19 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! Ivan Zhdanov’s father has been sent to a prison colony, police in Moscow are detaining opponents of construction in a forest near Moscow, and the “palace case” continues.
The father of an associate of Navalny has been sent to a prison colony for three years. The suspended sentence handed down to Yury Zhdanov – the father of former director of Aleksei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation [FBK] Ivan Zhdanov – has been changed to a three-year prison term. Zhdanov had earlier been found guilty in a criminal case of fraud, abuse of power and forgery. According to the investigation, the elder Zhdanov had participated in a decision on housing allocation, which was then overturned by the court, thus committing a crime. He was initially given a suspended sentence, but was later sent back to pre-trial detention for breaching restrictions imposed on his movement.
- Why do I need to know this? The younger Zhdanov believes his father is being persecuted in revenge against himself. Russian law enforcement agencies could not reach the former FBK director, who is on the wanted list, so they decided that they could at least imprison his father. At the same time, looking at the case itself, the chair of the commission, who signed the document on the housing issue, was not prsecuted – the claims in the investigation related only to Zhdanov.
People defending Troitsk Forest have been detained. In New Moscow, local residents and eco-activists continue a face-off with authorities who want to clear a part of the forest for the construction of a school. On 17 February local police detained at least seven people who participated in a recent anti-logging rally, while another six were visited or telephoned by the police. Two days before the detentions, activist Konstantin Fokin, who tried to prevent construction vehicles from entering the forest, was jailed for nine days. Earlier, on 12 February, 11 people who had come to a rally in defence of the forest were detained near the construction site.
- Why is this important? The phase of active construction in Troitsk Forest began in January, with local authorities planning to cut down several thousand trees and shrubs to build a large school complex. However, Troitsk residents did not agree with the decision, and started to actively oppose the destruction of the forest. Meanwhile, in the midst of the pandemic, there are virtually no ways for people to legally express their protest, because the authorities just don’t approve protests to go ahead.
The “palace case” continues. Eldar Garipov, a defendant in the “palace case”, was sentenced to a year and a half in a penal colony and released in the courtroom. The man was given credit for time spent in pre-trial detention for the entire term of his sentence. According to the prosecution, during his detention at a protest in support of Navalny on 31 January 2021, Garipov used non-life-threatening violence against a police officer. In addition, Oleg Navalny was given a suspended sentence replaced in absentia with a real one due to the fact that he is not in Russia and is wanted.
- Why do I need to know this? After his arrest, police injured Garipov so badly that he ended up in hospital. A police officer promised to refer the case against his colleagues to the Investigative Committee, but in the end a criminal case was opened against Garipov himself. According to him, he did not use any violence against police officers, and they slandered him in order to avoid punishment. It is important not to forget that the “palace case” is still ongoing, and people are still serving sentences or undergoing other forms of punishment, while the police officers are not.
The ECtHR has ordered Russia to report on the condition of an abducted Chechen woman. On 14 February, the European Court imposed Rule 39 in relation to to Zarema Musaeva, who had previously been taken to Chechnya from Nizhny Novgorod. Rule 39 requires the State to take swift action before the complaint is considered in exceptional cases where there is a risk of life-threatening or irreparable consequences. The ECtHR required the Russian authorities to provide fortnightly updates on the woman’s state of health. Musaeva is now in the Grozny detention centre, accused of assaulting a police officer.
- Why is this important? Zarema Musaeva is the mother of the activist Ibrahim Yangulbaev, who was tortured at Kadyrov’s residence, and of Abubakar Yangulbaev, who in recent years worked as a lawyer for the Committee against Torture. She is also the wife of Saidi Yangulbaev, a former federal judge in the Chechen Republic. All the men of this family have managed to leave Russia, being at risk of being killed in Kadyrov’s prisons. Unfortunately, the woman did not make it.
The prosecution of Yulia Tsvetkova. The case of the artist and activist from Komsomolsk-on-Amur has been going on for three years now – she is accused of distributing pornography because of her vulva drawings in the “Vagina Monologues” public forum. Moreover, during that time she has also been subjected to four administrative charges of propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships among minors because of the pictures of same-sex families. We tell you about Tsvetkova’s case in this article.
The persecution of Navalny associates. After Aleksei Navalny returned to Russia and was sent to prison and his supporters’ organisations were labelled extremist and broken up, the state launched an unprecedented campaign of pressure on the opposition. Activists who could somehow be associated with the name Navalny have been threatened with criminal prosecution simply for their affiliation with structures close to the politician. Here is a timeline of this campaign of destruction and a description of its most important milestones.
Translated by Anna Bowles