OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 129: Krivoruchko and classified materials

posted 21 Nov 2019, 13:40 by Translation Service   [ updated 21 Nov 2019, 13:49 ]
16 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.

Hello, dear readers!

We’ve released a project about freedom of assembly in the former USSR. Take a look at where has the highest fines for violations at rallies, and what local experts and journalists say about freedom of Assembly.

And now for the week’s news..

Prosecutions for commenting about a judge During the week, the Investigative Committee opened as many as three criminal cases for publications about judge Aleksei Krivoruchko. The first individual was detained on Tuesday. On Wednesday, another was detained at Vnukovo airport. The accused refused the help of a human rights lawyers and pleaded guilty.

Why do I need to know this? The arrests are a consequence of the authorities' reaction to this summer’s protests against the suspension of independent candidates for the Moscow City Duma. These protests resulted in a series of criminal cases relating to the "mass riots" and alleged violence against security forces. In September, Krivoruchko sentenced actor Pavel Ustinov to 3.5 years in prison for his participation in a rally in August. The sentence was later replaced with a suspended sentence, but Krivoruchko's decision caused such a stir online, that the court published statements regarding the "unacceptable criticism of the judicial system" and the "outright harassment" of the judge.

The Golunov Case. The materials relating to the case of journalist Ivan Golunov, who in July was detained with a planted package of drugs, have been classified. The police officers who arrested Golunov are being investigated.

Why is this important? There must be valid reasoning to classify case materials. Still, parts of the documents remain available to the participants of the legal process. Here, under the heading "secret" one can find materials which Golunov's lawyers were already familiar with. For almost six months, there have been attempts to bring the police officers who fabricated the charges to justice, but this is yet to materialise. "The whole criminal case is classified, from the cover to the last page, without explanation. This is the first time I have encountered such cynicism" said his lawyer. You can read about how courts abuse the "investigation secrets" here.

The Crimea Sentences. Six defendants in the “Hizb ut-Tahrir" case received between 7 and 19 years in a prison colony for participating in a terrorist organisation. None of them pleaded guilty.

Why do I need to know this? Russia is the only country in which the Muslim party Hizb ut-Tahrir is considered a terrorist organisation. In different regions, according to incomplete data, 301 individuals have been persecuted, 197 of whom have already received harsh prison sentences for simply meeting in apartments, reading religious literature and recruiting new members. Here, an expert from "Memorial" explains in detail how this all began, and why this so-called “terrorist group” is banned.


Mass production The former head of the Donetsk People’s Republic is now serving as mayor of Elista. The locals arranged demonstrations in protest, three of which led to participants being detained and fined. Natalia Korotonozhkina explains what is happening in the capital of Kalmykia.

Court hearings at midnight Last Friday, the Moscow City Court looked into the moral damage from uncoordinated picket. Lawyer ATS-info Maxim Sorokin together with the defendants waited for the meeting for seven hours. During this time, one of the applicants had to call an ambulance. Alexander Litoy recorded the lawyer's story.

Playing by numbers OVD-info, alongside lawyers from Memorial is launching a campaign in help detainees from protests to send complaints to the European Court of Human Rights. By the summer, the ECHR will have received hundreds of complaints. The campaign coordinators hope to help not only those who were wrongly detained, but also to address the present state of freedom of assembly in Russia. Marina Agaltsova and Alexandra Chilikova explain why this is necessary, and how it works.

Stay in touch,
Laura fish


Each day we publish news reports and provide assistance to people who have been arrested. We very much need your assistance. After all, we depend for all our work on your support. Please sign up to make a monthly donation to OVD-Info. That way we can continue to send you your favourite mailing, our Weekly Bulletin.

Illustration by Anastasia Pozhidaeva for OVD-Info

Translated by James Lofthouse