21 May 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.
Local activists have been searched in Novosibirsk. On 19 May, law enforcement officials searched the homes of Novosibirsk city council deputy Anton Kartavin, assistant to deputy Sergei Boiko Elena Noskovets, and Boiko’s parents, and also the parents of Navalny supporter Polina Golobokova. According to Novosibirsk deputy Khelga Pirogova, at least the police searched the home of Kartavin in relation to the extremist organisation case against Navalny and his associates. There, Kartavin has the status of a witness. During the search at Boiko’s mother-in-law’s flat, they confiscated all equipment and documents relating to her work with children – she is a specialist working with ADHD and autism in children.
- Why is this important? Recently, law enforcement agencies have more and more often been using different criminal cases as pretexts for searches the homes of activists, human rights activists and journalists. And although people often end up retaining the status of witnesses, these investigative actions themselves can be seen as a means of pressure and intimidation. The prosecution of Navalny and his supporters under numerous articles of the Criminal Code can be considered politically motivated, given the disproportionate nature of the charges and their number.
A resident of Vladivostok has been placed in a pre-trial detention centre and her children in an orphanage. In Primorsky region, a woman has been accused of damaging a monument to the Soviet spy Richard Sorge and remanded in custody. In addition, her two children have ended up in a social-rehabilitation centre for minors after the incident. According to the accusation, the woman poured red paint on the monument, and when her home was searched, spray cans of paint and green anti-war ribbons were found. At first the investigation wanted to charge her under the article on vandalism, but then the charge became more serious.
- Why do I need to know this? If we agree with the accusation that the accused performed this terrible deed on the statue of Sorge, a question at once arises: why? Why should the investigating authorities place a mother of two children, who has done nothing violent, threatened nobody with violence, in prison? So that her children will be imbued with patriotism at the orphanage? Why do law enforcement officials across the whole country react so severely to any manifestation of anti-war protest and lock everyone up, men and women? Probably to demonstrate the touching unity of the people in their support of the ‘special operation’ and the president who started it?
The prosecution has requested a sentence of 20 years for a Crimean Tatar. At the hearing in the Southern military district court the prosecutor asked that Crimean Ismet Ibragimov be sentenced to 20 years in jail in the Hizb ut-Tahrir case. This is the maximum term a prosecution has requested in such a case in Crimea. The prosecutor considers Ibraginov guilty of organising the activity of a terrorist organisation and of preparing to carry out an anti-constitutional coup – these are standard charges for cases against members of Hizb ut-Tahrir.
- Why is this important? Hizb ut-Tahrir is an Islamist party, which, according to human rights activists, has been undeservedly listed as a terrorist organisation. The party’s supporters are not known to be involved in violent acts or the preparation of terrorist attacks. The main argument of investigators in such cases is that they gathered together and read religious books. Meanwhile, Russia is conducting official negotiations with the Taliban movement, also listed as a banned organisation by the Supreme Court in 2003. The persecution of Hizb ut-Tahrir well demonstrates the hypocrisy of the Russian state.
A law on the non-enforcement of ECtHR judgements has passed its first reading in the State Duma. So, in the event of final approval of the bill, the opinion of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg will cease to be a basis for reviewing decisions made by Russian courts. Additionally, until the start of 2023 the General Prosecutor’s Office will be able to pay compensation awarded before 16 March 2022. According to parliamentarians, cooperation with the ECtHR and the Council of Europe does not ‘bring any benefit to our country and citizens’. Remember that on 16 March Russia was expelled from the Council of Europe because of the invasion of Ukraine.
- Why do I need to know this? Contrary to the opinion of Russian deputies, complaints to the ECtHR have long been almost the only hope for citizens of this country to get justice or at least some compensation for injustice. At least that’s certainly the case in politically motivated prosecutions. Acknowledging the politicisation of prosecution in the Russian legal system remained practically impossible for most people – and that’s where the ECtHR stepped in, explaining what was wrong in accordance with international acts signed by Russia. The General Prosecutor’s Office, along with the courts, was obliged to change or revise something, to manoeuvre between jurisprudence and political necessity. People received actual monetary compensation for torture, the death of relatives, falsified reports and illegal administrative arrests.
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Translated by Anna Bowles