‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’: Dmitry Talantov, a lawyer remanded in custody on charges of spreading ‘fake news’ about the Russian army, is a political prisoner 

14 July 2022

Dmitry Talantov, president of the Udmurtia Bar Association and a defence lawyer in the case of Ivan Safronov, is being prosecuted for statements he published on social networks.

Source: Political Prisoners. Memorial

The ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ project, in accordance with international standards, considers the lawyer Dmitry Talantov a political prisoner. His criminal prosecution violates the constitutional right to freedom of expression and is intended to silence the voices of opponents of the war against Ukraine and put pressure on the Russian legal profession. 

We demand the immediate release of Dmitry Talantov and the closure of all criminal cases initiated under the unconstitutional Article 207.3 of the Russian Criminal Code.

Who is Dmitry Talantov and what are the charges against him?

Dmitry Talantov is one of the leaders of independent bar associations in Russia and president of the bar association of Udmurtia. Since August 2021 he has been one of the lawyers acting for Ivan Safronov, a journalist accused of treason. Initially, Safronov’s defence team was led by the lawyer Ivan Pavlov, until a criminal prosecution was initiated against the latter. Talantov has talked about how the investigative authorities have hindered the work of defence lawyers in the Safronov case. In addition, Talantov is known for anti-war statements he has made.

The grounds for the initiation of the criminal case against Talantov was a Facebook post with the words: ‘How else could it be described after the photographs and videos from Kharkiv, Mariupol, Irpen, Bucha??? This is no longer simply fascism – these are extreme Nazi practices!…

On 28 June 2022, Talantov was arrested in Izhevsk and his home and office were searched. The next day a Moscow court remanded the lawyer in custody on charges of distributing information known to be false about the use of the Russian armed forces (Article 207.3, Part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code). 

The judge justified remanding Talantov in custody on the grounds that as a lawyer he could continue his criminal activity or go into hiding using his professional knowledge.

‘I congratulate myself, I congratulate my colleagues. Finally, a lawyer’s professional work is equated to a course for improving the skills of a criminal,’ Talantov said about the decision. 

The lawyer faces up to 10 years’ imprisonment if convicted. 

Why do we consider Dmitry Talantov a political prisoner?

Article 207.3 of the Russian Criminal Code criminalising dissemination of information known to be false about the actions of the Russian army contradicts the Russian Constitution, Russia’s international obligations and fundamental principles of law.

In particular, Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states: ‘Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression.’ Restrictions on the exercise of these rights ‘shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary: (a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others; (b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.’ Such norms are also contained in Article 29 of the Russian Constitution. The restrictions on freedom of expression introduced by Article 207.3 of the Russian Criminal Code serve none of these purposes and are a form of censorship.

Article 207.3 criminalises any statements about the use of the Russian armed forces and the activities of Russian state bodies abroad. In the course of an armed conflict, it is not always possible to establish the accuracy of information disseminated by various sources. Still less is it possible to establish whether the person who disseminated a given piece of information knew it was false. Taken together, these deficiencies determine the unlawful nature of Article 207.3 of the Russian Criminal Code.

The timing and context of the introduction of Article 207.3 into the Russian Criminal Code – after the beginning of large-scale Russian military aggression against Ukraine – allow us to assert that this article was specifically intended as a means to prosecute critics of the Russian authorities. 

The prosecution of a lawyer under Article 207.3 is all the more dangerous and should be severely condemned by public opinion. Although Talantov is the first lawyer ever to be prosecuted under the article on ‘fake news about the military,’ pressure on the legal profession has already been a reality for some time, both in terms of prosecutions related to ‘military censorship’ and other prosecutions that are political in nature.

More information about the case of Dmitry Talantov and the position of the ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ project is available on our Telegram channel.

Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner does not imply the ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ project agrees with, or approves of, their views, statements, or actions.

How can you help?

You can send letters to the following address:

In Russian: 127081, Москва, ул. Вилюйская, д. 4, ФКУ СИЗО-4 УФСИН России по г. Москве, 127081, Талантову Дмитрию Николаевичу 1960 г. Р.

In English: Dmitry Nikolaevich Talantov (born 1960), Remand Prison No. 4, Russian Federal Penitentiary Service for Moscow, 4 Viliuiskaya Street, Moscow, 127081, Russia.

Electronic mail can be sent via ‘FederalPenitentiaryService-Letter’.

You can donate to support all political prisoners via the PayPal (helppoliticalprisoners@gmail.com) or YooMoney accounts of the Union of Solidarity with Political Prisoners.

Translated by RIghts in Russia

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