17 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! This week, a public prosecutor went into the RANEPA academy, a journalist in Khabarovsk was taken into a forest, and Hizb ut-Tahrir were prosecuted once again.
Conflict between authorities and protesters intensifies in Khaborovsk. On 10th October, the riot police forcefully dispersed people who had come out in support of the arrested governor of the Kabarovsk Region, Sergei Furgal. Over 30 people were arrested. After the protest was broken up on 10th October, the law enforcement agencies initiated criminal proceedings for assault against a police officer and repeated breaches of the rules governing public events. In addition to all of this, a journalist from RusNews, a project dedicated to the protests in Khabarovsk, announced that he had been abducted and taken to a forest, where shots were fired at his feet.
- Why do I need to know this? After three months of peaceful protests supporting Furgal, the Khabarovsk authorities took fright when protesters set up camp, and went into confrontation mode: they dispersed protests, arrested large numbers of people and started criminal proceedings. At the same time, journalists started receiving threats from unidentified individuals. It seems unlikely that there will be a dialogue with the public.
Public prosecutor wants university to report on its students’ political activities. The prosecutor’s office demanded that the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) provide data on any students, teachers and programmes which pose “a threat to constitutional order.” The document refers, inter alia, to students who have been detained at political protests as well as those who have been involved with NGO projects. According to student newspaper DOXA, students will be expelled for taking part in oppositionist activities.
- Why does this matter? Because, in a normally developed state, the public prosecutor should not care either way what students do with their spare time, as long as it is not illegal. In this case, the wording makes it clear that the authorities are not worried about unlawful acts, but rather, about political or politically relevant activity, i.e. any activity which could be seen as disloyalty to Putin, the party or the public prosecutor.
Hizb ut-Tahrir facing continued pressure. All over Russia, prosecutions are continuing against people connected with the work of Islamic party Hizb ut-Tahrir. In Crimea, a defendant who is profoundly blind was sent to an inpatient hospital in another city to undergo a forced psychiatric assessment. In a remand centre in Udmurtia, a convict from Kazan was placed in a punishment cell. And a defendant in the Simferopol branch of the Hizb ut-Tahrir case has spent two months in a cell with unsanitary conditions.
- Why do I need to know this? Hizb ut-Tahrir is facing a large-scale prosecution but, unfortunately, it does not receive correspondingly widespread public attention. Perhaps the Russian public has already grown used to Muslims being deemed terrorists by the FSB and given enormous prison sentences. In the case of Huzb ut-Tahrir, these are people who are neither committing nor inciting violence, but who are a convenient target for the initiation of criminal charges for terrorism which never actually happened.
We didn’t publish any features this week!
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Translated by Judith Fagelson