OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 162: Arrests in Moscow, the Navalny case and new freedom of assembly

18 July 2020

OVD-Info is a Moscow-based NGO that monitors politically-motivated arrests in Russia. Every Saturday OVD-Info sends out a mailing with the latest news, which is translated here. To receive the mailing in Russian, visit here.

Protests in Chili/ Photo: cristian castilloUnsplash

Hi! Navalny has been banned from travelling, while journalists and protesters against the constitutional amendments have been arrested in Moscow.

Protest against amendments to the Constitution. On 15th July people gathered in Moscow and other cities to protest against changes to the Constitution. After this, a procession was started along the streets of the capital which culminated in mass arrests. We ran a live-feed of the events. All told, 147 people were arrested. OVD-Info writer Mikhail Shubin summarises the protests.

  • Why do I need to know this? More people were arrested in Moscow on 15th July than in any other recent incident. Among the detainees were journalists and minors, and three people were beaten.

Navalny ordered not to travel. Blogger and politician Aleksei Navalny has been banned from leaving the city in connection with charges of slander against a World War II veteran. The charges were pressed after Navalny said that people who had featured in a video urging the public to vote on changes to the Constitution were conscienceless traitors. The Anti-Corruption Foundation’s offices were searched on 17th July in connection with the same case.

  • Why does this matter? The Navalny case seems ridiculous and contrived given that all criminal cases against him are being considered in the context of his political activism. The investigation has become a pretext for searching organisations with close connections to Navalny, for limiting his activity, and for intimidating him and his supporters.

Prosecution requests sentences in the New Greatness case. During the oral arguments on 14th July the prosecution requested sentences for defendants in the New Greatness case ranging from four to seven years’ imprisonment. For four out of the seven defendants, these sentences would be suspended. Th day after the court hearing, protests were held in Moscow in support of the defendants, during which at least 17 people were arrested. Read our live-feed here.

  • Why do I need to know this? The New Greatness case was launched in large part due to the actions of agents-provocateurs from the intelligence services, one of whom tried to formalise the activists’ chats in an online forum by drawing up an organisational charter while also provoking them into having questionable conversations.

Arrests at protest in support of Ivan Safronov. On 13th July journalists were arrested while protesting in support of former Kommersant journalist, Ivan Safronov, in front of the Lefortovo jail where he is being held on charges of high treason. They were issued with warnings under the statute on breaching the laws governing public rallies. At least 18 people were arrested. At the same time, Safronov’s bank account and those of his family members were blocked.

  • Why do I need to know this? Ivan Safronov’s friends and colleagues believe the charges against him to be falsified. They maintain that the charges were brought because of his journalistic activities: Safronov has written pieces on Russia’s military industry.


Stories from protesters arrested on 15th July. In Moscow, a collection of signatures against changes to the Constitution ended in arrests which included police violence, and an officer in one police station was found to be drunk. Aleksandr Litoi has recorded the detainees’ stories.

A search, drugs and a fence. On 3rd July, the headquarters of the United Democrats party in Kazan were searched. Activists working at the HQ believe that the police had been planning to plant drugs on them. We have published a testimonial by Elena Izotova, head of the Tatarstan branch of the Yabloko (Apple) party, who was present during the search.

Freedom of assembly abroad. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, many – if not all – countries in the world have implemented restrictions on public gatherings. In Russia, this has allowed the police to arrest people holding lone pickets. Dmitri Okrest tries to understand freedom of assembly and authorisation of protests in other countries before quarantines were imposed.

And finally, our analysts have published a new piece on regional bans on protesting at hospitals, military facilities, educational institutions and objects of worship. Have a read!


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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