OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 26: Pynya, go away!

posted 27 Oct 2017, 05:21 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 27 Oct 2017, 10:59 ]
27 October 2017

OVD-Info is a Moscow-based NGO that monitors politically-motivated arrests in Russia. Every Friday it sends out a mailing with the latest information on freedom of assembly, which is translated here. To receive the mailing in Russian, visit here. These English translations of OVD-Info's weekly bulletins are published by openDemocracy and are republished here by kind permission with due acknowledgement.

This week there is something of everything - arrests, assaults, and bannings. On the other hand, at least three people have been released from prison.

15 days in jail for "Pynya." Traffic police stopped a car in which Olga Romanova and Andrei Titkov, Moscow activists of the “New Opposition” political movement, were travelling. They were detained for a protest with a mannequin hung on the Ustinsky Bridge along with a placard that read “Go Away, Pynya” (“Pynya” being a Putin-meme on the internet). The next day Titkov was jailed for 15 days on the grounds that this protest had created a traffic disturbance. Romanova had been released before the court hearing. At the hearing in the case of Titkov, no one, not even his lawyer who was in the building, was allowed into the courtroom.

The Artpodgotovka group, headed by Vyacheslav Maltsev who has left Russia, has been  ruled to be extremist and banned. Moreover, FSB officers conducted a search of the home of a Moscow activist from the group, Andrei Tolkachev.

Vladimir Shipitsin, an activist from the St. Petersburg Solidarity movement, was assaulted in the entrance hall of his building. The attacker used a knuckleduster, and during the assault said: “Don’t write any more f*cking BS about good people, next time it will be worse.”

Regional election campaign offices of Aleksei Navalny were also attacked. In Khabarovsk, a United Russia Young Guard activist poured paint on the building, while in Kirov someone threw a brick through the offices’ window.

The leaders of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatars, Akhtem Chiygoz and Ilmi Umerov, were pardoned and flown to Turkey. Chiygoz had been charged with organizing mass disturbances that took place in Simferopol in February 2014 and sentenced to eight years in a prison colony. Umerov was charged with inciting separatism for stating that Crimea should be returned to Ukraine, and sentenced to two years in a low security prison colony.

One other person convicted of inciting separatism (and also extremism), leftwing activist from the Kuban Darya Poliudova, was released. Meanwhile Crimea resident Suleiman Kadyrov is still awaiting trial on charges of inciting separatism.

In Moscow the trial began of a teenager accused of using force against a National Guard officer at a demonstration on 12 June.  Read the report by our correspondent.

Record-breaking zeal has been shown by Sochi police. A number of times police in Sochi have brought to court administrative cases against two supporters of Aleksei Navalny: Olesya Khristosenko, for a photograph taken on the porch of the campaign offices in the city; and Konstantin Gudimov for travelling on a bicycle on 7 October. Equally, the court has, a number of times, rejected the case and sent it back to the police. Nonetheless, the police succeeded in getting their way: Gudimov was jailed for 12 days, Khristosenko for eight days. A commentary the lawyer Aleksandr Popkov can be read here.

Trials related to the protests of 7 October have continued in other cities. Some protesters were sentenced to community work, others were fined.

In Nizhny Novgorod, a local resident and participant in the “meeting with Navalny without Navalny” that took place on 29 September was fined 250,000 roubles.

How they treat people in disguise in the Kuban. On the one hand, celebrating Halloween in bars and restaurants is banned in the region. On the other hand, officials from various government departments in Krasnodar, in order to prevent protests against the felling of trees, dressed in bathrobes and, disguised as housewives, went out to welcome the cutting down of trees.

In Murom a concert by the punk rock group Pornofilmy was banned. Vladimir region FSB stated that “the event is intended to potentially initiate a protest by young people” and the lyrics of the group’s songs “propagandize an asocial way of life and inculcate a lack of trust and hatred towards the government authorities and law enforcement agencies.”

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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.

P.S. Here are the details of two upcoming trials, if you are able to attend:

1 November at 16:00, at Tver district court in Moscow, hearings begin on the merits of the case in the trial of Dmitry Borisov, detained during the dispersal of the rally of 26 March. He has been charged with using force against a police officer.

3 November at 09:30, in Zamoskvoretsky district court in Moscow, a hearing in the case of  Dmitry Buchenkov will be held. He is charged with riot and using force against a police officer on Bolotnaya Square on 6 May 2012, although he was not at the scene.