OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 53: May Day arrests, banned protests, and a case of alleged torture

posted 4 May 2018, 05:31 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 4 May 2018, 08:25 ]
4 May 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.

In a video urging viewers to support our project, TV presenter Tatyana Lazareva says, “Let’s get ready for tomorrow.” Today these words are especially topical. If you were arrested at a rally, or you have been prosecuted for your beliefs, our telephone helpline is available for you 24/7: 8 800 707-05-28. In addition, watch this cartoon about how to behave if you are arrested, or read these instructions. In addition to the hotline, you can connect with us via our legal-bot, which also makes suggestions about what to do if you are arrested.

In Tomsk region two participants in the Left Bloc are under investigation. One of the two was put in a car on top of a hot heater by police officers, as a result of which the activist received burns to his hand. “I was lying between the back and front seats, they put their feet on top of me. They switched on the heater on purpose so that I had difficulty breathing, and if I hadn’t put my hand on the heater, my side would have been severely burnt,” Maksim Shulgin said. Shulgin had been detained for posting a song on VKontakte which, according to the investigation, incites hatred towards police officers. A second activist has also been charged with inciting hatred via online publications, but we have not yet succeeded in getting in touch with him since he lives in the closed city of Seversk.

In Kemerovo the authorities are seeking to prosecute the coordinator of Navalny’s election campaign. Кseniya Pakhomova says they want to charge her with interfering with the work of the electoral commission or the exercise by citizens of their election rights. Details of the charges are not yet known.

This year the May Day demonstrations did not pass off without arrests:

  • 25 people from a marching column of activists for the mentally ill were arrested in Moscow. All were released without charge after statements were taken from them. The activists study the borders of mental illness and campaign for the destigmatisation of people with special psychological characteristics.

  • 16 nationalists were arrested in Moscow. According to the police, the nationalists took part in an illegal march along Gogol Boulevard.

  • 10 people from a marching column of city conservationists were arrested in St. Petersburg. The police officers were displeased that the demonstrators carried flags of EU members states. Those arrested were detained overnight by the police.

  • 4 people in St. Petersburg were detained for carrying rainbow flags and a portrait of president Putin. Each person detained was charged.

  • 4 Right Bloc activists were detained on their way to a demonstration in Tver.

  • 2 activists of the New Communist Movement were arrested in Moscow for attempting to hold up the stuffed figure of a “bourgeois” at a demonstration. The activists spent the night in a police station and have been charged with failing to obey the lawful demands of a police officer.

  • 2 organisers of the so-called Left March were arrested in Moscow for exceeding the number of permitted participants in the march. They were released without charge.

  • 1 young woman was arrested at the Moscow “Monstration” for holding a rainbow umbrella and a placard with the words “My contraception.” She has been charged with breach of the rules of public assembly.

  • 1 teenager was arrested by police at a rally “For A Free Internet” in St. Petersburg.  

  • 1 resident of Volgograd was arrested for a placard with a portrait of Putin and the words: “We’re fed up!”

In 42 cities the authorities banned the “He’s not our tsar” protest. The protest was being organised by supporters of Aleksei Navalny who planned to hold the event on 5 May - two days before the inauguration of president Vladimir Putin. The authorities have brought pressure to bear on Navalny supporters and the organisers of the protest. For example, this week police arrested three Navalny supporters, while two women were arrested for writing the words “Down with the tsar” on the asphalt.  

  • We analyse all the methods of intimidation used against Navalny supporters here, from the removal of toilet facilities from one of their offices, to excommunication by the church and terms in prison.

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