OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 177: Fine for Spirit of Fire film festival and acquittal for police officer

31 October 2020

OVD-Info is a Moscow-based NGO that monitors politically-motivated arrests and prosecutions 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.

Illustration: Polina Timofeeva for OVD-Info

Hi! A film festival has been fined for displaying LGBT propaganda and a former police officer has been acquitted of attempting to murder a member of the political opposition.

Last defendant in New Greatness case given prison sentence. Pavel Reprovskii, who was tried separately from the other defendants, was sentenced to six years in prison. The public prosecutor had requested seven years. The sentence also includes a requirement to undergo two years of outpatient psychiatric treatment and a three-year ban on acting as administrator of any websites.

  • Why does this matter? At first, the court sentenced Rebrovskii to two and a half years in prison, after which he retracted the confession he had given investigation, saying that it was made under duress. Hi sentence was then annulled and the case sent for reconsideration, with a view to making his punishment more severe. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened.

Director of LGBT film festival fined. Larisa Zuravleva, the executive director of Spirit of Fire, a Khanty-Mansiysk film festival dedicated to new cinema, has been fined 50,000 roubles for promoting untraditional sexual relations between minors. The fine was issued because of the festival’s screening of Outlaw, a film about LGBT relationships among teenagers – even though the film was had been certified by the Ministry for Culture for distribution.

  • Why do I need to know this? The public prosecutor opened an investigation following complaints from several public figures who saw the film as a form of LGBT propaganda. At the same time, the film screening was for over-18s only, with minors not allowed entry. It is unclear why the executive director was the one to be fined, given that she does not take part in the selection of films to be screened. The statute on LGBT relationships among teenagers and children is often used as a pretext simply for banning anything to do with LGBT issues, regardless of the age of those accessing the relevant information.

Former policeman acquitted of attacking oppositionist in Tatarstan. The Zelenodolsk City Court has acquitted former police officer Vitalii Melnik of charges of attempting to murder oppositionist Aleksei Solovev in 2011. The court felt that there was not sufficient evidence of his involvement in the attack on the activist even though, according to the victim, Melnik’s guilt is evidenced by four psychophysical expert witness examinations, conducted by three different people.

  • Why do I need to know this? As the victim in the case has explained, the local law enforcement authorities have tried every trick in the book to throw out the case. Over a period of several years, several pieces of physical evidence went missing, as did whole sheets from the case files. This led to the former policeman’s acquittal. This is yet another example of how unjust our law enforcement system is, and how selectively it is applied.


Two-year prosecution for someone else’s terror attack. On 31st October 2018, Mihkail Zhlobitskii detonated a suicide bomb in the lobby of the FSB’s Archangelsk branch. He cited the FSB’s potential involvement in torture and fabricated criminal cases as the reasons for his attack. Afterwards, individuals in various regions of Russia who commented on the news of Zhlobitskii’s attack were subjected to criminal proceedings. Dmitrii Okrest and Mikhail Shubin have made an infographic showing how it all happened.

Interview with activist who spent a year and a half on remand. Vladimir Ivaniutenko spent a year and a half in a jail cell, charged with an attempt on the life of businessman Evgenii Prigozhin. In February, he was sentenced to three and a half years in prison, and in early October he was released as the case was sent for review. The activist himself maintains that the case against him is a classic example of police provocation. Sergei Kagermazov has conducted an exclusive interview for OVD-Info with Ivaniutenko about his experiences in prison and the prospects for the case against him.

Our analytics department has released a new report about the pandemic, this time looking at the behaviour of the courts of general jurisdiction under these new circumstances. Click here to read it.

And finally, if you didn’t already know, we have partnered with ROMB to make a video-digest on instances of repression, based on OVD-Info’s news. You can see the latest release, starring our director Lionia Drabkin, 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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