OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 157: A broken leg, the Moscow Case, and Speakers’ Corners

13 June 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.

IllustrationTatyana Safronova for OVD-Info

Hi! This week, we’re talking about the fine given to a designer whose leg was broken by police officers, prosecutions against Jehovah’s Witnesses, and where the Constitutional Court has sent us all.

Man arrested before a protest to face a larger fine than the court ordered. Konstantin Konovalov, whose leg was broken on 27th July of last year before the protests on Tverskaia Street in Moscow, has learnt that he is to face a fine of 15,000 roubles. Even though the court only ordered a fine of 10,000 roubles. For a protest which Konovalov couldn’t even attend, on account of being hospitalised with a broken leg. So much for freedom of assembly.

  • Why does this matter? Because Konovalov’s story clearly demonstrates how everything works round here. The police arrest you unlawfully, the police charge you on false grounds, the police break your leg, and at the end of the day you’re the one who gets fined. Someone has clearly got something wrong here.

The Moscow Case. The Moscow Case continues to unfold, into yet another Moscow summer. Konstantin Kotov has still not been released, and was instead transferred back into jail in Vladimir. He could still be taken back to the same prison where he served his sentence. Kotov was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment for protesting peacefully and other petty offences. His sentence was later reduced to a year and a half.

  • Why do I need to know this? Public support, although widespread, has not been enough to secure Konstantin Kotov’s release in the way that it did for Ildar Dadin. The statute on repeat offences at public protests should be removed from the Criminal Code, consigned into oblivion and disgraced as the unjust, speculative and repressive thing that it is. 

A Jehovah’s Witness in Pskov has been sentenced to 6.5 years in prison. To the best of our knowledge, this is the longest sentence handed down to date in the ongoing saga of prosecutions against Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia. Representatives from the religious sect in various regions continue to face criminal charges. For instance, 19 members of the local community in Astrakhan were recently subjected to searches. Another case was opened in the Stavropol Region.

  • Why does this matter? Ever since the Jehovah’s Witnesses were deemed an extremist organisation, criminal cases against believers have become commonplace in almost all Russian regions. Yet, the people facing prosecution have done nothing more than fulfilling religious rites and reading books which do not call for violence. 


Constitutional Court sends everyone to Speakers’ Corners. The Constitutional Court has issued orders to the regional authorities to lift some of the restrictions on freedom of assembly. This should be good news, but at the same time, the court maintains that these public protests should, by default take place in “Hyde Parks” – designated areas for public protests – wastelands, located on the far outskirts of cities. We asked lawyers to explain what exactly the Constitutional Courts want from the local authorities. 

Later, our analysts released a detailed report on the same topic. You can read it here.

On top of that, OVD-Info’s analytical department now has its own newsletter! Subscribers will receive updates on our colleagues’ latest reports and datasets. You can subscribe using this link.


Every day we take phone calls on our hotline, publish news and features about political repression in Russia, release guidance, reports and podcasts. Our lawyers handle criminal cases and submit complaints to the ECHR, while our IT-team works day in, day out to make our services more user-friendly. All of this can happen thanks to your support. Please sign up to make a monthly donation to OVD-Info. That way we can continue work and to send you your favourite mailing and more.

Translated by Judith Fagelson

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