Team 29: Expulsions, dismissals, charges – and a fight for the truth

19 March 2021

Hi. This is Lena Skvortsova, Team 29’s social media editor and journalist!

Yesterday, I was unfairly kicked out of the journalist faculty at St Petersburg State University. For some time now, we and our lawyers have been expecting both an expulsion order and the outcome of an assessment appeal. We never heard about the appeal, but the order was put out. Of course, we didn’t get it for almost a fortnight after it was signed, and only then after querying it with the university. We’re currently getting ready to file legal proceedings and have also filed a complaint with the Prosecutor’s Office and Rosobrnadzor. I know it’s not uncommon to be expelled for political activity, and on spurious grounds, so I wrote a guide on how to get yourself out of such a situation and have a go at defending your rights. You can read the guide here

It’s been a tough week, and not just for me. Did you know the children of our client Margarita Yudina were threatened with the army? They actually want to pack them off to serve (despite one of the sons being been disabled from birth and not capable). Our hope is that Margarita’s family will be able to avoid slavery by conscription.

We also had two new cases come along. The lawyers are busy with the first. They’re helping ex-security officer Aleksey Morozov, who was fired for investigating a corrupt official and whose dismissal order was classified – it turns out it contained a state secret. The second is being handled by our barristers. They’re defending Aleksandr Marchenko, who was tortured in Donetsk’s Isolyatsia (‘Isolation’) concentration camp before being transferred to Russia and charged with espionage. His story is told by the journalist Dmitry Durnev, three-times winner of the Redkollegia award for his reporting on the unrecognised republics of the Donbass.

Yesterday, an appeal took place in the Marchenko matter, and an investigator was appointed in the case of our client Ivan Safronov. He’s called Aleksandr Chaban and he’s made a career out of fabricated treason cases. First, he was an investigator in the case of Viktor Kudryavtsev, the 78-year-old academic defended by our barristers, then he took on the case of the journalist Ivan Safronov. He went from being just an investigator on major crimes to a senior position and, to top it off, became a colonel.

Now to some good news. We finally released a new game! It’s an extra feature for the special project Enforced Loyalty. The aim is to find your way out of a maze without getting caught by a tough police officer.

We also released a new episode of the Precedent of Russia podcast. Taking the sentencing of Karina Tsurkan as an example, director and lawyer Ivan Pavlov talks in the episode about how closed trials are conducted, what evidence is used by the prosecution, and how the defence does its work. You can listen to the podcast or read the transcript on our website. If you have any questions for our lawyers to answer in our next episode, please post them in comments on Facebook and VKontakte, and we’ll pick out the most interesting ones.

Finally, we have a new video out! The main people featured are the film critics Alisa Taezhnaya and Anton Dolin. They spoke about self-censorship, political filmmaking, and the January protests. You can watch the film here and read the transcript right below it. Be sure to share it with your friends – it’s a really interesting production!

Have a great weekend!


Translated by Lindsay Munford

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