OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 211: Undesirable Proekt

17 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.

Staff of Proekt: Photo from the Facebook page of Roman Badanin 

Hello! The media outlet Proekt has been recognised as an “undesirable organisation”, its journalists have been added to the database of unreliable individuals, but the activists of SERB still maintain very much their own way of doing things. 

 Proekt Media has been labelled an “undesirable organisation”.

This is the investigative journalism outlet Proekt, which was registered in the U.S. Aside from this, eight independent journalists have been added to the list of foreign agents, among them the chief editor of Proekt, Roman Badanin, and his colleagues Maria Zheleznova, Peter Maniakhin, Olga Churakova, and Iulia Lukianova. Later, Proekt Media put out an announcement of its dissolution, during the streaming of which Peter Maniakhin was arrested with the help of a drone in the Altai. 

  • Why is this important? The attacks on independent journalism in Russia are not stopping. Soon it will be shameful not to have foreign agent status as a journalist from a self-respecting news organisation (employees of respectable human rights organisations already have foreign agent status). Proekt may be browbeaten particularly because of their recent reporting on the investigation of Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev’s property. 

Dmitry Zakhvatov’s car tyres slashed by SERB activists. Posters were also pasted on the car’s windows, displaying messages of approval for the actions of law enforcement officers, accused of having abused their power by Zakhvatov when they detained several individuals during the Pussy Riot protests. SERB’s actions were a kind of response to an online post from Zakhatov, where he referred to the last words of the police officer Magomed Nurbagandov, who was murdered by members of the armed underground in the Caucasus. 

  • Why do I need to know this? The last words of Nurbagandov before his death were “Keep working brothers”, calling on fellow law enforcement officers not to be afraid of danger and to continue to fight terrorism. In Zakhatov’s opinion, the police, who fabricate charges against activists instead of doing actual work, are not worthy of Nurbagandov’s words. SERB activists saw this as the lawyer insulting law enforcement officers. 

Deputy Ketevan Kharaidze released from a remand centre. Ketevan Kharaidze has now instead been put under house arrest. Kharaidze is accused of having committed fraud, she believes that the case is politicised and went on hunger strike to protest her imprisonment in a pre-trial detention centre. In May, the municipal deputy had announced her plan to run for the State Duma, and on 17 June security forces came to her house with a search warrant. 

  • Why is this important? Against the backdrop of a wave of harassment directed towards alleged prospective candidates for the State Duma elections, this looks like good news. So far, however, it is unclear how the whole ordeal is going to end, although according to prisoners’ lore, if one arrives at court on foot, then one is less likely to be given a term in prison. 


OVD-Info’s complaints about facial recognition. We appealed to Tatyana Potyaeva, the Commissioner for Human Rights in Moscow, with a complaint about the actions by law enforcement agencies after the pro-Navalny demonstrations. We believe that evaluating who the participants in the demonstrations were using video surveillance and visual data gleaned from their footage violates the law and runs the risk of being seriously abused. The Commissioner replied with a message saying that she had sent complaints to the prosecutor’s office. You can get to grips with the gist of our claims here

Thanks for reading!

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Translated by Friedrich Berg

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