OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 185: Navalny’s coming back a wanted man

16 January 2021

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 Elena Nabokova for OVD-Info

Hi! A new year, and we’re back online. We hope that you ate plenty of salads and that you are ready for Aleksey Navalny’s return, repression with plot twists, and oppressive laws. Happy new year Russia, look after yourself!

Federal Penitentiary Service declares Navalny wanted. According to Mash, the department is demanding the politician make some kind of appearance, although it is not clear where, on the grounds that the he is breaching the terms of his probation in the Yves Rocher case. Later, the Penitentiary Service announced its intention to arrest Navalny before his hearing on whether his suspended sentence in this case should be replaced by an actual prison term. Navalny himself is planning to fly back to Russia on 17th January and has called on his supporters to meet him at the airport. Meanwhile, the Investigative Committee has not bothered to check whether FSB agents were involved in Navalny’s poisoning, and a bug has been found on the telephone of the head of the Anti-Corruption Foundation’s electoral campaigns team, Liubov Sobol.

  • Why does this matter? Navalny has become the main opponent of Putin’s regime, and the story around his poisoning has only elevated his fame. There’s nothing the authorities can do now to help their case – assuming, of course, that they act within some kind of rules. Watching – or participating in – this whole palaver is strangely interesting, but very frightening. We wish you all luck.

Anti-Corruption Foundation’s operator held on remand. The investigation believes that Pavel Zelensky, who works for Aleksey Navalny’s foundation, is guilty of inciting extremism. The charges were issued on the basis of tweets about the journalist Irina Slavina who set herself alight in front of the Interior Ministry after being subjected to baseless fines and searches. During the investigation, Zelensky suffered a severe blow to the head. The paramedics advised that he be admitted to hospital, but the investigator would not allow it.

  • Why do I need to know this? Slavina’s suicide roused many people. The law enforcement authorities did not assess their colleagues’ actions, even though these actions led to a woman’s death. Instead, they are on the hunt for emotional comments about the situation, in order to use them to imprison, search and beat even more people. It is difficult to comment on this civilly.

Investigative committee tried to find the 43,000 people who viewed video. If the documents are to be believed, the Investigative Committee wanted the Interior Ministry to track down everyone who had watched a YouTube video entitled “Surkov promised the Donbass war! Shednakov/livestream ST//22.12.2019”. Unfortunately or fortunately, the Krasnogorsk Ministry for Internal Affairs responded that this would be impossible.

  • Why does this matter? It’s more a funny story than one that really matters, but it can also be helpful to understand what goes on in the heads of various security officials. So, the investigator here thought that the potential of 43,000 extremists was pretty cool, but he couldn’t be bothered to find them himself, so he asked the Ministry of the Interior to do it. It’s a good thing that the Ministry couldn’t be bothered either.


OVD-Info’s open letter to the Khabarovsk deputies. In anticipation of the review of a setoff new repressive laws we – the OVD-Info project – have decided to write an open letter to members of the State Duma and the Federal Committee from the Khaborovsk Region. We are calling on them to vote against these laws – you can add your signature here.

One detainee’s journey from police station to intensive care unit. Tatiana Lukianova, an elderly resident from Khaborovsk, was arrested on 5th December as a protest in support of Sergei Furgal. She spent two days in a special detention facility and was then taken from the courthouse back to the police station to receive new charges, at which point she fell ill and ended up in hospital. OVD-Info tells Tatiana’s story.


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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