OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 210: ‘Holidays in jail’ for Pussy Riot members

10 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.

Illustration by Katerina Guznei for OVD-Info

Hello! Read on to find out why Pussy Riot members are being prosecuted and why applications to the ECtHR are important.

A new Hizb Ut-Tahrir case At the end of June and the beginning of July in the Chelyabinsk region, Ufa and Penza FSB officials detained several individuals involved in a new Hizb Ut-Tahrir case. The following day the intelligence agency stated that a total of fifteen arrests were made. 

  • Why is this important? Hizb Ut-Tahrir is an Islamic political party which has been included in the list of terrorist organisations, in the opinion of a number of human rights activists, undeservedly. The party’s support base has not been involved in any violent action or terrorist attacks. In the last few years, people from various regions who have been linked with Hizb Ut-Tahrir have been given lengthy prison sentences. The prosecution’s main argument is that they had illegally gathered and read religious texts. Meanwhile, Russia is holding official negotiations with the Taliban, who were included in the list of banned organisations by the same Supreme Court decision in 2003. The persecution of Hizb Ut-Tahrir is a symbol of the hypocrisy of the Russian state. 

The ECtHR has ruled in favour of the defendant in the ABTO case The European Court of Human Rights has ordered Russia to pay 6,000 euros to Ivan Astashin, who was convicted in the ABTO case. The court ruled that Astashin’s rights had been violated when he was sent to serve his sentence in a remote prison colony. The ECtHR made a similar decision in favour of former police major Denis Yevsyukov, who was convicted for firing a gun in a Moscow supermarket. 

  • Why do I need to know this? It’s necessary to take applications to the ECtHR, even with the most seemingly hopeless cases. The European Court doesn’t make decisions quickly, but for that not one case is rushed or passed without close scrutiny. It evaluates specific violations of particular articles of the Convention on Human Rights, regardless of the practices and norms of the country in which they occurred. 

Главу безопасности нефтяной компании ЮКОС вывезли из колонии. Алексея Пичугина, который отбывает пожизненный срок за убийство, этапировали из «Черного дельфина» в московский СИЗО «Лефортово». Позднее стало известно, что Пичугин отказался от услуг адвокатов, с которыми сотрудничал долгие годы.

The head of security at Yukos Oil has been removed from his prison colony.  Aleksei Pichugin, who is serving a life sentence for murder, has been transferred from the Black Dolphin strict regime penal colony to the Lefortovo pre-trial detention centre in Moscow. Later it became known that Pichugin had refused the services of the lawyers with whom he had worked for many years. 

  • Why is this important? This refusal of legal help could mean that pressure has been put on Pichugin. According to a number of sources, the former Yukos employee was brought to Moscow in order to testify against Mikhail Khodorkovsky in the case of the 1998 murder of the mayor of Nefteyugansk, Vladimir Petukhov. The case against Khodorkovsky in connection with these long past events was only opened in 2015.  

An activist jailed before Putin visited Kemerovo has been released In Kemerovo, the jailing of the ex-head of Navalny’s local headquarters, Stanislav Kalinichenko, was cancelled on appeal. Kalinichenko was taken into custody on 5 July and jailed for 10 days for allegedly not having paid alimony. However, it later turned out that there had been no reason at all for the arrest or the trial – the state had simply locked up the well-known activist for the duration of Putin’s visit to Kemerovo. 

  • Why do I need to know this? If there is no reason to arrest someone, but the police feel it necessary to do so anyway, they’ll try to find a reason, especially in regions where Putin is visiting. A shocking, but somewhat mundane story about how the Russian legal system works.   


Prosecutions of Pussy Riot members Since the spring, Pussy Riot activists have constantly been arrested under various pretexts and jailed. As soon as they are released, they’re detained and jailed again before they know it. Karina Merkuryeva tries to figure out what’s happening and why football has something to do with it all. 

The first results of the “Palace Case” The large Winter rallies at the beginning of 2021 in support of Navalny ended with an unprecedented wave of repressive measures that spread throughout the country. We tried to get in contact with everyone who had been affected by this wave: 134 defendants, 38 of whom have already been convicted. Aleksander Litoi sums up the first results of a new round of repression against the opposition. 

Thanks for reading!

Every day we take calls on our hotline, write news about politically motivated prosecutions in Russia, and publish statements, reports and podcasts. Our lawyers deal with criminal cases and write applications to 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

Leave a Reply