OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No 127: Disallowed evidence and dangerous bottles

posted 4 Nov 2019, 13:42 by Translation Service   [ updated 7 Nov 2019, 00:53 ]
2 November 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!

One of the police officers who gave evidence as part of the Moscow Case refused to call himself a victim and quit his job at the Ministry of Internal Affairs. He would not agree that he was hurt by a plastic bottle which was thrown without hitting anyone. You can read his monologue here. And now for the news:

There’s a new defendant in the Moscow Case. 32-year-old Pavel Novikov was arrested on Tuesday morning and interrogated until 2 am the following day. He was consequently charged with hitting a police officer with a plastic bottle and will be detained for two months. Novikov maintains his innocence, although this is not what the investigator told the court.

Why does this matter? It has been three months since the protest against the barring of candidates from the Moscow city elections – the protest which led to this criminal case. Initially, all the arrestees were charged with participation in civil disorder, but in the end the prosecution dropped the charges against six of the defendants, and changed the charges against most of the others. In mid-October, a further six people were searched and then arrested on charges of assaulting law enforcement officers. New defendants are constantly being added to the case, with no end in sight. We have updated our detailed “who’s who” guide to all the defendants.

The correspondence between defendants in the New Greatness case has changed. Someone has added the defendants’ personal details, including their dates of birth, onto every message in the transcript of their Telegram chat.

Why does this matter? The transcript of the chat between the defendants is a key piece of evidence in the case. At the last court hearing, secret witness Radu Zelinskii (also known as Ruslan D.) stated that he ordered the chat to be exported and sent to an unidentified person, that he cannot guarantee the authenticity of the text, and – most importantly – that the original correspondence has been lost. Lawyer Maksim Pashkov believes that this evidence should be disallowed. Click here to read the transcript of Zelensky’s interrogation. This secret witness (who the defence believes to be an agent provocateur, infiltrated into the group) told the court that joining “extremist groups” and handing in their participants is a hobby of his, and that he has been doing it for no less than seven years.

The Perm branch of Memorial and the home of its chair have been searched in connection with a criminal case on illegal deforestation. Law enforcement officers initially came with a warrant for the wrong addresses. The lawyer sent them away, but a short while later they returned with the correct documents. They spent nine hours searching the home of Memorial’s chair. They seized computers – not shovels – as material evidence.

Why do I need to know this? In August, the Perm branch of Memorial set off on an expedition to an abandoned Polish-Lithuanian cemetery in an uninhabited settlement, where victims of the Stalin’s repression are buried. All they wanted to do was to clean up the abandoned cemetery. In short, they were interrogated and, shortly afterwards, the police are pressing charges two criminal charges – one on illegal deforestation and one on the fictitious registration of foreign citizens – as well as one administrative charge. The organisation and its chair were fined a total of 250,000 roubles for the unauthorised occupation of forested areas.

The Supreme Court has dissolved the movement For Human Rights. The dissolution of one of Russia’s oldest human rights organisations was ordered by the Ministry of Justice.

Why do I need to know this? For Human Rights has been listed as a “foreign agent” since February. The Ministry felt that the movement broke the foreign agent law too many times, and in particular was not including a statement of its status as an “agent” on every one of its publications appearing anywhere online. The movement’s director, Lev Ponomarev, disputes the court’s decision, considers the charges to have been fabricated, and has no intention of ending the movement’s activities.


An explosion – and then an arrest for preparing fireworks. Moscow schoolboy Kirill Kuz’minkin was fourteen when he was arrested. He spent a year in remand. The teenager was arrested for preparing fireworks and being in contact with Mikhail Zhlobitsky, a suicide bomber who detonated an explosion at the FSB building in Arkhangelsk. Kuz’minkin is now under house arrest. Aleksandr Litoi explains the charges against the teenager.

The children’s game inspired by an agent provocateur. The investigation’s approach to the defendants in the New Greatness case is peculiar. According to the investigation, 10 people set up an extremist organisation and were planning to overthrow the government. The first court hearings on the case were in July. Publicist Anna Narinskaya explains what the charges are based on and what’s been going on in court.

“Human rights is being wiped out as a field” In October, several worrying pieces of news relating to human rights organisations emerged all at once. Several well-known human rights activists were not admitted into the Public Monitoring Committee. Active participants of the Human Rights Council were excluded by the president. The movement For Human Rights is going into liquidation, and two members of the Committee for Citizens’ Rights are facing criminal charges. Read about what’s happening here.

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Photo by David Frenkel: Rally on 10 August 2019 in Moscow

Translated by Judith Fagelson