29 January 2022
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.
Hello! Navalny and his associates have been put on the list of extremists and terrorists, those who haven’t been caught have been put on the wanted list, the mother of Chechen activists is not being allowed access to lawyers, and the UN is taking an interest in the liquidation of Memorial.
We’ll start by saying that we have new sites! On 25 December Roskomnadzor blocked the ovdinfo.org domain, so while our work wasn’t halted it was made a lot more difficult. We decided it would be useful for you to be able to utilise all our legal aid tools without a VPN. So now our guidance and complaint templates are on the separate site ovd.legal, and you can find all our news at ovd.news, without having to bypsas the block. However, you can continue to use the original site ovdinfo.org, if you have no problem using a VPN.
The pressure on Navalny, his supporters and his family continues. The politician himself, plus another 11 people, including for example Liubov Sobol, and former Anti-Corruption Foundation employees Ruslan Shaveddinov and Georgii Alburov, have been added to the list of terrorists and extremists held by the Federal Financial Monitoring service. Navalny’s close associates Leonid Volkov and Ivan Zhdanov were already on it. Additionally, Navalny’s brother Oleg, plus the former co-ordinator of his Moscow headquarters Oleg Stepanov and the former co-ordinator of his Kazan headquarters Oleg Yemelyanov, have been added to the wanted list. Violetta Grudina, former head of Navalny’s Murmansk headquarters, who had previously been added to the list, said that she has left Russia.
- Why is this important? We have said more than once that we consider the persecution of Navalny and his supporters to be politically motivated, especially in the context of allegations of extremist crimes. Now the pressure on the politician and his associates has become entirely grotesque: people are labelled extremist just because their names were in some way associated with Navalny’s, and they tried to participate in legal political struggle. Evidently in Russia such activity in any form is now banned.
The wife of a Chechen judge is being denied access to lawyers. Zarema Musaeva, who last week was taken to Chechnya because of accusations made by Kadyrovites against her sons, is being denied access to lawyers. Musaeva was taken from her flat in Nizhny Novgorod, and placed in a Grozny detention facility for 15 days of administrative arrest. According to the Chechen minister of information, Akhmed Dudaev, Musaeva allegedly attacked a police officer. Her son Ibrahim Yangulbaev said that in 2015 his brother Abubakar and their father were tortured at Kadyrov’s residence. According to Ibrahim, the pressure on his family is related to his activist activities.
- Why do I need to know this? It’s a horrible story but unfortunately already a common one in modern Chechnya. One gets the feeling that there are no checks on the Kadyrovites within Russia – the federal authorities either can’t or don’t want to stop the lawlessness going on in the republic.
The UN has taken an interest in the liquidation of Memorial. United Nations Human Rights Council Special Procedures experts have published questions to the Russian authorities regarding the closure of International Memorial and the Memorial Human Rights Centre. The experts want to check whether the procedure is in line with international human rights law, which Russia is obliged to implement. Within the UN there is concern that the measures taken by the Russian Federation are clearly inconsistent with the seriousness of the offences alleged by Memorial and appear excessive.
- Why is this important? It’s important that the UN considers the situation with Memorial sufficiently serious as to discuss it publicly at the UN-Russian Federation level. International human rights organisations are united in their opinion that the liquidation of Memorial is an exceptional event that requires particular attention.
A defendant in the “palace case” has been transported to Norilsk. TikTok blogger Konstantin Lakeev was taken to Detention Facility 4 in the town of Norilsk. In December, Moscow’s Tversky court sentenced him to two years and eight months in jail in a case regarding an attack on an FSB car during a rally in support of Alexei Navalny on 23 January 2021. According to investigators, Lakeev threw snowballs at the car and kicked it.
- Why do I need to know this? Remember that Ivan Astashin, a defendant in another FSB-related case, served his sentence in Norilsk, and according to Memorial, was unjustly accused of preparing to commit a terrorist act. It is unlikely that this will ever be officially confirmed, but sending Lakeeev so far from Moscow looks like revenge on the part of the secret service for his raising his hand against its property.
About the defendants in the “palace case” who have been freed. Last week marked the one-year anniversary of the first major demonstration in support of Navalny’s return to Russia – and that means the one-year anniversary of the “palace case”. On the anniversary of the occasion we spoke with people who were sentenced to prison after participating in those protest rallies. Read their stories on our site or on zen.yandex.ru and medium if you don’t have a VPN.
On the beating of journalists. According to OVD-Info, 150 journalists were detained during the Winter 2021 protests, and administrative reports were drawn up against 71 of them, despite the fact that they were at work and carrying out editorial assignments. The Journalists’ Union recorded some 200 violations against media workers by the authorities; at least 8 reporters were beaten. None of this has been legally assessed by the state, and not a single criminal case against law enforcement officers has yet been opened. We have compiled the reports of those colleagues who never got justice in this text (it can also be found on zen.yandex.ru and Medium).
Translated by Anna Bowles