OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 106: Planted mephedrone, an un-fairytale-like Putin and unexpected torture

posted 9 Jun 2019, 02:09 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 9 Jun 2019, 02:16 ]
7 May 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! 

Our news this week is all pretty miserable.

On 6th June in Moscow, Ivan Golunov, a correspondent from Meduza’s research department, was arrested. Golunov says that mephedrone was planted on him. While in the police station, he was beaten in the police station; staff then refused to call an ambulance and did not allow him to call his lawyer. Golunov is facing criminal charges of planning to sell the drugs on a large scale.

·  Why does this matter? Pressure on journalists is unacceptable. But, sadly, Russian media-makers are frequently harassed because of their professional activities. Golunov is one of Russia’s most widely known journalists and researchers. Meduza has collated all his best work into a single post.

Hearings on the Network case are still ongoing. At one of the hearings, defendant Viktor Filinkov spent ten minutes recounting his experiences of being tortured. Mediazone has published the full text of his speech. Both Filipov and another defendant, Yuly Boryashinov, have had their detentions extended until 11th September.

Meanwhile, witnesses in the Network case in Penza have told the courts that they were pressured and beaten by law enforcement officers during interrogation, and that their statements were destroyed.

·  Why does this matter? The Networks case concerns a group of anti-fascists who have been charged with belonging to a terrorist group. The defendants have reported experiencing psychological pressure, beatings, electric shocks and claim to have had weapons planted on them. Here you can read more about the defendants and the charges they face.

Real-life or fairy-tale: increasingly, statutes on “disrespect towards the authorities” are being introduced into the Russian administrative code. A resident from the Stavropol Region has been convicted of administrative offences because of a post on Russian social media platform Vkontakte, where he called Putin an incapable “hypocrite”. Residents of the Vologda Region have been fined 30,000 roubles because of a Vkontakte status reading: “Putin’s no f****** fairy-tale, he’s real.” An equivalent fine was also handed down to Archangelsk resident Aleksandr Pushkin for “negative comments about people designated as ‘judges’”. Similar convictions have been handed down to a 54-year-old woman – also resident in Archangelsk – for comments on news items.

·  Why do I need to know this? A new section was added to the administrative code in March 2019; article 20.1, paragraph 3 covers disrespectful comments made online about the State, its symbols, its departments or representatives. This article governs not only “negative comments”, but also criticism of the authorities.

In Krasnodar, unidentified individuals made an attempt on the life of vlogger Vadim Kharchenko. He had been planning to meet with a police officer, who had promised him a USB stick containing evidence of misconduct by the local police. Instead, Kharchenko was shot twice and then stabbed.

·  Why do I need to know? Vadim Kharchenko was attacked in 2017. In the summer of 2018, he was fired because of his videos. A month later, his car was set alight by people who remain unidentified. He uses his vlog to criticise the authorities and talk about politically-motivated criminal cases.

Meanwhile, it’s business as usual in Shiyes. Arrests (nine people, two people, one person, and another one, and two more), fines, detainments. On the other hand, administrative charges against two activists were dropped. They were detained following a scuffle with security agents. That same day, the activists were treated paramedics.

·  Why do I need to know this? A 300-hectare landfill site is under construction in Shiyes, to support the transportation of waste from Moscow. Local residents fear that the site will lead to an environmental disaster. For over a month, activists have been keeping watch at the construction site and blocking the road to the station. The protests have led to mass arrests and a criminal case against activist Andrey Borovikov under the article governing repeated offences at public protests (criminal code art. 212.1)

Little has changed in Ekaterinburg. Five people were arrested on the main square on Tuesday. They had just been taking a walk in the park. The following day, one of them – a lawyer named Ivan Bolkov – was informed he would be detained for nine days for “organising a protest without seeking authorisation”. Meanwhile, criminal proceedings have been initiated against Stanislav Melnichenko, who participated in protests on the square in front of Ekaterinburg’s main theatre, for insulting the authorities. According to his lawyer, Melnichenko had been supporting the construction of the new church on the square.

·  Why do I need to know this? Residents in Ekaterinburg have been protesting the construction of the St Catherine Church on a town square. Over 100 people were arrested during the protests. In the end construction was halted and protests ended, but this has not stopped the flow of arrests, detainments, fines and new criminal cases.


“If I’m not guilty, why should I confess?” – read journalist Tanya Felgenhauer’s exclusive interview for OVD-Info with the mother of Dmitry Poletaev, one of the defendants in the case against the “extremist group” New Greatness.

“Aren’t you writing about politics?” Lukas Latz, a student from Germany, interviewed activists from the environmental movement Stop GOK. His writing landed him with a fine. Latz tells us about his dealings with the police.

 “I haven’t had any summonses, but I’ve been put on the list of ‘extremists’”. Ekaterina Muranov, an anarchist from Karelia, has been charged with justifying terrorism because of two pieces she wrote about Mikhail Zhlobitsky. The investigation has been delayed, and in the meantime all her social media accounts have been blocked and she cannot apply for work. OVD-Info recorded her story. You can also click here to read more about how people end up on Rosfinmonitoring’s blacklist (Russia’s financial crime watchdog) and whether there is any way of avoiding this.


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 Daniil Dvinskikh for OVD-Info

Translated by Judith Fagelson