OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 135: Novaya Zemlya, a balaclava-clad lawyer, and a dropped criminal case

posted 1 Jan 2020, 09:12 by Translation Service   [ updated 1 Jan 2020, 09:13 ]
28 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.

Hi! Prosecutors have set out the sentences they want for defendants in the torturous Network case; several verdicts have been issued in the Moscow Case; and an employee of the Anti-Corruption Foundation has been forcibly sent to serve in the army. On a plane. To the archipelago of Novaya Zemlya. Under guard.

Verdicts in the Moscow Case. Let’s start with the good news: the Investigative Committee has dropped the case against Sergei Polovets, who had been accused of threatening a judge. Evgeny Erzunov, who had been facing similar charges, was fined 110,000 roubles. Samarddin Raddzabov was convicted of assaulting a member of the security forces and issued a fine, but spared further punishment; the courts considered Radzhabov’s time already served in pre-trial detention as time served. Sergei Surovets was similarly convicted of assaulting a member of the National Guard and sentenced to two and a half years in prison.

Why does this matter? The Moscow Case has been a response to the peaceful protests calling for independent candidates to be allowed to stand in the Moscow City Duma elections. Over 30 people have faced criminal prosecution. 18 of them have already received sentences of up to five years’ imprisonment. We told the stories of each of the defendants.

The Anti-Corruption Foundation has been searched once again. Members of the security forces visited the Foundation’s Moscow office, in the studios of the Navalny LIVE YouTube channel. The reason for their visit was the Foundation’s refusal to delete from YouTube its video investigation into Dmitry Medvedev’s property. Lawyers were not permitted during the four-hour search. One of them was nonetheless admitted when he donned a balaclava, but thrown out again when he revealed his identity as a lawyer.

Why do I need to know this? The authorities are using a wide range of means to put the Anti-Corruption Foundation under constant pressure. The Foundation’s offices are subjected to intermittent searches, its staff have fined and prosecuted, and their bank accounts have been frozen. Moreover, the Foundation itself was recently placed on the foreign agents’ register.

An Anti-Corruption Foundation employee has been sent on army service to Novaya Zemlya. Ruslan Shaveddinov was taken from his apartment and put on a plane to the archipelago of Novaya Zemlya. He was escorted to the army by a convoy and forbidden to use his phone.

Why does this matter? Once again, Anti-Corruption Foundation employees are coming under pressure. Aleksei Navalny has noted that Shaveddinov has a confirmed medical condition preventing him from serving in the armed forces. In the autumn, Shaveddinov was arrested on several occasions without charge. On one of these occasions, he was visited by a representative from the military draft board.

Sentences of up to 18 years have been recommended in the Network case. The prosecution has requested sentences of at least six years for those who were arrested in Penza.

Why is this important? Ten people in Penza and St Petersburg have been accused of forming a terrorist group with a view to overthrowing the government. Almost all of them claim to have confessed under torture.


Moscow’s on the up. Over the summer, thousands of people gathered in protests which led to mass arrests, beatings and criminal charges. We have compiled a concise and comprehensible description of these events, which you can send to anyone who does not know about them. We have also collected photographs, videos and quotations, and put together a timeline of events.

Mothers against political repression. Dozens of relatives of political prisoners have come together in order to protest the prosecution of their loved ones and to help one another. Sergei Kagermazov spoke to Aleksandra Krylenkova, the human rights activist who is coordinating this movement.

A pacifist’s act of terrorism. Sergei Ryzhov, a supporter of the vlogger Vyacheslav Maltsev, has been accused of possession of weapons and planning an act of terrorism. Yet, Ryzhov is well known as an activist who only supports peaceful forms of protest. Aleksandr Litoi explains what’s wrong with this case.

A timeline of the fines against Memorial. Memorial Human Rights Centre and the International Memorial Society have received fines amounting to several million roubles and is still awaiting more. The organisation has come under fire for omitting to publish its status as a “foreign agent” on its websites and social media pages. Mikhail Shubin has put together a timeline of events.


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 Vikulova for OVD-Info

Translation by Judith Fagelson