OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 160: The constitution, a broken arm and single-person pickets

4 July 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.

A rally on 27 July 2019 protesting against the refusal to allow independent candidates to take part in the Mocow Duma elections, Moscow/ Evgeny Feldman for Meduza

Hi! As before, the police are still arresting people one after the other, and a Mediazone journalist has had his arm broken.

Arrests before the vote on constitutional amendments. All week, all over the country, protesters against amendments to our main law have been arrested. Picketers in Nizhny Novgorod and Moscow were detained, a blogger in Tiumen was arrested for a series of protests against the amendments, and in St Petersburg and Khimki activists were taken into custody for putting up campaign posters. On the last day of voting, 1st July, various provocations and arrests continued and we ran two simultaneous live feeds: a general one, and one focusing on arrests

  • Why does this matter? After the lull brought on by the epidemic, Russia is rapidly launching into a season of political arrests. Arrests at lone pickets are becoming more common, even though earlier – at least in Moscow – they were relatively rare. The authorities would doubtless have liked to reinforce the quarantine measure in place, forbidding public gatherings altogether.

Medizaone correspondent’s arm broken at polling station. In St Petersburg, the police broke journalist David Frenkel’s arm. Frenkel fell to the floor, after which one of the “electoral monitors” grabbed the correspondent by his broken arm and stood on his leg. Frenkel was admitted to hospital and underwent a four-hour surgery. The authorities rushed to say that David broke his own arm before arriving at the polling station.

  • Why do I need to know this? David Frenkel is our colleague; we often use his photos in our stories. We work with him to bring to light the lawlessness of those in power, and to hold them to account. This time, we want to hold those responsible for David’s injuries to account.

Arrests at lone pickets in support of Iulia Tsvetkova. In Moscow and St Petersburg on 27th June, protesters supporting LGBT activist Iulia Tsvetkova were arrested. Tsvetkova is being prosecuted under the article on producing pornography because of drawings of a vagina. In total 43 people were arrested, and one of them was due to be detained for 20 days. The detainment was later reduced to 15 days.

  • Why do I need to know this? As we have already mentioned, the police are starting to arrest people at lone pickets more often. Even though lone pickets are considered a form of public protest which does not need authorisation. What’s more, the case itself against Iulia Tsvetkova is baseless and absurd.


Patriots arrested. On 22nd June, at least 65 people were arrested in Moscow after protesting against microchipping and forced vaccination. Aleksandr Litoi spoke to one of the protest organisers, Elena Rokhilna, who represents the National Patriot Forces of Russia.

The story of a pro-Tsvetkova protester’s arrest. More than forty people were arrested in Moscow and Petersburg following protests calling for the charges against Iulia Tsvetkova to be dropped. The police tried unsuccessfully to charge one of those arrested, Daria Zhirnova, with participation in an unauthorised protest. OVD-Info tells her story.

Protest or civil unrest? It’s not uncommon in our country for protests to end up being forcefully broken up and leading to criminal prosecution for civil unrest. OVD-Info asked experts to explain the difference between peaceful protesters and people causing civil unrest in the eyes of both Russian and international legislation.


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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