OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 140: How to conduct a single-person picket, the Network case, and lengthy prison sentences

15 February 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.

Hi! Defendants in the Network case in Penza have received double-digit sentences, Ingush human rights project, Ambulance, is closing down, and more members of Hizb ut-Tahrir have been imprisoned.

The Network case. On 10th February, the courts in Perm handed down prison sentences to defendants in the Network case, ranging from six to 18 years. Activists travelled from a range of different cities to attend the hearing. The next day, the police visited the flat where some of them had been staying. While this was going on, picketers speaking out in support of the defendants were being arrested in Moscow.

Why does this matter? Network is a criminal case against a group of anarchists and antifascists from Penza and St. Petersburg, who have been charged with organising and participating in a terrorist organisation, and with trafficking drugs. The defendants in the case have said, on several occasions, that they have been tortured. They have received enormously long prison sentences, which has sparked a discussion in society about whether the punishments were just and whether violence from law enforcement officers is permissible.

Hizb ut-Tahrir. The courts in Ekaterinburg have sentenced Eduard Nizamov, who lives in Kazan, to 23 years imprisonment for organising a branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir. During the investigation, Nizamov claimed that he was tortured and put under pressure.

Why does this matter? Hizb ut-Tahrir is an Islamic party that was declared a terrorist organisation in 2003. Members of the party are not committing any acts of violence, but have been receiving prison sentences in excess of 20 years for allegedly organising acts of terror and attempting to overthrow the authorities.

Twitter and Facebook. In Moscow, a justice of the peace has fined foreign companies Twitter and Facebook four million roubles each for refusing to transfer the data of Russian users onto a Russian server.

Why does this matter? In September 2015, a law was passed making it a legal requirement for data relating to Russian users to be stored in Russia. This law is the government’s attempt to monitor civic activism on social media, as it already does with the Russian site Vkontakte. Twitter and Facebook had already been fined three thousand roubles for breaching that law back in April 2019. In December, the fines were increased from a few thousand to a few million roubles.

Ingushetia. The human rights project Ambulance, which offered support to those implicated in the so-called Ingush Bolotnaya Square case, has announced its closure. Lately, its members had been facing growing interest from the security agencies, and on 28th January one of its volunteers was searched.

Why does this matter? The case – dubbed the Ingush Bolotnaya Square – is the largest criminal prosecution of oppositionist activists launched by the Ingush authorities following the March 2019 protests. At least 41 people are facing criminal charges, of whom 33 are in custody. Ambulance’s volunteers had been collecting and broadcasting information to those in pre-trial detention.


How to hold a single-person picket. OVD-Info’s lawyers have put together a manual on how to hold a single-person picket safely and legally in Russia.

Plan Fortress and the lawyer. On 9th February, a group of protesters wearing stage makeup were detained. The activists had been trying to confuse the facial recognition software that had been recently installed in the city’s CCTV systems. OVD-Info lawyer Dmitrii Zakhvatov went to visit the detainees, but the police activated Russia’s security emergency protocol, Plan Fortress, in order to stop him from gaining access to them. Dimitry managed to get into the police station but was then thrown out. Later, he managed to get inside once again. We have published Dmitrii’s story.

Enemy of the state. The Federal Penitentiary Service does not want to release Ilia Romanov, a 52-year old anarchist who is seriously unwell and paralysed, and who has spent 20 years in prison. He is at risk of death from complications, as the prison hospital is not providing him with the treatment he needs. Our colleagues at Novaya gazeta tell Romanov’s story.

The Other Russia. In 2019, the security agencies increased pressure on activists from The Other Russia movement. OVD-Info member Matvei Pukhov writes about the searches, threats and administrative arrests that supporters of the party have been subjected to.

The police and illegal rubbish collection. On 8th February, the police attempted to ban a traditional protest calling for separate recycling collections on Vernadskii Avenue in Moscow. The police threatened protesters with misdemeanour charges and fines. The local Deputy from the Yabloka party, Elena Filina, explains what happened to OVD-Info.


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.
Illustration by Anna Semykina

Translated by Judith Fagelson

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