OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 173: Please avenge my death

3 October 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.

Irina Slavina with her dog, May / Photo from Slavina’s Facebook page

Hi. A journalist has set herself alight in front of a memorial to veterans outside the Ministry for Internal Affairs in Nizhny Novgorod, while there are attempts in Moscow to increase sentences for those implicated in the New Greatness case.

Koza.press editor-in-chief, Irina Slavina, sets herself alight in Nizhny Novgorod. She died as a result. Shortly beforehand, she wrote a Facebook post, reading “please blame the Russian Federation for my death.” She set herself alight in front of the Ministry for Internal Affairs. The previous evening, Slavina’s home had been searched and the law enforcement agencies seized her electronic media devices.

  • Why does this matter? Irina Slavina was one of several Nizhny Novgorod journalists who had been trying to write and speak about topics which were uncomfortable for the authorities. The search was conducted in connection with a criminal case under the article governing the activities of undesirable organisations – the investigation was supposedly looking for evidence which would have linked Nizhny Novgorod activists with Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s Open Russia. Over the past year, Slavina had received several hefty fines for her participation in public protests. Aleksandr Litoi has collated all the information about pressure she faced as a journalist here.

Teenager not charged with justifying terrorism. The Investigative Committee has found that schoolgirl Alena Prokudina from Krasnoyarsk did not commit an offence. The investigative bodies had previously suspected that videos which she had filmed could have incited mass shootings in schools. The 14-year-old was initially placed in a psychiatric hospital, but was later released.

  • Why do I need to know this? It emerged in August that nine schoolchildren in Krasnoyarsks had been admitted to neuro-psychological institutions because of their membership in a group on social network site Vkontakte, which was dedicated to the Columbine school shooting in the USA. Unfortunately, these teenagers’ inexperience, openness and honest interest in unusual topics became grounds for criminal charges, searches and investigations. It is good that, in Prokudina’s case, the investigators decided not to think up crimes where there were none.

Public prosecutor disputes sentence in the New Greatness case. The prosecutor’s office believes the punishment to be too soft. The defence, for its part, disputed the verdict in an attempt to reduce the sentence. Maksim Pashkov, the defence lawyer for one of those convicted, Maria Dubovik, believes that the sentences issued by the court are entirely in line with the prosecution’s position and that the desire to change them therefore seems strange.

  • Why does this matter? Some of those convicted in the New Greatness case received suspended sentences, while others received prison sentences of six or seven years. Many believe that the case was the result of a lengthy campaign of provocation on the part of the special forces and of the specific actions of security force agents.


Russia against Andrei Pivovarov. Open Russia’s executive director, Andrei Pivovarov, was recently released after spending 24 hours in detention for administrative charges. OVD-Info has decided to look back at the pressure the Russian state has exerted on Pivovarov over the last five years, arresting him and charging him with both administrative and criminal offences. Read Aleksandr Litoi’s piece on the topic. 

Blogger facing criminal charges. The criminal case continues against Nizhny Novgorod blogger Aleksandr Puchugin, whom the investigation believes to be guilty of spreading disinformation about coronavirus. The prosecution is based on an acrimonious post on Telegram which urged people not to visit orthodox churches because of the COVID-19 epidemic. Pugin believes that the charges against him were pressed by his own source at the FSB. OVD-Info explains what is known so far about the events involving the blogger.


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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