OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 224: Without right of correspondence

16 October 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: Arina Istomina for OVD-Info

Hi! Journalist Ivan Safronov has been deprived of the right of correspondence, while Kolomna activist Vyacheslav Egorov has been sentenced to jail under the Dadin article.

A Kolomna activist has been sentenced to jail. Vyacheslav Egorov received a year and three months in a general regime penal colony under Article 212.1 of the Criminal Code for repeated violations of the law on rallies. The criminal case was initiated because of three administrative reports under Article 20.2 of the Administrative Code and an article on Yandex.Dzen about the trial of Gennady and Dmitry Gudkov. The prosecution asked for Egorov to be sentenced to three years in prison. In his last statement, Egorov said he was innocent, and called the trial buffoonery and a farce.

  • Why do I need to know this? Egorov’s prosecution began during the rubbish protests in the Moscow region, took a long time to reach a verdict and now seems to have come to us from a very different era. At the same time, the Constitutional Court has instructed the investigative authorities to bring cases under Article 212.1 only if the actions of the defendant have imperilled the public. The prosecution under the Dadin article remains a selective instrument, the application of which depends more on the desires of the local authorities than on the letter of the law. This is probably for the best, although the article itself is unconstitutional and should be repealed, forgotten and condemned.

A defendant in the Right Sector case alleges torture in pre-trial detention facility. Vladimir Domnin, convicted for ‘participation in an extremist organisation,’ is currently held in pre-detention centre No. 1 in the city of Tver. He reports that prison staff constantly use force on prisoners, torture them, do not let them sleep, and place them in extreme stretching positions.

  • Why is this important? Violence and lawlessness are the norm in the Federal Penitentiary Service, not only for political prisoners, but for everyone. Political prisoners usually have a little more opportunity to publicise such cases, although they risk their lives and health as much as others do. It is hoped that one day a critical mass of reports of violence and abuse in FSIN institutions will finally break the dam of silence and lawlessness.

Persons unknown have broken into the Memorial building. On 14 October, a group of provocateurs burst into the building of the International Memorial Society, where a film about the Holodomor [I would guess we need to explain this, but the phrasing is potentially incendiary! Given the nature of OVD-info I would think the blunt version would be appropriate: ‘attempted genocide of Ukrainian peasants by famine in 1932-33’] was being screened. Under the cameras of the NTV channel staff who burst in with them, they began to chant “Fascists!” and “Bringing shame on the Motherland!”. The police then arrived and arrested those provocateurs who had not managed to escape before they arrived, and several Memorial staff members also went to the police station. The authorities then shut attendees of the showing in the premises and handed out questionnaires asking them about the aims of the event. Lawyers from OVD-Info were not allowed into the premises for some time. The security forces left Memorial late at night, removing the security and fire protection systems, and then came back the next day.

  • Why do I need to know this? All this seems woefully like a planned provocation by the authorities, involving shouting youths, NTV and the police. The topic of the show was not even related to actual politics, although we all know how touchily some forces in Russia react to everything related to Ukraine. It is to be expected that this whole affair will end in some kind of trouble for Memorial and not for the provocateurs, who will probably remain unpunished.

Ivan Safronov has been deprived of the right of correspondence. The former Kommersant journalist, who is accused of treason, will no longer be able to correspond with relatives – an investigator has ordered the seizure of all correspondence addressed to him. The investigation relates to the rule prohibiting the passing of messages that could influence the criminal case to those under investigation. But according to Safronov and his relatives, they have never discussed the circumstances of the case in correspondence. The investigator had previously tried to put pressure on Safronov, promising to allow his mother to call him in exchange for a deal in the case.

Why is this important? It’s kind of crazy, even for today’s Russia. Prisoners have the right to communicate with their relatives, and an attempt to prohibit this communication by the investigator is unlawful pressure on the accused. Treason cases are already notorious for their secrecy and the resulting murky evidence – we still do not know exactly what Ivan is accused of. And the investigator is trying to achieve his goals not by responsible work, but by trying to pressure the individual.


About the Temporary Detention Centre for Foreign Nationals in Sakharov. During the winter rallies in support of Navalny, many detainees in Moscow went to the Sakharov Detention Centre for Foreign Nationals to serve sentences passed for offences under administrative law. Based on the stories of people who have been detained there, OVD-Info’s lawyers filed 81 complaints about the conditions of detention at the centre. We publish some of the complainants’ stories.

About E. V. Limonov’s Other Russia in Perm. On 25 September in Ekaterinburg, the Perm National Bolsheviks held a rally against election fraud, after which the police and anti-extremism police broke into their homes, beat one activist, and then took everyone to the Anti-Extremism Centre. Now several activists are in administrative detention and upon their release they face new sentences. Sasha Liksevich looked into the persecution of the Urals National Bolsheviks.

On political persecution in September. Before, during and after the elections, the authorities exerted all kinds of pressure on opposition activists, and we have compiled a chronicle of political persecution in the past month – read it here.

Translated by Anna Bowles

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