OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 227: Navalny subjected to mockery and abuse

6 November 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: Alenooshka for OVD-Info

Hello! Navalny is being mocked and abused in a prison colony – prevented from sleeping or having contact with other prisoners – and people are being detained in Moscow and Crimea.

Navalny is being mocked and abused in a prison colony, former prisoners at Penal Colony No. 2, where he is serving his sentence in the Yves Rocher case told the TV station Dozhd. According to them, the prison administration has forbidden other prisoners to have contact with Navalny, surrounded him with informers, and when he went on hunger strike had sausages cooked in his close vicinity. What’s more, someone was assigned to prevent Navalny from sleeping, by making noise, and the whole prison was shown a film about how Aleksei was friends with a gay man while free.

  • Why is this important? Of course, it’s interesting how officers of the Federal Penitentiary Service explain such grave abuse of a prisoner. Unless of course, if they consider topics that are in general unlikely. All the persecution of Navalny looks like quite petty revenge on a politician who has survived – and should have died as a result of an FSB special operation.

Some of the participants in the Russian March have been detained. On 4 November in Moscow, nationalists attempted to hold their traditional rally and, as is traditional they were not given permission. We tracked this online, and according to our calculations no less than 27 participants were arrested in Moscow. In addition, the organiser of several previous Russian Marches, Nikita Zaitsev, was arrested the day before and held for 10 days on a charge of disobeying a police officer.

  • Why do I need to know this? Russian nationalists have come a long way from coordinated mass rallies and cooperation with the Presidential Administration to the current deplorable situation. The situation has changed, and the movement is half defeated, and half of them have become loyal to the regime. Disloyal nationalists are now not allowed anything – like all other opposition political groups, left or right.

In Crimea, 19 people have been detained outside a court. In the latest Hizb ut-Tahrir case, 19 members of a group supporting Hizb-ut-Tahrir were been detained in Simferopol during an appeal against the verdict. Among the detainees were a pregnant woman and a minor, along with journalists, and activists in the Crimean Tatar movement. Charges were drawn on up 17 people for breaking COVID regulations. The appeal against the verdict in the Hizb ut-Tahrir case was dismissed.

  • Why is this important? We often write about how the persecution of Hizb-ut-Tahirir is fundamentally unfair, especially when viewed in the light of Russian government contacts with the Taliban. Even by our standards the system for suppressing any protest activity in annexed Crimea is cruel, but sometimes it seems the security forces are doing it out of spite. Obviously these claims about health and safety are just a pretext which the authorities at all levels have weaponised so they can detain anyone they like

The Ministry of Justice wants to significantly limit the rights of prisoners. The ministry proposed to expand the list of things that may be reason for the introduction of special regimes in the institutions of the Federal Penitentiary Service. Among other things, quarantine, terrorist attack and “threat of attack” are proposed for inclusion. If the law is passed, prisoners under the special conditions regime will be banned from meeting with lawyers or relatives, and using shops or payphones.

  • Why do I need to know this? It’s clear what this could mean in practice – in any situations that are unpleasant for itself, the FSIN will be able to declare a “threat of attack”, block access to lawyers in the institution and restrict the rights of prisoners. As if they had a lot of rights. And it will also become much easier for the employees of a pre-trial detention centre to carry out their functions in the context of an endless epidemic – you don’t have to worry about letting in ombudsmen.


Regarding the fallout of the Network case. The defendants in the Network case continue to serve sentences in various parts of the country, and some still face pressure of various kinds: torture, punishment cells and threats. Laura Fish has compiled everything we currently know about this here.

Regarding  “foreign agents”. In 2021, there have been 82 additions to the list of “foreign agents”: 51 people, 20 media outlets, nine NGOs and two voluntary groups have been added. These include OVD-info. Karina Merurkevya has spoken with various people who are forced to bear the stigma of “foreign agents” and made this text from what they said.

Regarding the ECtHR and the Russian state. The defendant in the ABTO case, Ivan Astashin, served almost ten years, and now he is trying to get Russia to pay the compensation awarded to him by the ECtHR. The state does not want to pay, since Astashin is included in the register of terrorists, which means that he cannot have a bank account. We publish Ivan’s story here

Translated by Anna Bowles

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