OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 168: Death in a police station, beatings in jail

29 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.

Illustration by Tanya Safronova for OVD-Info

Hi! A detainee in Vologda has died, and a journalist has been beaten in a Moscow region jail.

A detainee in a Vologda police station has died. The lawyer defending a detainee who had protested the demolition of a square in Vologda has announced that his client died in police custody. The lawyer heard about his clients’ death prior to a court hearing on disobeying police officers (article 19.3 of the Administrative Code) which he was due to attend. The detainee was unwell – he had been struggling with spatial orientation, swaying from side to side – but the police refused to call the emergency services.

  • Why does this matter? Unfortunately, police indifference towards detainees in Russia has become widespread common practice. We would like those responsible for his death to face punishment; they should lose their jobs and face criminal proceedings. Then, perhaps this case could be a lesson to other law enforcement officers.

Detained journalist beaten in jail. Aleksandr Dorogov, a journalist for the publication Rosderzhava, who is being held on remand on charges of extortion, was beaten by his cellmates. While they were beating him, Dogorov’s attackers told him that “you know who” sent their greetings, and also explained that they were beating the journalist because of his reporting. As a result, he sustained injuries to his ribs, leg and ear, as well as bruises and haematomas. After Dorogova was visited in jail by members of the State Investigative Committee, he faced increasing pressure from the jail’s management.

  • Why do I need to know this? Journalists Aleksandr Dorogov and Ian Katekevskii consider the charges against them to be fabricated, and believe they are connected with their professional activities. It is not uncommon for the investigative authorities to influence jailkeepers to exert extra pressure, either directly or via other prisoners. These interactions between different departments are something of a grey area which are rarely publicised and which even more rarely lead to consequences for those involved.

Footage confiscated from a foreign journalist. A New York Times correspondent who was in Komsomolsk-on-Amur to report on LGBT activist Iulia Tsvetkova has had his footage confiscated. According to Tsvetkova, the police stopped the journalist on his way out of the city, threatened him and forced him to hand over his reporting materials to them.

  • Why do I need to know this? On the whole, the zeal with which the police force in Komsomolsk-on-Amur has been pursuing this LGBT-activist has been astonishing. Having already pressed criminal charges against Tsvetkova under the article on distributing pornography for pictures she published in a social media group named after the Vagina Monologues, they then tried to press further charges, as well as issuing her with administrative orders, denying her access to her doctor, and even charging her mother with breaking lockdown regulations. It is very difficult to explain this level of hatred against a woman who has done nobody any harm.


On the Vladikavkaz case. Following protests against the lockdown in Vladikavkaz, the authorities launched a mass criminal case which has drawn comparisons to the Bolotnaya Square case. No less than 51 people have been charged, 30 of whom are currently remanded in custody. Aleksandr Litoi has written a guide to this little-known story.

On lone pickets in the USSR. As part of our campaign for the right to lone pickets in contemporary Russia, historian Aleksei Makarov has written a piece on how pickets were held in the USSR. You can read it here.

Finally, our lawyers and analysts have updated our guidance on lone pickets. It now includes advice on how to complain about unlawful police actions. Study it carefully and take care of yourself.


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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