OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 122: The media is our body armour

posted 29 Sep 2019, 07:45 by Translation Service   [ updated 1 Oct 2019, 12:23 by Rights in Russia ]
28 September 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!

In the wake of the case against the Anti-Corruption Foundation, we conducted a study in partnership with our colleagues at pravo.ru (Rights.ru) to figure out how often money-laundering cases are launched in Russia. Read it to find out why it’s so difficult to prove guilt.

“The Moscow case” Aleksei Miniaylo, a defendant in the case on civil unrest, was released directly in the courtroom and the case against him dropped. Ivan Podkopaev remains in pre-trial detention. He had been previously received a three-year sentence for allegedly releasing pepper-spray at the rally. Egor Zukov (who is accused of inciting extremism on YouTube) and Samariddin Radzhalov (accused of throwing a plastic bottle at law enforcement officers) have both had their detentions extended. Meanwhile, the civil unrest case’s investigation continues.

Why does this matter? Since the launch of criminal proceedings against participants in the 27th July and 3rd August, there have been regular marches in solidarity with the defendants. Criminal prosecutions against five of the protesters have been dropped altogether. Another six people have been handed down sentences ranging from two to four years. Click here to read more about the defendants in the so-called “Moscow case” which is, in fact, a series of different criminal cases. 

A criminal case for portraits at a cemetery Last Saturday, St Petersburg activist Andrey Zkehsimbaev went missing after a visit from the police. It later emerged that he, along with two other activists, had been interrogated in connection with a criminal case on the desecration of dead bodies and their burial places. The suspect in the case is Pavel Ivankin, a member of the Agit Rossiya movement. The courts did not arrest him.

Why do I need to know this? The reason behind the launch of criminal proceedings on such exotic grounds was an anonymous protest carried out in mid-September. Someone placed photographs of the Russian president, the Prime Minister, other members of the authorities, and the rapper Timati on headstones in a St Petersburg graveyard. The photos were then posted on Agit Rossiya’s Telegram channel, which led to security forces seeking the people responsible. Mikhail Shubin outlines everything we know about the case so far.

The New Greatness case The prosecution has requested that the verdict against Pavel Rebrovsky, a defendant in the New Greatness case, be overturned because he has violated the terms of his pre-trial agreement. Previously, Rebrevsky had been sentenced to 2.5 years’ imprisonment. He initially pleaded guilty, but later retracted his plea, explaining that he had only confessed because he was threatened with further terrorism charges.

Why do I need to know this? The prosecution’s arguments in the New Greatness case are primarily based on the testimonies of three men who avoided arrest. One of them is Radu Zelinsky. He is the one who had rented the office where the defendants used to meet, and he is also the one who drew up the “organisation’s” constitution. He appears in the case files under the pseudonym Ruslan Danilov, and the defence believes him to be a special forces agent. During one of the questionings in court, a witness named Kunitsyna explained how the FSB asked her not to reveal who had paid for the office rent. The case involves ten defendants, who are charged with organising and participating in an extremist society. You can read about the defendants here, and see the transcript of Pavel Rebrovsky’s interrogation here.

The case on civil unrest in Ingushetia The Centre for Combatting Extremism has searched the offices of Ingushetian NGO Development (Razvitie), which supports women and young people. The organisation is under investigation for financing protests in the town of Magas. Seven people, currently facing charges for assaulting the Ingushetian authorities, have had their detentions extended, and one has been transferred to house arrest.

Why do I need to know this? The case involves at least 31 people and no less than 27 suspects and defendants are now being detained. The reason behind the case was a large-scale protest in Magas on 26th March. Protesters gathered to demand the return of land from Chechnya to Ingushetia and the resignation of the head of Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek Evkurov.


No free swimming. Andrey Radishiov, who is the former director of a sports school and a United Russia deputy, has been convicted of fraud and sentenced to four years’ imprisonment. He maintains that the case was fabricated because of his refusal to allow investigators and prosecutors free entry to the pool and football pitch. Aleksandr Litoy explains the circumstances surrounding the case.

The campaign against the Anti-Corruption Foundation. On the morning of 12th September, pro-Navalny activists, local coordinators, volunteers and their families were searched. These operations were undertaken as part of the money-laundering case currently ongoing against the Anti-Corruption Foundation. These events follow a long line of others, and form part of a persistent campaign of pressure from the authorities. Mikhail Shubin has set out the order of events.

“The Media is our body armour”. In August 2018, protests sparked up in Arkhangelsk against the construction of a landfill site at Shiyes station. Criminal proceedings have been initiated against one of the protesters, Andrey Borovikov, who is accused of “multiple offences” at the protests. On Friday, the courts ordered him to complete 400 hours of community service. Before his sentencing, Borikov talked about his case, potential provocations and the police who searched through rubbish bins.


Stay in touch,

Monitor Laura Fish



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Illustration by Alina Kugusheva for OVD-Info

Translated by Judith Fagelson