OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 159: The Network case, Pussy Riot and multiple arrests

27 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.

People outside the building of the Second District Military Court, 22 June / Photo David Frenkel

Hi! Sentences have been issued in the St Petersburg arm of the Network case, Petr Verzilov has been detained for 15 days, and the police are arresting everyone in turn.

Petr Verzilov arrested and detained. On the morning of 21st June, law enforcement officers broke down Pussy Riot member Petr Verzilov’s front door. First, they told the activist that he was under arrest for inciting extremism, and then changed their story, saying that the arrest was for planning a protest during the 24th June parade. In the end, Verzilov was interrogated in relation to the Moscow case, then released, then arrested again with the help of an agent-provocateur whom he had allegedly attacked. The next day, he was detained for 15 days under the statute on petty hooliganism and charged with using foul language in public.

  • Why does this matter? The scale of this multifaceted special operation, using an agent-provocateur and direct falsification, is striking. Most likely, the authorities wanted to isolate Verzilov during the parade and the vote on constitutional amendments, in order to prevent him staging another protest and ruining their festival.

Sentencing in the St Petersburg branch of the Network case. The courts have sentenced the St Petersburg defendants in the Network case, Iuli Boiarshinov and Viktor Filinkov, to 5.5 and 7 years respectively in a medium-security prison. The courts did not take into account Filinkov’s claims of torture, or Boiarshinov’s claims of duress. After the hearing, the police violently arrested 30 people outside the St Petersburg court. Further arrests were made on the same day in Moscow, where pickets were held in support of the defendants. 

  • Why do I need to know this? The Network case has come to be one of the most widely resonant political cases in recent years. Public dissent was triggered by the unfounded and serious nature of the charges and accusations of torture from many of the defendants. Sadly, Russian courts still treat the FSB’s investigation as infallible.

Arrests during a memorial rally. Last week, the police took an active stance against suspicious attempts to pay tribute to people who died in the Second World War. 28 people were arrested in the Leningrad Region and charged with holding an unauthorised protest when they laid wreaths at a memorial. In Moscow, more than 65 people were taken into police custody while on a walk in memory of the unknown soldier. Meanwhile, in the Moscow Region, police arrested a woman who had been taking part in a motor rally dedicated to the anniversary of the start of the war.

  • Why does this matter? It is still not clear how these inoffensive memorial events could bother anyone or anything. It is hardly likely that a blanket ban on unauthorised gatherings – even apolitical ones – will strengthen public love for and trust in the law enforcement agencies, regional authorities and the government.


The story of a detainee fro the Network case sentencing. One of those arrested outside the St Petersburg courts was none other than OVD-Info’s editor-in-chief and wife of Iuli Boiarshinov, Yana Sakhipova. At the police station where the detainees spent two days, they were forced to sleep on the floor, were long denied access to their lawyers, and Yana was pushed and locked in a cell. You can read her story here.

An open letter from the mother of a defendant in the Hizb ut-Tahrir case. Prosecutions against Hizb ut-Tahrir and lengthy prison sentences for religious gatherings have, sadly, become commonplace in various regions across Russia. OVD-Info has published an open letter from Anfisa, the mother of Rustam Khalikov, a defendant in Cheliabinsk.

Arrested for defending the forest. Tatiana Pavlova, who was seeking to protect the Selyatino Forest, was arrested at the Naro-Fominsk town administrative centre. She wanted to find out whether the town mayor had signed a policy on green spaces, which would ban the construction of roads through the forest. Aleksandr Litoi spoke to the environmental activist and recorded her story.


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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