OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 279: Deportation for a TikTok

12 November 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.

TikToker Nekoglai. Photo: Nekoglai’s Instagram


Hello! A blogger has been deported after he recorded a Tiktok video about a Russian military officer, Aleksei Navalny has been charged with yet another crime, and a criminal case has been brought against a resident of Tambov over a tattoo with Nazi symbols. 

TikToker Nekoglai has been deported after posting a video parodying a Russian military officer. In his video, the blogger depicted a recent incident during which a Russian soldier allegedly threw away from himself a grenade dropped by a Ukrainian drone. Nekoglai was found guilty under the article on violation of the rules of stay in Russia – he is a Moldovan national. The young man was taken to the Centre for the Temporary Detention of Foreign Nationals, after which he will be expelled from the country. Later, RIA Novosti published a video in which Nekoglai apologises for filming his video.

  • Why is this important? Nekoglai’s story is not the first instance of expulsion from Russia for humour. In 2021, the presence of comedian Idrak Mirzalidze was declared undesirable in Russia because of a joke about Russians – at first the expulsion was for life, but then the term was reduced to 14 years. The reason for this expulsion may also have been opposition activities: in autumn of that same year, Tajik national Sasha Pechenka (Saidanvar Sulaimonov) was forbidden to enter Russia and forced to leave the country, presumably because he had worked at the campaign headquarters of Andrei Pivovarov. In this way the authorities try to force people who live in this country but are not its citizens to refrain from activism or expressing their opinions on political issues – even in a humorous way. 

A new criminal charge has been laid against Aleksei Navalny. In the words of lawyer Olga Mikhailov, the politician is being charged over a total of nine incidents. Earlier his other lawyer Vadim Kobzev wrote that the matter concerns alleged incitement of terrorism and extremist activity, the financing of such activity and the rehabilitation of Nazism on the internet. The lawyers noted that due to censorship by the prison administration they could not quickly hand over the documents to Navalny, which prevents him from familiarising himself with the case. 

  • Why do I need to know this? The prosecution of Aleksei Navalny seems never-ending: the politician is facing more and more charges. According to his lawyers’ estimates, he could spend up to 30 years in prison because of the latest criminal case. The authorities clearly have no intention of letting him walk free. And all this is done in order to isolate their political rival by any means. They also continue to put pressure on him in prison, sending him repeatedly to a punishment cell.

A criminal case has been opened in Tambov under the article of the Russian Criminal Code on repeated propaganda or display of Nazi symbols. A 42-year-old man is being prosecuted for displaying a tattoo with Nazi symbols in a public place. He had previously been prosecuted several times under a similar article of the Code of Administrative Offences. The SOVA Centre for Information and Analysis notes that this is the first case they are aware of under this criminal article. It appeared in July of this year and criminalises repeated violation of the administrative article about propaganda or demonstration of Nazi symbols.

  • Why is this important? Having a tattoo with Nazi symbols is not an offence, though there is nothing good about it. However, displaying such symbols can lead to administrative, and now to criminal liability. Previously fines were imposed even for anti-fascist publications or images from a feature film. Prosecutions for “Smart Voting” symbols or other materials associated with Aleksei Navalny’s networks have also gone ahead under this article. The new criminal article might become another lever to put pressure on politically active Russians, as such posts could now lead to prison sentences.


“Blue dress, yellow flowers”. At the end of October a court stripped activist Arshak Makichyan and his family of Russian citizenship, which was their only citizenship. The young man had organised eco-defence rallies, and after the start of the war with Ukraine he declared an anti-war stance and left Russia, fearing arrest. Read his account on our site, в Yandex.zen and Medium.

And the ECtHR has awarded 164,800 euros in compensation to 43 people defended by OVD-Info and Memorial, who were detained after rallies! We explain which violations were appealed and what the court ruled.

Translated by Anna Bowles

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