27 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! Mass arrests in the metro on Russian Flag Day, a criminal case against Evgeny Roizman, failure to provide medical care to Aleksei Gorinov who has fallen ill in a pre-trial detention centre, and the brutal murder of the moderator of Chechen chatroom 1ADAT.
At least 41 people were arrested in the Moscow metro on Russian Flag Day. On 22 August, police began stopping metro passengers in large numbers, identifying them by means of facial recognition cameras. Virtually all of them had been arrested previously – for participation in rallies and pickets. Most of them were taken to a police station and afterwards released without charge. One woman was charged with discrediting the army because of an anti-war slogan on her T-shirt.
- Why is this important? This is not the first time the security forces have used facial recognition to detain people in the metro; in this same way people were detained on Victory Day and Russia Day. In one of our reports, we explained how this technology is used on a large scale against protestors and why this is a wrongful practice. Since the start of the war, it has been used increasingly often as a means of preventing possible protests; at the same time it works as a means of intimidation, as people can now be detained over protests after the fact, wherever and whenever they authorities want.
A criminal case has been brought against former mayor of Yekaterinburg Evgeny Roizman for repeatedly discrediting the army. At 6am on 24 August, his flat was searched. Investigations were also conducted at the organisations which Roizman heads or founded. The opposition activist was arrested and the next day he was banned from certain activities: Roizman is not allowed to visit public places, to use any means of communication or receive correspondence. The politician faces up to three years in prison.
- Why do I need to know this? Criminal proceedings under the article on repeated discrediting of the Russian army (Article 207.3, Part 1, of the Russian Criminal Code) can be initiated against those who have been prosecuted at least once before under a similar administrative Article 20.3.3 of the Russian Code of Administrative Offences during the preceding year. This legislation puts a huge number of people at risk of criminal charges: more than two thousand administrative cases are pending in court, and new charges appear almost every day. So even a single fine for discreditation approved after an appeal can lead to criminal proceedings in the event of a repeat offence.
Aleksei Gorinov, a municipal councillor sentenced to seven years in a “fake news” case, is not receiving medical treatment in the pre-trial detention where he is still being held. On 24 August, his open letter appeared on a Telegram channel in support of Gorinov: “I’ve been ill for three weeks. I have a continuous cough that does not allow me to breathe freely, sleep or eat. I am receiving no medical help. My condition is worsening. Please help me,” wrote the politician. Aleksei Gorinov suffers from tuberculosis, which worsened after the councillor was taken into custody. Gorinov’s lawyer added that he has not improved in three weeks.
- Why is this important? Gorinov was sentenced to time at a prison colony after a council meeting when he and a colleague called the “special operation” a war and said that the Russian government wanted to grab Ukrainian territory and that children were dying in Ukraine because of the actions of the Russian army. For these words, the councillor was immediately taken into custody in spite of his serious chronic illness. And Gorinov is not alone – for example, artist Sasha Skochilenko, also a defendant in an “anti-war case” is in a pre-trial detention centre. The young woman has been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder which prevents her from eating many ordinary foods. Neither of these illnesses have been taken into account by the Russian courts.
News has emerged of the death of Salman Tepsurkaev, the moderator of the Chechen opposition Telegram channel 1ADAT. He was kidnapped in September 2020 and according to the Committee Against Torture, Tepsurkaev was taken from Gelendzhik in a car belonging to an official of the Interior Ministry of Chechnya. At that point, the young man was 19 years old. Afterwards, a video appeared online in which a completely undressed young man, calling himself Tepsurkaev, repents of being the channel’s administrator and sits on a bottle. The authors of 1ADAT claim that Tepsurkayev was killed when a grenade was put in his mouth and blown up on 15 September 2020 on a military training ground in the village of Dzhalka.
- Why do I need to know this? After the kidnap of Tepsurkaev, the Chechen Investigative Committee refused to open a criminal case, the authorities denied any involvement, and the leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov stated that “whoever did this to Tepsurkaev acted justly,” although it “wasn’t worth publishing the video”. In October 2021, the European Court of Human Rights found that the Russian authorities were responsible for the disappearance and torture of Tepsurkaev, ordered them to pay €26,000 in compensation, and ruled that their treatment of the young man had been in violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” There is another article in the Convention which states, “Everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law.”
“They love us so much they’re ready to provide us with a motorcade.” Accountant Yury Trubachev is sixty-seven years old, and uses a wheelchair. For more than thirty years he and his family have lived in the village of Poltava in Krasnodar region. In August he was fined 1,000 roubles for a protest against the local rubbish dump, which blocked the passage of rubbish trucks for several hours. In our article we talk about how this man along with other residents of the village is fighting against the landfill and against the inaction of officials. Read it on our site, Yandex.zen or Medium.
The anti-war case. Six months have passed since the start of the war with Ukraine. In that time, the number of people undergoing criminal prosecution in relation to protests against the military action has risen to 227 – and that is a minimum number, those known to OVD-Info. For the six-month anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine we have prepared an anti-war infographic – you can see it on our website.
Translated by Anna Bowles