OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 54: A Raccoon, a Police Officer’s Tooth and an Arrest During a Live Broadcast

posted 11 May 2018, 02:03 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 11 May 2018, 06:54 ]
11 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 here
These English translations of OVD-Info's weekly bulletins are published by openDemocracy and are reposted here by kind permission.

On Saturday a large-scale protest took place, initiated by the opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, against the latest presidential term of Vladimir Putin. We have described what happened in a special issue of our Bulletin, but repeat the main points briefly here (just in case you missed them), and also bring a number of other developments to your attention. 

According to our information, a total of 1,600 people were arrested at the ‘He’s Not Our Tsar’ protests in 27 cities, at least 158 of whom were minors. At least 24 of those arrested told us they were beaten by the police. About 300 people spent the night in police stations. Twenty-six journalists complained of being beaten or arrested, and of aggression by the police. The police acted with some brutality. One of those arrested even had his arm broken. Furthermore, a bill has been introduced into the State Duma to make it offence to “engage minors” in a banned public event.

“He’s Not Our Tsar” in St. Petersburg. Photo: David Frenkel, Mediazona

A criminal prosecution has been launched related to the protests in St. Petersburg, and it’s possible that a similar prosecution will take place in Samara:

  • In St. Petersburg a police officer named Sukhorukov alleged that he lost a tooth as a result of a blow by Mikhail Tsakunov, who struck him “intentionally, motivated by a hostile attitude.” Charges have been brought under Article 318, Section 2 (use of force against a police officer, dangerous to life and health). Under this Article, if convicted, Tsakunov faces a prison term of up to ten years. Tsakunov has been remanded in custody for two months. A video of Tsakunov’s arrest can be viewed here.

  • In Samara police have questioned activist Aleksei Soloviev. According to law enforcement officers, Soloviev struck a police officer while he was being arrested. From a video of the incident, it is evident Soloviev held on to the leg of one of the police officers carrying him to a police van, as a result of which the police officer fell over.

In Saratov, live on air of the Svobodnye novosti news agency, Mikhail Murygin, regional coordinator of Aleksei Navalny’s election campaign, was arrested. Three days later police officers again came to the news agency’s editorial offices and accused the journalists of failing to obey the instructions of police officers.

The pre-trial detention of defendants in the “New Greatness” prosecution - an organisation created, judging from the case materials, by law enforcement agents - has been extended until September. In the case, ten people have been charged with organising the activities of an extremist group. The charges are based on the testimony of three men who were not arrested. One of them has said that he was instructed to infiltrate the group.

On 9 May during a march organised by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, 21 members of the Left Bloc were arrested, along with a man with a placard against corruption. Police officers also confiscated a banner with the words, “We Defeated Hitler - We’ll Defeat Putin.”

Texts and special projects

We have spoken with the lawyer acting for Vyacheslav Shatrovsky, a resident of the small town of Sharya, who became a political prisoner because of the so-called “Revolution of 5 November.” On 5 November 2017, Vyacheslav Shatrovsky had planned to meet his son, who is a builder, in the centre of Moscow on Novopushkinsky Square in order to give him a bag of clothes. The opposition blogger Vyacheslav Maltsev had called for a “revolution” to take place on that day, and law enforcement agencies had decided to take serious measures to prevent it from happening - including on Novopushkinsky Square. Vyacheslav Shatrovsky subsequently suffered concussion, was held on remand, and then put on trial for attacking a police officer.

We have drawn up initial results of the nationwide protests held prior to the inauguration of Vladimir Putin. You can read the stories of those detained, about permission granted to hold a rally at a graveyard, and about Donbass veterans and Cossacks, here.

“I will shoot you and the raccoon right where you are! Do you want to live? Sit still and shut up.” A street theatre performer, who was twice detained at “He’s Not Our Tsar” protests, has described how it happened.

Evgeny Gitis and the raccoon Charlie in a police van. Photo from the instagram of Evgeny Gitis

On Dozhd TV we talked about the courageous people who take part in protests, and about the absurdities of the justice system: a fine for an invisible placard; the breaking through of a police line that did not exist; “lawful beating by police officers”; and other extraordinary incidents related to the legal system. We have also written about how the protest movement of the 2010s began, just in case you no longer remember.


During the “He’s Not Our Tsar” protests, we gave assistance to people in 20 Moscow police stations, and coordinated legal assistance in Chelyabinsk, Kaluga and Krasnoyarsk. We received 2,156 calls on our telephone hotline, lasting a total of 64 hours and 45 minutes. Of those, 5 hours 24 minutes were taken up by 93 legal consultations.

We can help a large number of people, but to do this we need money. We need money so that our hotline is available 24/7, to pay for lawyers, to create online legal services, to write news reports and articles, and to analyse violations of citizens’ rights in contemporary Russia. You can support us here.