OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 137: Hizb ut-Tahrir, prosecutions in Ingushetia and a threat of paralysis

25 January 2020
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.

Prisoners in the Hizb ut-Tahrir case have been released, verdicts issued in Ingushetia’s version of the Bolotnaya Square case, and medical assistance withheld.

Two of those convicted in the Hizb ut-Tahrir case have been released from prison. Nuri Primov and Rustem Vaitov, from Sevastopol, were both convicted in 2016 in a case against the regional branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir. Both have now been released. The courts placed the pair under administrative surveillance for a period of eight years. At the same time in Samara, two defendants in the so-called “fifth” Hizb ut-Tahrir case in Tatarstan have been sentenced to twelve years in prison.

Why does this matter? Cases against suspected members of the Hizb ut-Tahrir party are among the most numerous politically motivated prosecutions in Russia. The authorities in Crimea have been using repression in order to pressure disloyal Crimean Tatars. Punishments have been growing ever harsher since the party was banned in 2003. Now, praying and exchanging books can carry prison sentences of up to 24 years.

Trials in Ingushetia are continuing against protesters who took to the streets on 26th March 2019. The courts issued another verdict in connection to the events of 26th March in the Ingushetian capital, Magas. Residents in the republic took to the streets in order to protest changes to the border with Chechnya. On 23rd January, Mahomed Ozdoev was sentenced to one year and four months in an open prison. All in all, the protests have already led to nine sentences.

Why does this matter? 35 people have been charged in the Ingushetian version of Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square case. The State believes them to have been involved in assaults against police officers. The case has served both as a response to dissatisfaction with the politics of the previous head of the region, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, and as a convenient excuse for putting pressure on oppositionist activists.

An activist under house arrest was stopped from visiting the dentist. The interrogator had initially forbidden LGBT activist Yuli Tsvetkova from going to the dentist, but following the publication of one of our articles, she suddenly changed her mind and allowed it. Criminal charges of distributing pornography were brought against Tsvetkova following a complaint from Timur Bulatov, an agent-provocateur, about her drawings on the Vagina Monologues group. An administrative charge was also brought against the activist on 17th January, for a post she had written about LGBT families, which was seen as distribution of LGBT propaganda to minors.

Why do I need to know this? Tsvetkova believes that the pressure she is facing is linked with the activities of the MERAK theatre studio, which she used to lead and which was forced to close because of bullying faced by its students. One of the studio’s underage actors was forced by the police to state that he was a victim.

A man who has been convicted of arson for burning hay has been denied access to medical treatment. Yury Korny, who was convicted for taking part in Vyacheslav Maltsev’s YouTube channel, Artillery Preparation (“Artpodgotovka”), claimed that he was denied access to medical treatment while on remand. Kornyi’s friends and family have been supplying him with painkillers for a trapped nerve in his hip, while the jail administrators refuse to grant him access to proper medical treatment. He is currently on hunger strike.

Why does this matter?
 As Korny himself says, without proper medical treatment, he could become paralysed. According to the investigation, the defendants in the case had been planning to burn the decorations and rubbish which were piled up next to Red Square in Moscow. The prosecution argues that they had formed a terrorist organisation to carry out their plan.


Oppositionists sued for 9m roubles by the authorities and businessmen. After the summer’s protests, Alexey Navalny, staff from his Anti-Corruption Foundation and several of the candidates in the Moscow City elections were sued for amounts totalling a billion roubles. The complainants were the state prosecutor, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the city’s public transport operator Mosgortrans, the Moscow underground, restaurants, taxi services and one sole entrepreneur. All these organisations and individuals claim to have suffered financial losses because of the political opposition. Anastasia Medvedeva explains the arguments they put forward in court.

Will the amendments to the constitution have any impact on freedom of assembly or on complaints to the European Court of Human Rights? President Putin announced changes to Russia’s fundamental law. OVD-Info lawyers Aleksandra Chilikova and Denis Shedov unpick whether these changes will make our lives better or worse.

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Photo by David Frenkel for OVD-InfoTranslated by Judith Fagelson

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