16 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.
Hello! Ilya Yashin has been arrested on criminal charges, the former head of Open Russia Andrei Pivovarov has been imprisoned, artist Yulia Tsvetkova has been acquitted, and Putin has passed laws for new repressions.
The ex-director of Open Russia has been sentenced to four years in prison. A court in Krasnodar sent politician Andrei Pivovarov to a general regime prison colony for four years, after finding him guilty of carrying out the activities of an ‘undesirable organisation.’ In addition, Pivovarov was banned from engaging in social and political activities for eight years. The prosecutor’s office had requested five years for the accused. The charges against Pivovarov were brought on the basis of 30 posts and one repost, which the investigation linked to the activities of Open Russia.
- Why is this important? The law on ‘undesirable’ organisations continues to be actively applied in Russia. Last week, for example, the investigative group Bellingcat and the media project The Insider were declared ‘undesirable,’ and The Insider‘s website has already been blocked. The prosecutor’s office believes that the activities of these organisations, as well as the activities of Open Russia, “pose a threat to the foundations of the constitutional order and security of the Russian Federation”. At the same time, the Russian state usually does not specify how exactly the organisations recognised as ‘undesirable’ threaten Russia.
Politician Ilya Yashin has been remanded in custody. The Investigative Committee has charged Yashin under an article on the spread of ‘fake news’ about the Russian army, and the municipal deputy will remain in custody at least until 12 September. The reason for the criminal case was a livestream in which Yashin talked about what happened in Bucha – Russian authorities call evidence of the killings of civilians in this city in the Kyiv region ‘fake news.’ At the Basmanny Court, where a session was held to select the measure of restraint to be imposed on him, at least five people were detained. Yashin was taken to the remand prison directly from the detention centre where he had been serving a 15-day jail term for an offence under administrative law – earlier he was detained on a far-fetched pretext and held for 15 days.
- Why do I need to know this? We recently wrote about our concerns in connection with the administrative prosecution of Yashin – the criminal case of Vladimir Kara-Murza also began with administrative jail term. Unfortunately, the concerns were justified. The repression associated with anti-war speeches and appearances is unprecedented and insane even by the norms of authoritarian Russia. Nevertheless, it is worth saying that throughout Putin’s time, the law enforcement system has been gradually developing the mechanisms that are now being vigorously utilised in ‘fake news’ cases – the broadest interpretation of the letter of the law, individual persecution of political opponents, and the courts’ indifference to lawlessness. The wave of anti-war repressions is striking in its power and scale, but it’s as though we were bound to end up with something like this.
Artist Yulia Tsvetkova has been acquitted in a pornography case. On 15 July, the Central District Court of Komsomolsk-on-Amur acquitted the artist under Article 242, Part 3, of the Russian Criminal Code. The prosecutor’s office had demanded that Tsvetkova be sentenced to three years and two months in prison. The reason for this prosecution was the publication of pictures in the public ‘Vagina Monologues’ forum, after which the well-known anti-gay activist Timur Bulatov wrote a denunciation of the young woman. In June, Tsvetkova was added to the list of ‘foreign agents.’
- Why is this important? This is some unexpected good news, it’s true. However, the acquittal won’t give back to Tsvetkova the years she lived in a state of stress, under the threat of prison, with the inability to move freely around her city. Despite many statements from the artist and her mother about harassment and persecution, Timur Bulatov will not be punished and will probably continue to harass and persecute people who have done no harm to anyone. And because of the political situation, which presupposes support for obscurantism and aggressive traditionalism, people like Bulatov will be the backbone of the state, and people like Tsvetkova will be forced to endure hardships.
Putin has signed a number of repressive laws. First, the president approved amendments to the laws on ‘foreign agents,’ according to which it will now be possible to label people who do not receive foreign funding, but are ‘under foreign influence’ as ‘foreign agents.’ In addition, the state will now maintain a list of ‘persons affiliated with a ‘foreign agent.’ Secondly, Putin signed a law on the ‘mirror’ blocking of foreign media for restricting the work of Russian propaganda media abroad. Thirdly, the president also signed initiatives proposing, for example, to criminalise ‘private cooperation with foreigners against the security of the Russian Federation’ and repeated public display of extremist signs.
- Why do I need to know this? So, according to these laws, we can all be prosecuted, imprisoned and forced to emigrate. Legislation on ‘foreign agents,’ which should have been abolished altogether due to the vagueness of wording and discrimination, is, on the contrary, being expanded, and punishments, which are often used for politically motivated prosecutions, are becoming more severe. The state has plunged the country into a catastrophe, but it plans to continue to beat everyone who expresses any dissatisfaction with a club.
How people are getting fired for opposing the war. After the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine, protests took place all over Russia, and many people began to speak out against the war on social media. Some of them faced pressure at work: some were forced to quit, some were subjected to unbearable working conditions. We talk about how people are defending their right to their job and their position – on our site, Yandex.zen and Medium.
The story of a girl who was attacked by her own mother after the police came to their residence. Maria, a resident of Novosibirsk, was suspected of spreading posts with the caption ‘Peace to the world.’ First, a man who introduced himself as a district police officer called her from an unfamiliar number, and then the police burst into her apartment and stayed for several hours. In addition, she had a conflict with her mother – who tried to hand over her daughter to the police. We publish Maria’s story – on our site, Yandex.Zen and Medium.
We also have a new episode of our Two Words podcast! This time our heroine is the chair of the Krasnoselsky municipal council, deputy Elena Kotenochkina, who called Russia a ‘fascist state’, after which she was forced to leave the country. Two other deputies from the Krasnoselsky district, Ilya Yashin and Aleksei Gorinov, have ended up behind bars on charges of spreading ‘fake news’ about the army, and a similar case has also been opened against Kotenochkina herself. Listen on Podcast.ru, Castbox, Apple Podcasts, Yandex Music , Spotify and YouTube.
Translated by Anna Bowles