OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 114: At least 1,373 arrested, 77 injured during Moscow protest on 27 July 2019

posted 9 Aug 2019, 20:30 by Translation Service   [ updated 9 Aug 2019, 20:52 ]
2 August 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 to all our dear readers! To be honest, l
ast week was one of the most difficult and intense weeks we’ve ever had here. We know that it is not easy for many of you, either.

A great deal has changed since the events of July 27th, our lives included. During the demonstration in support of unregistered candidates to the Moscow City Duma, a record number of people were detained in Moscow. The brutality of law enforcement officers and violations committed by both them and the courts, were unprecedented. We will have to live with the consequences of this for a long time.

If you were detained on July 27 and need help in court:

  • Fill out the application form. The sooner we learn about the court, the more chance we have of finding a lawyer in time to help you.

  • Read the instructions about how to best protect yourself in court. This will help you to understand how the trial works.

If you are charged with an article that involves administrative arrest (for example, part 6.1 of article 20.2 of the Administrative Code), then we advise you not to go to court. There are more useful instructions here, where you will learn what to do if your report contains an arrest article. In general, we recommend that you have a read through the section entitled "Your Rights" on our website — now is a good time to improve your legal literacy.

We are now on constant high alert, as you should be. If you are going to the demonstration tomorrow, or there is a chance that you will be nearby, you MUST install our legal bot and write down the number of the 24-hour hotline OVD-info — 8 800 707-05-28. Stay in touch, take care, share any useful information with friends, and do not panic. We will not abandon you!

If you are a lawyer with an interest in human rights, and you want to help detainees — tell us about yourself at advokat@ovdinfo.org. We need your help now more than ever.

And now, onwards to this week’s news.

The most important and disturbing news is that of the criminal case opened by the Investigative Committee following Saturday’s demonstrations. The case cited parts of Article 212 of the Criminal Code, six have been accused, some of whom face up to 15 years in prison. Five more people were detained the day before.

  • Why is this important? According to our data, on July 27th officers detained more than 1373 people. At least 265 of them spent two days in police custody. Detentions were accompanied by violence from security officers — 77 people were injured to varying degrees. Among them — injured journalists, the author of a logo of the Moscow Metro logo (whose leg was broken), and a municipal deputy who received head injuries. The authorities did not apply any sanctions to these "law enforcement officers". One of the protesters was arrested on the suspicion that he threw a garbage can, another was arrested for this gesture. Moscow mayor Sergey Sobyanin considered the demonstration to be a "riot". As part of the decision to initiate a criminal case, the demonstration was referred to as an "armed resistance". Interrogations and searches continued throughout the week, and the coordinator of the "Left bloc", Vasily Kuzmin, was interviewed twice for some reason. It is clear that the authorities will try to find and punish the "guilty" by any means necessary.

Alexander Savelyev is accused of cooperation with the "undesirable organisation". On Tuesday, searches took place in the office of "Environmental Watch on the North Caucasus". During the search, security forces used tear gas, leaving the coordinator Andrey Rudomakha with chemical burns.

  • Why do I need to know this? Apparently, the case Savelyev is connected with the activities of the "Open Russia" movement. Ever since the Prosecutor General's office recognised the movement as "undesirable" in 2017, its participants, activists and even sympathisers have been persecuted. Savelyev's case is the fifth in Russia, initiated under the article relating to cooperation with an "undesirable organisation". All five are connected with the work of "Open Russia", which was disassembled in March of this year.

18 Crimean Tatars who supported the defendants in the "Hizb ut-Tahrir" case in early July, have been fined 20 thousand rubles each. 

  • Why do I need to know this? On July 11th, 44 Crimean Tatar activists who came to the Supreme court building to support the defendants in the Hizb ut-Tahrir case were detained in Moscow. In December 2018, they were sentenced to 16 years and 9 months in prison on charges of organising or participating in the activities of a terrorist organisation. The party "Hizb ut-Tahrir" is recognized in Russia as a terrorist organisation, and because of this, hundreds of peaceful Muslims have become involved in criminal cases. Experts consider the ban to be illegal. Here you can read what human rights activists say about the situation.

Crimean Tatar activist Eden Bekirov is forced to say that the leaders of the Mejlis were preparing a terrorist attack in Crimea. The activist survived a heart attack, he has a disability, and lost his leg due to diabetes. According to investigators, in Crimea Bekirov gave the taxi driver a bag with almost 12 kg of TNT and almost 200 rounds of ammunition and asked them to hide it.

  • Why is this important? There are many questions to ask in Bekirov's case. There is a classified witness, the defendant himself was denied medical care, and now has been subjected to pressure. The head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatars, Refat Chubarov, believes that for Bekirov such a requirement is an ultimatum, "the price of which is human life." On June 11th, the European Court of Human Rights decided to immediately place Bekirov in a non-prison hospital. According to Chubarov, Russia has not implemented any of the ECHR recommendations.

But there is some good news (alas, only one bit).

Kolomensky activist Vyacheslav Egorov was released from house arrest. The court has instead banned him from communicating with the participants in the case, participating in rallies, using the internet or disseminating information about his criminal case. But can leave his house!

  • Why do I need to know this? Egorov stands accused of repeated legal violations during the rallies. This article contradicts the international norms and the Russian Constitution. Here we talk about why the case against Egorov is illegal.


This time, all our texts are relating to the events of July 27th. Here, Misha Shubin talks about the results of the demonstrations and the actions of law enforcement. Here Sasha Litoy writes about how the detainees spent the night in police custody (spoilers: it was very bad).

We have compiled a summary of the violations committed by the authorities during and after the protests. We have virtually never seen such blatant disregard for the rights of peaceful protesters.

The cherry on top of this most unpleasant cake was, of course, a criminal case. The last time events like this took place in Moscow was May 6th, 2012. With the permission of "MediaZona", we have republished their story.

Scooters, cards, "majors" and DNA. Vladimir Gelmel was detained on July 27th, when he was driving from work past Trubnaya square on his scooter. He was found guilty of participation in the demonstration, arrested, and then interrogated. Gelmel's friend Maria told OVD-info his story.

"The main thing is, a person should never be left alone in the system." I would like to finish this newsletter with something that does not cause anger in its author. Our beautiful and irreplaceable legal service coordinator Alla Frolova gave an inspiring interview to "Afisha", where she talked about how OVD-info works and how much we’ve (not) slept this week. "I rarely watch OVD-info because no normal person can read it every day," Alla says. So, to avoid going crazy, read our newsletter. Luckily, it only comes out once a week.

What a week!

Every day we write about the news and help detainees.

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Illustration by Anastasiya Vikulova

Translated by James Lofthouse