This week our guest on the podcast is Konstantin Aleksandrovich Kotov, a Russian computer programmer and civil society activist. In 2019 Konstantin Kotov was the second person to be convicted under the so-called ‘Dadin’ Article 212.1 that was added to the Russian Criminal Code in July 2014 – ‘Repeated violation of the established procedure for organizing or holding a meeting, rally, demonstration, march, or picket.’
The topics of our conversation include: the Russian judicial and penitentiary systems, and the current state of human rights in Russia.
The questions we are discuss are:
- Why did you become a civic activist?
- How unexpected was your arrest, prosecution and imprisonment in 2019? How did you feel at the time?
- Your arrest and sentence caused a great public outcry. What did this support mean to you?
- You and the defendant in the New Greatness case, Anna Pavlikova, were married in the building of the Matrosskaya Tishina detention centre where you were held. How did this happen?
- On 20 April 2020, Moscow City Court reduced your sentence from four years in prison to one year and six months. Through all this time how did you see the work of the Russian legal system, including the President’s intervention?
- What has been your experience of the Russian penitentiary system?
- How do you assess the current situation in Russia in terms of human rights?
- What needs to be done to improve the human rights situation in the country? What is the role of civil society and civic activists?
- What are the prospects for the development of human rights protection in Russia?
You can listen to the podcast in full here:
For your convenience we have also divided the podcast into four parts that you can listen to separately.
Part One: Activism; arrest; trial; imprisonment; public reaction and support:
Part Two: Marriage in detention; the workings of the justice system; presidential intervention; Constitutional Court; defence lawyers; conditions in detention on remand and in the penal colony:
Part Three: The current human rights situation; impact of situations in neighbouring states; ‘What is to be done?’; the future of human rights in Russia:
Part Four: Petitions; the influence of the Soviet past; life after prison:
“It probably started with the protest on Bolotnaya Square. I was at Bolotnaya, I was at Sakharov Prospekt, I participated in all the peaceful protests that took place in 2011-2012 in Moscow. I had a job, I was a programmer. The turning point was 2018: Oleg Sentsov and his hunger strike. His act touched me deeply: a man risking his life to save others.”
Simon Cosgrove and I continue to record our podcasts – conversations with human rights activists, civic activists, lawyers and journalists. Yesterday our interviewee was Konstantin Kotov, the second person convicted under the so-called ‘Dadin’ Article 212.1, added to the Russian Criminal Code in July 2014. He was sentenced to 4 years in prison, but was released a year and a half later, in December 2020. The colony was the same Penal Colony in Pokrov where Aleksei Navalny is now imprisoned.
“Your day in the colony is strictly regulated: from 6 a.m., when you get up, until 10 p.m., when you go to bed, you don’t belong to yourself. “
Among other things, Konstantin talked about his experience in prison: “Apart from inspections, sweeping pathways, and other things, you are also obliged to watch TV. Moral support came from letters that I still keep. Many of them came from Amnesty International activists from abroad.”