Olga Romanova: A very good story

16 April 2021

by Olga Romanova, head of the human rights organisation Russia Behind Bars and laureate of the Moscow Helsinki Group Prize

 Source: Moscow Helsinki Group [original source: facebook.com/Ooo.Romanova]

An intern Alyona has come to join us at Russia Behind Bars. A good, sensible person. Just graduated from the Kutafin Law School.

Suddenly today she won a case in the Moscow City Court concerning a prosecution under Article 20.2 of the Code of Administrative Offences (probably, no one needs to explain this anymore?). In the first instance the Lefortovo court stamped the decision and issued a fine, but Alyona decided to appeal against the ruling.

Here’s how it went down. On 2 February this year almost 400 people including journalists were arrested outside the Moscow City Court. All of this happened because on that day there was a hearing of the case in which the suspended sentence of Aleksei Navalny was turned into a real term of imprisonment.

Alyona’s client was also there. He is a specialist in repairing ATMs and went to fix an ATM near the Moscow City Court. Well, who cares now? They tied him up, packed him up, took him to the police station, found him guilty and fined him.

Alyona fought well and achieved the cancellation of the decision of the Lefortovo court due to lack of evidence. We have barely a dozen such cases, as far as we know from OVD-Info.

So I’m calling to congratulate Alyona. I go to her page, and suddenly, among the names of the universities where she studied, immediately under Kutafin I see painfully familiar letters. HSE [Higher School of Economics]. Faculty of Media Communications. Hi DOXA. I taught at that faculty for 13 years, I was actually first to be fired.

Well, I’m calling Alena and she says to me: yes, you taught me. Journalism. After that I went to the Law School.

We can never know what impact our words may have on others [a reference to a line by Tiutchev – ed.]. There’s my contribution to our republic [a reference to a line by Mayakovsky] – ed.]! I need to add a third cliche for the rhythm and to reduce the pathos.

I took out a handkerchief and dabbed at an unwelcome tear that rolled down the gray-haired teacher’s wrinkled cheeks.

I’m going to get some champagne though I hadn’t intended to today.

We are glad that talented and highly motivated people are going to work in human rights organisations, including through the internship programme of the Moscow Helsinki Group. Alyona is one of the first set of interns, and this is something we would like to continue. – Moscow Helsinki Group

Translated by Ecaterina Hughes

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