4 February 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! Kadyrov and Co. carry on, prosecutors have requested heavy sentences for some teenagers from Kansk, and Roskomnadzor is chasing traces of Navalny’s films.
We have launched an important new project with the Centre for the Defence of Media Rights! Back in December we began to offer legal assistance to people and organisations who had ended up on the list of “foreign agents”: to defend them in court, consult and help them file complaints about the decisions made by courts and other organs of authority. Now we have set up a separate site, Inoteka – specifically for all those who have encountered unsatisfactory usage of the “foreign agents” legislation. There you can find our research on the subject and also submit a request for assistance if you need it.
Pressure on those who disagree with Kadyrov. The Chechen government is continuing to put pressure on the Yangulbaev family by various means. Activist Ibrahim Yangulbaev is wanted on grounds of justifying terrorism, and his mother, who has been kidnapped and taken to Chechnya, is accused of attacking a police officer and has been jailed for two months. Her husband, Saidi Yangulbaev has been stripped of the immunity to which he was entitled as a former federal judge. In Grozny, many thousands of people attended a rally against the Yangulbaevs, where they burned and smashed their portraits. State Duma Deputy Adam Delimkhanov is threatening to murder these opponents of Kadyrov. All the members of the Yangulbaev family who remain free have left Russia, along with journalist Elena Milashina of Novaya Gazeta, who regularly wrote about Chechnya.
- Why is this important? The leader of a region of the Russian Federation and his cronies continue to threaten the lives and health of Russian citizens, but to date federal authorities do not seem to regard this as important. Considering that we have criminal cases in progress under the extremism articles for jokes, innuendos and abstract criticism, such peacefulness is striking. In a situation like this, when the author of a statement has sway over thousands of supporters and loyal security forces – it is difficult to overestimate its danger to society.
Prosecutors have requested jail sentences from six years and five months to nine years, for some teenagers from Kansk. At court hearings in Krasnoyarsk, the prosecutor’s office requested that the defendants in the “Kansk teenagers case” be sent to prison. The prosecution finds Nikita Uvarov and two other minors guilty of receiving training to carry out terrorist activities, as well as of manufacturing and storing explosives.
- Why do I need to know this? The Kansk teenagers first came to the notice of human rights organisations in 2020, when they were still 14 years old. Law enforcement officials arrested them for putting up stickers in support of Azat Miftakhov, and then they found on their phones correspondence about plans to blow up an FSB building they had constructed in the game Minecraft. Do 14-year-old adolescents deserve long years in juvenile detention, which is often much worse than similar institutions for adults, for acts that harmed no one? This remains an open question for society, but apparently not for the FSB and prosecutors.
Roskomnadzor is demanding that media outlets remove Navalny’s investigations. Novaya Gazeta, Dozhd, Medusa, Echo of Moscow, Znak.com, the Saratov publication Svobodnye Novosti and the Magadan website Vesma have received warrants demanding the removal of material relating to the investigation. The claims were raised by references to films in which Navalny’s team talked about egregiously expensive property, which, according to the FBK, may belong to Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Medvedev, Tatarstan leader Rustam Minnikhanov, head of Roskosmos Dmitry Rogozin and Duma deputy Leonid Slutsky.
- Why is this important? Well, we’ve all seen these films, right? And the one about Putin’s palace, and “He is not Dimon to you”. You yourselves can judge how far these productions spread extremist ideology and call for illegal actions. Do they? No, they don’t. They are simply investigations into corruption. You can challenge them, you can disagree with them, you can criticise them. Trying to remove them from public consumption by calling Navalny and the FBK extremists looks cheesy – and politically motivated.
Deutsche Welle in Russia is closing. The Russian Foreign Ministry has announced that Deutsche Welle’s Russian service will cease operations in the country. The accreditations of the publication’s journalists will be cancelled, and the Foreign Ministry is asking for Deustche Welle to be labelled a “foreign agent”. According to Russian authorities, the closure of the German media outlet was. response to measures taken by Germany against the German editorial office of Russia Today.
- Why is this important? During its short period on air, the German editorial office of RT managed to establish itself as a haven for all sorts of freaks talking about the harmfulness of vaccines and claiming that coronavirus does not exist. DW is an international publication of some standing, which simply went about its work in a professional way. By closing DW, Russia is primarily denying its citizens another source of information. However, perhaps this is the overall plan – there should not be too many uncontrolled sources of information.
About people leaving Russia. In 2021, more than a thousand activists and journalists left Russian because of criminal or political persecution, or the threat of it. OVD-Info spoke to those forced to emigrate because of the political situation in the country – read the text on our website (as well as on Yandex.Den and Medium).
Translated by Anna Bowles