OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 134: A Putin scarecrow and freedom of assembly

posted 23 Dec 2019, 05:57 by Translation Service   [ updated 23 Dec 2019, 06:03 ]
21 December 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.


A libertarian from Perm has been charged with hooliganism; one of the charges has been dropped against a defendant in the Network case; and new sentences have been issued to people found guilty of membership in the Muslim party Hizb ut-Tahrir.

Let’s start with the good news.

Restrictions on where protests can be held have been lifted in five regions. Complaints against the restrictions were issued by lawyers from OVD-Info and Memorial.

Why does this matter? In a number of Russian regions, local laws violate federal legislation. In particular, five regions had laws preventing members of the public from holding pickets in particular locations, although these bans could equally apply to other forms of protests, too. Thanks to our lawyers, this unconstitutional restriction has been lifted. Click here to read how we did it.

The charge against Dmitry Pchelintsev, a defendant in the Network case, of planning arson against a military conscription centre has been dropped. The charge was based on Pchelintsev’s confession alone.

Why do I need to know this? In September 2018, Pchelintsev announced that he had confessed under duress. He stated that the investigator threatened him and told him that if he wanted less severe charges, he would have to confess to plotting arson against a military conscription centre in 2011.

Criminal charges for a scarecrow president. Criminal charges of hooliganism have been issued against Aleksandr Kotov, a member of the Perm Libertarian Party, who staged a protest using a mannequin of Vladimir Putin.

Why do I need to know this? In November 2018, a scarecrow of Putin in a prison uniform, with signs reading “Liar” and “War criminal V.V. Pynia” (a derogatory nickname for Putin), was found hanging on a column in Perm. This led to a criminal case against three local activists. Until recently, they were considered suspects; now they have been formally charged.

Hizb ut-Tahrir: the sentences. Two of the defendants in the Hizb ut-Tahrir case in Tatarstan have been convicted of managing and being members of a terrorist organisation, and sentenced to 17 and 11 years respectively in a high-security prison.

Why do I need to know this? The Muslim party Hizb ut-Tahrir is classed in Russia as a terrorist organisation, although none of its members are known to have been involved in the planning or execution of acts of terrorism. At least 197 people have already been given lengthy prison sentences for nothing more than convening in one another’s homes, reading religious literature and recruiting new members.


They were searched, they were charged for their use of the Russian flag, and their anime-party was broken up. The authorities have been paying particular attention to the libertarians this year. Mikhail Svetov, one of the best-known members of the Libertarian party, was criminally charged, while other activists were searched, libertarian events were broken up, and supporters arrested and fined. After the summer’s protests, the pressure only increased. Alina Pinchuk explains everything that has happened to the libertarians this year.

Blood in the bathroom and a note from the FSB. In Tiumen in November, suspected supporters of Hizb ut-Tahrir were searched. One of those who was detained, Farrukh Makhamov, claimed – via his lawyer – that he had been tortured and sexually assaulted. His wife, Jamila Magomedov, told OVD-Info what happened during and after his search.


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 Anastasiya Pozhidaeva for OVD-Info

Translated by Judith Fagelson