OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 164: Are you also fed up with foul play at single person pickets?

1 August 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 Viktoriya Kim for OVD-Info

Hi! If you, like us, are furious about the arrests taking place at lone pickets in Moscow, then welcome to our campaign #НаПикетЗапретаНет (#PicketsAreNotBanned)!  We are launching a public initiative in order to turn the situation around and make lone pickets safe again – for us, for you and even for the police.

Apart from that, it’s business as usual: arrests, criminal proceedings against a member of parliament, and the FSB’s work in dehumanisation.

Protests in support of an arrested governor. On 25th July protests were held in various cities around Russia in support of the Sergei Furgal, former governor of the Khabarovsk Region. The protests against the criminal charges Furgal is facing have been going on for several weeks now, and have been attended by tens of thousands of people – an absurd amount for provincial Khabarovsk. We ran a live feed and drew up lists of those arrested.

  • Why do I need to know this? At the moment, these are the largest protests in Russia. Both the federal authorities and the new regional authorities have been wavering between trying to ignore them and saying that the protests have been infiltrated by foreigners. It is curious that the police have not yet started breaking up the protests in Khabarovsk itself. It is probably fair to assume that breaking up a rally of 50,000 people in a city with a population of 600,000 is a rather dangerous undertaking. At the same time, criminal proceedings have already been initiated against activists in other cities in connection with these protests.

Criminal proceedings against a municipal deputy in Moscow. Oppositionist Iulia Galiamina is facing criminal charges under the law dubbed “Dadin’t Article”, relating to repeat offences at public rallies. The charges relate to a protest against amendments to the Constitution on 15th July. Later, Galiamina was searched and taken in for questioning by the Investigative Committee. 

  • Why does this matter? Because Article 212.1 of Russia’s criminal code should be revoked, forgotten and subjected to complete censure, given that it is entirely unconstitutional and unjust. People are being prosecuted – watch out – for peaceful protests, and the prosecutions are criminal ones. Go to four rallies and you could be landed in prison. That’s what freedom of assembly really looks like in Russia.

Defendant in the Hizb ut-Tahrir case barred from attending son’s funeral. Ruslan Suleimanov, a Crimean who has been charged with membership of Hizb ut-Tahrir, was not released from pre-trial detention to attend his three-year-old son’s funeral. The investigator cited a need to “agree with management” on the case. However, Suleimanov’s lawyer was not able to meet the FSB case handler, who was occupied with another meeting at the time.

  • Why does this matter? Because it demonstrates how those in charge of terrorism investigations dehumanise defendants. They hide conveniently behind the law, but no legalities can explain why a father, who has not committed any violent crimes, can be banned from attending his little boy’s funeral.


On the benefits of encrypting phones. On 18th July in the Leningrad region, members of Strategy-18 – a series of protests in support of Crimean Tatars – were arrested. The detainees spent the night in the police station and learnt the next day that their phones had been accessed while they were in their cells. OVD-Info has published the story of Dmitri Negodin, one of the detainees, who used his computer science knowledge to record suspicious activity on the activists’ phones.

On banned lone pickets in Moscow. OVD-Info analysts Natasha Smirnova and Denis Shedov have studied the decree issued in March by the Mayor Sobianin, which is being used to arrest lone picketers. The ban on any kind of public gathering was initially explained by the novel coronavirus epidemic, but life in the city has now all but returned to normal, and yet the restrictions still have not been lifted. Click here to read an analysis of how the situation around lone pickets has changed in Mosco because of Sobianin’s decree.

On pretexts for arrests at lone pickets. Over the last few years, lone pickets have become the only way for activists to protest safely in Russia. That said, even lone picketers have been arrested, tried and fined. Anastasia Medvedeva unpicks which pretexts the security forces use to intercept lone pickets and why this is unlawful.

Finally, we have released a new episode of our podcast Audiodock, about the protests of 27th July 2019 and about what life was like for all of us a year ago. You can listen and remember the past here.


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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