OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 130: Individuals to be designated as 'foreign agents' and LGBT activist prosecuted for pornography

posted 26 Nov 2019, 14:14 by Translation Service   [ updated 1 Dec 2019, 08:02 ]
23 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! This week the State Duma managed to pass two strange laws at once.

It is proposed to enable the designation of individuals as 'foreign agents.' Holders of this status will have to register as a legal entity and add a ‘foreign agent’ label to everything they publish.

Why is this important? According to the bill, anyone who publishes material on the internet and receives money from abroad or from Russian 'foreign agents' can be considered 'foreign agents.' At the same time, officials held that not all such people need be automatically designated as 'agents.' The wording of the law is rather vague, and there is a danger that it will be used to put pressure on journalists and bloggers.

It is proposed that lawyers will face a lifetime ban on appearing in court in cases where they:
  • are convicted of a crime;
  • are incapacitated or partly incapacitated;
  • have violated the lawyers’ Code of professional ethics;
  • have illegally used and/or disclosed information related to legal assistance to clients;
  • have systematically failed to comply with the statutory requirements of a lawyer’s inquiry.

Why is this important? Lawyers consider that the law contravenes the Constitution and makes it possible to put pressure on lawyers. If it comes into force, then someone with a higher education in law could be deprived of the right to work at their profession. In addition to this, the law contravenes the current procedural codes (the Code of Civil Procedure, Code of Administrative Offices, Code of Administrative Legal Proceedings). They envisage limits on a judicial representatives who are deprived of their lawyer status.

LGBT activist in Komsomolsk-on-Amur faces prosecution for alleged dissemination of pornography. At the start of the week, Yulia Tsvetokva’s home was searched. Her status was transferred from that of a witness to that of a suspect after she refused to testify.

Why do I need to know this? Law enforcement have been paying attention to Tsvetkova since February of last year. Previously the activist led a youth theatre, but it had to be closed after a festival was disrupted and young actors began to face pressure. Later, Tsvetkova and her subscribers on VKontakte were summoned to the police and asked about propaganda on “non-traditional family values”. The police promised to open an administrative case, but decided to go further. Here you can read monologues by the pupils of the theatre and their parents about their many hours of police interrogation and their activist art.


Prosecution of innocent people A book by Aleksei Fedyarov, a staff member at the Russia in Jail Foundation [Русь сидящая], has been published by the publisher Alpina. In the past both a prosecutor and a prisoner, and now a human rights defender, Fedyarov describes in the book what to do if you are the victim of an unfair criminal prosecution. We have published a chapter.

20 protests without official permission Жители Residents of Neftekamsk are dissatisfied that there are plans to build a dump for dangerous waste near the town. For two months they have tried to get permission to hold a protest, but local authorities have rejected all 20 of their applications. Each time the local authorities claimed that the activists were late in applying, because the location had already been promised to organisers of another event - although no other events ever took place. Aleksandr Litoi has interviewed Aidar Bayanov, an activist from the group 'Stop Kambarka-Neftekamsk.'

Antifascists' criminal connections Last Sunday people in masks and flack jackets burst into a martial arts tournament held by antifascist activists entitled 'Don't Give Up.' All of those present were put in buses and taken away. About 60 of those arrested were sent to various police stations, photographed and given questionnaires to fill out. Among the information requested was 'Criminal Connections.' Aleksandr Litoi spoke with Irina, one of those who had been at the tournament. 

Stay in touch,
Laura fish


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Illustration by Anna Goremyka for OVD-Info

Translated by Anna Bowles