29 May 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.
Hi! Police officers in the Golunov case have been jailed, Navalny is facing new criminal charges and in Veliku Novgorod police broke up a congress of municipal deputies.
Police break up Congress of local deputies. The authorities in Veliky Novgorod interrupted a forum of independent deputies and booked the participants for breaching Covid regulations – we ran a live feed on the ground. Several people, including Iulia Galiamina, a former deputy for Moscow’s Timiryaevsky District, were taken to the local police station, where they were also charged with neglecting their legal duties as government representatives. Later, Galiamina was sentenced to 7 days in detention.
- Why do I need to know this? Evidently, neither the regional and the federal authorities have any intentions of dropping their hypocritical policy of prosecuting oppositionist for supposedly violating Covid-19 regulations. Russia has been hosting dozens of mass events where the Covid risk is certainly no lower, and may even be higher, than at this forum of independent deputies. But disloyal activists and politicians are the only ones who have been in trouble under the Covid regulations. By the way, the latest congress of municipal deputies in Moscow was broken up, too.
New charges for Navalny. According to Aleksey Navalny’s Instagram, a new case has been opened against him, this time for insulting Vera Akimova – the judge who oversaw the case in which Navalny was found guilty of defaming a veteran.
- Why does this matter? New cases are being opened against Navalny with a speed that matches the introduction of new draconian laws in the State Duma. When looking at this wide range of prosecutions, we must also remember the politicised elements. For a long time now, Navalny has been the biggest thorn in the side of the regime.
Police officer who arrested Golunov sent to prison. The Moscow City Court has issued sentences in the case on the planting of drugs on investigative journalist Ivan Golunov. According to the prosecution, the police officers wanted to improve their statistics in relation finding drugs. Ivog Liakhovets was given 12 years in prison, and his four accomplices were given 8 years each. Denis Konovalov, who cooperated with the investigation, was given 5 years.
- Why do I need to know this? The Golunov case is a rare example of an innocent person being saved by widespread public consensus. Well, and also by the fact, of course, that it was a famous Moscow journalist who was a victim of police brutality. On the other hand, it is hard to believe that the only reason that the officers planted drugs on Golunov was to improve their own statistics – there is no way that they were unaware that this wasn’t just some guy from round the corner. The true motives for their crime may still be unclear.
Editor of student newspaper DOXA facing fresh charges. Vladimir Metelkin has been charged with libel against the investigator: he had previously asked for investigator Zhizhmanova to be disbarred, as she had exerted psychological pressure on him. According to Metelkin, Zhizhmanov had felt free to make comments about his sexuality, had followed him on Instagram, and frequently touched him with her hands.
- Why does this matter? The case against DOXA was already absurd, even by today’s standards – people are being prosecuted for a video encouraging students not to be afraid of expulsion from university for taking part in protests. The investigative committee is interpreting the video as inciting minors to take part in dangerous activity. This additional charge against Metelkin takes the farce to a whole new plane of absurdity.
“Safe city”. Elena Chegodaeva took part in a pro-Navalny protest on 21st April. Three weeks later, police officers broke into her home in the early hours of the morning. The officers maintain that she was identified as a protester by the Safe City facial recognition system, and she was fined 10,000 roubles in court. But Chegodaeva maintains that woman in the video shown by the police in court is not her. OVD-Info publishes her monologue.
Open Russia closes. Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s public initiative has decided to go into liquidation because of amendments to the law on undesirable organisations. In May, the Duma passed a bill which allows immediate criminal prosecution of the people who manage these organisations, without going through administrative protocols first. Khodorkovsky’s organisation and its activists dealt with a range of problems, including human rights advocacy, networking for activists from different regions, and participation in various elections. Matvei Pukhov has covered the different attempts to close down Open Russia.
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Translated by Judith Fagelson