OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 146: Coronavirus, an interrogation on a train, and more on the Moscow Case.

28 March 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.

Illustration: Anastasiya Pozhidaeva for OVD-Info

Hi! An anarchist has been interrogated on a train, a convict in the so-called 212 Case has had his sentence relaxed, and Hizb ut-Tahrir continues to face harassment.

The Moscow Case. Danil Belgets, who was convicted following the summer’s protests, has had the terms of his sentence relaxed. The courts resolved to move him from an ordinary prison to an open prison. At the same time, the censor of a remand centre in Kursk blocked the delivery of 33 New Year’s cards addressed to Nikita Chirtsov, another defendant in the Moscow Case.

  • Why does this matter? The wave of protest has subsided, but the Moscow Case continues while at least one person convicted in the case is currently in prison. It is important not to forget about the people who are facing several more years in prison.

Hizb ut Tahrir. A court in Crimea has extended the detention of ten of the defendants in the second Simferopol case. Emil Dzhemadenov, a convict in Bashkortostan who suffered an inguinal hernia, has been sent to a special punishment cell for not doing his exercises. In neighbouring Tatarstan a woman whose husband has been convicted in the Hizb ut-Tahrir case has been facing pressure from the security forces.

  • Why do I need to know this? Members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, as well as those suspected of belonging to the party, are facing lengthy prison sentences for their religious books and meetings. The party has been deemed a terrorist organisation, even though its members do not commit acts or terror and insist on the peaceful preaching of Islam.

Interrogated on a train. Anarchist Mikhail Perkov was interrogated on his way back from his shift as a train guard. At one of the stops on the intercity train, Perkov was approached by an investigator, two police officers in uniform and three more in plain clothes. They inquired whether Perkov had any connection to an organisation called The People’s Self-Defence.

  • Why does this matter? It is illegal to conduct an interrogation which carries a threat of criminal proceedings without a lawyer. Besides, they tried to add Perkov to the list of suspected members of The People’s Self-Defence – a similar list was discovered during the Azat Miftakhov case. Yet, the list contained dozens of people who had no connection to Miftakhov, nor to The People’s Self-Defence, nor even to anarchists. It is concerning that the law enforcement agencies genuinely believe that all the people on these lists are in some way involved with the movement.


Quarantine and the fight against political repression. Social distancing measures due to the coronavirus epidemic are getting ever stricter. We have put together a list of ways in which you can help political prisoners and make Russia a little better, as an alternative to spending your quarantine watching TV and playing games.

Head smashed against the prisoner van. Leonid, a teenaged Marxist, was arrested on 14th March at the offices of the FSB. During his arrest, his arm was nearly broken and his head was pushed into the side of the prisoner van. Later, the inspector responsible for cases involving minors barred the teenager’s discharge from the hospital where he was admitted. We have published Leonid’s story.

Podcast from the presenter of We Have a Question. You may know that we have a podcast. It’s hosted by our colleague Ksiusha Sonnaia. Ksiusha wrote a blog post on Medium about her six favourite podcasts, with no connection to OVD-Info. She came up with a fine selection: prison, murder, acts of terror and – most importantly – overcoming trauma.

Now for a little more about the epidemic. The authorities all over the country are limiting freedom of assembly, citing the risk of spreading the disease. Thanks to our volunteers, we have made a map of what’s forbidden, where. Have a look!


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

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