OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 172: The Centre for Combating Extremism is giving lessons, the police are inactive, and activists are suffering.

25 September 2020

Illustration: Anna Goremyka for OVD-Info

Hi! The Centre for Combating Extremism is looking for assistance from teachers, while the police in various regions are failing to prevent attacks on activists.

Unfortunately, our last mailing contained an error: the longest sentence in the second of the Bakhchisaray Hizb ut-Tahrir cases was 19 years, not 14.

Centre for Combating Extremism looking for extremist schoolchildren. A message describing the algorithm used by the Centre to identify extremists was sent out to educational institutions in St Petersburg. Teachers are instructed to follow their students on social media and to report any suspicious posts to their directors and to the Ministry for Internal Affairs. The guidance also notes that teachers should be particularly sensitive to signs of separatism, xenophobia, anti-fascism, incitements to terrorism or justification of acts of terror, and incitement to murder.

  • Why do I need to know this? It is particularly inspiring, of course, that teachers are supposed to report young anti-fascists to the country’s Centre for Combatting Extremism, which is so proud of its anti-fascist past. The authorities at various levels are particularly resistant to the notion that they cannot regulate all areas of public life with prohibitions, surveillance and denunciations, and that the Criminal Code is not the only tool in the state’s possession to shape the minds of adolescents. But these other methods are probably too sophisticated for the Centre for Combatting Extremism.

Activists attacked while defending a historical building from demolition. A local member of parliament and the coordinator of the Archnadzor movement were attacked while trying to prevent the demolition of a water tower in Moscow. The police did not get involved in the conflict that arose between the protesters and representatives of contractor responsible for carrying out the demolition. As a result, both the member of parliament and the activist have sustained multiple cuts and bruises, ripped clothing and a broken telephone wire.

  • Why does this matter? In theory, the police should serve as an arbitrator in conflicts like this one, stopping unlawful acts. In practice, the police are keen to get involved when it comes to arresting political activists, but in many other situations they either act unprofessionally or reluctantly.

Journalist released from remand under house arrest. The Kashira city court has placed Aleksandr Dorogov, a journalist for Rosderzhava, under house arrest. AT the same time, the prosecution asked for Dorogov to remain held on remand, referring to the alleged risk that the journalist could put pressure on the plaintiff, a traffic warden.

  • Why do I need to know this? This is genuinely good news. Dorogov was beaten in his cell and there were reports that he was at risk of further violence. Now, he is in his own home where it will be significantly more difficult for him to come to harm. Granted, the case against him is not yet closed, but Dogorov will be able to await its outcome in much better conditions.


Interview with Ivan Astashin after his release. Ivan Astashin has been released from prison in Norilsk and returned to Moscow after serving almost 10 years for involvement in the Autonomous Combat Terrorist Organisation. Astashin had been convicted for throwing a Molotov cocktail through the FSB’s window, which was deemed an act of terror. Dmitrii Okrest conducted an exclusive interview with him for OVD-Info about his relationship with the Federal Penitentiary Service while in custody and about his plans for the future. 

Trucker facing criminal charges. Mikhail Vedrov, a long-distance lorry driver from Tver who protested against the Platon toll-collection system has been criminally charged for assaulting a police officer. Vedrov, according to the investigation, slapped an officer from the General Administration for Traffic Safety. Vedrov’s lawyer was not allowed into the hearing as a precautionary measure, and nor was an audience. Vlad Ianiushkin explains the main details of the case against Vedrov.  

Special register for detained protester. For a year now, the authorities have been trying to place civic activist Bilial Kotkin on a special register because of his arrest on 27th July 2019 at a protest for fair elections. OVD-Info has published his story.

Activists attacked at a tourist campsite. Unidentified individuals have attacked a campsite in the Krasnodar Region where representatives of civil society organisations, the Libertarian Party of Russia and the Vesna (Spring) movement were staying. The attackers beat up the activists, seized and broke their phones, as well as burning their possessions, all the while urging them to give up their political activity. The police are have opened a criminal case, with charges of hooliganism. OVD-Info tells the story of Igor Kartashev, who was at the camp when the attack happened.

Our data department is working tirelessly and has produced a wonderful new report! This one looks at how different regional legislations create opportunities for abuse around the regulation of lone pickets. You can read it 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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