Team 29: ✏️ The law isn’t written backwards

8 May 2021

Hi, it’s Dmitry Zair-Bek from Team 29!

There’s a saying that goes, “The law isn’t written backwards”. It means that no new law can be applied retroactively. Intuitively, this makes sense, as you can’t judge people for doing something they did when it was allowed. Our Constitution even has a stand-alone article that deals with this: Article 54. However, our State Duma isn’t exactly in the habit of caring about the Constitution.

Right in the middle of the May Day weekend, the Duma Commission to Guard against Foreign Interference rolled out several incredibly absurd draft laws. The main one was prohibiting those linked to extremist organisations from participating in Duma elections. That includes before the organisations were recognised as such.

What?? It’s true! Let’s see how this draft law is evaluated by the Constitutional Court. Since I’m a naïve optimist, I think it has zero chance of making it through in its present form. But then, in Russia, anything’s possible.

This law is designed to annihilate the opposition. You see, the Prosecutor’s Office is seeking to have Navalny’s organisation of supporters entered in the extremist category. In this trial, Team 29 is representing the interests of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, which has been designated a foreign agent. The next hearing will take place on 17 May.

Watch, listen, and read

The searches, bans, and criminal case have had practically no effect on T29’s work, except perhaps that we now have extra motivation to work harder and do a better job 🙂.

The well-known journalist Timur Olevsky recorded a long interview with the head of Team 29, lawyer Ivan Pavlov. They spoke about FSB interference in the judicial process, those ‘spy’ cases, and about how all of Russia is, to a greater or lesser extent, under the sway of the intelligence agencies. You can watch the interview on the channel ‘Takaya Rabota’.

We also had the journalist Yury Saprygin drop by our Moscow studio this week. Alisa Taezhnaya had a chat with him about Moscow, and what’s happened to Russia’s capital over the past 20 years. Cupcakes and truncheons, millionaires and migrant workers, public spaces without the public – this fascinating interview covers it all.

The literary project is doing well – no sooner had we started than we put out two publications in one week! Earlier in the week, we published a piece by modern literary star Polina Barskova. Her new book, Liaison Office, will be released in the summer by St Petersburg publisher Jaromir Hladik, but excerpts have already been published as part of the T29 literary project. They take us back to a miserable and murky time: besieged Leningrad.

And today, we’ll publish a fantasy by Tanya Antsiferova about women’s prisons of the future, which was written following her visit to a present-day prison camp.

Let’s just hope that we’ll look back to the past less and less often and look to the future with ever more confidence.

We’re growing stronger by the day,

Dmitry and T29

Translated by Lindsay Munford

Leave a Reply