Week-ending 7 May 2021
Olga Misik, Ivan Vorobyevsky and Igor Basharimov are on trial in a Moscow court charged with vandalizing government buildings under Article 214, Part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code. On 8 August 2020 they hung banners on a railing outside a Moscow district court in protest at the verdict in the New Greatness trial and then splattered red paint on a security booth outside the Prosecutor General’s Office building. Lawyers for the defence say no damage was caused by the paint, which was water-soluble. Under the charges, they could face up to three years in prison. A judgment in the case is expected on 11 May. Memorial Human Rights Centre has declared the prosecution politically motivated and unlawful. On 29 April, Olga Misik made a powerful speech in court that has attracted much publicity.
RFE/RL, 5 May 2021: As President Vladimir Putin’s government intensifies its crackdown on all forms of dissent, many Russians who oppose him have found inspiration in the closing remarks Moscow State University student Olga Misik made last week at her trial. Writer Nikolai Kononov posted on Twitter that the speech Misik made in court on April 29 “will end up in school textbooks.” St. Petersburg artist Yuly Rybakov shared Misik’s remarks in full on Facebook and wrote: “With such children, Russia does have a future!” The student’s defiant speech joins the ranks of the impassioned courtroom addresses of dissidents that have characterized the two decades of Putin’s rule and go back at least as far as the Soviet era. Misik and two other young defendants, Ivan Vorobyevsky and Igor Basharimov, are charged with vandalizing government buildings. In a gesture of support for those they consider political prisoners, they hung banners on a railing outside a Moscow district court on August 8, 2020, and then splattered red paint on a security booth outside the Prosecutor-General’s Office building. Prosecutors claim they caused 3,500 rubles ($47) in damages. Defense attorneys say that the documents provided by prosecutors concerning the alleged damages were falsified and that no harm was caused by the water-soluble paint. Under the charges, they could face up to three years in prison when Moscow’s Tverskoi district court delivers its decision on May 11. Prosecutors, however, have asked for two years of “restricted liberty” for Misik and one year and 10 months for the other defendants, according to the independent OVD-Info monitoring agency. During the trial, the defendants have been under a limited form of house arrest, unable to leave home between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., to approach within 10 meters of government buildings, to attend public events, or to use means of communication.
Memorial Human Rights Centre, 8 April 2021: Memorial Human Rights Centre, in accordance with international guidelines, considers the criminal prosecution of Moscow activists Olga Misik, Igor Basharimov, and Ivan Vorobevsky politically motivated and unlawful. We believe the acts imputed to the three defendants do not provide grounds for their prosecution for vandalism. The criminal proceedings against Misik, Basharimov and Vorobevsky are politically motivated and intended to intimidate Russian civil society and prevent citizens exercising their right to freedom of expression.