Memorial Human Rights Centre: Oleg Makurin, convicted for a post on the internet about attacks on the FSB, is the victim of a politically motivated prosecution

15 July 2021

Oleg Makurin was fined 300,000 roubles for public justification of terrorism

Source: Memorial Human Rights Centre

Memorial Human Rights Centre, in accordance with international guidelines, considers the criminal prosecution of Mytishchi resident Oleg Makurin politically motivated and unlawful. His prosecution was intended to force him to end his criticism of the authorities and was conducted on the basis of his beliefs, in violation of his rights to freedom of expression and dissemination of information, as well as the right to a fair trial.

Makurin was kept in pre-trial detention for almost six months in the absence of any evidence of an offence. In addition, pre-trial detention was clearly disproportionate to the offence with which he had been charged.

We believe Makurin’s conviction should be quashed and his criminal prosecution terminated.

  • What is the case against Oleg Makurin?
Oleg Makurin

In December 2019, Evgeny Maniurov, a Pololsk resident, fired a gun outside the entrance to the FSB building in Moscow. After this, Mytishchi resident Oleg Makurin, 46, reposted a publication on VKontakte that suggested people should think about the reasons behind the repeated attacks on the FSB.

In addition to Maniurov, the text mentioned Anton Konev, who attacked the FSB headquarters in Khabarovsk in 2017, and Mikhail Zhlobitsky, who blew himself up at the FSB building in Arkhangelsk in 2018.

On 25 December 2020, a criminal case was opened against Makurin for public justification of terrorism (Article 205.2, Part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code) and on 13 January 2021 he was arrested and remanded in custody.

Makurin himself maintained his innocence. In his testimony, he set out in detail his opposition political views and confirmed the fact of publication, but stressed he did not intend to incite anyone to carry out acts of terrorism or justify terrorism.

Despite this, the Second Western District Military Court found Makurin guilty of justifying terrorism and on 8 July fined him 300,000 roubles.

  • Why does Memorial consider Oleg Makurin’s prosecution politically motivated and unlawful?

Having studied the publication which was the basis of the charge against Makurin, we believe it did not constitute justification of terrorism.

Makurin argued that the terrorist attacks in question were ‘the logical result of state propaganda and the policies of the current government.’ However, from this it in no way follows that he considered such actions permissible or justified them.

Instead, Makurin suggested that to prevent future terrorist attacks, government policy should be changed, not to increase control over society or repression, but in order ‘to create favourable conditions for life, not to torture anyone, not to put anyone in jail for holding alternative views.’

We believe analysis of the causes of a terrorist attack cannot and should not qualify as endorsement or justification of such an act. It seems obvious that there are causes of a social and political nature for every act of terrorism. Analysis and understanding of these causes is necessary for society. Prohibiting public discussion of the factors that lead to terrorist activity is unlawful and harmful to society.

We oppose the use of a broad interpretation of the notion of ‘justification of terrorism’ and factitious criminalisation of public discussion of terrorism. In recent years, Article 205.2 of the Russian Criminal Code has become the primary tool of repression with regard to publications on the Internet.

The prosecution and conviction of Oleg Makurin violates his right to freedom of expression guaranteed by Article 29 of the Russian Constitution and Article 10 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner or as a victim of a politically motivated prosecution does not imply Memorial Human Rights Centre agrees with, or approves of, their views, statements, or actions. 

More information about the case of Oleg Makurin and the position of Memorial Human Rights Centre is available on our website.

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Translated by Simon Cosgrove

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