7 January 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 resident of Vladivostok has been prosecuted for justifying terrorism over a post about a bomb blast at the Arkhangelsk FSB, in Rostov-on-Don three young men have been detained on suspicion of trying to set fire to a military recruitment office, and a Crimean teacher is suffering from fainting spells due to hunger under house arrest.
A resident of Vladivostok has been prosecuted for justifying terrorism over a post on VKontakte. The prosecution of 32-year-old Yaroslav Vilchevsky was initiated because of a post in which anarchist Mikhail Zhlobitsky, who detonated a bomb in the Arkhangelsk FSB (Federal Security Service) building, was referred to as a ‘hero’. Vilchevsky’s home was searched, and he wrote a confession. He now faces up to seven years in prison.
- Why do I need to know this? At least 49 criminal cases have been launched across the country because of posts about the anarchist Mikhail Zhlobitsky. In October 2018, a young man detonated a bomb in the Arkhangelsk FSB building. He himself was killed and three officers were injured. The incident was considered an act of terrorism. After that, people who wrote about the incident on social media and gave a positive assessment of Zhlobitsky’s actions were prosecuted for the offence of justification of terrorism. In 2020, Kaluga resident Ivan Liubshin was sentenced to five years and two months in prison because he called Zhlobitsky ‘the hero of the week, at least’; according to him, he meant that the anarchist had become a hero of the news cycle. Also that year, Radio Svoboda journalist Svetlana Prokopyeva was fined 500,000 roubles because of a segment on ‘Ekho Moskvy in Pskov’ in which she speculated about possible motives for the young man’s actions.
In Rostov-on-Don, three young people have been detained on suspicion of attempting to set fire to a military recruitment office. Two of them are minors. According to the investigation, the young men intended to throw Molotov cocktails into the building but were unable to carry out their plan ‘for reasons beyond their control’. Their homes have been searched.
- Why is this important? Arson attacks have been occurring at military recruitment offices throughout the country since the beginning of the full-scale war against Ukraine, and after the announcement of the ‘partial’ mobilization such attacks became more frequent. Most of the cases are probably protests against Russian military aggression. Under conditions of military censorship, increased repression and the impossibility of legally expressing protest, the country’s residents have to resort to extreme measures in the hope that they will somehow influence the situation.
In Crimea, a defendant in an ‘anti-war case’ is suffering from fainting spells as a result of hunger while under house arrest. Former technical school teacher Andrei Belozerov can’t buy himself groceries: he can’t go to the shops, and his wife and son live far away and can’t travel to see him because of their financial situation. He believes the authorities have specially created these conditions in order to break him. Belozerov was placed under house arrest on the charge of repeatedly discrediting the Russian army. He was arrested because of a VKontakte post which reported on the shelling of the civilian population of Ukraine by Russian troops.
- Why do I need to know this? House arrest can be a much more difficult experience than it seems from the outside. In a pre-trial detention centre, a prisoner at least receives free food, but under house arrest they have to provide for their own sustenance. As a rule, a person who has been restricted in this way can communicate only with close relatives, the investigator, their lawyer, and one employee of the Federal Penitentiary Service – a neighbour can’t just bring them groceries.
We had no features this week.
Translated by Anna Bowles