Rights Groups in Russia

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Team 29: 75 Years Without Memory

posted by Translation Service   [ updated ]

12 October 2019

Hi, Tanya Torocheshnikova here

I couldn’t tear myself away from a book all through the first half of the week: I read it on the metro, at home, on the go, and sometimes instead of working. The book is called ‘Exodus’ and is about how after WW2, the Jews arrived in Palestine and began to build the state of Israel.

It isn’t the artistic value of the book that grabs you (the subject-matter is formalistic and not that great, to be honest), but the story itself: of Jews, persecuted from every quarter, who doggedly labour on in an inhospitable desert. They work around the clock draining the marshes. They take shifts at night, defending their kibbutzim against the Arabs. They are starving, living in poverty-stricken communities and sharing their meagre belongings. They are attacked from all sides – defenceless elderly people are killed, and villages crushed. And yet, they assemble an underground army and, metre by metre, they defend their land. That’s because they have an incredible, superhuman connection to their roots.

On Wednesday, having read to the end, I closed the book and thought about it long and hard. On Thursday, we published a piece on another case from our archive, though it was actually about much more than that.

I thought about how the subject of the piece, Il’ya Gendelev (who now lives in Israel, in fact), had to spend years piecing together information about his ancestors. Il’ya had had a grandfather in Leningrad, a party member who ran a furniture boutique. In 1935, his grandfather was kicked out of the party and then, in 1941, arrested and thrown into Kresty. He died in prison less than a year later and was silently laid in a mass grave.

Il’ya only found out about that a couple of years ago, when he began to dig around in the archives and learn what had really happened to his grandfather. I wrote the piece and thought about how for Il’ya, and for anyone really (especially those living in Israel), having a connection to your roots is also important. And yet, a simple document search on his own granddad had turned into a quest involving judges and rejections, and there’s no telling how it will all end.

I also thought about how natural it is to know where your relatives are buried and what had become of them. Every person has this right. I don’t mean to be dramatic, but it’s what holds every family together. However, many people born in the USSR don’t even have that.

I thought of what we lost over those 75 years (and then some) under the Soviets. And of what we are still missing, if the archives are going to remain closed, and the authorities are going to classify everything they can get their hands on. I thought about how to make sure that we maintain at least some ephemeral connection with what past we still have left.

I haven’t thought of anything yet.

But we are trying our best.


Tanya, Team 29

Translated by Lindsay Munford

Golos: Main news of the week 7-13 October 2019

posted by Translation Service   [ updated ]

13 October 2019

Everything you need to know about last week’s elections

The search for fraudulent voters continues in St. Petersburg

Volunteers studying videos from polling stations in St. Petersburg have already discovered more than 30 people who repeatedly voted in different polling stations on September 8th. We are posting a new video every day, but we need your help to find them all. You can sign up here.

If you want to help count the turnout, fill out this questionnaire.

‘Training Protocol’ in Kazan

The electoral commission in Tatarstan issued one protocol to observers, and then produced another. The Communist Party candidate lost to United Russia. During the trial, the election commission simply referred to the first version of the document as “training”. We will continue to follow the case.


“A deliberate obstruction of justice": St. Petersburg Socialist Revolutionaries sue the city’s election commission - Znak.com

The Administration of Primorsky Krai withdraws the bill on direct elections of municipal heads. Oleg Kozhemyako argues that a "return of direct elections” is necessary during the election campaign - Kommersant

In Voronezh, the head of the election commission bought a car for 2.5 million rubles- the maximum permitted price for heads of government agencies - МОЁ! Online

You can donate to support Golos’ work here.

Translated by James Lofthouse

OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No 124: Hitler was an artist, too

posted 13 Oct 2019, 04:28 by Translation Service   [ updated 13 Oct 2019, 04:33 ]

12 October 2019

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 news, which is translated here. To receive the mailing in Russian, visit here.

Greetings to our readers!

The verdict against Pavel Rebrovski, a defendant in the New Greatness case, has been overturned and a retrial has been ordered. Rebrovski has been released on the condition that he remain in the city.

· Why does this matter? Pavel Rebrovski was convicted of organising an extremist group and sentenced to two and a half years in prison. He gave the required evidence to the investigation and agreed to a plea bargain. He later said that he made those decisions under threats from the investigator. Click here to read Mikhail Shubin’s explanation of why the verdict was overturned; this is a turning point in the case which affects not only Pavel but also 9 other people. Here you can also watch a training video from the so-called “extremist group” which, once again, proves that the young participants were provoked by an infiltrating agent into conducting suspicious activity and discussing revolution.

The Moscow city court has heard appeals against the sentences in the Moscow Case. Danil Beglets’s two-year sentence for “grabbing a police officer by the wrist” was upheld. The court of appeal also upheld Kirill Zhukov’s three-year sentence for calling a uniformed member of the National Guard a bitch. On the other hand, a year was knocked off of Ivan Podkopaev’s sentence: the courts reduced his prison sentence from three years to two. Podkopaev was convicted of attacking security officers with pepper spray.

· Why do I need to know this. This court case is full of surprises, and there does not seem to be much rhyme or reason to the court’s decisions. If you want to refresh your memory, you can have another look at our guide to the Moscow Case.

Mikhail Beniash’s lawyer has been convicted of assaulting a police officer and fined 30,000 roubles. The lawyer supposedly bit his arresting officer in the car on the way to the police station “in an attempt, based on personal animosity, to undermine the executive authorities”.

· Why do I need to know this? Mikhail Beniash was arrested on 9th September 2018 while he was on his way to the police station to support arrestees from the pension reform protests. He was bundled into a police car and beaten; he was then detained for 14 days for “participating in the protest”, and alleged insubordination to police officers, after which he was also accused of assaulting security officers. Click here to read the lawyer’s account of that day’s events, given before criminal charges were pressed against him.

The Anti-Corruption Foundation has been added to the “foreign agents” register. The authorities found 140,000 roubles in the organisation’s blocked accounts, transferred from a Spanish company.

· Why do I need to know that? The Foundation’s “foreign funds” were discovered as part of investigations in a money-laundering case. The case was brought against the organisation on 3rd August, the day on which protests were held against the refusal to allow opposition candidates to stand for election. The foundation’s staff believes the foreign payment to be a provocation. Here, Aleksei Navalny describes exactly how his Foundation became a “foreign agent”.

And a couple more “foreign agents”. The movement For Human Rights has been fined 300,000 roubles, and its chief activist, Lev Ponomarev, has been fined 100,000 roubles. This is Ponomarev’s fifth fine under the foreign agent law in just two months. The Public Verdict foundation and its director, Natalia Taubina, were also fined – 400,000 roubles for the organisation and 250,000 for Taubina herself.

· Why do I need to know this? Under the foreign agent law, NGOs in receipt of foreign funds must indicate in all their public materials that they are a foreign agent. Public Verdict was fined for publishing records of torture in a Yaroslavl prison without making reference to its status as a foreign agent. For Human Rights was fined for omitting its status from a publication on the website of one of its regional branches. The fact that the branch does not officially exist – the Ministry of Justice refused its application for registration – did not stop the courts issuing it a fine. 


“Hitler was an artist, too”. An art exhibition entitled “The Autumn of the Godfather” was due to be held in Moscow on Vladimir Putin’s birthday. The exhibition was to focus on police violence, the curtailment of freedom of expression, and social problems. Police officers, members of the State justice department and the Ministry of Emergency Situations turned up at the Dordor gallery just before the opening of the exhibition. One of the curators, artist Lev Neshin, told OVD-Info how the event was broken up and the gallery closed.

The Military Commissariat after a protest. Since the very start of the summer’s protests, protesters have been facing threats of close surveillance by the Military Commissariat. The threats were soon followed by action. One man told us how was called up for military service before he was due, asked to write an explanatory note, and received “greetings from Sergey Semionovich”. He has asked to remain anonymous, so as not to reveal the identity of the Military Commissariat staff member in question.

Police violence. After the summer’s protests in Moscow, several criminal cases were simultaneously brought on assaults against law enforcement officers. At the same time, complaints of violence on the part of law enforcement officers against protesters remain unanswered. Paper cups against police batons and multi-year prison sentences against refusals to verify victims’ statements – these are the legal consequences of the protests. Here, I use photos and videos to explain visually the acts for which defendants are facing charges of assaulting representatives of the authorities and what happens to statements from victims who suffered during the summer’s protests.

Stay in touch,

Monitor Laura Fish


Each day we publish news reports and provide assistance to people who have been arrested. We very much need your assistance. After all, we depend for all our work on your support. Please sign up to make a monthly donation to OVD-Info. That way we can continue to send you your favourite mailing, our Weekly Bulletin. 

Illustration by Anastasia Vikulova for OVD-Info

Translated by Judith Fagelson


Memorial Human Rights Centre: 53 more Jehovah’s Witnesses are political prisoners

posted 9 Oct 2019, 12:37 by Translation Service   [ updated 9 Oct 2019, 12:45 ]

Human Rights Center MEMORIAL9 October 2019

Memorial recognises 53 more Jehovah’s Witnesses who are victims of politically-motivated prosecutions as political prisoners. The total number of Jehovah’s Witnesses currently being prosecuted for their faith has reached 206.

Memorial Human Rights Centre continues to monitor the unlawful criminal prosecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Our list of those prosecuted was previously last updated in May 2019 when 75 Jehovah’s Witnesses from various Russian regions were added to the record.

Memorial Human Rights Centre knows of at least 25 new individuals who have been remanded in custody:
  1. Abdulgalimov, Marat Nazimovich
  2. Abdullaev, Arsen Nazimovich
  3. Avanesov, Arsen Vilenovich
  4. Avanesov, Vilen Shagenovich
  5. Vavilov, Aleksandr Vladimirovich
  6. Vladimirova, Valentina Ivanovna
  7. Galkevich, Tatyana Stepanovna
  8. Deshko, Evgeny Vladimirovich
  9. Dergalev, Anton Olegovich
  10. Egozaryan, Igor Artemovich
  11. Karpova, Mariya Viktorovna
  12. Kuzin, Dmitry Evgenevich
  13. Malkov, Viktor Ivanovich
  14. Makhnev, Roman Sergeevich
  15. Melnik, Sergei Nikolaevich
  16. Melnikov, Sergei Viktorovich
  17. Miretsky, Aleksei Petrovich
  18. Oreshkov, Aleksei Borisovich
  19. Osipov, Vyacheslav Ivanovich
  20. Rogozin, Valery Anatolevich
  21. Parkov, Aleksandr Mikhailovich
  22. Silaeva, Olga Sergeevna
  23. Shalev, Valery Anatolevich
  24. Shamsheva, Tatyana Viktorovna
  25. Yavushkin, Sergei Nikolaevich
Four Jehovah’s Witnesses have been placed under house arrest:
  1. Alyev, Ruslan Ramizovich
  2. Baibak, Semen Olegovich
  3. Bondarchuk, Aleksandr Iosifovich
  4. Korolev, Ruslan Nikolaevich

We have learned that 24 other Jehovah’s Witnesses, who remain at liberty, are being prosecuted for the peaceful profession of their religion:

  1. Abrosimova, Galina Alekseevna
  2. Aksenov, Evgeny Anatolevich
  3. Amosov, Maksim Vladimirovich
  4. Bubnov, Grigory Gennadevich
  5. Verkhoturov, Sergei Vitalevich
  6. Ganin, Aleksandr Vyacheslavovich
  7. Dulova, Darya Igorevna
  8. Eremeev, Maksim Aleksandrovich
  9. Zavrazhnov, Maksim Mikhailovich
  10. Konshin, Oleg Vladimirovich
  11. Leshchenko, Nikolai Grigorevich
  12. Maksimovich, Andrei Nikolaevich
  13. Malyanov, Sergei Ivanovich
  14. Malyanova, Svetlana Sergeevna
  15. Mamykina, Kaleriya Fedorovna
  16. Manushakyan, Vladimir Ivasikovich
  17. Maslov, Dmitry Anatolevich
  18. Metsger, Aleksei Aleksandrovich
  19. Popov, Vitaly Yurevich
  20. Smelov, Aleksei Valerevich
  21. Smirnov, Eduard Olegovich
  22. Stashevsky, Viktor Vladimirovich
  23. Tokarev, Anatoly Mikhailovich
  24. Tsarev, Denis Yurevich
As of 1 October 2019, at least 66 Jehovah’s Witnesses are political prisoners in Russia. Of these, 38 are in custody and 28 are under house arrest. In addition, at least 140 believers are being prosecuted for politically-motivated reasons but have not been remanded in custody; and the prosecution of three believers ended with them being granted an amnesty or given a non-custodial sentence. Since the beginning of widespread repressive measures in April 2018, at least 209 Jehovah’s Witnesses have been prosecuted under the criminal law, and this figure continues to rise.

The tendency, observed in the spring of 2019, of a relative slow-down in the rate of increase in the number held in custody had moved into reverse by the beginning of autumn. At the same time, the release of political prisoners held under house arrest on travel restrictions became less frequent. It can therefore be said that the policy of repression against Jehovah’s Witnesses and other religious minorities is becoming more severe.

Our list, admittedly incomplete, will be updated as we receive the latest information.

The regularly updated list of those prosecuted for belonging to the Jehovah’s Witnesses can be read on our website.

In recent months in the course of two trials of Jehovah’s Witnesses, seven defendants have been sentenced:

On 4 July 2019 the Ordzhonikidze district court in the city of Perm fined Aleksandr Solovev 300,000 roubles on charges of ‘participation in an extremist organisation’ (Article 282.2, Section 2, of the Russian Criminal Code).

On 19 September 2019 the Lenin district court in the city of Saratov sentenced six Jehovah’s Witnesses, charged with ‘organising the activity of an extremist organisation’ (Article 282.2, Section 1, of the Russian Criminal Code) to terms in a prison colony from two years to three years and six months. Konstantin Bazhenov and Aleksei Budenchuk were sentenced to three years and six months in a general-regime prison colony; Feliks Makhammadiev was sentenced to three years; and Roman Gridasov, Gennady German and Aleksei Miretsky were sentenced to two years in a general regime prison colony. All those convicted were, in addition, banned from holding leading positions in NGOs for five years and, after release, were to be on probation for one year. The defendants were detained in the courtroom.

We continue to consider the designation of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ organisations as extremist to be unjustified and in violation both of freedom of conscience and the right of association. The criminal prosecution of followers of this peaceful religion is unlawful and discriminatory.

We continue to consider all Jehovah’s Witnesses held in custody or under house arrest to be political prisoners and urge their immediate release.

We also demand that all charges against Jehovah’s Witnesses, on whom other forms of pre-trial restriction have been imposed, be dropped.

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.

You can donate to the Political Prisoners Support Fund of the Union of Solidarity with Political Prisoners, to help all political prisoners, via Yandex-Wallet No. 410011205892134 and Sberbank card No. 5469 3800 7023 2177.

Golos: Main news of the week 30 September - 6 October 2019

posted 9 Oct 2019, 12:15 by Translation Service   [ updated 9 Oct 2019, 12:22 ]

6 October 2019

Everything you need to know about last week’s elections

Hunting for carousels in St. Petersburg

We already know that there were merry-go-rounds in the elections in St. Petersburg - this was uncovered by observers reviewing video footage from just four polling stations. There were so many instances that we decided to collect short videos with them on a separate page. Every evening we are publishing a new video.

We need your help. To get involved, fill out the form.

If you want to count the turnout, fill out this form.

Moscow Region and Bashkortostan: stuffing and other falsifications

We have continued to study how the elections were held on the voting day. Reports from Bashkortostan and Korolev, the latter of which is near Moscow, suggest the situation was particularly bad including ballot stuffing and fraud relating to home-based voting.

Moscow Elections Analysis

How many people followed Alexei Navalny and participated in “Smart Voting” in the Moscow City Duma elections? Analyst Boris Ovchinnikov suggests the number was about 300,000.

He saw that the voting on election day was not as clean as it may seem: in constituencies 3 and 23, there were obvious signs of fraud. Boris Ovchinnikov’s writing can be found on our website.


Mikhail Veligodsky, ex-head of Golos, killed in Kuban region - Golos

Members of sports clubs associated with the authorities intimidated and assaulted election observers in St. Petersburg - Meduza

Our Bloggers

Arkady Lyubarev, despite being on vacation, is keeping an eye on the Central Election Commission. He watched (albeit in snippets) the broadcast of the meeting of the CEC’s Scientific and Expert Council and made a note of all the key moments.

You can donate to support Golos’ work here.

Translated by James Lofthouse

Team 29: We are Vlast here

posted 9 Oct 2019, 12:05 by Translation Service   [ updated 9 Oct 2019, 12:10 ]

5 October 2019

Hi there! It’s Natasha Korchenkova.

Before Team 29, I worked as a correspondent for Kommersant. I joined the paper in late 2011, not long before the State Duma elections – the ones that led to the mass protest movement. I was in my third year of journalism school back then. I was really into politics and absolutely worshipped the magazine Vlast [Power as in political power -ed], whose Chief Editor was Maksim Kovalskiy. The paper seemed (and generally was) the model of perfection. Just take the headline ‘Award of the Week’, for example, where the editorial staff would symbolically present Vladimir Putin with the ‘Order of Water off a Duck’s Back’, calling out his lies. The articles were perfect, too, just unforgettable. They were intelligent, articulate, ironic, and had brilliant covers. Like ‘Here’s to sucking up before the Motherland’ (on Valentina Matvienko’s appointment as speaker of the Federation Council following her failed leadership of St. Petersburg and the scandal involving snow removal) or ‘I’m not a friend, and I’m not the enemy… Attack!’ (on President Medvedev’s confused position on the war in Libya).

Shortly after I arrived as an intern at Ъ (Kommersant), Vlast ceased to exist. By which I mean that although the magazine was produced for several more years, it was far from the legendary publication it had once been. On 13 December 2011, the owner of Ъ, Alisher Usmanov, fired Maksim Kovalskiy after he published an image of a ballot paper that had a cross marked for Yabloko and alongside it, in the same pen, was written ‘F* you, Putin …!’. The picture had the caption, ‘Correctly completed ballot paper declared invalid.’ Soon after Kovalskiy went his deputy Veronika Kutsyllo and several of her colleagues also left.

Seven and a half years later, in May 2019, Alisher Usmanov did it again and fired my colleagues Maksim Ivanov and Ivan Safronov, for an unremarkable piece on the possible departure of Valentina Matvienko from the Federation Council. All of us went after them – 11 members of the magazine’s political desk.

I found my new position at Team 29 – a media organisation that not only makes the case for openness but also defends people who stand accused by the government of disclosing certain ‘secrets’. Such accusations affected Vlast under Maksim Kovalskiy when, piece by piece, the editors compiled directories on the Russian Armed Forces and later asserted their
right, in court, to disseminate such publicly available information. 

'The Team' spoke to Maksim Kovalskiy last year during the preparation of a special project on the history of espionage and treason. Not long ago, we published a full version of this conversation, with the consent of Kovalskiy’s family. “In particular, I drew the court’s attention to the repeated failure to differentiate between the dissemination of information containing a state secret and the disclosure of a state secret. I grew up in a place where arguments are based on reason. It’s one thing for someone with access to secrets to disseminate secret information, and quite another to disseminate information containing a state secret. We might have predicted that some action would be taken [following the publication of the directories], but that did not matter to me. We publish a magazine. If we looked over our shoulders at the authorities the whole time, we would only ever publish blank pages,” says Kovalskiy in this interview. You have to read it.


Just a few weeks before we were fired from Ъ, Maksim Kovalskiy passed away. I managed to catch his memorial service in the newsroom (he eventually returned to Ъ and in his later years, he had a lower profile role as creative director).  Colleagues remembered him as someone with old-fashioned ideas about the boundaries of acceptability. But also as
someone who clearly appreciated that if you give way over a completely unnecessary picture of a ballot paper, then you will have to give way on just about everything further down the line. Please let’s try not give up either.

Natasha, T29

Translated by Lindsay Munford

OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No 123: Six years' jail for picketing

posted 9 Oct 2019, 11:49 by Translation Service   [ updated 9 Oct 2019, 11:52 ]

5 October 2019

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 news, which is translated here. To receive the mailing in Russian, visit here.

Greetings to our readers!

If you want to know more about unexpected U-turns in the Moscow Case, the largest-scale searches in Russian history, and security officers who are fighting witchcraft, then listen to the latest episode of the joint OVD-Info/ROMB project podcast.

And if you want to support us, donations are not the only way to do so – you can also buy our “KOMON” t-shirts from Sports.ru.

Actor Pavel Ustinov has had his sentence changed; it is now a one-year suspended prison sentence with a two-year probation period. He had been previously sentenced to 3.5 years of actual imprisonment, but the Moscow City Court annulled the decision.

Why do I need to know this? In response to the court’s initial decision, other actors launched a major campaign; its initial aim was to support Ustinov himself, but the campaign was later broadened to support other defendants in the Moscow Case as well. Ustinov was arrested at a protest on 3rd July and was found guilty of assaulting members of the National Guard of Russia. However, video footage makes it clear that the soldier fell onto him while trying to arrest him. Ustinov had not even been participating in the protest – he had simply been standing next to the metro and speaking on the phone. It is precisely this phone call, according to the “victim” from the National Guard, that led to his arrest.

“Civil unrest” in Rostov on Don. The courts have sentenced Yan Sidorov to 6.5 years in a high-security prison and Vladislav Mordasov to 6 years and 7 months. The pair were convicted of attempting to orchestrate “civil unrest”. Vyacheslav Shashmin was given a three-year suspended sentence for, supposedly, “planning to take part in civil unrest.”

Why does this matter? Yan Sidorov, 19, Vyacheslav Shashmin, 20, and Vladislav Mordasov, 24, have spent almost two years in pre-trial detention. They were arrested on 5th November 2017. On that day, Sidorov and Mordasov had staged lone protests with placards reading “The government must resign” and “Give the Rostov fire victims their land back”. Shashmin did not even make it to the protest – he was arrested before it began. The men were beaten into confessing.

“Justifying terrorism” in both traditional and social media. Independent experts have found no evidence that Pskov journalist Svetlana Prokoleva was justifying terrorism in one of her articles. Meanwhile, in Karelia a judicial examination did find such evidence “in every word of anarchist Ekaterina Muranova’s social media posts. Both women are now included on Federal Financial Monitoring Service’s watchlist and have had their bank accounts frozen.

Why do I need to know this? The reason behind the criminal cases against Prokoleva and Muranova were their statements about 17-year-old Mikhail Zhlobitsky, who in October 2018 set off a bomb in the FSB’s Archangelsk offices. We know of at least 7 more cases on “justification of terrorism” relating to Zhlobitsky. Prokoleva has written an open letter about (un)freedom of expression and about why the security forces are pursuing these cases.

A new wave of disrespect towards the authorities. Employees from Russia’s Centre for Combatting Extremism in Nizhny Novgorod have issued a journalist with a protocol on disrespecting the authorities for calling the town of Shakhunya “Shitkhunya”. A blogger in Chita was fined for releasing a video entitled “Putin’s Last Warning”. In Smolensk a protocol was filed against a member of the Libertarian Party who had added the caption “I’m ready to become Deputy of your bullshit” onto a photo of the Russian flag. The courts in Chita overruled the police’s decision not to press charges against an individual who called bailiffs “fascists”.

Why do I need to know this? The law on disrespect towards the authorities has now been in force for half a year. During this time, according to The Protest Apologia, 45 cases have been opened in 23 regions and fines have been issued totalliny 845,000 roubles. 78% of the offending statements were aimed at President Vladimir Putin. Click here to read more about how the law works.


The whole range of extrajudicial measures taken over the summer. During the summer’s protests, the authorities did all they could to stop people taking to the streets. They used a huge arsenal of tactics which included, inter alia, riot police with batons, fines, criminal cases and damages claims against the protest organisers. Alexey Polikhovich has collated the whole range in one piece.

An interview with a defence lawyer involved in the Moscow Case. Nikita Chirtsov is facing charges of assaulting a police officer during the protest on 27th July. According to the prosecution, he pushed a police sergeant on the chest and shoulder and hurt him. Chirtsov was arrested in Belarus and extradited to Russia. The courts sent him to pre-trial detention facilities for two months. OVD-Info spoke to Chirtsov’s lawyer, Aleksandr Borkov, about the details of the case.

"He’s demanding compliance with the law? Let’s take him to the police station along with all the others.” The man featured in this story was arrested in the metro while protests were against the exclusion of candidates from local elections were still going on. A protocol was issued against him, saying that he was had taken part in the protest. A member of the Investigative Committee interrogated him as a witness in the case on civil unrest and confiscated his telephone. The man has already been fined for breaching the rules governing protests.

Stay in touch,

Monitor Laura Fish


Each day we publish news reports and provide assistance to people who have been arrested. We very much need your assistance. After all, we depend for all our work on your support. Please sign up to make a monthly donation to OVD-Info. That way we can continue to send you your favourite mailing, our Weekly Bulletin.

Illustration by Sasha Marshani for OVD-Info

Translated by Judith Fagelson

Memorial Human Rights Centre: Eduard Malyshevsky and Nikita Chirtsov, charged over alleged ‘riots’ in Moscow, are political prisoners

posted 1 Oct 2019, 11:22 by Translation Service   [ updated 1 Oct 2019, 11:23 ]

30 September 2019

The origin of the violence and ‘riots’ on 27 July 2019 in Moscow lay in the actions of law enforcement officers who attacked peaceful members of the public 

Memorial Human Rights Centre, in line with international guidelines defining the term ‘political prisoner,’ considers Eduard Malyshevsky and Nikita Chirtsov political prisoners. We demand their immediate release and that those responsible for their unlawful prosecution be held to account. We also demand the prosecution of those responsible for the violent dispersal of peaceful protests by critics of the authorities in Moscow and other regions of Russia.

The charges

  • On 30 July 2019  a criminal investigation was opened into rioting in Moscow that allegedly took place on 27 July 2019 during a protest against the refusal to allow opposition candidates to take part in elections to the Moscow City Duma. The protest was attended by many thousands but had lacked ‘official permission.’ Sixteen persons have been charged.

  • Eduard Malyshevsky and Nikita Chirtsov were the last to be detained (on 30 August and 2 September, respectively). They have been charged under Article 318, Section 1, of the Russian Criminal Code (‘Using force against a public official without endangering life or health’). 

  • Malyshevsky, according to the investigation, smashed a window in a police bus, the glass falling onto police officer D. Astafiev and causing him pain.

  • Chirtsov, according to the Investigative Committee, pushed a police sergeant, causing him pain.

Why Memorial holds Malyshevsky and Chirtsov to be innocent

  • The facts of ‘violence’ with which Eduard Malyshevsky and Nikita Chirtsov have been charged are essentially no such thing. Clearly, in smashing the window of a police van Malyshevsky had no intention to use force, and police officer D. Astafiev, who allegedly felt pain from the glass falling on him, testified that he received no injury. It is also impossible to consider the pushing of police sergeant by Nikita Chirtsov an act of violence. Moreover, it must be taken into account that these incidents took place in a spontaneous reaction to the unlawful violence of the police against demonstrators.

  • Memorial’s representatives were at the scene of the events on 27 July 2019 and have carefully examined video recordings of the protest, including the ‘clashes’ between demonstrators and police and other materials of the case. We are convinced that the protest was peaceful in nature. 

  • According to Article 31 of the Russian Constitution, freedom of peaceful assembly is one of the most important civic rights. The authorities must facilitate the conduct of assemblies and protect their security. On 27 July 2019 they did the opposite: they hindered a peaceful protest, broke it up, detaining some 1,500 participants and using force. Unlawful obstruction of the conduct of a rally, demonstration or assembly is punishable under Article 149 of the Russian Criminal Code by deprivation of liberty for up to three years.

Political motive

  • We are certain that the conduct of the criminal investigation has been intended by the authorities to intimidate participants in protests with a view to ending such protests, and in order to intimidate the opposition.

  • Members of the opposition who were jailed were practically declared guilty in advance of any court hearing. The mayor of Moscow, and also, indirectly, the press secretary of the President of Russia, declared there had been riots in Moscow, thereby putting pressure on the law enforcement agencies and the courts. State television and other pro-government media reported the falsehood that there had been ‘rioting’ and branded the protesters as criminals. 

  • The fact that charges against a number of individuals have been dropped under pressure from the public only confirms that these charges were based not on law but were politically motivated. 

Read more about this case here

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.

Golos: Main news of the week 23-29 September 2019

posted 1 Oct 2019, 11:15 by Translation Service   [ updated 1 Oct 2019, 12:11 by Rights in Russia ]

30 September 2019

Everything you need to know about last week’s elections

Aleksei Minyailo has been released, Roman Udot remains behind bars

Aleksei Minyailo, an experienced observer and one of the defendants in the "Moscow case", has been released from custody. All charges against him were dropped and the case was closed. Aleksei even went on hunger strike after Moscow City Duma candidate Lyubov Sobol was denied registration. He was accused of participating in the so-called “riots” in Moscow. Election observers have written an open letter in support of the human rights activist. Together, we helped free Aleksei.

However, the battle is not over. Others are still facing charges, such as our colleague, a member of the Golos council, Roman Udot, who has remained under house arrest for the past 9 months. The charges against him are equally absurd - allegedly threatening to murder NTV pseudo-journalists. The Moscow Regional Court once again rejected the defence appeal. The merits of the case will soon be reviewed. We need to get Roman out.

Elections in St. Petersburg

Violations were so widespread across St. Petersburg, that there is arguably no way to salvage the elections - Golos argues that the elections must be considered invalid. Following discussions, the Central Election Commission agrees with this position. However, Ella Pamfilova emphasized that only the court can solve this issue. The most important aspects of the situation can be read here.

Our Bloggers

Some candidates were illegally denied access to the scandalous Moscow City Duma elections while others were illegally permitted. Why was this? Boris Ovchinnikov discusses the reasoning behind this.

Voters in Moscow found themselves in a difficult situation, with some choosing to spoil their ballot. Boris Ovchinnikov discusses how such a strategy influenced the final result..

Voters are afraid of observers- we discovered this a long time ago. In fact, the presence of public controllers at polling stations leads to a cleaner result, as voters are often afraid to falsify. Vitaly Averin presents a new example from Tatarstan.

You can donate to support Golos’ work here.

Translated by James Lofthouse

Team 29: 'Granddad' (Viktor Kudryavtsev) released from Lefortovo

posted 1 Oct 2019, 11:06 by Translation Service   [ updated 1 Oct 2019, 12:11 by Rights in Russia ]

28 September 2019

Hi, this is Katya Arenina

This letter will be short and wry. The main news this week (well, for us it was really cool news) is the release of our defence scientist Viktor Kudryavtsev of TsNIIMash (the Central Research Institute of Machine Building) from the Lefortovo detention centre.

Of course, it’s a very strange feeling when someone is released – he doesn’t know you at all, yet you have lived alongside his family for a year and thought of him every day. The family of 75-year-old Kudryavtsev call him granddad – even his wife Olga calls him that. We gradually started calling him that. Yesterday his lawyer Ivan Pavlov wrote in a chat ‘Our granddad is being released.’

Kudryavtsev, and all of us, have been waiting for over a year for this. He ended up in Lefortovo in July of last year, when some kind of spy shenanigans started up at TsNIIMash, where he had been working for over half a century. Since then, it seems, we have tried every possible method and means to get him out of there. There was even a petition (I don’t believe in petitions, but so be it) for his release, which was signed by more than 200,000 people, and protests, and open letters. These were purely legal actions – endless pleas to change the terms of his imprisonment, complaints to the European Court of Human Rights, the demand that the ECtHR take interim measures and finally transfer him to hospital.

Finally it came true: yesterday evening Kudryavtsev left the prison (up until the last moment we feared that something would go wrong – it was hard to believe anyway, and the authorities drew the process out, having originally promised to release him at 19.30 and in the event doing so only two hours later). Nevertheless, something human awakened in the investigator – at first he changed the terms of imprisonment not merely from detention to house arrest, but to a mere written undertaking not to leave the house, and then he released Kudryavtsev quicker – it had been thought that he would be released next week. His son met him at the door of the prison. It was all very touching. Watch the video: here Kudryavtsev speaks with his wife on the phone and says that he’s not hungry and there’s no need to feed him at home. He laughs, and his son laughs too.

Ivan Pavlov believes that the decision to release Kudryavtsev not to house arrest, but under written undertaking, might be a good sign – this measure isn’t often taken in espionage cases, and the cases in which this have happened previously ended either with acquittal or closure of the case. Well, I hope so!

The only sad thing is that Kudryavtsev’s health has declined significantly during his year in prison – apparently this was the decisive factor in favour of his release. I want to believe that, free, and under the care of doctors who are not controlled by the prison bloodsuckers, everything can be corrected. That everything can somehow be normal, or even good.

Rejoice and be sad with us.


Translated by Anna Bowles

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