OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 183: Kotov is free but Article 212.1 is still in force

19 December 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 Ekaterina Ulitina for OVD-Info

Hi! Konstantin Kotov has been released, but now there are attempts to imprison deputy Iulia Galiamina for three years under the same article.

Court grants Moscow Case convict early release. Ivan Podkopaev had been sentenced to two years in prison, but he has now been released on parole. The investigation had charged him with using pepper spray against police officers who were forming a blockade while breaking up a protest in Moscow on 27th July 2019 against the barring of candidates from standing in the Moscow City Duma elections.

  • Why does this matter? This is an important reminder that political cases do not end with the trial and the sentencing, and that people are sent to prison where they somehow manage to survive. Life in prison can be much harder than in pre-trial detention. That is why it is a both joy and a duty for us to tell you that yet another person with a politically motivated conviction has been released.

Public prosecutor requests three years’ imprisonment for Iulia Galiamina. You win some, and you lose some. The state has proposed a three-year prison sentence for local deputy Galiamina for a completely peaceful protest. Galiamina is being charged under the pretentious and repulsive article 212.1 of the criminal code.

  • Why do I need to know this? Article 212.1 should be revoked and forgotten about. People should not go to prison for non-violent public protest or for expressing their opinions, political or otherwise. The use of this blatantly political statute to selectively prosecute oppositionists is repressive and must stop.

Attempted hack of investigative journalists’ Facebook accounts. After iStories released its investigation into Putin’s alleged son-in-law Kirill Shamalov, an anonymous attempt was made to gain unlawful access to the investigators’ social media accounts. According to Putin during his annual press conference, the US special services authored the investigative report.

  • Why does this matter? It is important to investigate the subtle preferential treatment that Putin’s relatives receive in Russia in order to bring this preferential treatment to an end someday. Either that, or to end Putin’s own rule, which would render him unable to give this preferential treatment. Sadly, investigators in our country are left defenceless against the impunity of the special forces and the provocateurs they employ. All they can do is try and think of a stronger Facebook password.


Konstantin Kotov is free! Hurray – we’ve waited so long to be able to write this! The activist, who had been convicted for protesting peacefully, was released from Prison № 2 in the town of Pokrov in the Vladimir Region. Kotov was defended by one of OVD-Info’s lawyers, Maria Eismont. Aleksandr Litoi reports on accounts from those who were present.

A letter from Moscow Case convict. OVD-Info has published a letter from Sergei Surovtsev, who is serving a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence in the Tver Region. Surovtsev was charged with deliberately hitting a security officer on the fingers when he moved a metal barrier during the dispersal of protests on 27th July 2019. Before his arrest, Surovtsev lived a reclusive live, developing autonomic robots. You can read his letter here.

And finally, in case you somehow missed it: Aleksandr Navalny has blamed the FSB for his poisoning and released an investigative report jointly with The Insider, Bellingcat, Der Spiegel and CNN. Must watch.


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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