OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 90: Pressure on Open Russia, arrests at event in memory of Markelov and Baburova, and a possible agent provocateur

posted 27 Jan 2019, 03:53 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 2 Feb 2019, 08:48 ]
25 January 2019

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 news, which is translated here. To receive the mailing in Russian, visit here

Greetings to our readers! We hope that in this extremely cold weather you are keeping warm at home, and not freezing in the back of a police van. We’re here to tell you what has been going on behind closed doors in police stations.

Pressure is once again mounting on participants in the Open Russia movement across the country. A criminal case has been brought against a member of the movement’s national council, Anastasia Shevchenko, on the activity of an organisation which has been deemed undesirable in Russia. She has been placed under house arrest. The movement’s activists in Kazan, Rostov-on-Don and Ulyanovsk have been searched in connection with the case against Shevchenko. A participant from the Cheboksary branch of the movement has been charged under the administrative code on two counts of belonging to an “undesirable organisation.” In Pskov, another member of the Open Russia movement, Dmitry Semenovsky, has been detained for refusing to present a medical certificate. 

·  Why do I need to know this? This is an important trend against the backdrop of continued persecution of NGOs and human rights activists. Initially, participants in the Open Russia movement were only charged under the administrative code, after a foreign organisation with the same name was deemed “undesirable”. Many emigrated, fearing criminal prosecutions in future. Their fears turned out to be well grounded.

New arrests have been made at rallies in memory of the activist Stanislav Markelov and the journalist Anastasia Baburova. In St Petersburg, 7 people, who had been taking turns to stand in solitary protest, were arrested. In Moscow, 4 were arrested.

·  What has this got to do with me? Even at the authorised processions in memory of Markelov and Baburova, people are detained on a regular basis, and the same is true at other, similar events. For this reason, if you are planning on attending a rally – even an authorised one – you should make sure you are well prepared. We have published guidance on what to do if you are arrested.


“Nothing personal, only public.” We have transcribed a conversation between a St Petersburg schoolgirl and her teacher. The teacher forced the girl to learn articles from the Russian Federal Code on Administrative Offences because of her arrest at a rally against pension reforms. 

An undercover agent, threats and unmarked weapons – the parents of the defendants in the Networks case have discovered some previously unknown information. We detail what we have now found out about the case. 

Seven and eight years in a maximum-security prison on charges of planning to burn down the Kremlin. Three men from Russia’s provinces – Oleg Dmitriev, Sergey Ozerov and Oleg Ivanov – arrived in Moscow in order to observe the so-called “Maltsev Revolution” and to find work in the capital. They shared a room on the outskirts of the city, and were joined there by Vadim Mayorov who, according to the defendants, tried to sell them weapons and persuade them to steal from the rich under the cover of the chaos on 5th November. The three men did not like Mayorov’s proposal and decided to part ways with him. Special FSB forces stormed the apartment before they managed to leave. During the raid, Mayorov somehow managed to escape all the operatives and special FSB agends and is now in France. Criminal charges have not been brought against him. The others, who are facing charges of planning an act of terrorism, consider him to be an agent provocateur. We tell the complex story of this case and explain the contradictions.

What a week!

Each day we publish news reports and provide assistance to people who have been arrested. We very much need your assistance. After all, we depend for all our work on your support. Please sign up to make a monthly donation to OVD-Info. That way we can continue to send you your favourite mailing, our Weekly Bulletin. 

Illustration by Alina Kugusheva for OVD-Info

Translated by Judith Fagelson