OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 142: The UN, Meduza, Network, and a hammer for a blogger

29 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! This week, we explain our position on Meduza’s controversial publication and we look at how the UN can influence freedom of assembly.

Chechen activist attacked in Poland. Chechen blogger Tumso Abdurakhmanov, famous for his criticism of Razman Kadyrov, has been attacked in Poland. On 26th February, the attacker entered the flat where Abdurakhmanov was sleeping and hit him over the head with a hammer. However, the blogger woke up and managed to fend off and disarm his attacker.

Why does this matter? Tumso Abdurakhmanov is seeking asylum in Poland because he believes that he would be in danger if he returned to Chechnya. He has published a video on his YouTube channel, showing a conversation with a man claiming to be the Chairman of the republic, Magomed Daudov. The Chechen authorities take a zero-tolerance approach to criticism directed at them. People in the republic are frequently detained for their activities on social media or for memes depicting Kadyrov.

Novaya Zemlya for the ACF. Moscow’s Meshchanskii District Court has dismissed a lawsuit put forward by Ruslan Shaveddinov, who works for the Anti-Corruption Foundation (ACF), who disputed the legality of his draft into the army. Moreover, the courts in Arkhangelsk refused to consider a second lawsuit filed by Shaveddinov after he was barred from using mobile communications. The courts accepted information from the Ministry of Defence, who claimed that nobody had stopped the conscript from using his mobile phone. And that means that there is no need to specifically authorise it either.

Why does this matter? ACF manager Ruslan Shaveddinov was detained in his apartment on 23rd December, after the authorities made a hole in his door to gain entry. First, Shaveddinov was taken for interrogation by the Investigative Committee, and then he was immediately sent on military service to the far northern archipelago of Novaya Zemlya.

Activist forbidden from seeing a dentist – again. The interrogator from the Ministry of the Interior in Komsomolsk-on-Amur has once again forbidden LGBT activist Iulia Tsvetkova from seeing a dentist. The police officer says that she will not let Tsvetkova see a doctor until her mother comes in for interrogation. This is not the first time that the activist, who is under house arrest, has been barred from visiting the dentist.

Why does this matter? Criminal charges are being pressed against Iulia Tsvetkova under the law on distribution of pornography, because of her writings in the body-positive publication “The Vagina Monologues.” The case was initiated after a complaint from well-known homophobe Timur Bulatov, who frequently denounces LGBT-activists. The dentist in question believes that Tsvetkova is in urgent need of surgery for a malocclusion, without which she could suffer irritation to her nerves leading to disability.

For the second time, the courts have fined a designer who was not present at protests. Designer Konstantin Konovalov, whose leg was broken by police officers on 27th July 2019, has once again been fined for his protest activities. An earlier decision on Konovalov’s fine from the same Savelovsky Court had already been overturned by the Moscow City Court. Afterwards, the case was returned to the court for fresh consideration. Evidently, this did not help achieve justice.

Why does this matter? Konovalov was arrested several hours before the start of the protest on 27th July, while jogging along Tverskaya Street. The designer’s leg was broken during the arrest, and he ended up in hospital. However, the courts maintain that Konovalov somehow managed to take part in the protest even though he was in the police station, and then the hospital, with a broken leg. At the same time, the authorities do not seem too concerned with investigating the circumstances under which the designer was injured.


Meduza and Network. Media platform Meduza has published an article outlining the possible involvement of several defendants in the Penza branch of the Network case in the killing of two people and in drug trafficking. The piece has been met with a wave of debate and criticism. OVD-Info has been publishing detailed coverage of the Network case since shortly after its beginning. Our editors felt it important that we clarify our position.

Russia and the UN. Russia has objected to comments from the UN on the practice of freedom of assembly. The Russian authorities are concerned that the UN is obliging states to take steps to protect “individuals who are experiencing discrimination”, and to combat obstruction to the work of journalists and human rights activists. OVD-Info explains what the UN wants and what the Russian authorities want from the UN. Additionally, OVD-Info member Katia Golenkova clarifies how opinions put forward by the UN might influence freedom of assembly.

Hyde Parks. There is just one Hyde Park in Moscow, located in the middle of the Sokolniki woods. The authorities closed the second one, which was in Gorky Park and was open to passers-by, without any explanation or any media coverage in 2015. Read our piece about how it all came about.

Azat Miftakhov. Mathematician and anarchist Azat Miftakhov has been charged with hooliganism at the offices of the United Russia party. Miftakhov is currently on remand awaiting the start of his trial. Aleksandr Litoi explains the details of the case against him.


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 Vlad Milushkin for OVD-Info

Translated by Judith Fagelson

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