OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 360: Participants in the war against Ukraine turned out of a taxi

8 June 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.

Ilya Yashin / Photo: SOTA

News

Hi! Jehovah’s Witness Rinat Kiramov was tortured in hospital to obtain testimony, the politician Ilya Yashin was once again sent to a punishment cell, and anti-war blogger from Shuya, Sergei Veselov, is being prosecuted for collaboration with a foreign state.

A convicted Jehovah’s Witness was tortured in hospital. The staff of medical facility at penal colony No. 3 in Tula region wanted to force Rinat Kiramov to denounce his co-religionists. After refusing, Kiramov was beaten for several days, tortured with water and electric shocks, deprived of food and sleep, forbidden to shave, brush his teeth or go to the baths. Kiramov was convicted in April 2023 and sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment on charges of organising the activities and financing of an extremist organisation.

  • Why is this important? Torture to obtain testimony is a common practice. Law enforcement officers seek to force a person to incriminate themselves or their acquaintances and in this way bring new criminal prosecutions and, for example, get promoted. Even after publicity of this kind of thing, there is little chance that an officer will be brought to justice. Because of this, they feel impunity and continue to use such methods.

Ilya Yashin was placed in a punishment cell. At that time he was already in a punishment cell, a new term in the punishment cell was imposed on the eve of the end of his previous term. This time it was considered a “violation” that after leaving the shower room Yashin took off his uniform for a couple of minutes to change his T-shirt – this, according to the prison officers, was a violation of the “dress code”. Yashin was sentenced in late 2022 to eight and a half years in a penal colony for spreading “fake news” about the Russian army on the grounds of political hatred because of a live stream he made about Bucha.

  • Why do I need to know this? After conviction and sentencing, defendants in political prosecutions continue to be pressurised. One of the ways this is done is to place them in a punishment cell. The maximum time of confinement there is 15 days, but it can be extended on the pretext of new offences. It can be anything, such as an undone button or hands in pockets – and prisoners spend months in a cold cell.

A new criminal case has been opened against a convicted anti-war blogger from Shuya. Sergei Veselov has been charged with confidential collaboration with a foreign state. According to law enforcement officers, he passed information about military facilities and transport infrastructure to “Ukrainian agents”. In May, the blogger was sentenced to two years and one month in a penal colony on a charge of repeatedly discrediting the Russian army. He was awaiting sentencing while he was remanded in custody on a different charge – that of inciting terrorism.

  • Why is this important? Sergei Veselov has been prosecuted since March 2022, since when he has been charged in connection with ten alleged violations and has already been given two sentences. Most of his criminal prosecutions are based on his videos criticising the war and the authorities. You can help Veselov by making a donation. We published a list of things he needs in prison on our Telegram channel.

A criminal case has been opened against a taxi driver who dropped off the participants of the war in Ukraine. The taxi driver has been charged with incitement of hatred. According to the investigative authorities, he spoke negatively about his passengers who were participants in the war against Ukraine and also turned them out of the car without completing the trip. According to the driver himself, the passengers were drunk and were rude to him, and were intending to change the method of payment to him during the journey, which is why he turned them out.

  • Why do I need to know this? People returning from the war are often aggressive, with news reports for example of a ‘participant in the Special Military Operation’ beating up a pensioner or attacking a schoolgirl. The authorities, in turn, call them heroes and demand that they be respected. And people who have allowed themselves even the slightest criticism of the actions of the military face prosecution. For example, a criminal case was opened against a resident of Moscow region who asked a ‘soldier taking part in the Special Military Operation’  to leave her cafe. She managed to leave Russia.

 Features

How Russia is returning to totalitarianism. How does military censorship and propaganda work, how does the government put pressure on protesters, and how has the war affected the security community? We have released a new special project that uses data and case studies to show how the Russian regime became more and more repressive, and closer to the war started to deliberately to outlaw the work of activists and institutions that would oppose the war.


Translated by Rights in Russia

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