OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 260: A ‘foreign agent’ because of an americano

2 July 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.

Ilya Yashin in court. Photo: Ilya Yashin’s Facebook page


Hello! Masha Borzunova has been declared a ‘foreign agent’ for a beer and an americano, another of Ivan Safronov’s lawyers is being prosecuted and Ilya Yashin has been arrested.

The head of the Udmurtian Bar Association has been remanded in custody for ‘fake news.’ Dmitry Talantov was detained in Izhevsk and taken to Moscow where he was remanded in custody at least until August 21. The lawyer is accused of spreading ‘fake news’ about the Russian army. According to investigators, in a publication on his Facebook page Talantov called the actions of the Russian army in Mariupol, Irpen and Bucha Nazi practices. Talantov is acting as a lawyer for the defence in the case of the journalist Ivan Safronov who is charged with treason.

  • Why is this important? Previously, another of Ivan Safronov’s lawyers, Ivan Pavlov, was forced to leave the country having been charged with disclosing information about the investigation. Now another of Safronov’s lawyers has been remanded in custody. However, to be put in jail these days for disseminating information about the war in Ukraine that does not coincide with the position of the Russian Ministry of Defence, you do not have to be one of Safronov’s lawyers.

The politician Ilya Yashin has been jailed for 15 days. Yashin was arrested on June 27 during a walk in the park, taken to a police station and charged with disobeying the lawful demands of a police officer. The charge sheet said he was cursing and behaving rudely with the police officers, although Yashin himself says he was just sitting on the bench when three police officers approached him and demanded he go with him. The court believed the police officers and jailed the politician for 15 days. Earlier, four charges were filed against Yashin for discrediting the Russian army.

  • Why do I need to know that? Yashin has historically been arrested quite often, but here is a disturbing parallel with the case of opposition politician Vladimir Kara-Murza who was initially suddenly arrested on the street, charged with insubordination and jailed for an administrative offence, and then criminal charges were laid against him. In a recent interview with Yury Dud, Yashin reiterated that despite years of pressure, risks, and his public anti-war stance, he has no intention of leaving Russia. Is the Russian state in its present form willing to tolerate the freedom of a popular politician who speaks out against the war?

A former journalist with Dozhd has been declared a ‘foreign agent’ for receiving funding from her friends. Maria Borzunova, a former Dozhd TV presenter and now the author of a YouTube show about Russian propagandists’ ‘fakes’ called Fake News, was declared a ‘foreign agent’ for money transfers she received from individuals. According to the journalist, the Justice Ministry documents listed three transactions from former Moscow Times journalist Evan Gershkovich and 18 from the former Dozhd producer Nadia Lakhbabi. Gershkovich was considered an American source of funding and Lakhbabi a Belarusian source. Borzunova says Gershkovich most likely transferred the money to her for beer that had been bought in bars, while Lakhbabi was paying back a debt for americanos bought in coffee shops near the Dozhd office. In addition, the Justice Ministry claimed that the journalist had distributed information from other ‘foreign agents.’

  • Why is this important? This news shows well the chaotic and inappropriate application of the ‘foreign agent’ law. Speeches by deputies and officials often say the law is intended to stop foreign influence, but in fact, specific people are put on the list for no good reason. They are put on the list because they have a high profile. Once they target someone, a money transfer from someone or other abroad will be found. Can Borzunova be considered an agent of influence of the USA and Belarus for buying beer and coffee for her friends?


We have not published any special articles this week but we have published a summary of the main news from June. You can read here the outcomes of the month in figures. Take a look!

Translated by Rights in Russia

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