OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 189: Criminal cases, arrests and abductions

13 February 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: Viktoriya Kim for OVD-Info

Hi! Navalny supporters all over the country are facing criminal charges, the European Court of Human Rights has called for abducted Chechen oppositionists to be given access to lawyers.

There were no protests last weekend, which gave us a bit of pause for breath. But Navalny’s team has called on his supporters to stand outside their homes this Sunday with their phone torches switched on. It is not yet clear how the police will respond to this new and unusual form of protest, although some propagandists are already doing mental gymnastics and comparing protesters to collaborators who helped German pilots by lighting their way to Leningrad with lanterns.

Just in case, have a look at our guide on how to be the perfect detainee and watch these two cartoons by our human rights production arm here and here. Stay vigilant and be careful.

We are continuing with our campaign against police brutality and abuse of the so-called Plan Fortress in police stations. Our petition has already gathered over 97,000 signatures, including from several concerned celebrities. We have joined forces with our friends at Takie Dela to launch a special project based on witness statements from people who have recently faced unjust treatment while in detention. Plan Fortress was intended to protect police stations from possible attack, but is being used to prevent detainees from accessing lawyers. This has given police officers free licence to intimidate, beat and torture detainees.

The number of criminal cases against pro-Navalny supporters is rising, too. In Moscow, two people are being held on remand on suspicion of involvement in the arson of a police car. One person was detained in St Petersburg after taking part in the 31st January protests, on suspicion of assaulting a member of the authorities. Two members of Navalny’s regional campaign team in Chelyabinsk were interrogated as suspects in a criminal case relating to a road blockage.

Liubov Sobol charged with entering poisoner’s flat. The investigation considers the Anti-Corruption Foundation lawyer to be guilty of breaking and entering into the home of FSB officer Konstantin Kudriavtsev, who features in the investigation into the Russian special services poisoning of Navalny.

New defendants in “public health” case. In addition to Maria Alekhina and Oleg Navalny, three others are now implicated in the case: local parliamentarian Konstantin Yankauskas, FSB officer Nikolai Liaskin, and Navalny’s press secretary, Kira Yarmysh. According to the Investigative Committee, by calling on people to protest, Navalny’s supporters put a large number of people at risk of contracting the coronavirus.

European Court of Human Rights calls on Russia to give Chechen detainees access to lawyers and medics. Salekh Magamadov and Ismail Isaeva, who used to moderate an oppositionist channel, were arrested in Nizhny Novgorod and deported to Chechnya. They had previously received help from the Russian LGBT Network in escaping from the republic, where their safety and even their lives had been under threat. The Chechen authorities claim that the detainees have confessed to involvement in unlawful gangs.

Public prosecutor appeals against parole for Moscow Case convicts. In one of our previous newsletters, we told you that Egor Lesnykh, who had been convicted of assaulting a police officer during the dispersal of protests on 27th July in Moscow, was being granted parole from prison. But now, the public prosecutor has filed a complaint against the Volgograd Regional Court. A retrial will be held and, if all goes well, Lesnykh will be released. 

Finally, read this guide by our lawyers and analysts on what to do if you or a friend are detained.


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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