OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 261: The war that must never be named

9 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.

Protest by Liudmila Annenkova and Natalia Petrova at the Russian foreign ministry. Photo: SOTA 


Hello! Municipal councillor Aleksei Gorinov has been sentenced to seven years in jail, a defendant in the Hiz ut-Tahrir case has been sentenced to 19 years, and those convicted in the Network case continue to suffer in jail.

First of all, we have some unexpected good news – the Moscow Regional Court has cancelled the decision of the Lukhovitsky district court to block our site. The judge of first instance, who issued the blocking order, received a reprimand from his superiors. Now, de jure, we have the right to submit documents to Roskomnadzor to terminate the technical restriction of access to the site. However, how much time it will take de facto is unknown. As a reminder, we were blocked following a lawsuit filed by the prosecutor’s office, which allegedly found materials on our website justifying terrorism and extremism. We still don’t know which ones, as the prosecutor’s office did not indicate specific texts.

Municipal councillor Aleksei Gorinov has been sentenced to seven years for disseminating “fake news”. On 8 July, in Moscow, Meshchansky district court sent a municipal councillor from the Krasnoselsky District, Aleksei Gorinov, to a general regime colony for seven years. The court found Gorinov guilty of spreading “fake news” about the Russian army using his official position and motivated by hatred or enmity. The reason for initiating the case was a meeting of the municipal council, at which Gorinov spoke out against the actions of the Russian Federation in Ukraine – Gorinov called the “special operation” a war, expressed the opinion that the Russian Federation wants to seize the territories of Ukraine, and said that children are dying in Ukraine. Together with Gorinov, his colleague Elena Kotenochkina is also involved in this case – she has left the country. During the announcement of the verdict, three people were detained in the court.

  • Why do I need to know this? This is the first prison sentence handed out under the “fake news” article, and it’s immediately such a severe one. For expressing his own position, without calling for violence, without any negative consequences from what was said for anyone, a man was sentenced to seven years in prison. Unfortunately, we are likely to face many more sentences under this insane rule, which effectively prohibits the dissemination of information about the war.

A defendant in the Hizb ut-Tahrir trial has been sentenced to 19 years in prison. The Southern District Military Court in Rostov-on-Don sent Crimean Tatar Ismet Ibragimov to a strict regime colony for 19 years, finding him guilty of organising the activities of a terrorist organization and preparing to seize power. According to investigators, Ibragimov organized a Hizb ut-Tahrir cell in the Simferopol region of Crimea and recruited supporters. There is no mention of any specific violent actions or calls for violence in the accusation. In addition, last week two more Crimean Tatar activists were sentenced to 13 years in prison, also on charges of participation in Hizb ut-Tahrir.

  • Why is this important? The persecution of Hizb ut-Tahrir often remains outside the boundaries of public awareness – it has been going on for quite a long time, the number of those detained is in the hundreds, and they themselves preach about a world caliphate. Nevertheless, human rights activists insist that the organisation is unfairly labelled as terrorist and that its supporters do not commit violent crimes. It is worth recalling that the Hizb ut-Tahrir party was recognized as a terrorist party at the same time as the Taliban, but the Russian authorities willingly maintain legal contact with representatives of the Taliban. At the same time, the Taliban is obviously a much more militant, numerous and potentially dangerous movement – it was able to seize power in Afghanistan, while Hizb ut-Tahrir has not seized power anywhere (and has not even tried, as far as we know).

People convicted in the Network case continue to face adversity in jail. The defendants in the Network case, sentenced to long prison terms in 2020, continue to serve their sentences. Ilya Shakursky, located in the village of Barashevo in Mordovia, is experiencing health problems – he was diagnosed with a varicocele, and consultation with a surgeon is essential. At present Shakursky is in a Federal Penitentiary Service hospital. Meanwhile, another defendant in the case, Viktor Filinkov, successfully challenged the actions of the Federal Penitentiary Service, which wants to transfer him to a prison [based on cells, as in many Western prisons – RiR] from the penal colony – the court dismissed the transfer case and declared the transfer of the man to a correctional cell for a month in March to be illegal.

  • Why do I need to know this? After the trials are over and political prisoners are sent to a prison colony, they are often either completely forgotten, or public interest in their fate drops dramatically. We are convinced that it is just as important to follow what happens to the convicts after the trials as before them. Therefore, we accompany our heroes until their release, highlighting important events that happen to them.


“Horror and insanity.” Two young women were photographed against the backdrop of the Foreign Ministry in dresses drenched in red paint, in a protest against the deaths of civilians in Ukraine. The entire action took no longer than the time it took to take one photo. But the police considered the young women guilty under three articles of the Code of Administrative Offences, and began to hunt for them around the city – and as a result, the participants in the photo have both been jailed for seven days. We publish the story of one of the women – on our site, Yandex.zen and Medium

We have also published a long and detailed account of the repressions in June – read it here.

Translated by Anna Bowles

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