‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’: Dmitry Ivanov, author of the ‘MGU Protest’ Telegram channel, is a political prisoner

15 July 2022

Dmitry Ivanov is being prosecuted for spreading ‘fake news’ about the Russian military

Source: Political Prisoners. Memorial

The human rights project ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial,’ in accordance with international standards, considers Dmitry Ivanov a political prisoner. Ivanov’s criminal prosecution violates his right to freedom of expression and is intended to intimidate all opponents within Russia of the war against Ukraine.

We demand the immediate release of Dmitry Ivanov and that all criminal proceedings under the unconstitutional Article 207.3 of the Russian Criminal Code be terminated.

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

Dmitry Ivanov is a student in the Faculty of Computational Mathematics and Cybernetics at Moscow State University [MGU], a civil society activist and author of the MGU Protest Telegram channel, which has covered protests and broadcast online from the trials of political activists. Ivanov has also worked with the human rights movement For Human Rights and was one of the organisers of protests in support of the defendants in the New Greatness and Network trials.

Ivanov’s criminal prosecution began with a series of jailings under administrative law for posting appeals on the MGU Protest channel to join anti-war rallies. On 28 April he was jailed for 10 days and immediately after his release from the special detention centre he was again jailed for another 25 days.

Ivanov was to have been released on the evening of 2 June. That day a criminal case was opened against him and other unidentified people under Article 207.3 (Part 3, Paragraphs b & e) of the Russian Criminal Code on charges of ‘spreading information known to be false about the use of the Russian armed forces by a group of people motivated by political hatred and enmity.’ Dmitry Ivanov has been charged with posting 12 anti-war posts on his Telegram channel. Eight of the 12 posts were reposts, including from the official channel of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

On 3 June 2022, Dmitry Ivanov was remanded in custody.

Why do we consider Dmitry Ivanov 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. This fully applies to the prosecution of Dmitry Ivanov.

More information about the case of Dmitry Ivanov 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: 107076, г. Москва, ул. Матросская тишина, д. 18, ФКУ СИЗО-1 ФСИН России, Иванову Дмитрию Александровичу, 1999 г. р.

In English: Dmitry Aleksandrovich Ivanov (born 1999), Remand Prison No. 1, Russian Federal Penitentiary Service for Moscow, 18 Matrosskaya Tishina Street, Moscow, 107076, Russia.

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

The latest information about the case is available on the Telegram Channel ‘MGU Prison.’

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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