OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 186: Thaw forecast for Saturday

22 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.

Police officers outside the police station where the court hearing to remand Aleksei Navalny in custody was held / Photo: David Frenkel, Mediazona

Hi! Today, we are publishing a special edition of our newsletter in light of recent events in our country. That’s why you’re not receiving it on Saturday as usual, but on Friday evening, on the eve of the all-Russia protests.

To start with, we would really like you to read our guide to being the ideal detainee. It is lengthy and detailed, but don’t worry about remembering it all. Even if you only take away the key principles and behave calmly, that in itself will be a great help.

To help you remember everything, we have put together a pocket-sized version – it pulls together everything you need to know in order to defend your rights if you are arrested. Print out several copies and bring it with you to the protest!

You must also watch our short cartoons! In the first one, we give practical tips on what to do in a prisoner van and in the police station. The second explains how to avoid criminal charges if you are detained.

If at any point you want to check Saturday’s weather forecast for different Russian cities, make sure to add our bot, @OvdInfoBot on Telegram and to save our hotline number,8 800 707-05-28. And don’t forget to print out our guide, it really is great!

We also want to remind you to dress warmly, eat well, take some water and battery power banks with you, and under no circumstances should you bring anything extra that could be mistaken for a weapon.

Now we’ll tell you what’s happened this week.

Navalny’s back. The authorities put on a whole show with aeroplanes changing course, crowds of riot police and fake Olga Buzova fans – read about it on our live feed. Navalny himself was arrested at passport control and taken to the Khimki police station. He was tried in the police station itself, and detained for 30 days. The hearing was held underneath a portrait of NKVD director Genrikh Yagoda. Protests were held across Russia in support of Navalny, and we ran another live feed reporting on those.

Lawyer Anastasia Samorukova has explained which situations justify court hearings, exclusively for OVD-Info. In her view, a hearing held right in the police station like that could have only been aimed at complicating lawyers’ work and preventing Navalny’s support group from accessing him.

Because these events have taken up so much media space, many might have missed the cannibalistic sentence in the case of the broken window at the United Russia party offices. Azat Miftakhov, a PhD candidate in mathematics at Moscow State University, was sentenced to six years in prison, while the other defendants in the case received suspended sentences. On the eve of the verdict, Aleksandr Litoi explained the case against Miftakhov and how the public has been supporting him.

Navalny detained in famous jail, while his Anti-Corruption Foundation has released a new investigation. The video report lasts almost two hours and covers the corruption in which Putin has been involved throughout his whole careers, as well as about his super-palace in Gelendzhik. The video was viewed 57 million times in three days. Navalny’s supporters have planned a protest in support of the arrested politician on Saturday.

It feels like the authorities are in a state of hysterics as a result of this. The police have been visiting activists and journalists en masse all over the country, warning them not to take part in Saturday’s protests. In some cases, law enforcement officers did not stop at home visits, and actually detained people, while the courts then placed activists under arrest. Of course, the authorities are denying requests for protest authorisations left, right and centre. Social network Vkontakte blocked the majority of groups set up to organise local protests.

A new criminal case on incitement of civil unrest has been launched in Tatarstan. In Balashikha, a 9th grade student hung a portrait of Navalny in his school, after which he was interrogated for four hours by the headteacher, a social worker, a juvenile case inspector and someone who introduced himself as an operative from Russia’s anti-extremism centre. A reasonable and proportionate response to such a blatant crime, wouldn’t you agree?

Lawyer beaten in Danilovsky Police Station. Mansur Gilmanov went to the police station to help Anti-Corruption Foundation lawyer Vladlen Los, who is facing extradition to Belarus, where he holds citizenship. A police officer attacked Gilmanov, knocked him over, laid him face down on the floor and claimed that he had disobeyed the legal order of an officer. The lawyer spent a night in the police station and was not allowed to see his defence counsel. OVD-Info demands the release of Mansur Gilmanov!

In addition to this, our lawyers have published new guidance! It will help you if the police say you have been arrested based on the KUSP – the registry of crime reports. Read it here!

And look after yourselves.


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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