OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 92: Torture with a power screwdriver, six years in prison for prayers - and rallies for sale

posted 10 Feb 2019, 12:09 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 10 Feb 2019, 12:21 ]
8 February 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 have decided to use the proverbial Day of the Pink Hearts to talk about love and caring in the difficult world of Russian activism and human rights work. As part of a joint project with Romb, we are looking for couples where at least one person is a civic or human rights activist. Both halves of the coupl must be available to speak with a camera crew in Moscow this weekend. The crew will try to adapt to your timetable and meet you in a location that suits you. If you can help us, write to ekaterina.golenkova@ovdinfo.org.

Danish citizen Dennis Christensen has been sentenced to six years imprisonment for being a Jehovah’s Witness. This is the first conviction since the ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses came into force. Christensen was convicted guilty of perpetuating the activities of an extremist organisation. The human rights centre Memorial has added him to its list of political prisoners.

·  Why do I need to know this? After all Jehovah’s Witnesses were added to the list of banned groups, believers have faced intense pressure. We have published detailed accounts of what life is like for Jehovah’s Witnesses under the ban and of the persecution they face.

An anarchistic doctoral candidate in mechanical mathematics at Moscow State University, Azat Miftakhov, is suspected of manufacturing explosives and of hooliganismThe investigation claims that he made an explosive device, supposedly for a failed act of terrorism  he had been planning in the city of Balashikha and that he was involved in setting fire to the United Russia party’s offices. On 1st February, he was detained along with 11 others after searches for explosive devices were conducted. Three of those detained, including Miftakhov, say they were tortured. Azat says that he was tortured with a power screwdriver. He tried to cut his veins to avoid torture. The anarchist was held by the police from 1st to 7th February, although he was not officially arrested until 2nd February. Miftakhov was released on 7th February, but re-arrested a few hours later on charges of hooliganism in connection with the attack on United Russia’s offices.

·  Why does this matter? Since last year, a wave of pressure against left-wing activists has been sweeping across Russia. If you are in an at-risk area, you should find youself a lawyer sooner rather than later.

Vyacheslav Egorov, an activist from Kolomna, is facing criminal charges for his involvement in rallies. Egorov had been battling against the landfill sites in Kolomna. Earlier media reports stated that the head of the police force had insinuated to Egorov that if he did not drop his activism, he might be facing a stint in prison. Another protestor against a waste incineration plant was supposedly found in possession of grenades.

·  Why do I need to know? The movement against waste incineration plants and landfill sites have gained momentum in the past year and, by all accounts, pressure on activists in this area is going to increase.


Hunger strikes are the political prisoner’s weapon. How can hunger strikes be useful, how are they declared and when can you expect force-feeding? We write about the principal means by which prisoners can assert their rights and detail some iconic hunger strikes from the last hundred years.

If you want to go to a rally, then you need to pay: we explain how it came about that Belarus imposed duty taxes on public rallies.

“Post articles about how good the FSB is”. A student from Saratov told OVD-Info how, in the course of just a few months, the special forces switched from delivering warnings on the phone to making threats at university and demanding pro-FSB publicity.

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: Vlad Milushkin for OVD-Info

Translated by Judith Fagelson