OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 83: Musicians face pressure from the authorities, why Artdocfest left Russia and Immanuel Kant

posted 2 Dec 2018, 05:54 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 2 Dec 2018, 06:02 ]
30 November 2018

Greetings to our readers!

Some good news:

·  The courts in Ekaterinburg have dismissed the case of a married couple detained for protesting against pension reforms.

·   One of the first people in Russia to be convicted for reposts on Vkontakte has been released. He served a three-year prison sentence for justification of terrorism.

·  The FSB have dropped a case in Khakassia against a defender of indigenous peoples for a post on VKontakte. 

The good news, however, stops there.

A lawyer has claimed that an elderly Crimean Tater activist, who died during a police search, was beaten with the butt of an automatic rifle. Lawyer Nikolai Polozov maintains that upon her arrest, Vedzhie Kashka – a veteran of the Crimean Tatar movement – was beaten with the butt of an automatic rifle at least once, and that she was also handcuffed. The lawyer notes that the videos which may have included the moment of Kashka’s arrest were removed and that evidence regarding the circumstances of her death was being “actively hidden” from him. The Crimean Investigative Committee refused to file a criminal case on Kashka’s death “because of the absence of criminal activity.”

The authorities are continuing to put pressure on musicians:

·  A 12-day prison sentence handed down to the rapper Khaski for petty hooliganism has been overturned. That said, a club in Vologda decided not to allow the rapper to perform in view of threats of closure by the law enforcement agencies.

·  Things even tougher for the band ISZREAK – they have had two concerts in Perm broken up, they have been banned outright from Novosibirsk, and prosecutors in Tyumen have issued a warning to a club where they were due to hold an event. Before their performance in Ekaterinburg, the musicians were questioned by Russia’s counter-extremism police.

The organiser of a rally in defence of Immanuel Kant has been called in by counter-extremism authorities. The protest was denied authorisation. On 27 November, pink paint was anonymously poured over a monument to the philosopher Kant standing outside Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University. Leaflets were scattered nearby, claiming that students at the university were studying “within walls bearing the enemy’s name.” A student was called in by counter-extremism police after he decided to organise a picket line in defence of Kant and his monument.

A photographer who covered the torture of gay people in Chechnya has fled Russia in view of threats he received. On 16 October 2017, Maksim Lapunov was arrested in Chechnya on suspicion of homosexuality. According to Lapunov, law enforcement officers held him in a basement, where they beat him for 12 days. The Investigative Committee of Russia did not open criminal proceedings with regard to his arrest and beating.

Human rights activist Mokhnatkin was taken into custody a day before he was due to be released. This occurred in connection with five criminal cases on causing disruption in prison. According to public defender Andrei Krkov, the 64-year-old detainee struggles to walk and to speak.

Our publications

“Nothing warms a bunk up like foam.” We tell the story of a St Petersburg group helping prisoners who have ended up in police custody for taking part in protest rallies.

“I was afraid that they would torture and beat me, and that they would interrogate me about what I received and where I sent it. I was so frightened.” Nadezhda Romasenko, a resident of the Vologda region, wrote a piece in support of an anarchist in Archangelsk who blew himself up inside the FSB’s buildings which resulted in her facing criminal charges herself. She does not have a lawyer, and lives 200km from the nearest city. We explain everything that is known about the case.

“A documentary is a living piece of work and will only continue to live as long as it can remain an art form.” We explain how and why Artdocfest, Russia’s biggest documentary film festival, has ended up holding most of its screenings abroad.


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Illustration by Vlad Milushkin for OVD-Info

Translation by Judith Fagelson