Legal Case of the Week: Eight political activists on trial or awaiting trial in Ingushetia for leading a peaceful protest campaign in 2018 and 2019

Week-ending 3 December 2021

Eight political activists are on trial or awaiting trial in Ingushetia (Southern Russia) for leading a peaceful protest campaign in 2018 and 2019. They are facing serious charges, including participation in an “extremist association”, that could lead to prison terms of up to nine years. Having examined the charges and the available evidence, Amnesty International is concerned that the accusations against them are politically motivated and stem solely from their legitimate political and social activities. 

‘Russia: Ingushetia protest leaders face up to nine years in prison,’ Amnesty International, 2 December 2021

In other news:

FIDH, 29 November 2021:  The Observatory has been informed about the arbitrary detention and release of Mr. Edem Semedlyaev, a Crimean Tatar human rights lawyer who has been engaged in the defence of Crimean Tatar activists and other activists and journalists in Crimea prosecuted in politically motivated cases.

Human Rights in Ukraine, 29 November 2021: Dilyaver Memetov, one of the coordinators of the important civic initiative Crimean Solidarity, was jailed for 12 days on 27 November, after a Russian-controlled ‘court’ made essentially no pretence of considering the charges against him.  It seems clear that the young man’s imprisonment was intended from the moment on 26 November that a Russian-controlled police officer ran up and seized him outside a court involved in the political trial of seven Crimean Tatar civic journalists and activists.

Human Rights in Ukraine, 29 November 2021:  Rustem Useinov, a 66-year-old veteran of the Crimean Tatar national movement, did not see his home and garden razed to the ground by Russian occupiers on 24 November, but only because he had become dangerously unwell and been taken to hospital.  Neither the fact that the 66-year-old was suffering from pneumonia (and had, reportedly, only been discharged from hospital the previous day), nor the approaching winter prevented the occupiers from wantonly destroying the home he had built and lived in for over two decades.   Russia has demonstrated over and over again that those who oppose its invasion and annexation of Crimea can expect harassment and persecution, and the demolition of Useinov’s home was almost certainly in reprisal for his refusal to look away when other Crimean Tatars are imprisoned on fabricated charges.

The Moscow Times, 30 November 2021: Russia has deported an American professor at a prestigious St. Petersburg university who was associated with a U.S. college that was blacklisted by the authorities earlier this year, media reported Monday. Michael Freese, a professor in St. Petersburg State University’s Liberal Arts and Sciences faculty, was banned from returning to Russia until 2026, according to the St. Petersburg-based news website. 

RFE/RL, 2 December 2021: A court in Moscow has switched the one-year suspended sentence handed to opposition politician Lyubov Sobol, a close associate of jailed anti-corruption campaigner Aleksei Navalny, to actual prison time. […] Media reports have said that Sobol is currently in neighboring Estonia.

The Moscow Times, 2 December 2021:  A Moscow court has fined opposition activists for staging a photo op with Russian and U.S. flags near the Kremlin in solidarity with a U.S. congressional proposal not to recognize Vladimir Putin’s presidency past 2024, independent media reported Wednesday. The Parnas opposition party said police had detained three of its activists on Nov. 21 for the Red Square photo op. 

RFE/RL, 2 December 2021: In September 2020, Sergei Boiko, then the head of opposition leader Aleksei Navalny’s local office, unexpectedly won a seat on the Novosibirsk city council. At the time, he told RFE/RL that his association with Navalny had been nothing but a plus for him. […] Now, the 38-year-old Novosibirsk lawmaker is in self-imposed exile in Greece, unwilling to return to Russia for fear that a criminal case is brewing against him. Looking back over the past year, he says he could not have predicted how events in Russia would have played out in such a short time.

RFE/RL, 2 December 2021: Russian journalist Aleksei Malinovsky and his family have been granted political asylum in France, where they fled in September fearing for their safety after police raided their house and assaulted him. Malinovsky worked for the Novyye Kolyosa (New Wheels) newspaper in Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave, which is sandwiched between Lithuania and Poland.

RFE/RL, 3 December 2021: Imprisoned Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny has paid a fine of 850,000 rubles ($11,500) in a libel case involving a World War II veteran, the press service of the Moscow court that heard the case said on December 2.

Meduza, 3 December 2021: The state prosecution in the trial of Yuri Dmitriev has asked to prolong the historian’s sentence, his lawyer Roman Masalev told TASS. This took place during a hearing at the Petrozavodsk City Court in Russia’s Karelia on Friday, December 3. “[The state prosecutor] asked to add two years to the current 13-year term and to appoint [a final sentence] of 15 years in prison,” said Masalev. The lawyer clarified that the prosecutor also asked that Dmitriev serve his sentence in a maximum-security prison colony. 

Meduza, 3 December 2021: Tomsk oppositionist and RusNews journalist Igor Kuznetsov, who is in jail pending trial for allegedly attempting to instigate “mass riots” using Telegram, is facing new charges. According to lawyer Sergey Badamshin, the FSB’s Moscow branch has charged Kuznetsov with creating an extremist group (under Russian Criminal Code Article 282.1).

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