OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 347: Yet more sentences

9 March 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.

Journalist Roman Ivanov/Foto: SOTA

News

Hello! Two defendants in ae Hizb ut-Tahrir case have been given long prison sentences, Russian citizens continue to be persecuted because of rallies in memory of Aleksei Navalny, and a journalist from the Moscow region has been sent to a penal colony because of his posts about the war in Ukraine.

Two defendants in a Hizb ut-Tahrir case have been sentenced to 18 and 14 years in prison respectively. Vadim Nasyrov and Marat Bazarbayev were found guilty under the articles on terrorism. The men had already been tried for involvement in the party: firstly they were sentenced to six years in a strict regime prison colony, but the court of appeal reduced the sentence to five years. The men were released in summer 2017, but in 2021 they were taken into custody as part of a new case.

  • Why is this important? The Islamist party Hizb ut-Tahrir has been declared a ‘terrorist organisation’ in Russia. In the opinion of the Sova Research Centre and the Memorial Project in Support of Political Prisoners, this was done unlawfully. Criminal cases are brought against Muslims simply because they meet in apartments, read religious literature and recruit new members. At least 380 people are being prosecuted for their involvement with Hizb ut-Tahrir, and the sentences are often very harsh: at least 128 people have received sentences of 10 to 15 years, and 115 have received sentences of 15 years or more.

Arrests are continuing across Russia because of rallies after the death of Aleksei Navalny. Residents of the country who wanted to honour the politician’s memory are being fined and subjected to administrative-law jail terms. Mostly they are charged under the articles on rallies – simply for laying flowers. On the day of the funeral in Moscow there were no mass arrests – but the police continue to monitor those who visit the cemetery.

  • Why do I need to know this? Police often act illegally: for example they use facial recognition to track people who go to the grave. Sometimes police use violence: for example, Muscovite Roman Mezentsev reported being beaten at the police station. He was arrested after he visited the cemetery with his girlfriend. We tell you how to protect yourself: briefly on these cards, and in detail in these instructions.

Roman Ivanov, a journalist from Korolev near Moscow, has been sentenced to seven years in prison over his posts about the war in Ukraine. He was found guilty under the article on spreading ‘fake news’ about the Russian army with the motive of political hatred. The three criminal cases brought against him were based on a post about bodies found in the Kyiv region after the retreat of Russian troops, a post about a UN report describing the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, and a news article with Sergei Shoigu’s statement about Russia’s shortage of missiles. ‘I want to ask for forgiveness from all Ukrainians to whom our country has brought grief,’ the journalist said in his final statement. 

  • Why do I need to know this? More than 850 people have already become defendants in criminal cases brought because of protest against the war. 251 of them have been deprived of liberty – they are in pre-trial detention centres, penal colonies, under house arrest or undergoing compulsory treatment. Russians who oppose the invasion of Ukraine are regularly sentenced, and their number is growing ever larger. And the reason is often just statements on social networks or other publications on the internet – military censorship is becoming more and more common.

Features

‘The real Russia is here, in this queue. It is different.’ After Aleksei Navalny’s funeral, people who want to say goodbye to the politician have been coming to his grave every day. In the first days, the queue stretched for more than half a kilometre. Elderly men and women, young boys and girls, and families with small children stood in the crowd; some came in wheelchairs, and some had dogs on leashes. Many hugged each other tightly and cried. We talked to those who were standing in this queue – read the new article on our website.


Translated by Anna Bowles

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