OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 212: Who will be next after Team 29?

24 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 Zhenya Kishmariya for OVD-Info

Hello! Team 29 has been disbanded, Pussy Riot lives on abroad, and the Chelyabinsk Anarchists have now been facing persecution for over three years.  

Team 29 has been disbanded. Our friends from the human rights defence organisation Team 29 announced their decision to disband the project. On 16 July, the Russian federal media watchdog blocked their website because they had allegedly been spreading material written by the Czech ‘undesirable organisation’ Společnost Svobody Informace. Team 29 stated that this contradicts the facts and that they’re going to dispute the Russian authorities’ decision.

  • Why do I need to know this? The clampdown on Team 29 can be seen in the context of the recent waves of repression and the war on independent thought. A connection can be drawn to the prosecution of the head of the project, the lawyer Ivan Pavlov, against whom a criminal case has been opened and who managed to get under the FSB’s skin in treason cases. And so, as it turns out everything is going pretty poorly. We hope that Team 29 will continue their work some other way. 

The Insider has been added to the index of foreign agents. The publication, a well-known participant in the journalistic investigations of the poisonings of Aleksei Navalny, Vladimir Karamurza, and Dmitry Bykov, has been added to the list of foreign media agents. Additionally, the index now also includes five journalists who previously worked for Proekt, Open Media, Dozhd and Radio Svoboda

  • Why is this important? It is important to keep track of the government’s attempts to bury independent media in Russia – this will create a historical narrative. 

Pussy Riot under pressure. In Moscow, the police and courts are still unable to rid themselves of Pussy Riot activists. Yesterday, Masha Alekhina was let free after 30 days in jail, but straight afterwards activist Rita Flores was jailed for fifteen days. One day earlier, they had arrested her not far from her house. The police justified her arrest under the article on defying orders from the police. The very same week, Pussy Riot members Veronika Nikulshina, Roman Durov and Aleksandr Sofeev announced they were fleeing Russia because of the pressure they were under. 

  • Why do I need to know this? In the last few months, members of Pussy Riot have been detained under far-fetched pretexts and jailed for supposed administrative infractions. It is impossible for this to have been accidental, it is also highly improbable that activists are constantly violating the law on purpose. It is likely that Moscow politicians want to dispose of troublesome activists, who heckle their political activities from time to time, before the upcoming elections.

Measures of restraint against the defendants in the FSB banner case extended. The Central Regional Court of Chelyabinsk has prohibited certain activities by way of a pre-trial restriction for anarchists Dmitry Tsibukovsky and Anastasia Safonova for another three months. The investigation considers them guilty of having hung a banner on an FSB building’s fence, which they qualify as an act of vandalism and hooliganism motivated by political hatred.

  • Why is this important? This case has already been going for three whole years, the entirety of which the defendants’ situation has been up in the air, occasionally seeing them being sent to a detainment facility. It’s totally unclear whether the investigation is actually allowed to do this for a duration of several years in a hooliganism case. Meanwhile, Tsibukovskii has stated that he had confessed under torture, but that the torture case was dismissed after six months. 


On the Ingush Police. On 27 March in the capital of the Ingush Republic, Magas, a clash occurred between government security forces and members of the action against the redrawing of the border with Chechnya. Around fifty people have been charged with resisting police. On top of this, a criminal case has been instigated against thirteen local police officers who tried to prevent the escalation of violence between the National Guard and those protesting. Aleksandr Litoi writes on the matter in this article.

On complaints to the ECtHR. Our joint project with Memorial to bring complaints to the ECtHR has been running since November 2019. In this time over 800 applications have been made to do with arrests made during protest demonstrations, half of which have already been communicated. How the project works, why we need it, and what users and lawyers think of it can be read about in this article by Karina Merkurieva. 

Timeline of the fight against ‘Fortress’. Together with Adovkatskaya ulitsa (who, by the way, could do with your help), we analysed how the ‘Fortress’” plan works during and after peaceful demonstrations. We also looked at how lawyers and human rights defenders seek to challenge it. A timeline has been compiled complete with figures and dates – this is a chronicle of the past few years through the eyes of defendants who were denied access to police stations. You can learn about how ‘Fortress’ was introduced here.  

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 out 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

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