OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 170: Russia – waiting to be beaten

12 September 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.

A search is conducted of the Moscow office of Open Russia / Photo: Telegram-Channel of Tatyana Usmanova

Hi! This week brings an attack against a parliamentary candidate, an attempted attack against a detained journalist, and turning away from attacks in Novosibirsk.

Open Russia’s affiliates searched. All over the country, participants in Open Russia’s pre-election project, United Democrats, have been searched. Security officers used the Yukos case as a pretext for going to oppositionists’ homes, confiscating their equipment and interrogating activists, as witnesses. In addition to this, the security forces had visited Open Russia’s St Petersburg offices several days previously.

  • Why do I need to know this? The law enforcement agencies are clearly using the cases against Yukos to intimidate and pressurise political activists in various regions. The authorities have not found any new defendants or shocking details, but they are fairly torturing young people with searches and interrogations. Tricks like these reduce the already low level of trust in Russia’s security forces.

Chemical spill at the opposition headquarters in Novosibirsk. A bottle containing a corrosive substance was smashed by unidentified people at the offices of a coalition of independent candidates for the Novosibirsk parliament. Staff and visitors at the offices were forced to evacuate the room, but three volunteers still ended up in hospital with nausea, high temperatures and impaired visual functioning and reaction times. The police did not manage to detain the culprit who spilt the poisonous substance.

  • Why does this matter? Elections for the Novosibirsk city council are due to be held in September. Opposition candidates came together to form a coalition, whose candidates have since come under various forms of pressure from the authorities. Some of them have been attacked, some have been fined for their election campaigns. The attack on the headquarters may also be a provocation on the part of the authorities themselves, or of semi-criminal structures with connections to the authorities.

Parliamentary candidate in Lipetsk attacked. On 10th September Aleksandr Naumov, a candidate for the Lipetsk city council who is affiliated with Navalny, was attacked. The attacker shouted “Now you’ll know what happens when you go against the authorities.” Naumov published a photo of his bloodied face. His political opponent in the elections, Stanislav Polosin, is a member of the United Russia party.

  • Why do I need to know this? The regional authorities in various regions of the Russian Federation are using a whole arsenal of dirty tactics to fight their electoral opponents. These tactics range from pressing criminal and administrative charges, to searches and interrogations, to attacks and intimidation. The provocateurs and attackers are rarely found, and the police are haphazard in their investigations of these cases. That’s why it is important to talk about them.

Detained journalist at risk of further beatings. Aleksandr Dorogov, a journalist for Rosderzhava, is currently remanded in custody on charges of extortion. He has already been beaten up in jail and he may now be at risk of further beatings. Dogorov was beaten up by his cellmates in Jail number 7 in Egorevsk. He has since been transferred to Jail number 5 in Kashira. An inmate, nicknamed The Count, who led the attack on Dorogov in Egorovsk has also been transferred to Kashira. According to Dogorov and to Ian Katelevsky, who was arrested alongside him, The Count said that he had been transferred “because of the blogger.”

  • Why does this matter? According not only to Katelevsky and Dogorov, but also to their friends and peers, the case against them is a provocation and a form of revenge on the part of the law enforcement agencies for their journalistic work. Staff from the Federal Penitentiary Service, with the help of cooperative inmates, can carry out requests from operatives and investigators on the case, obtaining confessions from the defendants or simply seeking revenge.


Searches in the Yukos case. Notwithstanding the fact that the Yukos case was closed long ago, the law enforcement agencies occasionally still use it to conduct searches with regard to today’s political activists. This includes activists who had not yet been born at the time of the supposed crimes. Aleksandr Litoi explains how this ancient political case dating back to the start of Putin’s political rule still facilitates pressure on political opponents to the Russian authorities.

Public prosecutor requests the dismissal of a case against an activist. On 8th September, a court in Vladivostok closed the case against Anatolii Chepikov, who had taken part in a rally of solidarity with the Khabarovsk Region. The public prosecutor was present at the hearing, which is unusual in administrative cases, and he himself recommended that the court drop the charges against Chepikov. OVD-Info’s lawyer, Dmitri Zubarev, tells this unusual story.

Publication leads directly to reception by Moskalkova. Doctor Valentina Shainazarova is seeking punishment for the police officers and former colleagues who injured her. Valentina was arrested by the police on 1st September in the lobby of the Human Rights Ombudsman Tatiana Moskalkova. We published a piece about this, after which Moskalkova immediately invited Valentina to see her. We have published the former doctor’s story.


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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