OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 19: Protester jailed for 2.5 years

posted 8 Sep 2017, 05:14 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 8 Sep 2017, 13:25 ]
8 September 2017

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 information on freedom of assembly, which is translated here. To receive the mailing in Russian, visit here.

This past week a great deal has been happening: the trials of demonstrators from the protests of 26 March and 12 June, punitive psychiatry, elections and emigration.

A defendant in the “Case of 12 June” has been sentenced to 2.5 years in prison. The period of house arrest of another defendant prosecuted in the same case, a minor, has been extended.

There are only two defendants in a case concerning the use of force against two police officers on 12 June in Moscow. One of them, Rasim Iskakov, pleaded guilty and agreed to a plea bargain, according to which the evidence against him would not be heard in court. Moscow’s Tver district court sentenced him to 2.5 years in prison (the same term as that given to Stanislav Zimovets in the “Case of 26 March”, who had pleaded not guilty). So far as the second defendant is concerned, 17-year-old Mikhail Galyashkin, the investigation has been completed but the trial has not yet begun.

The “Case of 26 March” continues

The pre-trial detention of Dmitry Borisov, charged with using force against a police officer during the dispersal of the demonstration on 26 March in Moscow, has yet again been extended. After the hearing, the court bailiffs detained Dmitry Borisov’s sister, Kseniya, for attempting to hug her brother.

Ivan Nepomnyashchikh, convicted in the “Bolotnaya Square” case has left Russia. A lawyer was not allowed into a psychiatric hospital to see another “Bolotnaya Square” defendant.

Nepomnyashchikh at the present time is in Prague, from where he intends to go to the USA to study. In the prison colony he was brutally beaten on several occasions and confined in a punishment cell - in particular for telling the outside world about the beatings he had received. At the end of July, a court ruled that Nepomnyashchikh should be on probation for three years following his release.

Another defendant in the “Bolotnaya Square” case, Maksim Panfilov, who was ruled unfit to stand trial and sent to a psychiatric hospital, was not allowed to see a lawyer who came to visit him.

In St. Petersburg an opposition activist was beaten and sent to a psychiatric hospital for graffiti against Putin.

Peter Yablonsky, a participant in the demonstrations of 26 March and 12 June and a supporter of the Artpodgotovka group, painted a number of slogans on a road and on the walls of apartment buildings, including “Putin Must Retire”. He was detained and beaten. The police demanded he give testimony against his colleagues and threatened him with a criminal prosecution for vandalism. After this he was sent to a neuropsychiatric out-patient clinic where a doctor gave him a referral to a psychiatric in-patient hospital (in 2016 Yablonsky had already spent time in a psychiatric hospital). The activist was taken back to the police station where the police called for emergency psychiatric assistance. However, the doctors who came saw evidence of beatings on Yablonsky’s body and took him to the Aleksandrov hospital, where they recorded the injuries, before finally placing him in the hospital’s somatic-psychiatric department. He was released only two days later.

On 3 September in Moscow, a large rally of Muslims, that did not have official permission, took place outside the embassy of Myanmar. After the demonstration, police carried out raids on markets, and on the second day of the protest the police detained at least 20 people. Later, Moscow City Hall refused to permit a similar protest rally to take place.  

Muslims joined the protest after a video was circulated on social networks showing brutal treatment of the Rohingya people, a majority of whom are Muslims. Participants in the protest demanded an end to the persecution of the Rohingya people in Myanmar. The day following the unsanctioned rally outside the embassy, police conducted inspections of Moscow markets where, according to eyewitnesses, they sought to identify individuals who had been at the protest and recorded the passport details of market employees. Later the authorities refused to permit a 200-person protest on the same issue.

An extraordinary event has taken place in Volgograd region, where a local journalist is to be prosecuted for stealing sausages. The journalist is currently in a pre-trial detention facility with smashed heels.

The journalist Aleksandr Batmanov, a programme-maker for the YouTube channel NGO-TV, who had gathered information about the funding of construction of the city stadium in preparation for the FIFA World Cup, has been charged with stealing sausages from a supermarket. He was summoned to a police station, and after conversations with a prosecutor, was detained there for two days. When he tried to escape, Batmanov fell from a window, smashing both his heels. He is now held in a hospital at the pre-trial detention centre. At the hospital he is held in a corridor, not a ward, and is handcuffed to a bed. A judge has postponed hearing Batmanov’s case until he is in better health. At present he cannot walk.

Not one week goes by without the persecution of supporters of Aleksei Navalny. They are detained, fined, and threatened in all kinds of ways.

In Kazan, for a second time the head of Navalny’s local election campaign headquarters, Elvira Dmitrieva, has been jailed for 10 days. The first time she was jailed was on 23 March, but the Supreme Court of Tatarstan quashed the decision. This time the ruling to jail her has entered into force. Meanwhile, in Voronezh laptops seized earlier from the Navalny campaign headquarters in the city have been returned, but a threat was made that other measures would be taken against them.

Next Sunday, on 10 September, elections will be held in many Russian regions. Preparations for the elections are taking place with the usual kinds of violations, especially in Moscow.

In the Pechatniki district of Moscow, candidates in the municipal elections have been detained while setting up a street stand for their campaign. A volunteer working for the election campaign of Dmitry Gudkov has been detained for distributing leaflets. In a number of Moscow districts, campaign stands that were put up have been removed. Meanwhile, in Murmansk, all the volunteers working for Aleksei Navalny’s local election headquarters have been taken off the official list of election monitors following a telephone call from the deputy governor.

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For more information on OVD-Info, read this article from the organisation's founder on how OVD is breaking the civil society mould here.