OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 50: Telegram blocked, claims of torture in a prosecution for alleged terrorism, and a school teacher sentenced for a poem

posted 13 Apr 2018, 00:37 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 13 Apr 2018, 06:57 ]
13 April 2018

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 hereThese English translations of OVD-Info's weekly bulletins are published by openDemocracy and are reposted here by kind permission.


Please note the article 'OVD-Info: Every Day - Navalny' has been moved to this new location.

Moscow’s Taganka district court has ruled in favour of a lawsuit by Roskomnadzor to block the Telegram messenger service. We ourselves have a channel and a legal bot on Telegram. It is very simply to get round the blocking! There are two fantastic links on this from Aleksandr Litreev: this one or, even simpler, this second one. After clicking on the link, Telegram suggests that you set up a web proxy. This is secure, but you must do it on all your devices.


The authorities continue to hype up the case of the so-called “Network” terrorist group. Earlier, a number of those accused in this case alleged they had been tortured.

  • Yuly Boyarshinov, from St. Petersburg, has been named as a new defendant in this case. We tell the story of how Yuly came to be one of the accused in this case, about pressure that was put on him in pre-trial detention, about a single cell with 150 people, and about the anarchist symbol drawn on the dusty glass of a cell window. If you want to share this story with your friends abroad, here is an English translation.

  • “First of all they tortured the son, now they are dealing with the mother”: in Penza the investigator and journalists from NTV are putting pressure on Elena, the mother of Ilya Shakursky, a defendant in the “Network” case. This occurred after Elena got in touch with the parents of other defendants in the case and with human rights defenders.

  • The FSB in St. Petersburg has found no confirmation of the torture to which Viktor Filinkov and Igor Shishkin, detained in the “Network” case, have allegedly been subjected. Moreover, the fact of torture has not in itself been denied. It is merely said that everything was done “in accordance with departmental regulations.”

  • The wife of Viktor Filinkov, Aleksandra, has requested political asylum in Finland. Since her husband was detained, Aleksandra has been in Kiev. However, she has left Ukraine for fear of her safety. You can read what Aleksandra has to say about what happened in the first months after her husband’s arrest here.


The poet and former high school teacher Aleksandr Byvshev has been sentenced by a court to 330 hours of community work for a pro-Ukrainian poem. According to Byvshev, “On Ukrainian Independence” is a “polemical response” to a poem of the same name by Iosif Brodsky. The judge also banned Byvshev from working as a teacher for three years.


Civil society activist Mikhail Savostin in Mineralnye Vody has claimed drugs were planted on him. A court remanded Savostin in custody for two months. He has been charged with possessing drugs in a very large quantity (Article 228, Section 3, of the Russian Criminal Code). This is not the first case in the North Caucasus when authorities have sought to use these methods against activists.


Civil society activist Mikhail Smyslov from Saratov has refused to testify against a defendant in a terrorism investigation. The FSB came to see him at his place of work. According to Smyslov, a man came to his office and asked him about the prosecution of Sergei Ryzhov, coordinator of the Free People political party, who has been charged with preparing an act of terrorism. The FSB officer also had a conversation with Smyslov’s boss. Smyslov thinks it possible that the FSB are seeking to spoil his relations with his employer.


Ilya Romanov, an anarchist from Nizhny Novgorod serving a sentence for preparing an act of terrorism, has been charged with justification of terrorism. According to investigators, in May 2017 Romanov was in prison hospital No. 21 when he published on the Facebook page “Voldemar Putiniana” a video entitled “Invitation to Jihad.” Romanov himself asserts that he did not see this video, and the Facebook page had been created for him by another prisoner by the name of Zhuravlev, who is a witness in the case. Romanov believes that Zhuravlev is cooperating with the investigators and thinks that the video was published either by Zhuravlev himself or by one of the investigators. More information about the case can be read here.


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