OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 200: Protests in Arkhangelsk, confessions in the Networks case, and the theatre the authorities can’t close

posted 15 Apr 2019, 10:21 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 15 Apr 2019, 10:39 ]
12 April 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! This is our hundredth weekly bulletin. This week, 100 is not just an empty number. It is also the number of hours of forced labour handed down in sentences to those who marched in protest against the transportation of rubbish from Moscow to Arkhangelsk. And the same number of hours again handed down for the subsequent rally. Read on to find news about more than just punishments.

The case against The Network – which has already been officially declared a terrorist organisation – has gone to trial in St Petersburg. On the third day, Yuly Boyarshinov made several confessions, which revealed that The Network did indeed exist. But Boyarshinov joined up to confront the far right in the event of a government overthrow (like the one in Ukraine) and not to overthrow the authorities himself. The hearings lasted four days, after which the court called a break in proceedings until 14 May.

Defendant Viktor Filinkov appeared in court in a slogan t-shirt reading “electric shocks won’t kill our ideas”. The slogan was noticed by senator Liudmila Narusova, who was present at the first hearing. “It couldn’t be any clearer”, she noted. Narusova is preparing a bill, proposing criminal punishments for the use of torture. We spoke to her about it.

  • Why do I need to know this? The defendants in the Network case have recounted how they experienced psychological pressure, physical torture with electric shocks, and weapons planted on them by the FSB. Some of them have retracted their confessions, saying they gave them under duress.

No arrests were made during an anti-rubbish rally in Archangelsk on 7th April, but the next day everything changed. The police and the courts got involved: true to type, they started arresting protestors, journalists and activists, and issuing fine, after fine, after fine. The largest fine – 200,000 roubles – was issued to Dmitry Sekushin, who was at the march on an editorial assignment and had a media pass.

  • Why does this matter? Residents of the Arkhangelsk Region and the Komi Republic are protesting against a landfill site at the Shiyes train station, on the border between the two regions. The state is planning to transport rubbish to the 300-hectare area.

Another criminal case relating to an “undesirable” organisation has been initiated, this time against Yana Antonova, who formerly coordinated the Krasnodar branch of Open Russia. The movement was due to be disbanded, but its former members continue to face harassment. Antonova and other activists in Krasnodar have been subject to searches: have a look at what law enforcement officers did to Antonova’s front door.

  • In April 2017, the Prosecutor General declared several organisations with links to Mikhail Khodorkovsky to be “undesirable”. The Russian movement “Open Russia” was not banned, but its activists have been facing harassment nonetheless. The pressure caused several of them to leave the country. Russia’s first case relating to an “undesirable” organisation was incited against Anastasia Shevchenko, from Rostov-on-Don.


The authorities have been trying to close Teatr.doc for several years. This week, the theatre company finished its temporary run in Moscow and reopened in a new, permanent location. Read about how the theatre ended up on the Ministry of Culture’s blacklist, was fined half a million roubles for the play “The Case of Bolotnaya Square”, and survived a forceful attempt to shut it down after it showed a film about the Maidan.

«You’re all guilty and you’ll serve out your whole sentence here”: The story of a teenager who was taken away “for a chat” because of a sign reading “give us back our elections, you f****ts”, and then placed in a juvenile detention centre for five days.

Around 100 searches have been conducted in connection with the case on the explosion in the FSB’s Archangelsk offices. This story concerns Haddad, an artist from Khaborovsk: during his interrogation, he was asked not only about Mikhail Zhlobitsky, who orchestrated the explosion, but also about shooter games. You can read Haddad’s story here.

Sentences have been handed down in Volgograd to supporters of Vyacheslav Maltsev: in November 2017, said supporters took a free minibus to Moscow “to join the revolution”, but ended up in jail. We even more evidence that the “5.11 revolution” was provoked by the security services.

We completely forgot to tell you about our new podcast. It contains five extracts from the writings of political prisoners, read out by OVD-Info members. These are anonymous letters, written to anonymous people, but they feel no less real and heartfelt for it. You can listen to us on any platform: iTunesGoogle PodcastsSoundcloudYandex Music.


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.

Photo of the court building where the Network trial is taking place by David Frenkel for OVD-Info

Translated by Judith Fagelson