OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 32: Six years of OVD-Info

posted 8 Dec 2017, 04:39 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 8 Dec 2017, 09:17 ]
8 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. These English translations of OVD-Info's weekly bulletins are published by openDemocracy and are republished here by kind permission with due acknowledgement

Hundreds of hours spent on the phone, online and in court — this is what it means to monitor politically-motivated arrests in Russia. 

Six years ago, on 5 December 2011, a rally took place in the Chistye Prudy area of Moscow. This protest against the results of the State Duma elections marked the start of the protest movement of the 2010s. The rally ended up with mass arrests, and that same evening OVD-Info was born. The project was initiated by two people: a computer programmer and a journalist.

Today we have a couple of dozen staff and hundred volunteers in five cities. We are creating our own legal service: we gather and analyze data to assess the scale of repressions and, most important, we independently provide legal assistance. We have accurate information, we know what it means, and we can help.

In 2017 alone we have assisted 938 people (almost a thousand!) in Moscow police stations, 381 in Russian courts, and we are already helping 25 to make applications to the European Court of Human Rights. Over the same time, our telephone hotline has received 6,256 calls, and delivered 274 hours 55 minutes of help to people who have met with violations of their civil rights.

The best gift to us - and to those who have suffered persecution - is to tell your friends about OVD-Info and to support the project. Thanks to your help we are developing and learning to provide more, and more effective, assistance. You can help us here: https://donate.ovdinfo.org

The Week in Full

We have one piece of truly good news to share with you: Yury Kuly, convicted in the 26 March Case, has been released from prison! He was sentenced to eight months for helping an elderly person who was attacked by a police officer. True, there is also sad news: another defendant in this case, the engineer Dmitry Krepkin, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Not everyone knows that after the rally, “Don’t Call Him Dimon,” nine people in three cities were charged with criminal offences. We have brought together detailed information about these cases and those charged. This includes: video, illustrations, how the detentions took place, what the charges were, news about the investigations and trials, and also how to write to the defendants.

On 5 December the Ministry of Justice named the first nine media organizations to be designated as “foreign agents.” These included Voice of America, Radio Svoboda, Idel.Realii, Kavkaz.Realii and Krym.Realii. Henceforth, these media outlets must report regularly to the Ministry of Justice on their activities and finances, and mark their output with the label “foreign agent.”

The mathematician Dmitry Bogatov has undergone a lie-detector test. Its results show Bogatov is innocent. However, the investigator in the case has refused to add the results of the test to the materials of the case. The investigator believes that the specialists who conducted the test were not competent. Bogatov is charged with inciting mass riots on the basis of communications sent from his IP address. Bogatov operates a Tor node, which means that any user can send a message from his IP address.

Officials in Irkutsk have found a novel method of fighting against Navalny’s local election campaign headquarters. They have ordered that the toilet facilities in the extension to the building dated 1830, where Navalny’s campaign team are located, should be removed. The Service for the Protection of Cultural Monuments has gone to court to claim that the construction of the extension had not been foreseen at the time of the original building.

A supporter of the banned Volya party has told us how she has been prosecuted for distributing the text of a leaflet to a number of addresses via e-mail.

Thank you

If you have questions about how to defend yourself in court, or about what to do if you are arrested, then visit the section of our website Your Rights, or get in touch with our Bot. You will most likely find an answer.

Our thanks to everyone who continues to support our work. Find out how you can help us here.

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