Team 29: 🌲 Prosecutors are felling the forest.

22 May 2021

Hi, this is Dasha Sukhikh, senior lawyer at Team 29!

The Team’s lawyers have a lot of good things to share 🙃 this week.

The working week started with the hearing in the case regarding recognition of the Anti-Corruption Foundation as an extremist organisation. I will say this – we were preparing for this hearing as though it was absolutely the most important, and hardly any of our lawyers managed to get more than two hours’ sleep on the eve of the hearing. I even remembered my university years and nightly exam preparation – in general, there was certainly a kind of romance in it all.

Armed with kilogrammes of motions (more than 400 sheets), my colleagues arrived at the court. But to our surprise, the opponents outdid us here: they brought six more volumes of documentary evidence to court. As a result the hearing was postponed until 10 am on 9 June. Now the lawyers will have to go through the new piles of papers, trying to find even the slightest evidence of extremist activities by the Anti-Corruption Foundation (we failed to find any real traces of extremism in the previous eighteen volumes). It is a great shame for Russia’s forests: they have suffered significant losses from this absurd case that forces the Moscow prosecutor’s office to produce so many volumes of paper.

The good news is that lawyer Ilya Novikov has joined Team 29 in the defence of the Anti-Corruption Foundation (an organnisation recognised as a foreign agent). By doing so, he not only defended the Anti-Corruption Foundation but also expressed solidarity with the Team and Ivan Pavlov, who has been attacked by security forces, in part because of his involvement in this high-profile case (remember that on 30 April our office was searched and a criminal investigation was opened against Ivan Pavlov under Article 310 of the Russian Criminal Code – ‘disclosure of information from the preliminary investigation’ in the Safronov case).

Some more good news: on 19 May our lawyer Valeria Vetoshkina managed to win the case of Aleksei Morozov, a former law enforcement officer dismissed from his position as acting head of the Police Department for the Investigation of Economic Crimes in Belgorod region back in 2010. Formally, he was dismissed for a number of disciplinary violations. However, in fact he was fired for his adherence to principles and for seeking to prosecute high ranking officials in the region. He was dismissed, but the dismissal order was classified and he was not given a copy. On 19 May a court in Belgorod ruled that the former employer must give Morozov a copy of the dismissal order with all the classified information stripped from it. This is an important and precedent-setting ruling and it means that the presence of state secrets in employment documents cannot be an unequivocal reason for not providing the document altogether (and there are many such examples of failure to provide documents).

Unfortuanately the news is not so good regarding another of our clients – Dovod news agency. On 17 May the court dismissed an appeal against a court ruling that had invalidated their registration as a media outlet. According to Roskomnadzor and the courts, Dovod had not published any media output for more than a year, but we are trying to prove that this is not the case and that the law has no restrictions on what can be considered the outputs of news agencies products (and Dovod had quite a few programmes on YouTube alone). Well, we will fight on to the last court.

This week we teamed up with the Noesis stuidio and OVD-Info to announce a new mobile game called ‘Article’, in which you can try on the role of Sonya, a girl whose friend is being tried for a text about a terrorist attack (the game is based on the Svetlana Prokopyeva case). Our YouTube channel has an interview with Nikolai Rybakov, one of the leaders of Yabloko. A new episode of the podcast ‘Russia is Closing Down’ has also been published about prosecutions for involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir (recognised as a terrorist organisation in Russia and banned). All the links are at the end of the letter.

It’s been an interesting and fruitful week. And that is not all (there is no way to tell everything in one letter!). We hope that we will keep on bringing you good news – we can’t do without optimism ❤️.

We wish you strength, faith and optimism,
Dasha Sukhikh.
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Translated by Simon Cosgrove

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