Weekly Bulletin OVD-Info No. 66: Parents against the FSB, Islam against Terrorism, and how OVD-Info does its Job

posted 3 Aug 2018, 09:02 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 3 Aug 2018, 09:08 ]
3 August 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 the three months of April, May and June, the OVD-Info telephone hotline was in use for 153 hours 11 minutes and 43 seconds. That’s the equivalent of talking nonstop for eight hours a day for 19 days. Behind these very significant figures lie arrests at demonstrations, searches, assaults and criminal prosecutions. Our lawyers provided advice over the phone and assistance in court. We have published a full report of our work over these three months. All that time you have continued to support us. And thanks to you we are able to continue our work. You can arrange to make a regular monthly donation here.

There is also now available a brilliant video about our work that you can see here!

Last week there were a number of positive developments.

Courts quashed fines and community service orders imposed on participants in demonstrations in support of Aleksei Navalny. We have already seen this happen in Chelyabinsk, Krasnodar and Krasnoyarsk. As for Тimati and Еgor Krid, who were fined 20,000 roubles, this had nothing to do with Navalny but was for an action on the roof of an SUV.

A lawsuit brought against those previously prosecuted in the Bolotnaya Square case has been dismissed. Police had claimed approximately 44,000 roubles in compensation for the loss of two police walkie-talkies and five batons.

In the case of the New Greatness organisation, prominent lawyers Genri Reznik and Karinna Moskalenko have agreed to act on behalf of Anna Pavlikova and Mariya Dubovik respectively. New Greatness is an organisation set up and “uncovered” by police detectives. There are a total of 10 defendants in the case, which is based on the testimony of three men who have not themselves been arrested. One of the three has said he was ordered to infiltrate the group.

The Investigative Committee has not brought charges with regard to an incident in which a person arrested by police had their arm broken. Local police - what a coincidence! - found there had been no violations at the time of the arrest.

Pussy Riot members who protested in Luzhniki Stadium during the World Cup final were detained as they left the detention centre where they had served 15 days in prison. New charges were drawn up against them for having failed to have the agreement (!) of the authorities for going onto the pitch. However, the court returned the case to the police for review.

In Ufa, 21 Muslims have been sentenced to a total of 343 years in prison and a fine of 10,800,000 roubles. The men were accused of taking part in the radical Islamic party Hizb ut-Tahrir which has been designated in Russia as a terrorist organisation. Some of those convicted were also accused of preparing a violent seizure of power. The defendants heard their sentences wearing t-shirts that read, “I am a Muslim and I am against terrorism,” and “Islam against terror,” with the word “terror” crossed out in red.  Human rights defenders have reported numerous violations by the authorities during the investigation into this case, including the use of torture against the defendants.

Four people have been detained in Moscow for taking part in a protest against pension reform. The reason for the arrests was the use of the slogans, “Putin is a thief” and “Putin is a dickhead,” which in the view of the police did not correspond to the announced theme of the protest. In Sarapul (Udmurtiya) the police explained in talks with the organisers of a similar protest why the use of the phrase “Putin is a thief” was a violation. According to the police the organisers of the event should have stopped the protest after this slogan was sued.

“He said: ‘Mum, they tortured me.’ I saw the scar he had. He said I should keep my spirits up. That I should be calm.” We report how the relatives of anti-fascists charged in connection with the Network prosecution have joined together to form a Parents’ Network Committee, and how this helps them live through what is happening.  

It is hard to find any good news regarding those charged in the Network case. Pressure continues to be applied to them, in particular those from St. Petersburg who are for the time being on remand in a detention centre in Yaroslavl. They are not receiving any of the medicines or letters sent to them.

▪️ Eleven young people in Penza and St. Petersburg have been charged with taking part in and organising a terrorist group with the name “Network.” Allegedly, they were preparing for disturbances in the country and “were engaged in illegal acquisition of skills of survival in forests and provision of first aid.” A number of the defendants have stated they were subjected to torture involving electric shocks by FSB officers.

Thank you!

You can set up a monthly donation to OVD-Info here. This will guarantee that the work we do - monitoring human rights, running our telephone hotline, providing lawyers in court and paying for the work of analysts and journalists - can continue. It also guarantees we shall continue to help those who need our help.