10 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.
Hi! People in Russia are being fined for producing satirical anti-racist videos, while the law enforcement agencies are taking revenge on people who have flown rainbow flags.
Fined for a decade-old post. Kurgan-based artist Polina Guzeeva has been fined 1,000 roubles for a music video she shared ten years ago by a band called TTP – a side project from members of another band, Alai Oli – entitled “KUPCHINO (Why did you sleep with the black guy?) 2010”. Four years ago, the video was declared extremist. At the same time, it is obvious that the video is ridiculing racial prejudice, not promoting it.
- Why does this matter? Russia’s fight against online manifestations of xenophobia is becoming absurd. Law enforcement officers, followed by the courts, take a highly literal approach in their assessment of materials, without taking context into account. For instance, administrative charges may be issued simply because an image contains a swastika, even if the overall sense of the picture is anti-fascist. This practice should undoubtedly be reviewed.
Critically important Chechen disappears. A murder case has been launched in Chechnya following the disappearance of a Grozny resident, after he was arrested for watching video clips posted by an oppositionist blogger. Movsar Umarov was arrested by the republic’s law enforcement agency, shortly after which his relatives were informed that he had fled from the investigation. Since then, there has been no further news about him. Movsar’s relatives believe him to be dead.
- Why do I need to know this? This is another crazy piece of news from Chechnya, where the authorities do not even make a show of following the Russian Federation’s laws. The local security forces have a carte blanche to take any action against Chechens who are disloyal to the local regime, and when the ruling clans takes against an individual for any reason, it is not uncommon for that person to disappear without a trace. It is clear that as long as Kadyrov himself remains loyal to Putin, the federal authorities will turn a blind eye to these “excesses” which have long since become the norm.
Pro-LGBT protesters arrested. This week, the police went after Pussy Riot activists who marked Putin’s birthday by hanging rainbow flags from the walls of government buildings. The detainees were taken to a police station, where they were given administrative charges for breaching the rules governing public events and then released.
- Why does this matter? It has been a long time since Pussy Riot last treated Russians to their protests, but everyone knows about the Russian authorities’ painful stance towards members of the LGBT community. Yet the police who ran around the whole city chasing down the activists could have used that time doing something useful like catching dangerous criminals, rather than bundling Maria Alekhina into a car.
Interrogation in another city, plus scare tactics. A journalist from Krasnodar, Rana Toporkova, was taken to Karachay-Cherkessia and interrogated as a witness in a criminal case on disinformation. Yet, the case was initiated on the back of Instagram posts which have nothing to do with her. Representatives of the Centre for Combatting Extremism, who brought the journalist to Cherkessk, tried to intimidate her. OVD-Info publishes Yana’s story.
Law professor to challenge the provision on lone pickets. Professor Ilia Shablinskii, a law professor, was arrested in May while holding a lone picket. He was later fined 15,000 roubles. Now, Shablinskii wants to challenge the provisions in the law on rallies which allow for the prosecution of lone picketers. The academic explained his intentions to OVD-Info member Aleksandr Litoi – click here to read more.
Agents-provocateurs at an activists’ conference. On 4th October the police, together with agents-provocateurs from the National Liberation Movement and SERB (the Russian Liberation Movement) attempted to break up the Protest as a Quest conference on political activism. OVD-Info publishes the story of one of the conference delegates, feminist Daria Serenko.
Member of parliament stands trial. Oppositionist and member of the Moscow City Duma, Oleg Sheremetev, was been accused of fraud in connection with the misuse of funds which had been intended for his assistant’s bonus. He is currently under house arrest, and the Zamoskvoretskii court will begin the examination into his case on 12th October. OVD-Info explains everything that is known about the case so far.
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Translated by Judith Fagelson