Team 29: A letter to the Ministry of Justice, and ‘Gebni’ continues

4 December 2020

Hi. Team 29 social media editor Lena here.

It’s been a tough week. Every day and all day long, our lawyers have been prepping for hearings, while the media team has been dealing with deadlines, writing articles and making lots of new videos for you. If we don’t completely lose it by Christmas, you’ll get to see and read everything for yourselves. And if we do, well, same.

On Monday, our client Ivan Safronov, who is charged with treason, had a hearing on extending his pre-trial detention. Team 29’s lawyers presented 388 pledges of support for him. But it made no impression on the court, and Ivan is to remain in custody until 7 March 2021. It’s hardly surprising – the Lefortovsky District Court, where the hearing took place, has never once in its history turned down a request by FSB investigators to extend the period of remand. Before the trial, Safronov’s lawyer and head of Team 29, Ivan Pavlov, talked about this live on Ekho Moskvy.

On Wednesday 2 December, Team 29 lawyers, together with Dmitry Ostryakov, a voting member of St Petersburg Territorial Electoral Commission (TEC) No. 14, sought to obtain video recordings of the gubernatorial elections. The court of second instance had already refused to provide them on the grounds that the St Petersburg Election Commission (StPEC) did not have any footage of the polling stations. The thing is, in a host of other proceedings involving the StPEC, the courts concluded that the TECs are not the actual owners of the video recordings. So, in that case, who owns them and how do you get hold of them? After all, cameras are fitted at polling stations with good reason. They’re supposed to be there so that society can monitor irregularities at elections. Well, so we have been asking the questions and the court has been giving the answers.

On Friday 4 December, Moscow City Court upheld the view that the ‘NET!’ (‘No!’) campaign website was engaged in unlawful activity. The site had been used to collect signatures against amendments to the Constitution, and Roskomnadzor wasn’t happy about it. The authority brought a case, and the site was blocked in the summer. Lawyer Valeriya Vetoshkina is handling the case for Team 29. She travelled to Moscow and told us all about the appeal. We don’t agree with the court’s decision and plan to challenge it in cassation proceedings.

Senior Team 29 lawyer Maksim Olenichev, together with other human rights defenders, sent a letter to the Ministry of Justice. They are demanding decriminalisation of participation in unapproved rallies – including under the so-called ‘Dadin Aticle’, the reduction of fines, and the introduction of a new concept into the law: ‘ spontaneous public gathering’. The letter has been published in full on the Team 29 website.

Aside from that, we explained why 21,000 euros is inadequate compensation for the ten years physicist Valentin Danilov spent in prison for alleged treason. We released a short film on criminal cases against journalists and we published a long read on inadmissible evidence used in several cases, including those of Karina Tsurkan, Valery Izrailit, ‘Set’’ (the Network), and the ‘Three Armenians’. It’s just astounding how charges can be brought on the basis of such unlawful evidence.

We also put out a teaser for the new chapter of ‘Gebni’ (our mobile game, remember the one?), Team 29 lawyer Artem Kutlovsky continues to answer your questions on Yandex.Q, and Daily Stats appear each day on Team 29’s Instagram feed (I suggest you subscribe, as it’s a stand-out project).

I trust next week will be just as eventful.

Have a good weekend, everyone! Talk to you later!


Translated by Lindsay Munford

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