OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 181: A Swastika, domestic abuse and separatism.

28 November 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 by Tatyana Safronova for OVD-Info

Hi! Lone picketers are being arrested in Moscow, the authorities had been planning to give a ten-year prison sentence for separatism, and they are already giving 10 days for anti-fascist memes.

Lone picketers detained in Moscow. On 25th November, 11 people were arrested while holding lone pickets at the Arbatskaya and Novokuznetskaya metro stations, protesting domestic violence. They were taken into police custody, and six of the arrestees were held at the Zamoskvorechye police station for 48 hours, after which they were given detainment sentences ranging from two to five days. On 27th November further lone pickets were held, this time in support of the detainees, at which three people were arrested.

  • Why do I need to know this? The epidemic and lockdown restrictions have served as a convenient excuse for the authorities to try and ban any protest activities on principle. Lone pickets are no longer a relatively safe way of expression your opinions – you could be arrested and detained as a result.

Konstantin Kotov denied parole. A court in the Vladimir Region has denied parole to an activist currently in prison for repeated offences at mass events. Kotov is due for release on 16th December in any case, as he will have served his full sentence, but his defence team decided to request early release on parole. The head of the prison and the court both felt that Kotov had not fully paid his dues.

  • Why does this matter? Kotov was convicted for peacefully protesting. Article 212.1 of the Criminal Code should be repealed. We will keep repeating this mantra even after Kotov’s release. It is still unclear what dues Kotov is supposed to pay, given that he has not cause anyone any harm.

Journalist’s car set alight in Chelyabinsk. A car belonging to Marina Malkova, a correspondent for Znak.com, was set alight while parked outside a shopping centre. The perpetrators have not been identified. Malkova writes about corruption in the region. Several months ago, the headlights were smashed on Malkova’s parents’ car, but the perpetrators were never found. The police have opened a criminal case on the arson.

  • Why do I need to know this? The Chelyabinsk Region Public Prosecutor claims to have taken the case in hand. This is good, although it raises several doubts, as similar cases of attacks on journalists and their property – especially in Russia’s regions – are rarely investigated in the way they should be. Journalists, although they do have a certain level of influence on events in Russia, remain painfully defenceless against bandits, the authorities and their circumstances.


On separatism – non-violent but punishable. The State Duma has passed a bill which will make our lives a little livelier: now, people undertaking non-violent actions aimed at the secession of Russian territories could face 6 to 10 years in prison. Separatist speech, according to this law, could be met with administrative punishment in the first instance, and repeat offences would be punished as crimes. Aleksandr Litoi explains this wonderful, new, indivisible Russia.

On swastikas and antifascism. We live in strange times: Marxists and antifascists are being fined for posting swastikas online because the authorities feel that swastikas may never be used – even in manifestations of antifascism. The criminal justice authorities draw no formal distinction between posts made with different intentions: if a swastika is present, you’ll be punished. Usually this punishment is a fine, but Lev Burlakov from Naberezhnye Chelny was detained for 10 days. We publish his story.

A magical boost for human rights. The Constitutional Court has forced the regions to lift a range of bans relating to mass protests, but local authorities are extremely reluctant to act on the order. Often, they only do so once human rights activists have complained. OVD-Info explains how, in various regions, people are fighting for the implementation of the Constitutional Court’s orders.


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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