OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 263: A desirable Russia

24 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.

Illustration: OVD-Info


Hello! There has been a verdict in the case of the organisers of the people’s rally in Vladikavkaz and also a warning for Yulia Galiamina and a new clause in contracts for musicians.

The organisers of a rally in Ossetia have been sentenced to prison. Vadim Cheldiev, Arsen Besolov and Ramis Chirkinov were sentenced to ten, eight and a half and eight years in prison respectively. All of those listed are in one way or another related to the Freedom and Honour chat room, where Ossetian residents discussed the problems of the republic, including dissatisfaction with the pandemic restrictions. The people’s gathering in Vladikavkaz on 20 April 2020 ended in clashes between the protesters and the police, although, according to the defence, all the accused had clearly stated the peaceful nature of the rally before it took place. What’s more, none of the accused was personally present at the rally. All of the defendants were charged under articles of the Russian Criminal Code concerning mass rioting, while Cheldiev was also charged with violence against a police officer, distribution of “fake news” about the epidemic and calls for extremist activities.

  • Why is this important? These protests are usually reported as “anti-covid” [surely anti-lockdown? though literally it’s anti-covid], although, judging from the Freedom and Honour chat room, the participants were not dissatisfied only with the measures against the epidemic. Social problems were also discussed there. In addition, clashes between protesters and law enforcers began after the latter tried to disperse the rally. Before that it had been peaceful.

Yuliya Galyamina has been warned her suspended sentence may be changed to a real term of imprisonment. The politician earlier received a two-year suspended sentence for “repeated violations” of the law on rallies. In March, she was jailed for 30 days for publishing an announcement of an anti-war rally. Now the Federal Penitentiary Service wants to toughen the sentence for Galyamina. The politician’s lawyer Mikhail Biryukov believes that in future the Federal Penitentiary Service may try to replace the suspended sentence with a real term of imprisonment.

Why do I need to know this? Galyamina is a very well-known and very active Moscow politician, a municipal councillor and a participant in many protests. After the outbreak of war, the Russian authorities clearly set out to eradicate any alternative opinion outright. While previously opposition politicians could expect local victories, and that these local victories would not be taken away from them, the war has now become a convenient excuse to lock everybody up. The implication is simple and clear – if you want to live peacefully in Russia, you’d better shut up. Of course, real politicians cannot shut up.

Musicians in Russia have been banned from making political statements at concerts. Concert organisers have started to put a clause in the contracts signed by artists about the inadmissibility of statements about politics and the war in Ukraine on stage. At the same time, any artist who violates the clause will have to pay a fine on behalf of the organisers.

Why do I need to know this? Various popular musicians have recently spoken out against the war. For example, the lead singer of DDT, Yury Shevchuk, was recently charged with “discrediting” the army. However, other musicians actively support the special operation and perform at patriotic concerts and are not subjected to any sanctions for this. That is to say, the fight against politics on the stage is not a fight against politics, but against opposition opinion. By this logic, only criticism of the state is called politics. It is as if support for the state is not politics.


“Bella should stop writing.” The family of Isabella Yevloeva, editor-in-chief of the independent Ingush media outlet Fortanga, is being harassed by the Ingush authorities in an attempt to put pressure on Isabella herself – a criminal case was previously launched against the journalist and she was forced to leave the country. Yevloeva’s relatives are being searched and questioned by law enforcement officers who openly say they will not stop doing so as long as the journalist is writing about Ingushetia. We spoke to Isabella’s mother Faina. You can read about it on our website, Yandex.zen and Medium.

How Andrei Pivovarov got involved in politics, fought crooks and went to prison. We publish (on our website, Yandex.zen and Medium) the life story of Andrei Pivovarov, who on 15 July was given a four-year prison sentence under the article of the Russian Criminal Code on “undesirable organisations” for his collaboration with Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s Open Russia. In his post-sentencing speech he spoke of the “desirable” Russia we are all yet to see.

Translated by Anna Bowles

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