OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 197: The Palace Case must be dropped.

10 April 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.

Protest in support of Navalny on 23 January, Moscow / Photo: Evgeny Feldman for Meduza

We are seeing the evolution of the so-called “Palace Case”, which should be dropped; the courts are continuing to hand down prison sentences to protesters; and those convicted in the Network case have been placed in punishment cells.

New prison term for pro-Navalny protester. Pavel Green-Romanov, who was charged with endangering a police officer’s life, has been given a 3.5-year prison sentence. The prosecution had requested eight years. Green-Romanov pleaded partially guilty: he used pepper spray against a member of the Russian National Guard at the protest in Moscow on 31st January. He maintains that he acted on impulse, as his wife was next to him and the police had been beating people up. 

Why do I need to know this? We can take comfort in the fact that Green-Romanov was only given 3.5 years, rather than the enormous eight-year term that had been requested. All instances of violence against, or even just physical contact with, the police during protests are thoroughly investigated, but when it comes to finding a Russian National Guard officer who kicked a woman in the stomach, the investigators are suddenly powerless. We wonder why…

Preventative measures against defendants in “public health” case relaxed. House arrest rules which controlled the movements of Oleg Navalny, Liusia Shtein, Konstantin Iankauskas and Liubov Sobol have been lifted. The measures had forbidden them from going out at night, speaking to others implicated in the case, sending messages and using the internet for anything relating to the investigation. However, Dmitri Baranovsky, Oleg Stepanov, Kira Yarmysh and Maria Alekhina are still under house arrest.

Why does this matter? The case is completely idiotic, blatantly unjust and absurd: people who posted on social media about pro-Navalny protests are being charged with “inciting the violation of public health rules”. In other words, by writing about the protests, they encouraged people to attend, which in turn was a violation of public health rules. Ye, in Moscow thousands of people have been gathering at loyalist rallies and at football matches. Of course, the organisers of these events aren’t facing any sanctions.

Network Case convicts facing pressure in prison. Mikhail Kulkov, Maksim Ivankin and Ilia Shakursky have been transferred to different prisons and placed in punishment cells. The convicts are facing pressure to cooperate in the investigation into the deaths of Ekaterina Levchenko and Artem Dorofeev, in which several of the Network Case defendants could be implicated.

Why do I need to know this? Unfortunately, convicts in Russia who are facing additional charges end up particularly vulnerable before the investigative bodies. Once people are incarcerated, they have very limited opportunities to report pressure or abuse, and the law enforcement structures take advantage of this. Public attention is the only thing that can stop the Federal Penitentiary System and its partners in the other law enforcement bodies from overstepping the mark.


Legal defence in the “palace” case. Following mass protests in support of Aleksey Navalny at the start of 2021, criminal cases have been initiated all over Russia – around 100 of them, all told. We have named this unprecedented wave of political repression the “Palace Case”. It is being fought by 17 of OVD-Info’s lawyers. You can read about them and their work here.

Report by the human rights ombudsman. In April, Tatiana Moskalkova’s office released a report about its work in 2020. We analysed it from the perspective of freedom of assembly and wrote a summary of our findings. Have a read here.

Finally, we have been keeping a monthly log of political prosecutions. Click here to see our list of the most important violations that took place in March. 


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Translated by Judith Fagelson

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