OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 236: “Get out, Grandad!”

8 January 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.

An arrest outside the Kazakhstan embassy in Moscow. Source

Hello! Detentions at pickets showing solidarity with Kazakhstan, everyone is leaving Russia, the Federal Service for Supervision of Communcations, IT and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) is pressuring YouTube.

Detentions in connection with protests in Kazakhstan. In Russia over the last few days, there have been arrests of people expressing solidarity with the protests and clashes in Kazakhstan. In Moscow, participants in single-person pickets were detained on the fifth, sixth and seventh of January, and in Yekaterinburg on the sixth. One of those detained in Moscow was jailed for 15 days.

  • Why is this important? Many Russians are closely following the events in Kazakhstan and empathise with the protesters. Now Kazakhstan’s allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, including Russia, have sent military forces into the country to quell the uprising. The Kazakhstani authorities themselves say that “the country has been attacked by terrorist gangs”. Indeed, it is no longer possible to speak of protests: it’s more like a civil war with armed force on both sides. 

Emigration from Russia. In recent months, many activists, journalists, human rights activists and other activists who fear persecution and pressure from the authorities have left Russia. The flood continues: last week it became known that the co-founder of the Russian LGBT Network Igor Kochetkov, Ukrainian journalist Roman Tsimbalyuk, and former coordinators of Navalny’s campaign, Alexander Smirnov and Daniil Markelov, have left, the latter having applied for political asylum in the United States. In addition, information was published about the departure of rapper Ivan Dremin (Face); however, this has not been confirmed.

  • Why do I need to know this? If the Russian authorities continue their policy of suppressing all those who disagree with them and destroying structures that are beyond their control, the exodus of the most diverse and active people from the country will continue and indeed increase. Thus the state will deprive itself of a very important element for growth: feedback from society, criticism, platforms for dialogue with people other than the police and State Duma deputies. Such a state will fall into a coma and be doomed to decades of stagnation and entropy.

YouTube has demanded the removal of an LGBTQ-themed video made by a US resident following a complaint from Roskomnadzor. The reason for the claim from Roskomnadzor was a video titled “How I Realised I Was Gay”, in which blogger Felix Gluckman described his own experience of accepting his sexuality as a teenager. The foreign video hosting service cited the RCN’s request in asking Gluckman to remove the video. However, according to Gluckman himself, he now lives in the United States, where, there are no restrictions on the dissemination of information about LGBTQ matters.

  • Why is this important? Firstly, the law on the promotion of “non-traditional” relationships to children is itself discriminatory and should be repealed. Secondly, Gluckman actually lives outside Russia – there is an interesting collision here. Roskomnadzor considers everything that happens on the internet in Russian to be its domain. But its jurisdiction should probably be limited by the borders of its own state. Having said that, Roskomnadzor has the audacity to pressurise YouTube to remove videos – this could be seen in the context of Russian pressure on Google, and attempts to get them to cooperate.


Despite all the turmoil we went through at the end of the year, our editorial team, with the exception of news and legal services, is taking a breatk! In the meantime, read an analysis of the court decision that led to our site being blocked – why it happened, why it’s an unfair decision and what we think about it.

Translation by Anna Bowles

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