OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 95: Law enforcement says detainees torture themselves, arrest warrant issued for anticorruption activist, and Demushkin describes bad treatment in prison colonies

posted 6 Mar 2019, 11:35 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 6 Mar 2019, 12:09 ]

Greetings to our readers! The latest episode of Any Questions, our podcast, is out. Tune into our discussions on Russian courts: what a judge is thinking about when giving a verdict, how juries are formed, and whether it’s really true that courts in Russia rarely acquit defendants. There is also some good news – only one person was detained at the rallies in memory of Boris Nemtsov.

Daria Panicheva, an employee at Kamchatka’s nature reserve, has been placed under house arrest under charges of embezzlement of state funds. Panicheva and her colleagues protested the construction on protected territory of a canal designed to transport fish. One of companies involved in the proposed construction project was Rockwell Capital. The firm’s founder, Gleb Frank, is also the co-owner and chairman of the Russian Fishing Company, and the son-in-law of the billionaire Gennady Timchenko, one of Vladimir Putin’s close associates.

·  Why does this matter? This is not an isolated case of persecution against environmental protesters. Pressure on environmental activists has grown following the mass protests against rubbish dumps. One of them, an activist from Kolomenskoye named Vyacheslav Egorov, is facing criminal charges and is currently under house arrest.

Law enforcement officers maintain that the injuries sustained by Jehovah’s Witnesses’ who claimed to have been tortured were in fact self-inflicted, under the instruction of their lawyers. URA.RU has obtained further information on this story from a source inside the law enforcement agencies. In mid-February, mass searches of Jehovah’s Witnesses were conducted in Surgut. At that time, around forty people were detained, some of whom later claimed to have undergone horrific tortures.

·  Why do I need to know? Law enforcement angers have now stopped claiming that the scars left by electric shocks were in fact bedbug bites. Now they are simply claiming that the detainees are torturing themselves. Jehovah’s Witness have been under severe pressure since they were banned from practising in Russia was introduced. We detail what life is like for Jehovah’s Witnesses under the ban and describe the persecution they currently face.

Two pieces of news about supporters of Alexei Navalny: a participant in the “Not Our Tsar” protests, Natalia Podliak, has been fined 150,000 roubles for assaulting a police officer. The ex-director of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, Roman Rubanov, has been declared wanted on an unspent conviction for his film “Not Your Demon”. Rubanov is currently abroad.

·  Why do I need to know this? You may have already forgotten about the 2017-18 protests, but Navalny supporters are facing persecution even now.


They are beaten, forced to keep their hands held behind their back, woken up eight times a night and kept in a room where the temperature is just 11°C: The nationalist Dmitry Demushkin told OVD-Info about the conditions facing “terrorists and extremists” in prison.

There’s a first time for everything. We spoke to four former political prisoners about their first arrest, their first stint behind bars, their first time receiving visits in prison, their first time being transferred between facilities and, of course, their first release.

People “disguised” as Cossacks are dispersing protesters in Moscow, ethnic Cossacks are using whips to add an extra layer of cruelty, and we cover the attempts by victims to get justice in the courts.


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Illustration by Alina Kugusheva for OVD-Info

Translated by Judith Fagelson