17 December 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! Aleksei Gorinov, who was jailed in a case of ‘fake news’ regarding the Russian army has been admitted to hospital, a defendant in an ‘anti-war’ case has spoken of being put under pressure in a pre-trial detention centre, and local councillor Ketevan Kharaidze has been sentenced to time in prison.
Aleksei Gorinov, who was jailed for ‘fake news’ regarding the Russian army, has been admitted to hospital. He is in the hospital at Penal Colony No. 3 in Vladimir region. Previously, the former local councillor had not been treated; he spent two days in the medical unit of Penal Colony No. 2, but during this time he was not seen by a doctor or a paramedic. In the pre-trial detention centre, he fell ill with bronchitis. The man complained of a high temperature and cough, and also of being cold in his cell and unable to lie down before lights out.
- Why do I need to know this? The lack of medical care in prisons is not just a problem for political prisoners. Often there is a shortage of doctors and paramedics in prisons, and it’s very difficult to obtain an appointment with a specialist. The medics who work in penitentiary institutions are subordinate to the staff of the Federal Penitentiary Service, and cannot always take decisions without their consent. All this leads to prisoners suffering from health problems, and some are even disabled by the time of their release. However, publicity can still help – as happened in the case of Aleksei Gorinov.
A defendant in an ‘anti-war’ case has spoken of threats of physical violence in a pre-trial detention centre. Richard Rouz, from Kirov, who is being prosecuted for articles about ‘fake news’ about the Russian army and for justifying terrorism, reported the pressure in a letter to a friend. ‘I’m asking urgently for my lawyer to come and see me. They’re making the same old threats, but this time there’s physical violence. […] They told me, “You won’t make it to the end of your sentence, we’ll see to that.” And I believe them!’ he wrote. Rouz’s wife suggested that the threats could be linked to another letter he recently published. In it, the man shared his thoughts about the current situation in Russia and discussed options for leaving the country. His wife and minor son have already emigrated.
- Why is this important? Prisoners in pre-trial detention facilities are often completely unprotected: staff can deny them contact with the outside world by not handing over letters or refusing to allow lawyers or human rights activists to see them. A person is left alone to face the system and never knows when threats may become reality. Pressure is exerted for a variety of purposes, for example to induce cooperation, to compel testimony against others, or, as happened with Richard Rouz, to silence him. As with the violation of rights in prisons, public support and media coverage of the problems can help.
Moscow district councillor Ketevan Kharaidze has been sentenced to four years in prison. She was found guilty of fraud. According to the court’s verdict, she extorted 15 million roubles from a representative of a developer by threatening to disrupt the construction of a luxury apartment complex. Kharaidze was also fined 700,000 roubles and banned from holding public office for two years. In addition, the court ordered her to pay five million roubles to the victim.
- Why do I need to know this? The case of Ketevan Kharaidze is an example of how the state prosecutes opposition figures under ‘non-political’ articles. The councillor herself believes that the criminal case against her was initiated because in May 2021 she announced her intention to run in the September elections to the State Duma. It’s impossible to deny that the authorities are able to use falsified criminal cases to eliminate rivals. Opposition politicians have been charged with various alleged offences: former St Petersburg lawmaker Maksim Reznik was sentenced to five months in prison for buying drugs for personal use in the spring, and Tatarstan city councillor Evgeny Efremov was prosecuted for the illegal sale of edged weapons in the summer of 2021. Both link their prosecution to their political activities.
We haven’t published any features this week.
Translated by Anna Bowles