Week-ending 28 May 2021
On 22 May 2021 polilce broke up a meeting of municipal deputies and opposition activists in the city of Veliky Novgorod, detaining two participants – Yulia Galyamina, from Moscow, and Vitaly Bovar, from St. Petersburg – on grounds of violation of coronavirus restrictions. On 24 May Yulia Galyamina was jailed for seven days on a charge of disobeying police officers.
RFE/RL, 22 May 2021: Russian police detained two people at a meeting of opposition figures and municipal deputies in the city of Veliky Novgorod, in the latest crackdown on Kremlin critics ahead of elections later this year. Yulia Galyamina, an opposition leader from Moscow, and Vitaly Bovar, a municipal deputy from St. Petersburg, were both detained on May 22. Police broke up the meeting at a hotel soon after it started, citing a breach of coronavirus rules.
The Moscow Times, 26 May 2021: Yulia Galyamina knew she might be arrested on Saturday for organizing a meeting of independent municipal deputies in Veliky Novgorod, Russia’s ancient seat of self-government. She just didn’t expect it to happen so fast. Within 30 minutes of the start of the two-day Zemsky Syezd, or Congress, a name chosen in a nod to a conference that helped kick start the 1905 Russian Revolution, police showed up and escorted 48-year-old Galyamina and three of her colleagues out of the building. “Municipal deputies are supported by the entire country and I am confident that we will win,” Galyamina shouted as she was led away by officers, her red dress standing out against the navy blue uniforms. As the police car door slammed, her supporters shouted “Yulia, Yulia, Yulia!”
RFE/RL, 26 May 2021: A wedding reception was scheduled for the Hotel Rossia in central Novgorod on the evening of May 22, but guests arrived to find police blocking the door. The young couple’s first step into the future had become collateral damage in the Russian government’s increasingly ruthless war on dissent ahead of elections to the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, later this year. In two neighboring banquet rooms at the hotel, a gathering of independent local lawmakers from 30 Russian regions was just getting under way, with the aim of coordinating tactics for the ballot. Organizers were still welcoming participants when officers entered the venue and declared the event in violation of local pandemic restrictions that, among other things, restricted gatherings to 30 people.
Human Rights Watch, 27 May 2021: Activist Yuliya Galyamina has been targeted by authorities who are using Covid-19 restrictions to clamp down on opposition figures. Galyamina, a former member of Moscow’s municipal assembly, appeared in court May 26 on two separate administrative offence charges related to a meeting she co-organized between independent municipal deputies in the city of Velikiy Novgorod to discuss strengthening local self-governance. On May 18, four days before the start of the meeting, the local governor imposed new restrictions putting a 50 person limit on events organized by authorities and 30 for private parties, with obligatory mask-wearing and social distancing rules.