OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 31: Small victories...against a background of continued, large-scale harassment

posted 1 Dec 2017, 04:46 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 1 Dec 2017, 05:04 ]
1 December 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

Greetings to our readers!

Things are getting no better for those imprisoned as a result of politically-motivated prosecutions, but there are ways to keep their spirits up, for example by writing a letter or sending a New Year's card, which after all is getting closer now. For this purpose, you can draw on the services of the RosUznik project. You can also attend the trials of those whose prosecutions are still underway. Support of this kind is very important for those on trial. We regularly publicize news about court hearings in these cases.

Now for the week's news.

The anti-fascist activist Aleksandr Kolchenko, sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of committing an act of terrorism (no act of terrorism in fact took place) in Simferopol, has been diagnosed as being "underweight" underweight. His mother says that with a height of 190cm he currently weighs a mere 62kg. She also notes that her son is now spending his fourth birthday behind bars: "Our family marks this anniversary with tears in our eyes." In various countries people have held a protest, “Pointless Waiting”, to mark Kolchenko’s birthday. Those taking part gathered at different airports to “wait” for Kolchenko and other Russian political prisoners. Photographs of the protestcan be found on Twitter under the hashtag #PointlessWaiting.

Write a letter: The address to write to Aleksandr Kolchenko is:

Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Kolchenko (born 1989), Prison Colony No. 6, Kemerovskaya Street 20, Kopeisk, Chelyabinsk region, 456612.

456612, Челябинская обл., Копейск, ул. Кемеровская, 20, ИК-6, Кольченко Александру Александровичу, 1989 г.р.

A police officer has given evidence at the trial of the adolescent Dmitry Myakshin, a defendant in the "Case of 12 June," asserting that he tried to arrest the accused when the latter made an offensive sign with his finger at the police officers. According to the police officer, Dmitry Myakshin made the offensive sign before falling on another police officer and beating him. Dmitry Myakshin told us he is thinking of bringing a case for defamation against the police officer who gave evidence today because he had not made any gestures at the police officers: "I have video where just before the incident in question I was doing nothing of the sort, so if I need to, I can prove my case.” Earlier, the alleged victim of Myakshin's assault, traffic police inspector Vyacheslav Pugachev, said that at the time he fell down, he lost consciousness as a result of the blow, and part of the evidence he had given was based on a video he had seen.

One other criminal prosecution is underway following the 12 June rally against corruption. In Ufa, local activist Rustem Muliukov is being prosecuted for public incitement of extremism. It is probable that the case is based on a video from the rally in which the activist can be seen calling officials "traitors who are stealing from us," and demanding that they be "jailed" and "shot."

The European Court of Human Rights has issued a judgment regarding applications by two defendants in the Bolotnaya Square prosecutions. The Court awarded Dmitry Buchenkov, who recently left Russia before his trial had ended, 2,600 euros in compensation for excessively long pre-trial detention. Nikolai Kavkazsky was awarded 10,000 euros in compensation: the European Court of Human Rights considered the treatment he received during transport from the pre-trial detention centre to the court, and the fact that during the trial he was held in a glass cabin in the courtroom at Moscow City Court, to be inhumane.

In a number of Russian cities supporters of Aleksei Navalny are being denied permission to hold public events at which the politician can meet voters. This week authorities in Samara failed to find a single suitable location in the whole city for such an event, while in St. Petersburg 700* applications for permission to hold meetings of this kind were refused. In cities where it has been possible to hold such meetings, or where they are planned, members of Navalny's local election campaign staff are being detained and jailed.

*In order to submit such a large number of applications, Navalny's campaign headquarters in St. Petersburg developed a special computer programme that generates requests to hold pickets at locations throughout the city and at various times.

Small victories by activists are a joy for monitors from OVD-Info. St Petersburg City Court has quashed the conviction of Rafael Gainutdinov, an activist from the Artpodgotovka group, for failing to obey police instructions and violating the regulations governing public assemblies at a protest on 7 October. Earlier a court had fined Gainutdinov 15,000 roubles and jailed him for 10 days. Meanwhile in Moscow the prosecutor's office ruled that a refusal by the management of the Sokolniki park to permit a rally by environmentalists on 21 October was unlawful.

That was our Week

In cooperation with The Insider we have prepared a number of publications about those individuals who have left Russia for political reasons over the last seven years. So far there are one hundred names on the list, more will be added as necessary. There is also an interactive map.

You can support our work now and in the difficult coming pre-election months of 2018 that lie ahead here.