13 August 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! A refusal to stop blocking OVD-Info’s website, a criminal case against a former editor at Channel One, mass searches in Crimea, the “double jailing” of councillors in Moscow and relaxation of pre-trial restrictions placed on a defendant in an “anti-war” case.
We will begin our tale of the last week with the town of Lukhovitsi near Moscow and the surprising events that are going on at the local court again. On 12 August, in spite of the cancellation of the blocking order, the court refused to unblock the OVD-Info website. The judge’s decision was prompted by the fact that we are a human rights organisation and are generally included on the register of “foreign objects” (yes, that’s right, objects). By the way, the day before at the request of the Prosecutor General’s Office, our VKontakte community was blocked. The reason was publications that allegedly contain ‘inaccurate information’ about the war in Ukraine.
A case about “fake news” has been opened against Marina Ovsyannikova, a former editor at Channel One. On 10 August, the residence of the former employee of federal television was searched, and ten hours later she was charged. The reason was Ovsyannnikova’s anti-war picket in July: on her placard she wrote that Putin is a murderer and Russian soldiers are fascists, and called for the war to be halted so that children would not die. Ovsyannikova became well-known after she carried a placard reading “Stop the war” onto Channel One live on air. She is currently under house arrest.
- Why do I need to know this? Marina Ovsyannikova’s protest attracted the attention of the whole world. And there was a time when such fame, including abroad, might have seemed like a shield against criminal prosecution. But this week the Russian authorities showed that everyone is equal in the face of political repression, and their main priority is the fight against those who speak out against the war.
Crimean Tatars have been subjected to mass searches on charges of terrorism: six activists and journalists have been detained. On 11 August, police officers came to six houses of Crimean Tatars in the Dzhankoi district – activist Enver Krosh, journalist Vilen Temeryanov, Murat Mustafayev, Seityaga Abbozov, Edem Bekirov and Rinat Aliyev. They are accused of participating in the activities of the Hizb-ut-Tahrir party. Most of the detainees have already been placed in custody, while Abbozov is under house arrest.
- Why is this important? The pressure on Crimean Tatars often goes unnoticed in Russia, but since the onset of hostilities against Ukraine, the repression going on in Crimea may have attracted more attention. And attention to this repression is necessary: mass searches, criminal cases, elderly people being sent to pre-trial detention centres and even the prevention of relatives from attending court hearings – all this has been part of daily life for Crimean Tatars over the past eight years.
In Moscow a councillor has been jailed for the second time over a post for which he has already served time and been released. Kirill Suvorov, advisor to the head of the Krasnoselsky district of Moscow was arrested on 10 August, when he came out of a special detention centre after serving a 15-day sentence there for saying that actions of the USSR and Nazi Germany were similar. The reason was a post he made on Facebook (which has been deleted, by the way) where the last two letters in the acronym CPSS [the Communist Party of the Soviet Union) were changed to the SS symbol. On 11 August he was jailed for another 15 days for this post – this time for public display of Nazi symbols.
- Why do I need to know this? Kirill Suvorov is a politician in Moscow’s Krasnoselsky district, where several local deputies have already been prosecuted. Aleksei Gorinov was sentenced to seven years in a prison camp for spreading “fake news”, Ilya Yashin is in pre-trial detention on the same charges, and Elena Kotenoshkina has been remanded in custody in absentia and forced to stay abroad. They are all councillors from the same district, and the “carousel” of administrative arrests in relation to Suvorov is alarming. All the more because elections are due this year, and the authorities continue to put pressure on independent politicians who intend to run. It is possible that the prosecution of councillors in the Krasnoselsky district is being done as an example to those who want to run as independent candidates.
A defendant in an “anti-war case” in Moscow has been released from pre-trial detention and placed under house arrest. On 8 August, Tver district court in Moscow released the musician and photographer Grigory Mumrikov from custody. Mumrikov is accused of attempting hooliganism in a group of people as a result of a rally in which he did not participate and which did not take place. According to investigators, along with his friend, the artist Danila Tkachenko, Mumrikov allegedly intended to set off yellow and blue smoke bombs on Victory Day during the parade. Tkachenko says he did not tell Mumrikov about the action and friends of the musician believe that police are persecuting him only because they cannot ‘reach’ Tkachenko.
- Why is this important? Defendants in politically motivated cases are seldom released from pre-trial detention. Yet the case of Grigory Mumrikov shows what can be achieved with the help of public support and publicity, at least in terms of a relaxation in pre-trial restrictions (restrictions of which there already seem to be so many during the current repressions).
“Monk calls for disobedience”. In this article we talk about the life of Father Ioann Kurmoyarov, a priest from St Petersburg who is being investigated under the article of the Russian Criminal Code on “fake news” about the Russian army. You can read our article about this hero of an “anti-war case” on our site, Yandex.Zen or Medium.
“These four smiling faces”. In another article this week we tell the story of archaeologist Evgeny Kruglov, who was followed into the woods by state operatives who wanted to interrogate him about a “fake news” case. Read what the archaeologist has to say about what happened on our site, Yandex.Zen or Medium.
Translated by Anna Bowles