3 July 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.
Hello! The charges against the editors of DOXA have been made more severe, a criminal case has been opened against a human rights advocate in Komi and lawyers from OVD-info are continuing to help detainees.
Arrests made at demonstrations against compulsory vaccination. On the 26th of June in Moscow, a demonstration headed by Valery Rashkin, State Duma delegate from the Communist Party, took place opposing mandatory vaccination. At least eight arrests were made, of which some saw heavy-handed police action. Lawyers were denied entry to the police department, and protocols on the breaching of self-isolation and the legalities around gatherings were drawn up against those arrested. Two of those arrested were later put under administrative arrest by the court.
- Why do I need to know this? The political hypocrisy of those in charge in the context of the coronavirus pandemic is persisting. On the one hand, they do their best to condemn members of all oppositional movements for violating policies relating to the pandemic. On the other hand, officially sanctioned demonstrations and fan-thronged football matches are still permitted to take place, as if there is no risk of contracting covid-19 at these events. Is it any wonder that a considerable chunk of the country doesn’t believe a word that the government says and scoffs at anti-coronavirus measures?
A criminal case has been brought against a human rights defender in Komi. Lawyer Ernest Mezak has been put on trial for having insulted a judge in a social media post. Mezak’s house was searched, and law enforcement seized all of his data storage devices. Previously in March, he was arrested for twelve days under charge of having disobeyed the police.
- Why is this important? Ernest Mezak is very familiar with the procedural specifics of Russian courts, and without a shadow of doubt understands their machinations through and through. Criminal cases against human rights defenders are always a cause for concern, especially so when they happen in the provinces, where it’s much harder to defend oneself against the tyranny of the police or retaliation from the government.
Charges in the DOXA case have been made more severe. The editors of the student newspaper have been accused of having violated every single rule listed in the article of the Criminal Code on involving minors in dangerous situations. The case was opened after a video was released by the project about the the winter protests – DOXA urged students not to be afraid of being expelled from university for political reasons. Charges were officially laid at the end of June.
- Why do I need to know this? It was probably a bit naïve to expect that the investigators would finally drop this nonsense, let these guys go free, and start tackling other issues. Not only have the investigators not stopped, but also the degree of their mania is increasing. This is nuts, even for today, and would never have occurred in a normal world.
A positive story. An administrative case against an innocent person was thrown out at the appeal stage. On the 2nd of February, Artur Nigmatullin was arrested by the Moscow City Court on his way to work. A protocol was drawn up against him for having participated in a protest, the court of original jurisdiction didn’t even listen to any arguments from the defence. However, Elena Makarova, a lawyer from OVD-info stepped in and managed to reach a fair decision – you can read about what happened here.
And yet another positive story. In St. Petersburg, cases to do with the article on organisation of large groups in public places are being dismissed en masse. 45 cases have already been dismissed, a victory for Petersburg human rights defenders. To find out how it was possible to achieve this outcome and how Article 20.2.2 of the Administrative Code is applied, read this article by Ani Rubik.
On the searches conducted on the journalists of the Project . On the 29th of June, the day on which the investigation on the family of Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev came to an end, Interior Ministry officers went out to conduct searches on three journalists: Roman Badanin, Maria Zholobova, and Mikhail Rubin. Two of them were defending by OVD-info lawyers, they spoke about what happened throughout the investigation.
On political prisoners in colonies and detention centres. In detention facilities throughout Russia, prisoners (including political prisoners) often face violence and torture. However, in many cases the terrors inflicted upon them are not physical, but psychological. Living conditions are intentionally made worse, prisoners are humiliated, threatened with rape, and tormented with having new criminal cases opened against them. Nastya Medvedeva wrote an article for us on the subject.
Every day we take calls on our hotline, write news about political persecution in Russia, and publish statements, reports and podcasts. Our lawyers deal with criminal cases and write out complaints for the ECtHR, and our IT team is hard at work every day to make sure that our services are as convenient to use as possible. This is all thanks to your support. You can sign up to give a monthly donation to OVD-info, which will help us continue our work and put together the best newsletter for you.
Translated by Friedrich Berg