OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 115: Election protests; offices of Anti-Corruption Foundation searched; theft in a police station

posted 13 Aug 2019, 11:43 by Translation Service   [ updated 13 Aug 2019, 11:53 ]
9 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.

Greetings, dear readers!

Thanks to the sheer volume of insane news and the scale of recent events, in our last newsletter we completely forgot to tell you about our new podcast. In it, Ksenia Sonnaya and guests talk on air about the need for fair elections, why the gathering at the Moscow City Election Commission led to a criminal offence and why the authorities are cultivating apathy towards the election process.

You know what, among ourselves, our team calls the footing on which we put the main page of our website during large protests? War mode. Not in the sense of an armed confrontation, of course, but in the sense of mobilising all our forces, employees and volunteers. Once again during summer we are switching to war mode, so that you can quickly find the most important things: instructions, lists of detainees, and guidance. We hope that you have already long since noted and saved our 24-hour hotline number: 8 800 707-05-28 and the lawyer-bot OVD-Info, and also completed all the points on the checklist. 

Here’s a reminder of what to bring with you:

  • fully charged phone;

  • power bank and charger;

  • your passport or a copy of it;

  • water.

The authorities prepared for today's protests as follows. The Moscow Mayor’s Office prohibited the rapper Face, and the groups Krovostok and IC3PEAK from appearing at a rally on 10 August, under threat of withdrawing permission for the event. In Murmansk, Tomsk and Rostov-on-Don, the police required potential participants in solidarity rallies with Moscow to sign advance declarations of the unacceptability of their actions. In Belgorod, the mayor’s office refused to agree to protests on all three sites proposed by organisers, citing a pre-planned rally in support of security forces who dispersed the protestors in Moscow. In St Petersburg, the Ministry of Internal Affairs prohibited printers from producing opposition materials. Finally, the organisers of the Moscow rally were invited to an unplanned meeting with the police; and employees of Navalny’s headquarters were detained while distributing materials about today’s protests, and posters were seized from them.

* Why is this important? Muscovites have already been protesting for a month against the prohibition of independent candidates from the elections to the Moscow City Duma. During these protests, the security forces detained people with unjustified force, and beat them. The protest being held today in the capital was authorised by the mayor’s office, but the authorities continue to hinder it from going ahead. Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunya Miyatovich has also turned her attention to the violation of the right to peaceful meetings. In her letter to Minister for Internal Affairs Vladimir Kolokoltsev she strongly urges the Russian government to observe this fundamental right.

The preceding protest turned out (and continued) this way. The security forces used prohibited methods against peaceful protesters again: they were beaten, they were detained for longer than expected, they were fingerprinted, lawyers were not allowed into the police station, and so on. Amongst other things, telephones were seized from most of the detainees, and the Investigative Committee of Russia (ICR) investigators questioned themselves as witnesses in the case of “mass rioting” (which did not happen). Because of this, we even had to refuse to publish our traditional list of the names of the detained – on this day at least 1,001 people were detained in total. After the rally, the ICR immediately instituted two criminal cases. In the case of the use of force on employees of the National Guard of Russia, two former Russian Guard soldiers were arrested, to be held for two months, during which crude process one National Guard supposedly dislocated his shoulder. Another participant in the rally was accused of inciting hatred or hostility, after publishing a tweet about the children of members of the security forces. Alongside this, people who had been beaten during the protests began to file statements about the actions of law enforcement officers (the same cyclist from the video, a libertarian with a head injury). Participants in the rallies on 27 July and 3 August talk about their summonses to the military prosecutor’s office and the military recruitment office.

  • Why do I need to know this? The security forces who are attracted in large numbers to peaceful protests as if to protect citizens are protected and anonymous, while the citizens themselves are not. Videos of crude detentions and severe beatings spread around social media and the majority of the mass media, which cannot be said for at least some of the materials that confirm the use of violence on people in uniform. People are increasingly reporting violence on the part of the security forces to us, but so far nobody has been held accountable. On the contrary, the number of criminal cases against detainees from the rally is growing. The organisers of the public campaign “Law and Order Number” [Translator’s note: a campaign to ensure that police officers and members of the Russian Guard have an easy-to-read personal identification number on their uniform or protective equipment while working at rallies] told OVD-Info about how the problem of impunity for police and Russian Guards who use unjustified force could be solved. As for the search for military conscription ‘dodgers’, the authorities are demonstrating their viewn of the army as a mechanism for intimidating citizens. If you or your loved ones are called to the military prosecutor’s office after participation in protests, follow these guidelines.

New defendants have appeared in the criminal case of “mass rioting” at the 27 July protest. The day before, Dmitry Vasilev was detained – the thirteenth person involved in this case. On the same day, the court arrested Aydar Gubaidulin and Sergei Fomin, who had previously been detained. They even managed to put the latter on a wanted list; a few days later he voluntarily gave himself up to the police. Nevertheless, he pleaded not guilty and refused to testify. Other defendants in the case – Kirill Zhukov, Alexei Minyailo and Samarridin Radjabov – have gone on hunger strike in protest at the arrests.

  • Why is this important? The number of defendants in this case is growing rapidly. Also of concern is the practice of the forcible interrogation of those who have been detained during a protest as witnesses in a criminal case, as used on 3 August. In addition, pressure is being put on the relatives and acquaintances of the accused. The homes of some of Fomin's friends were were subjected to a search, after which the prosecutor’s office announced that it was going to deprive them of their parental rights because Fomin allegedly left the rally with their child in his arms. For some reason, employees of the temporary detention centre told the father of the accused Sergei Abanichev that he had already been taken to a detention centre, so he could not be transferred now. The younger brother of Vladislav Baranov, another person involved in the case, was threatened by an unknown person who presented himself as an investigator. here, Barabanov’s mother talks about what her son was doing before his arrest and why he went to the rally. And here and here you can read about the first ten people accused in this case.

At the office of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, searches were carried out in a money-laundering case. The case was opened on 3 August. According to investigators, persons unknown transferred money (about a billion roubles) to accomplices, including ACF employees. Searches in this case were also carried out in Izhevsk.

  • Why do I need to know this? This is not the first case of organisations associated with Alexei Navalny being investigated for money laundering. We will be patient and monitor the development of the situation.

Some other important news items from outside Moscow. At the Shies station in the Archangelsk region, agents of private security forces once again beat eco-activists. The activists were taken away by ambulance, but nobody took the private security agents anywhere. The authorities in the Archangelsk region consider Andrei Borovikov to be the organiser of the protests. He is charged under Article 212.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation with repeated violations of established procedure at protests, and preliminary hearings began this week. In Yekaterinburg, a new criminal case – the fifth so far – has been opened after the protests against the construction of a church in a city park. You can read about the previous four cases here.

Features

“They created an organisation and carried on correspondence”. This week two meetings were held on the “New Greatness” case [Translator’s note: New Greatness is a protest organisation accused of extremism and planning to seize power through a coup]. During the first meeting an employee of the Main Directorate for Combating Extremism of the Ministry of Internal Affairs – also known as the E Centre – talked about receiving information about New Greatness and the beginning of its development.  At the second, a woman who rented an office to “the organisation” was questioned. The premises were rented by alleged provocateur Ruslan Danilov. We have published excerpts from the interrogations.

Investigative operation a success Among those detained on 3 August was Igor Kalyapin, a member of the Presidential Human Rights Council and head of the Committee against Torture. By mistake he was transported in a police van with protest participants and detainees, and tried to remain unrecognised for as long as possible. They were at the Marino police station by the time the security forces realised they had detained the president of the committee, and released him. The human rights activist told OVD-Info what happened.

Robbed in the police station. A person detained on 3 August tells how he is trying to get back the phone that investigators seized from him during interrogation in the case of “mass rioting” on 27 July. At every level, the Investigative Committee of Russia acknowledges that the actions of its employees were unlawful, but nobody replies as to how to get the phone back. A law firm has even offered to help get the phone back from the ICR, for a fee.

“They were forced to kneel and keep their heads down”. An underage detainee tells how he was first struck by riot police, and then at the police station an investigator began to interrogate him about the “mass rioting” case. In order to get away from the station faster, the detainees were given the option of refusing a lawyer.

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Photo of the protest for free and fair elections by Evgeny Feldman / Meduza

Translated by Anna Bowles

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