Podcast No. 76. Simon & Sergei – with Veronika Lapina

This week our guest on our Russian-language podcast is Veronika Lapina, a human rights activist and friend of Team 29.

The issues discussed on the podcast include: Team 29 – what it is and what it does; the extent to which NGOs or other associations can operate under current conditions in Russia; the main areas in which Team 29 works; the case of Ivan Pavlov; new laws in Russia on education, on extremist organizations, etc.; the significance of Aleksei Navalny for Russian society; the significance of the European Court of Human Rights for Russia; the role of human rights activists and lawyers in Russia; the rule of law; the future of human rights.

This podcast is in Russian. You can listen to the podcast in full here:

You can also listen to the podcast on Podcasts.com,  SoundCloud,  Spotify  and  iTunes. The music, from Stravinsky’s Elegy for Solo Viola, is performed for us by Karolina Herrera. Given the length of the podcast, we have also divided it into three parts that you can listen to separately.


Part 1: Team 29 – Problems – Advocates – Foreign Agent Law – Ivan Pavlov – FSB:

Part 2: Team 29 – Law on Education – Law on Extremism – Anti-Corruption Foundation – Transparency – Elections – ‘Internal Enemies’ – Aleksei Navalny:

Part 3: European Court of Human Rights – Russian Constitution – Aleksei Navalny – Rule of Law – Human Rights Lawyers – Motivation – The Future:


Sergei Nikitin writes on Facebook: “Many years ago I stopped by at the offices of the Freedom of Information Foundation to see Ivan Pavlov. While I was waiting, I became absorbed in looking at the paintings on the office wall. There were two of them, portraits actually: one of the cosmonaut Leonov and the other of the poet Pushkin. Ivan soon came in and explained to me the origin of these particular portraits. I do not remember why Leonov was on the wall, but Pushkin was there – among other things – for these words:

«Под гнетом власти роковой
Нетерпеливою душой
Отчизны внемлем призыванье».
Ну, и, конечно «Пока свободою горим»

"Under the oppression of the fatal power.
With impatient soul
We answer the call of our fatherland."
And, of course, "As long as we are inspired by the urge for freedom."

The brilliant inspiration of Ivan Pavlov and his comrades at the Foundation were assessed by the fateful authorities with their usual cynicism and fear, labeling the human rights advocates as ‘foreign agents.’ But they were attacking the wrong people. Ivan and his colleagues suspended the activities of the Foundation and in 2015 launched an informal association of lawyers and journalists known as ‘Team 29’. The tasks of this well-organised team are unchanged: fighting for justice in cases that concern freedom of information (Article 29 of the Russian Constitution) and/or state security (Chapter 29 of the Russian Criminal Code). They are so good at it what they do that they have become an obstacle to those who love secrecy and prohibitions. The authorities decided to prosecute Ivan for disclosure of information relating to a preliminary investigation and, as a result, Ivan has been banned from using the Internet and communicating with anyone except investigators and his relatives. Nonetheless, Simon and I had the pleasure of talking to Veronika Lapina, a friend of Team 29 and as interesting a conversationalist as any of those who work on this fantastic team. I recommend you listen to our conversation.”

Simon Cosgrove adds:  A summary of some of the week’s events in Russia relevant to human rights can be found on our website here.

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