OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 259: If you’re president for seven years …

25 June 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.

Festival in support of Simple-hearted Theatre at Moscow’s Open Space. 24 May 2022 / Photo: Open Space


Hello! Sasha Skochilenko’s health is deteriorating, Zarema Musaeva’s case has gone to trial, an activist from Adygea has left Russia after being tortured, and in St. Petersburg people are still being detained under pandemic regulations.

The artist held on remand has complained about her health. Sasha Skochilenko, remanded in custody on charges of spreading fake news about the Russian army and now in a psychiatric hospital, has health problems. According to her lawyer Yana Nepovinnova, at their last meeting Skochilenko looked unwell – she was sleepy, tired, had blue marks under her eyes and bluish lips. In addition, she complained of heart and stomach pains and also that hospital staff confused her illness – gluten intolerance – with lactose intolerance and brought her food with gluten and, conversely, did not bring her food with lactose, which she can have. Skochilenko also said she it was very stuffy in the closed premises intended for ‘walks’ and she cannot remain there more than 20 minutes.

  • Why so I need to know that? The Skochilenko case could probably be taken as a symbol of what is wrong with the entire wave of anti-war repression. According to the investigators, the artist replaced price tags in a supermarket with flyers with anti-war appeals and information considered ‘fake’ by the Russian authorities. For this terrible crime, Skochilenko was been remanded in custody where it is simply physically difficult for her to be with her illness. Why couldn’t she have been left under house arrest? This is brazen and ignorant cruelty.

An activist from Adygea has left Russia after being tortured. According to Kavkazsky Uzel, Kase Kik, an activist from Cherkessk, left the country after he was detained, beaten and tortured by officers from the FSB and the Centre for Combatting Extremism. According to Kik, in one of the city’s cafes he ordered a song to be played in the Ukrainian language, and the security officers who were in the same café became interested in his person, put him in a car and took him to the police station. There he was tortured, after which the court sentenced the activist to seven days in jail on charges of petty hooliganism. On the sixth of the seven days the FSB took Kik out of the jail for the purposes of an investigation. The next day the activist was released from jail and immediately left Russia.

  • Why is this important? Kase Kik is a well-known activist of the Circassian national movement. For four years he headed the Circassian Congress of the Karachai-Cherkess Republic. According to him, a Ukrainian song was enough for the law-enforcement bodies to be interested in him and a statement that he adheres to a pacifist position was enough for him to be tortured. What happened is, of course, quite appalling and more characteristic of Kadyrov’s Chechnya than for Karachai-Cherkessia.

A man who stood in a picket holding up a quotation from Putin was arrested in St. Petersburg. On 21 June in St. Petersburg police arrested Andrei Olivieri who had held a single-person picket with a placard bearing the inscription: ‘If you’re president for seven years, you can go crazy.’ The detainee was charged with violating the coronavirus regulations.

  • Why do I need to know this? The above-mentioned statement – about being ‘seven years’ in office – was made by Putin in 2004 when he had been in power for four years. Now he has been in power for 22 years. How far he was in his right mind on the eve of 24 February 2022 is something that will be decided by historians. Another interesting thing about the story of Olivieri’s arrest is that he was charged with violating the ‘coronavirus restrictions.’ Most of the rules imposed in the pandemic have already been repealed in all spheres, but they are still in effect with regard to protests. Although during events related to sports, culture or patriotic events, the authorities usually forget about them.

The case of Zarema Musaeva has gone to court. The criminal case against the mother of Chechen activists Ibragim and Abubakar Yangulbaev has gone to court, the indictment has been confirmed by the prosecutor’s office. The investigators considered Musaeva guilty of violence against a public official (Article 318, Part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code). It should be remembered Musaeva was forcibly taken from the apartment of the Yangulbaev family in Nizhny Novgorod by Kadyrov’s security officers when they also tried to remove her husband, former federal judge Saidi Yangulbaev, but failed to do so thanks to the intervention of the local authorities. The woman was at first charged and jailed for petty hooliganism and then the criminal case was fabricated against her for allegedly assaulting a police officer. The pressure on the Yangulbaev family is related to the activist opposition activities of the sons of Zarema and Saidi.

  • Why do I need to know this? Unfortunately, the particularities of the law in Kadyrov’s Chechnya are such that stories of brutal pressure on the relatives of individuals disloyal to the authorities are no longer surprising. However, it is important to continue to write about this lawlessness. Zarema Musaeva is the mother of Ibragim Yangulbaev, who was tortured in Kadyrov’s residence, and of Abubakar Yangulbaev, who in recent years worked as a lawyer for the Committee Against Torture and was also recently detained by the Chechen security services. Nevertheless, the entire Yangulbaev family has been able to leave Russia – except Zarema.


‘Something anti-Russian is going on.’ On 14 June Moscow law enforcement officers came to Open Space, a volunteer initiative to help activists, and seized various materials and artwork by political prisoners of an anti-war nature. Later, a series of searches took place, on suspicion of a criminal offence – either of vandalism or of hooliganism. We tried to find out what is going on, and why (true we still haven’t understood anything at all). Read our report on our websiteZen or Medium

A complaint about covid restrictions. Masks on transport, working from home and lockdowns have already been forgotten, but there are still bans on pickets in Moscow. For some reason the restrictions do not apply to entertainment and ‘patriotic’ events – but at least 220 administrative prosecutions for anti-war protests refer to violations of covid restrictions. OVD-Info lawyers complained to the Constitutional Court about the still-important pandemic-era bans – we report on the work of our colleagues on the siteZen and Medium.

We also have a new episode of our anti-war podcast, ‘Two Words!’ This time we talked to fem-activist Paladdei Bashurova (Polina Titova) about her protest and the two criminal cases brought against her. You can listen to it on any platform you like: Podcast.ruCastboxApple PodcastsЯндекс.МузыкеSpotify and YouTube.

That was the week!

Every day we receive calls on our hotline, we write about the news and about politically motivated prosecutions in Russia. And we produce guidelines about what to do in various situations, reports, and podcasts. Our lawyers handle criminal cases and prepare applications to the  European Court of Human Rights and our IT team works every day to make our services accessible and easy for you to use.

Translated by Simon Cosgrove

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