OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 55: Police bring charges to place of work, bed bugs instead of torture, and a hunger strike

posted 18 May 2018, 06:53 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 18 May 2018, 06:55 ]

18 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 case you find our work at protests of interest, we have written a report about our activities on 5 May. Thanks to all those who distributed information, worked at our office, and helped organise assistance to those detained. We value your help hugely.

The so-called “Network” case continues to develop. Nine men in Penza and St. Petersburg have been charged with taking part in a terrorist group entitled “Network”: allegedly, they were preparing disturbances in the country. A number of defendants have stated they were tortured by the FSB.

  • Defendant Ilya Shakursky has withdrawn testimony in which he admitted his guilt as charged. He has also requested that investigator Valery Tokarev be taken off the case. Shakursky’s lawyer asserts that this testimony was given under torture, and also as a result of pressure by Mikhail Grigoryan, his previous lawyer.

  • Еlena Bogatova, Shakursky’s mother, has made a complaint to the bar association against Mikhail Grigoryan. In the complaint, Bogatova says Grigoryan did not tell her about the torture of her son, sought to persuade Shakursky to admit his guilt and made public statements about the guilt of his client. Mikhail Grigoryan has taken offence at OVD-Info for the publication of this news and has threatened to sue us for defamation. He has also said he will ask the police to open a criminal investigation against us for libel.

  • The Investigative Committee has refused to initiate an investigation into the alleged torture of Ilya Kapustin, a witness in the Network case. According to the Investigative Committee, some of the marks on Kapustin’s body were a result of the lawful use of force by FSB officers when Kapustin allegedly tried to escape. His other injuries occurred “as a result of insect bites,” in particular bed bugs, the Investigative Committee asserts.

  • St. Petersburg authorities have rejected five applications to hold a march against torture. When the organisers decided to comply with the refusal, they were permitted to hold a rally in Ovsyannikovsky Garden.  

The police continue to arrest those who took part in the “He’s Not Our Tsar” protest. In Smolensk a police officer from the anti-extremism department “E” summoned for questioning people who attended the court hearing of the prosecution (under administrative law) of a Navalny election campaign volunteer. In Tiumen, police visited activists at school and at work to charge them over the protests, while Aleksei Navalny himself was jailed by a court for 30 days.

Film director Oleg Sentsov has announced a hunger strike and demanded the release of Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia. Sentsov’s lawyer explained that his client is ready to die if his demands are not met. In 2015 Oleg Sentsov and Aleksandr Kolchenko were sentenced to terms of 20 and 10 years, respectively, in strict-regime prison colonies for setting on fire the doors of the United Russia offices in Crimea.

On Sunday more than 20 people were arrested in Moscow at a permitted protest “For a Free Internet.” Оne woman was held overnight at a police station.

Ramzan Kadyrov has stated that he does not consider Oyub Titiev, head of the Grozny branch of Memorial Human Rights Centre, to be a human rights defender. Kadyrov accused the chair of the Presidential Human Rights Council, Mikhail Fedotov, of failing to defend the rights of other convicts, along with “five or seven thousand residents of the republic who have gone missing,” when he speaks out in defence of Titiev. In response, Igor Kalyapin, chair of the NGO, Committee AGainst Torture, and a member of the Human Rights Council, stated that the head of the Chechnya is either badly informed or intentionally lying.

Texts and Special Projects

Mistaken for Oleg Vorotnikov from the Voina art group, and beaten. We spoke with Andrei Lukyanov, who was beaten by officers from the police anti-terrorism Centre-E department, who mistook him for a member of the Voina art group, Oleg Vorotnikov. Six years later, still no investigation into the case has been conducted, and now Andrei is demanding 500,000 roubles from the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

“This may apply to any report by any human rights organisation.” We discussed with experts the new law on “promoting sanctions [against Russia],” considering who might be liable to prosecution under the law and what it would mean for them.

Prosecuted for “taking an inflated duck from some street cleaners.” We spoke with one of the lawyers of a St. Petersburg resident arrested after the “He’s Not Our Tsar” protest.

Five charged in the “Case of 26 February” have made final speeches in court. We publish a report from the court hearing. The “Case of 26 February” began after a clash between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian demonstrators in Crimea on 26 February 2014. At that time, as a result of a crush in the crowd, two people died and 30 were injured. Eight Crimean Tatars have been prosecuted in the case.


Over eight days our lawyers provided legal consultations over our telephone hotline to at least 20 people arrested for taking part in the “He’s Not Our Tsar” protests in five Russian cities.

We are able to help a large number of people, but to do this we need money. We need money to keep our hotline 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.