OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 136: Separatism, incitement of terrorism and Jehovah’s Witnesses

OVD-Info is a Moscow-based NGO that monitors politically-motivated arrests in Russia. Every Friday OVD-Info sends out a mailing with the latest news, which is translated here. To receive the mailing in Russian, visit here.

Illustration by Evgeniya Dombrovskaya for OVD-Info

Hi! Memorial has been fined again, Daria Poliudova imprisoned again, and in Tatarstan criminal charges on inciting terrorism have been pressed against the creators of a video showing Putin on trial.

Fresh criminal charges against left-wing activist Daria Poliudova. The activist, who was previously convicted in a case relating to separatism, has been arrested once again on suspicion of justifying terrorism and inciting separatism. On 15th January Poliudova, along with journalist Olga Sapronova, was searched. Sapronova was released, but Poliudova has been placed in solitary confinement until 13th March at the earliest.

Why do I need to know this? Daria Poliudova makes frequent appearances in OVD-Info’s articles, given how often she is arrested. However, all her arrests since she was released from prison have ended up as administrative – not criminal – cases. Now, the activist is potentially facing another prison term because of her words.

Criminal charges for a video showing Putin on trial. The law enforcement authorities in Tatarstan were so displeased with a video mock-up of Putin, Peskov and Sechin on trial that they immediately launched criminal proceedings on two counts: inciting terrorism online and insulting members of the authorities. Several activists were searched, and one of the video’s creators, Karim Iamadaev, was taken into custody.

Why does this matter? The video opens with a disclaimer that the creators do not aim to incite violence or hatred, and that any resemblance to real individuals or names is coincidental. In March 2019, Iamadaev was detained for 28 days because of a protest he staged with a headstone for Putin.

International Memorial continues to receive fines. The courts in Tver have fined International Memorial on two more counts under the law requiring organisations registered as foreign agents to declare their status on all articles they publish. The first fine was issued because of absence of such a declaration on a website listing NKVD workers from the 1930s, and the second related to the organisation’s supposed failure to place the declaration on a VKontakte group called “1968: The Year of Human Rights”. Yet, in actual fact the social media page had declared its status.

Why does this matter? Memorial International preserves the memory of political repression and victims of repression. Its staff considers its work to be apolitical, and therefore not subject to the foreign agent law. At present, International Memorial, its sister organisation, Memorial Human Rights Centre, and their directors have been convicted on 28 counts of breaching the foreign agent law. The associated fines amount to a total of 4.5 million roubles.

The persecution of Jehovah’s Witness continues. In the city of Georgiyevsk, in the Stavropol Region, three individuals have been charged in a case on extremist organisations. In the city of Nevinnomyssk, also in the Stavropol Region, nine supposed Jehovah’s Witnesses have already been placed under suspicion. In Volgograd, a case against five believers has already gone to trial. In Kamchatka, the decision to return the case against three Jehovah’s Witnesses to the prosecutor’s office has been overturned.

Why does this matter? In 2017, the Supreme Court declared the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Russian Headquarters an extremist organisation and banned all its activities. All Jehovah’s Witness organisations were also banned. Since then, suspected community members all over the country have been facing criminal prosecutions.


Another echo from the explosion at the FSB’s Archangelsk offices. Ivan Liubshin, from Kaluga, published a post on his social media calling Mikhail Zhlobitski, a suicide bomber who attacked the FSB, the “hero of the week”. Liubshin deleted the post shortly afterwards, but a year later he was nonetheless charged with justifying terrorism. He told us how about the beatings he suffered at the hands of FSB officers, and recalled what they said while they did it.

What to do if your child is an activist or political prisoner: how parents relate to their activist children, and how children relate to their activist parents.This piece includes stories from activists from activists from across the generations, as well as advice from lawyers on what to do if your child is arrested at a protest.

How complaints to the ECtHR are changing Russia. Over the course of the year, the Russian state and Russia pays out over 10 million euros a year in connection with verdicts from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). OVD-Info member Aleksandra Baeva explains some of the cases that have gone to the ECHR and led to changes in Russian legislation.


Each day we publish news reports and provide assistance to people who have been arrested. We very much need your assistance. After all, we depend for all our work on your support. Please sign up to make a monthly donation to OVD-Info. That way we can continue to send you your favourite mailing, our Weekly Bulletin.

Translated by Judith Fagelson

Leave a Reply