those involved is refuted by these reports, “the grounds of which cannot be questioned.” And if a police record was not drawn up at the time of arrest, or if a case was not initiated, the officers who carried out the arrest remain unnamed.

However, when OVD-info approached lawyers to comment on this situation, they responded that, while the police are of course obliged to identify themselves, their refusal to do so is the least of current problems. And even if the police reports used in cases against those arrested are signed by police officers, it doesn’t mean they carried out the arrest – the National Guard could have made the arrest (this, we note, creates a problem for peaceful citizens who gather for a public event: if you are going to take part in event, you need to be able to recognise the different uniforms, although this may not give you any more information about who actually arrested you).

“In the law “On Police”, there is a requirement to wear a badge. In the law “On the Russian National Guard Troops”, there isn’t,” explains Aleksandr Peredruk, lawyer with the Moscow Helsinki Group.

National Guard troops are generally not required to wear a badge – the law doesn’t oblige them to. Their uniform is supposed to distinguish them. National Guard troops once wore the OMON uniform, but now they’re supposed to wear the “Rosgvardia” stripe and so on. They have their own official ID. But again, unlike the police, they are not obliged to present their ID – not just in cases where someone approaches them but also when they detain someone. This differentiation is there in the law. There is total anonymity in their interactions with citizens.

Now – at least, in St Petersburg – the police, not the National Guard, are frequently arresting people at public events. But if we’re talking about public events, it is necessary to understand the reason for the arrest and whether it was possible to identify oneself and explain the reason for arrest. I think it’s plain to everyone that if the police are conducting a special operation, they’re not going to run after a suspect and shout “My name is officer Ivanov!” Usually they’re restricted by the fact that they are explaining everything through a megaphone.

But in general, the mass arrests of the last two years are, on the whole, objectively inappropriate. As a rule, public events happen peacefully, without any reason for arrests, and when we say that the police should be identify themselves when they make an arrest… Well, probably they should. But if you have a corpse, is it important that its finger hurts? Here it’s the same thing. On the one hand, we have serious violations: the very fact of the arrest, all the subsequent procedural aspects; on the other hand - just the fact that police officers were not identified. Does is that very important? That is the big question. This can be judged in the category of politically motivated (or the opposite) or as justified/unjustified. I am inclined to consider it best to ask whether the action was justified. In the case of unreasonable arrests, it’s clear why the officers don’t identify themselves. In effect it gives them carte blanche for any actions whatsoever. They can beat people with batons, even though federal legislation precisely and completely unambiguously forbids the use of special force on those detained at public events (well, with some exceptions). If, as on 5 May or 12 June, the police (without identifying themselves) can detain people and beat them with batons today, why can’t they do it tomorrow? It becomes a habit. Today they allowed, that means tomorrow they will also be allowed.

This has a knock-on effect: the more slack we cut them, the more they will do it. And there is no oversight from other law enforcement bodies. The Prosecutor’s Office is silent - for example, it didn’t once conduct an evaluation of the legality of the use of special force. The courts take a ‘wait and see’ position in a best case scenario, but as a rule simply refuse to acknowledge the illegality of these or other actions on the part of the police. And the effect of such a carte-blanche attitude, unfortunately is only negative.

Anastasia Samorukova, a lawyer from the Moscow Bar Association and legal expert, notes that if the people making the arrests didn’t have ID then it is highly likely they were not the police but the National Guard: 

“I don’t know how to deal with this at the moment. National Guard officers are arresting people - not only are their surnames unknown but also their faces are concealed because they can be in their astronaut helmets. Yes, they come up, they take people from behind, they do not show their faces, they drag them somewhere, and then reports appear in the case materials which the court recognises as admissible evidence. However, it often happens in court, for example, that if as an exception they summon the officers who wrote up the official report, they are unable to say who they arrested because they simply don’t remember, or they say what has already been written: that’s what I wrote at the time, they say. And why are all your reports exactly the same, word for word? “Well, because the situation was the same” and the court considers that to be OK.

"You understand, to be indignant because they did not identify themselves is just ridiculous. We must be disgusted because they absolutely don’t have the right to detain peaceful protesters who didn’t harm anyone. Of course, it’s also a problem, police officers are obliged to identify themselves. But in the current situation, given the current rights violations… The right to assemble peacefully and freely, without weapons, is so much trampled upon, that if in addition they don’t identify themselves when they arrest us… Well, OK, they don’t identify themselves. When we’ve solved all the other problems, it will be a good thing to address, but I wouldn’t start with this.”

Translated by Judith Fagelson, Marian Schwartz, Mercedes Malcomson and Tatjana Duff

Coming Out launches World Cup Hotline in St. Petersburg, Russia

posted 11 Jun 2018, 03:37 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 11 Jun 2018, 03:40 ]

8 June 2018 

Source: Coming Out

Dear friends, the World Cup is coming soon. Although Russia promises to demonstrate a high level of tolerance and security, foreign football organizations warn LGBT fans that there are no laws in Russia that would protect them against potential manifestations of intolerance. No matter how tense the situation might be, "Coming Out" will try to ensure the safety of LGBT people in St. Petersburg for both residents and tourists.

During the Championship our lawyers and psychologists will be ready to help if necessary. Please write down our contact information for the Championship: call +7 (953) 170 97 71 or email worldcup@comingoutspb.ru

Call us if:

– you have been refused services because of being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender;

– you have been attacked or threatened with violence for the same reason;

– you have been accused of “homosexual propaganda” and there is a risk of administrative legal action.

Why is this necessary?

Despite the fact that there have been discussions of a policy of non-discrimination in football, football fans do not always adhere to it. Recently, the UEFA disciplinary committee fined FC Zenit 50 thousand euro for the racist behavior of its fans. The chances of being affected by discrimination and violence from fans are high for both residents and tourists.

The situation is worsened by the Russian discriminatory legislation: we are referring to the infamous "propaganda of homosexuality law". For the Russian Federation citizens, this law entails an administrative liability and a fine of up to 100 thousand rubles. Foreigners, in addition to a fine or administrative arrest, are liable for deportation from the Russian Federation. Since in the five years of the law’s existence, law enforcement agencies have not developed a clear understanding of what "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations" means, the law can be applied arbitrarily.

How does the hotline work?

Call the hotline or write on WhatsApp to +7 (953) 170 97 71, or send an email to worldcup@comingoutspb.ru

We will register your call/text/email, and within a day you will be contacted by a lawyer who will assess the situation, and consult you on the best course of action. In urgent cases the lawyer will call you immediately. How we can help: we can prepare an appeal to the consulate, draw up the necessary documents, and, if necessary, represent you in court. In difficult cases, our psychological service will step in to help.

The hotline is bilingual: we speak Russian and English.

Please note: the hotline will be open from June 14 to July 15, only for the duration of the Championship.

If you have friends and acquaintances who are coming to Saint Petersburg for or during the World Cup, please share this information with them.

Other regions of Russia

If you've met with violence or discrimination in other cities of the Championship, please contact the Russian LGBT Network (legalhelp@lgbtnet.org, +7 952 230 19 31).  

Memorial Human Rights Centre: Petr Miloserdov, a political consultant and sociologist, is a political prisoner

posted 8 Jun 2018, 14:12 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 8 Jun 2018, 14:14 ]

4 June 2018

Moscow political consultant and sociologist Petr Miloserdov, for whom a warrant was issued on 7 September 2015, was detained by law enforcement officers on 24 January 2018. He was charged with committing crimes under Article 282.1, Section 1, of the Russian Criminal Code (organisation of an extremist group), Article 282, Section 1 (incitement of hatred and enmity, and also defaming a group of persons on the basis of their ethnicity) and Article 282, Section 2, Point b (incitement of hatred and enmity, and also defaming a group of persons on the basis of their ethnicity and on the basis of the social group to which they belong, by an organised group). Miloserdov was charged on four counts:

  • Under Article 282.1, Section 1, of the Russian Criminal Code (punishable by up to 10 years’ deprivation of liberty) Miloserdov is charged with allegedly, jointly with the former leader of the banned Movement Against Illegal Immigration Aleksandr Belov (also known as Potkin), creating an extremist group with the intention of overthrowing the authorities in Kazakhstan; 
  • On two counts under Article 282, Section 2, Point b (punishable by up to six years’ deprivation of liberty), Miloserdov is charged with allegedly participating in the development and writing of the texts, The ‘Evil Kazakh’ Project and An Outline Plan of Events to Prepare Protests on 16 December, inciting, respectively, social and ethnic hatred;
  • Under Article 282, Section 1 (punishable by up to five years’ deprivation of liberty), Miloserdov is charged with allegedly ‘using a personal computer… to publicly post on YouTube on 4 November 2015 a video entitled, ‘Look out They’re Coming…Nationalists on the Streets of Moscow… Report,’ at a time and place that have not been established by the investigation.’
In our opinion, Miloserdov is innocent of the offences with which he has been charged. He is being prosecuted only because the Investigative Committee wishes to obtain testimony from him against the nationalist politician Aleksandr Belov (Potkin). This is shown by the fact that Miloserdov, as a great deal of evidence shows, was in fact not being sought by the authorities until the week following the quashing of Belov’s conviction for offences of an extremist nature by a court of cassation, when he was detained. As is known, the prosecution of Belov was characterised by a very weak evidential base and, particularly, by clear indications that the charges of ‘extremism’ had been fabricated. The contrived nature of Miloserdov’s prosecution is also confirmed by the fact that his prosecution, for allegedly committing a criminal offence regarding the interests of another state, was conducted exclusively on the initiative of the Russian law enforcement agencies. No request from Kazakhstan, which had contacted the Russian authorities solely regarding Belov, had been received concerning Miloserdov.

In the formal text of the decision to charge Miloserdov, practically all the incriminating acts (meetings, journeys, and so forth) attributed to the ‘extremist group’ were committed by Belov. This confirms the view that the investigating officers criminalised Miloserdov’s work as a political consultant and sociologist with no grounds whatsoever. There is no evidence to confirm that Belov committed the acts in question ‘jointly’ with Miloserdov, or ‘in the course of carrying out a general criminal plan.’ We consider that, in accordance with Article 49 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, all remaining doubts as to the guilt of the accused must be interpreted in his favour, while the charges Miloserdov faces must be specific and not contain abstract references to his guilt for which there is no evidence.

Moreover, the fact that the accused took part in both the systemic opposition (he was a member of the CPRF until his expulsion in 2008 for his support for the ‘Dissenters’ March’) and the extra-systemic opposition (in terms of oppositional, national-patriotic and municipal projects) in the 2000s and the early 2010s, made him a likely target of politically motivated prosecution.

Memorial Human Rights Centre considers Petr Miloserdov a political prisoner and demands his immediate release.

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.

OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 58: A cardboard sign, a cold cellar and a secret witness

posted 8 Jun 2018, 06:02 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 8 Jun 2018, 06:04 ]

8 June 2018

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

We have published a new set of useful instructions setting out what to do if you have been fined for taking part in a protest, what difficulties you might encounter if you want (or don’t want) to pay the fine, and how to avoid these difficulties.

Dmitry Borisov, convicted in the 26 March Case, has been released. Hooray! He had been sentenced to one year in a prison colony for raising his foot in the air while four police officers were carrying him. He was found guilty of using violence against a police officer.

  • You can read our guide to the case here. In it, we tell about each of the accused, the charges on which they were convicted and the discrepancies in the prosecutions.

A student at Moscow State University is suspected of criminal vandalism. According to the investigation, Dmitry Petelin, a first-year student in the faculty of philology, wrote the phrase “no to the fan zone” on a cardboard sign put up outside the university. For this, if convicted, he  faces a penalty ranging from a 40,000 rouble fine to three months in prison. Two other students, arrested as they were sitting exams, are witnesses in the case.  

Moscow City Court has upheld the decision to remand of the five defendants in the New Greatness case in custody. The case of one of the defendants was returned for review to a lower court. Nineteen-year-old Maria Dubovik had waited for the video link to come live from 9 am in a cellar - and all that time she had nothing to eat and was very cold. The case of 18-year-old Anna Pavlikova was sent back to a lower court since she had not been told in advance of the court hearing.

  • New Greatness is an organisation that was set up, judging by the case materials, by investigative police officers. Ten people have been charged with organising the activities of an extremist group. However, the charges are based on evidence given by three men who were not arrested. One of them has said that he had been ordered to infiltrate the group.

Film director Oleg Sentsov has been on hunger strike for 25 days.

  • Four people were arrested for holding single-person pickets in his support. One of those arrested was jailed for nine days.

  • Antifascist activist Aleksandr Kolchenko, convicted in the same case as Sentsov, has ended his hunger strike in support of Sentsov. Kolchenko stated that he ‘overestimated his own strength.’ Kolchenko’s lawyer has said his client is very weak and has already begun to lose consciousness. During his hunger strike, Kolchenko’s weight fell to 54 kg (Kolchenko is 1 m 90 cm in height).

  • The Trial, a documentary film about the prosecution of Oleg Sentsov and Aleksandr Kolchenko, can be seen on our website.

In Tomsk, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been subjected to searches and interrogations. Subsequently, a local resident was arrested. About 30 people were questioned, including an 83-year-old woman. During the interrogations, which continued until 2 a.m. at night, ambulances were called on more than one occasion to treat the detainees. A total of 19 people have been arrested in nine regions on charges of belonging to the Jehovah’s Witnesses.


“We fear he won’t survive until the end of the investigation.” We have spoken with Anastasia Pavlikova about the health of her sister Anna, held on remand, and about how the investigation in her case is proceeding.

“A secret witness in contemporary Russia is a great find for an investigating officer who has fabricated the charges.” We publish the third chapter of the book by Bolotnaya Square defendant Dmitry Buchenkov. While under house arrest, Buchenkov fled Russia and is writing a book outside the country, Fabrication of Criminal Cases in the Russian Federation. The book will be on public sale from next week.


We consider who might be on the so-called “Sentsov List.” Film director Oleg Sentsov has declared a hunger strike, demanding the release of all “Ukrainian political prisoners” held in Russia.

“Police officers have disappeared from the streets of Erevan.” We investigate how the bloodless revolution in Armenia took place, and the role played by Facebook and Telegram in the events.


We need money to assist all those who need our help. Without your support, we cannot make our hotline available 24/7, pay for lawyers, create online legal services, write news reports and articles, analyse violations of citizens’ rights in contemporary Russia, or disseminate information. You can support us here.

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