OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 152: New defendants, new searches and the Communists of Russia

9 May 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 by Anna Semykina for OVD-Info

Hi! More people have been arrested in Vladikavkas on charges of hooliganism, while in Moscow nationalists are being searched and communists blocked.

Journalist’s front door lock broken, following an article on planted drugs. Oleg Zurman, a journalist from Mediazone in the Kaliningrad Region, had the lock of his front door filled with polyurethane foam. Zurman himself believes the incident was connected with an article he had written about a case in which the police planted drugs on the defendant. Shortly beforehand, Zurman had learnt that his telephone had been tapped.

  • Why does this matter? Russian legislation does a poor job of protecting journalists. Article 144 of the Criminal Code, which governs obstruction to journalists’ activities, barely works, and journalists are regularly detained and beaten at public events. It is important to publicise incidents where journalists are harassed because of their work.

New defendants in Vladikavkaz. The case following a protest against the lockdown in Vladikavaz continues to evolve. Six more people have been taken in on remand on charges of hooliganism. At present, there are at least ten defendants in the case.

  • Why do I need to know this? On 20th April, a spontaneous protest was held in North Ossetian capital. Protesters demanded state support for citizens who are required to self-isolate. Following clashes with the police, the authorities initiated criminal proceedings. The case has the potential to become the local equivalent of the Bolotnya Square and Ingush cases. 

Special Forces break into the Association of National Resistance’s headquarters.  The headquarters of the Association of National Resistance were searched, as were the homes of several activists. Law enforcement officers used force, breaking the nose of one of the activists and hitting another in the face. Following the searches, members of the Association were arrested, taken to the police station, and then released.

  • Why do I need to know this? The searches were conducted as part of a criminal case on the unlawful registration of a legal entity. Someone allegedly took out loans in the names of the Association’s activists. These charges were hardly serious enough to require the Special Forces, the use of physical force, and the revocation of the political organisation’s charter.

Criminal proceedings initiated against Police Ombudman. Vladimir Vorontsov, who authors the Vkontakte public group Police Ombudsman, has been criminally charged for extortion. He was searched, detained, and then charged.

  • Why does this matter? Police Ombudsman disseminates information about infringements on police officers’ rights. The increasing frequency with which Vorontsov has been searched, as well as this criminal prosecution, could be senior law enforcement officers’ way of seeking revenge – the state needs its officers to be 100% loyal.


The window, Lenin and the bicycle: how the police blockaded communists on Labour Day. On 1st May, police officers blockaded the offices of the newspaper Communists of Russia after members of and sympathisers with the eponymous party gathered there to mark Labour Day. The blockade lasted six days. Several communists were detained and fined. OVD-Info has published the story of human rights activist Eduard Rudyk who ended up blockaded along with Communists of Russia.


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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