OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 167: Navalny’s poisoning, jailed for an effigy and – all of a sudden – some good news

22 August 2020

OVD-Info is a Moscow-based NGO that monitors politically-motivated arrests in Russia. Each week OVD-Info publishes a bulletin with the latest news, which is translated here. To receive the mailing in Russian, visit here.

Aleksei Navalny at the memorial march for Boris Nemtsov / Photo: Evgeny Feldman for the project, ‘This is Navalny.’

Hi! Navalny is in a coma following a suspected poisoning attempt, sentences have been issued in Perm for protests using an effigy, and yet there is also some good news.

Navalny’s poisoning. Opposition politician Aleksei Navalny is in a coma. On 20th August the plane in which he was flying made an emergency landing in Omsk, where he was hospitalised for suspected poisoning. It was a long time before doctors at the Omsk hospital agreed to transfer Navalny to Germany for treatment, but in the end they did agree. Doctors deny that this was a case of poisoning, but have not announced any other diagnosis.

  • Why do I need to know this? Even in the absence of concrete evidence of poisoning, it is hard not to see the links between these events and Navalny’s work. By all accounts, this would not be the first case of the politician being poisoned – a year ago, he was hospitalised while in detention, but all was well in the end. Before that, he had been the victim of an attempted assault and had been doused in green dye.

Jailed for an effigy with Putin’s face. A court in Perm has issued sentences for a protest involving mannequins bearing Putin’s face and an inscription reading “War criminal V. V. Pynia” (a derogatory nickname for Putin). One of the defendants received a two-year prison sentence, another received a one-year suspended sentence with a year’s probation, and a third was unexpectedly acquitted. The latter had filmed the events. A member of the public who had attended the trial in support of one of the defendants was detained by police officers.

  • Why does this matter? People are being jailed for an effigy with an inscription on it. The court deems this hooliganism by a group of people who “sought to publicly ridicule Putin’s work”.

A bit of good news. Things do not always end badly. For instance, in St Petersburg fines issued to several detainees sentenced in the Network case have been cancelled, and an arrest for a single-person picket was deemed unlawful. A court in Makhachkala has ruled that the arrest of activists supporting journalists was unlawful. In Moscow, two sets of administrative charges against activists have been dropped; one of the activists was released directly from the courtroom after his detainment was annulled. Meanwhile, in the Cheliabinsk Region a paramedic who complained of not receiving a salary top-up during the peak of the coronavirus was found to have committed no offences.

  • Why does this matter? You may well be left feeling hopeless after reading our news stories. But it is not always bad: sometimes detainees do manage to claim their rights. They do usually have to put a bit of a fight, but each case one is another brick laid in the foundations of a bright future where people’s civil and political rights are respected.


Political poisonings. After Navalny was hospitalised, we look back at the other attempts to poison politicians in Russia. Barely any of them were investigated.

Arrests in Belarus. The elections in Belarus have been followed by mass protests. Rallies in support of the Belarusian protesters have been a regular occurrence in Russia, too. Aleksandr Litoi tells the stories of people who have been arrested at these protests.

Eco-protests in Bashkiria. The Bashkir Soda Company wants to start developments in the Kushtau shihan (limestone mountain), which is one of the main attractions in the region. Protesters who were defending the shihan set up camp there. The authorities tried to break up the campsite and arrested 70 people, 34 of whom were then further detained. Development was also paused. Mikhail Shubin recounts the key points.

Flowers in tank muzzles. In August 1992, a state of emergency was declared in Moscow: troops entered the city, political parties’ activity was suspended, rallies and strikes were forbidden, and the press were denied access. Dmitri Okrest asks some of the people who went up to the White House at that time what it was like.

Finally, we are still running our campaign entitled #NoBanOnPickets (#NaPiketZapretaNet): we have gathered all the data we have on lone pickets together on one page.


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

Leave a Reply