OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 344: Don’t Give Up

17 February 2024

OVD-Info is a Russian civil society organisation 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.


Flowers and a portrait of Aleksei Navalny / Photo: ASTRA

 News

Hello! Aleksei Navalny has died in prison, a participant in the Baimak protests committed suicide, and the fine initially handed down to sociologist Boris Kagarlitsky has been replaced with a prison term.

Aleksei Navalny died in a penal colony. This was reported in a press release by the Federal Penitentiary Service: ‘On 16/2/2024 in penal colony № 3 convict Navalny AA after a walk felt unwell, almost immediately losing consciousness. Immediately the penal colony’s medical staff arrived and an ambulance was called. All necessary resuscitation measures were carried out, but these did not give positive results. The ambulance doctors recorded the death of the convict.’

  • Why is this important? We believe this was murder: first, the security forces planned and carried out the poisoning of the politician in August 2020; and then, after his return to Russia, kept him in torturous conditions for three years. ‘My message in case I am killed is very simple: don’t give up,’ Aleksei Navalny said in Daniel Rohr’s movie. Don’t give up.

Sociologist Boris Kagarlitsky has been given a harsher punishment. A fine of 600,000 roubles for justification of terrorism because of a post about the explosion on the Crimean bridge has been replaced on appeal by a five-year sentence in a general regime penal colony. Kagarlitsky was taken into custody in the courtroom. The academic’s prosecution began in 2023, he had been remanded in custody at the time of his sentence.

  • Why do I need to know this? Kagarlitsky is a former Soviet political prisoner. The political scientist was arrested in 1982, after which he spent more than a year in Lefortovo prison on charges of anti-Soviet propaganda. The hope that this time Kagarlitsky would get off with a fine did not materialize. History repeated itself: the sociologist found himself behind bars again because of his opposition views.

A participant in the Baimak protests committed suicide. Minniyar Baiguskarov was buried on 13 February. ‘They said he had been brought to to this pass, and he is no more,’ wrote the brother of one of the defendants in the prosecution for rioting who managed to contact Baiguskarov’s relatives. Several sources reported that the man was ‘bullied and driven to suicide.”

  • Why does it matter? The state destroys lives in different ways: some people end up behind bars for years, some are forced to leave the country, leaving their homes and loved ones behind, and others have their lives taken away from them. After the protests over Fail Alsynov’s sentencing, a wave of arrests and prosecutions under administrative and criminal law began in Bashkortostan. At least one resident of the region, Dim Davletkildin, was severely beaten, and another, Rifat Dautov, died after being detained; his family was not given a cause of death or an autopsy report.

A Protestant preacher from the Sverdlovsk region has been charged with justification of terrorism. The reason for the prosecution of Eduard Charov was a ‘sarcastic comment on the Internet.’ According to his wife, Charov ‘joked about someone’s latest attempt to set fire to a military recruitment centre.’ Now the preacher is at liberty but under certain pre-trial restrictions: he is not allowed to use a phone or the Internet, or to leave the Krasnoufimsky district without the permission of the investigator.

  • Why do I need to know this? ‘Think about it, would Jesus Christ have gone to Ukraine to kill?’ Eduard Charov wrote after the mobilization began. Other Christians are in solidarity with him; for many of them, war is incompatible with their faith, and they openly oppose the invasion – we’ve covered this in detail. For example, in August 2023, Hieromonk John Kurmoyarov was sentenced to three years in a general regime penal colony for a video of him saying that Russian military personnel killed in Ukraine would go to hell.

Features

‘It is necessary to drink this cup.’ Aleksandr Pravdin from the village of Siversky in Leningrad region is 73 years old. Half a century ago he was sent to the settlement to work as a psychiatrist. Since then he has managed to build two unusual buildings in Siversky and improve the square in front of them, and now he regularly goes out in solitary pickets. He has already been charged 19 times, 13 times for ‘discrediting the Russian army’, five more for ‘petty hooliganism’ and one for ‘incitement to hatred or hostility.’ We report on how the activist from Siversky, who never spends a day without a protest, despite arrests, administrative charges and dissatisfied looks from his fellow villagers, lives. Read his monologue on our website.

‘The children know the whole truth and are very worried.’ After the protests in Baimak, criminal cases have already been brought against at least 52 people. At least three of the defendants are fathers with large families. We talked to the sister of one of them, Danis Gaisin. Read his story on our Telegram channel, and about how OVD-Info helps in Bashkortostan – here.

Also, our website has been blocked again. We do not despair and are already working on ways to bypass the blocking. On how to stay in touch with OVD-Info, read the post in our Telegram channel.


Translated by Rights in Russia

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