OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 113: "Anyone can fall between the millstones of the state machine"

posted 29 Jul 2019, 12:00 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 29 Jul 2019, 12:02 ]
27 July 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.

Hello dear readers! While we work hard on preparing to protect you at the protest for free elections, read what has gone on this week.

Just in case, a reminder: the legal bot is here, our 24-hour hot line number is 8 800 707-05-28, and useful instructions are, as always, on our website – one, two, three. Don’t forget to prepare in advance: charge your phone, take a powerpack, water and passport. Take care and stay in contact!

The IC (Investigative Committee) has opened a criminal case on the obstruction of election commissions after protests in support of independent candidates. The report of the Investigative Committee states that the rallies and pickets on 14 July were held “in order to exert pressure on members of the Moscow City Election Committee”. No charges have yet been filed against anyone, but independent candidates are being searched and summoned for interrogation.

Why is this important? Preparations for the September election are underway with serious violations in Moscow and St Petersburg, but they are only holding accountable those who are trying to resist these violations. In St Petersburg, posters and markers were not permitted at a rally against arbitrariness in the elections. In Moscow, a protest is schedule for 27 July, in connection with which the court has decided to arrest Navalny and the police are paying visits to independent candidates.

A journalist from ‘Yakutsk Vechernyi’ newspaper was fined under the article on the abuse of freedom of information. The court deemed the phrase 'anyone can fall between the millstones of the state machine' from Mikhail Romanov’s text about Yakut libertarian Anton Ammosov, as ‘obviously unreliable and socially significant information’. The submission tells how Ammosov was beaten by FSB officers, threatened with torture, and subjected to searches. The protocol that the police drew up with regard to the journalist claims that this text contains hidden elements, that have an effect on people’s subconscious.

Why do I need to know this? The law on ‘obviously unreliable and socially significant information’ was adopted in March 2019, along with a law on contempt of authorities. This is the first case under the new article, and it is already strange. So here we have explained what is wrong with these laws. 

Stanislav Zimovets, convicted in the ’26 March’ case, and Magomed Khazbiev, former chairman of the Ingush branch of PARNAS, were released. Zimovets served two and a half years of his sentence, and Khazbiev’s term was counted according the ‘a day and a half’ law. The first was found guilty of assaulting a law enforcement officer, and the second was convicted under four articles at once.

Why do I need to know this? It is good when prisoners are released. But many other activists are still serving their time. Andrei Kosykh is still in prison on charges in the case on attacks on policy during the ‘He is not Dimon to You’ protest that took place on 26 March 2017.  And as for matters in Ingushetia, you already know.


“Complaints disrupted the work of the facility.” Three months before his release, a criminal case was brought against Bogdan Golonkov, a figure involved in the ‘ABTO case’ under the article on disruption of the correctional facility. Golonkov believes that he is being avenged for trying to spread information about the murder of his cellmate. We have published extracts from Golonkov’s open letter.

Torture and a bag of heroin. Journalist Rashid Maisigov, who was covering protests in Ingushetia, has been detained by FSB officers. He has been accused of drug possession and subjected to torture. Lera Khoroshaia talks about what is known about this case.

“We have a right to know who is beating us.” A ‘Law and Order Number’ campaign was launched in Russia. Its aim is for police and Russian National Guard officers to wear an easily-readable personal number on their uniforms or protective gear while they are working at rallies. Mikhail Shubin spoke with one of the campaign founders, Dmitrii Makarov, about why security forces use violence against rally participants and how to change this.


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Illustration: Anastasiia Vikulova for OVD-info

Translated by Mercedes Malcomson