OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin 125: The Moscow Case continues full steam ahead

posted 20 Oct 2019, 07:04 by Translation Service   [ updated 25 Oct 2019, 02:28 ]
19 October 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! This week’s main news item is the fresh wave of searches and arrests following the summer’s protests.

There are now five new defendants in the Moscow Case. The investigative proceedings began on Monday morning and continued into the next day. On Wednesday, four people were taken into pre-trial custody, where they will remain until December, on charges of assaulting representatives of the authorities; a fifth has been placed under house arrest. One of the detainees was released as a witness. 

'We are unarmed!' - people shout out to the police. Moscow, 27 July 2019. Photo: Anna Artemeva, Novaya gazeta

· Why does this matter? 16 people have been put behind bars in connection with the summer’s protests in Moscow. It all started with a criminal case on “civil unrest” launched by the Investigative Committee following protests on 27th July. Later, almost all the detainees were charged with other offences, and charges against five people were dropped altogether. Despite the severe sentences that defendants are facing, it did seem for a while that pressure on the protesters was easing off. However, sadly, it has now picked up new steam. You can read about the first defendants in the Moscow Case here

So that’s how it is with them, now. The courts have upheld Evgenii Kovalenko’s 3.5-year prison sentence for throwing a rubbish bin at law enforcement officers and pushing a member of the Russian National Guard. His elderly mother is dependent on him. Konstantin Kotov’s sentence has also been upheld – 4 years imprisonment for taking part in four peaceful protests. New charges have been issued against Samarddin Radzhabov and Aidar Gubaidulin: this time, they have been charged with “threatening to assault” law enforcement officers. This is the third time that the charges against Gubaidulin have been changed. He told us that he left Russia after his relatives’ flat in Ufa was, for some reason, searched.

The Anti-Corruption Foundation’s offices have been searched anew. On Tuesday, supporters of Alexei Navalny in at least 30 regions, as well as people with connections to his Foundation, were searched in connection with the ongoing money laundering case.

· Why do I need to know this? The money laundering case against the Anti-Corruption Foundation was first launched on 3rd August – the day of protests against the banning of candidates from standing for election to the Moscow Duma. The first mass searches in connection with the case were conducted on 12th September; around 200 properties were searched in at least forty cities. A total of 75 billion roubles were frozen as Navalny’s allies had their accounts blocked. Last week, the Ministry of Justice placed the Foundation on the register of “foreign agents”. The reason cited was a transfer of funds from a Spanish company into one of the blocked accounts. The Foundation considers the payment to be entrapment. You can read more about the campaign against the Anti-Corruption Foundation here.

Defendants in the New Greatness case have cut their veins. Ruslan Kostylenkov and Viacheslav Kriukov slit their veins during a hearing after the courts refused to change the remand orders against them.

· Why do I need to know this? Kostylenkov and Kriukov have been behind bars since March 2018. They are facing charges of organising and participating in an extremist group. In total, there are 10 defendants in the case. Three men, who escaped arrest, have given statements against them. One of them has admitted to being a government agent and infiltrating the group. Another wrote up the organisation’s constitution, raised funds and was in charge of hiring its meeting spaces.


Rally, cemetery, prison. Initially, almost everyone arrested in connection with the Moscow Case was charged with contributing to “civil unrest.” Now, only one defendant is still facing those charges. Aleksandr Litoi has analysed the use of this law. It is used in a few cases every year. The investigators and the courts class a wide range of different activities as “civil unrest”, from setting fire to a mattress to prisoners pushing a television set off its stand during protests.

The Moscow Case continues full steam ahead. The wave of searches and arrests in connection with the Moscow case have picked up new impetus. Our colleagues at Mediazone have kindly allowed us to republish their piece on five more of the defendants.

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Translated by Judith Fagelson