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THE RUSSIA OF TOMORROW: Antiwar Resistance & Human Rights Defense Digest / ISSUE # 8, OCT. 3-9, 2022

Table of contents

I. THE HUMAN RIGHTS STRUGGLE IN THE REGION IN THE GLOBAL SPOTLIGHT: THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE, ANNA POLITKOVSKAYA AWARD, AND THE UN RESOLUTION

II. OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND THE WAR ZONE

III. MOBILIZATION AND THE COURTS

IV. ANTIWAR ACTIONS IN RUSSIA

A. Public protesting and reprisals: new cases

B. Public protesting and reprisals: ongoing cases

C. Burnings of draft stations and other government buildings

V. SELECTIVE MOBILIZATION AS A POLITICAL WEAPON

VI. THE PERSECUTION OF VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA

VII. CRACKDOWN ON THE GOLOS MOVEMENT

VIII. POLITICAL REPRISALS DIRECTLY UNRELATED TO THE WAR

IX. MEDIA REPRISALS

X. EXODUS FROM RUSSIA AND TRANSNATIONAL REPRESSION

We are continuing the publication of our weekly digest of the Russian citizens’ struggle against the regime and its war. All the items in it are based on the original Russian-language sources and are hyperlinked to them. We seek to revive the tradition of the Soviet-era Chronicle of Current Events that was bringing international attention not just to the most famous and prominent dissidents but to the everyday resistance to oppression at the grassroots level of Soviet society. Our title – with tongue-in-cheek toward ‘Russia Today’, the powerhouse of the Kremlin’s global propaganda – reflects our belief in Vaclav Havel’s “power of the powerless”, including the long-term power of those Russian citizens, of many ethnicities and faiths, who are putting themselves in harm’s way to bring about a peaceful and less oppressive tomorrow for their country, for Ukraine, and for the rest of the world.

We invite you to join us on this journey by donating toward this project to our parent organization, Russian-speaking Community Council, Inc., via PayPal: https://bit.ly/3DlUxy1.

I. THE HUMAN RIGHTS STRUGGLE IN THE REGION IN THE GLOBAL SPOTLIGHT: THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE, ANNA POLITKOVSKAYA AWARD, AND THE UN RESOLUTION

          Oct. 7 – The Nobel Committee awarded this year’s Peace Prize to the internationally recognized leaders in the field of human rights from three countries: to Ales Bialiatski, the founder of Vyasna [Spring] and a prisoner of conscience in Belarus; the Russian human rights organization Memorial; and the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties. As noted in the announcement, these laureates “have for many years promoted the right to criticize power and protect the fundamental rights of citizens. They have made an outstanding effort to document war crimes, human right abuses and the abuse of power. Together they demonstrate the significance of civil society for peace and democracy.” (Source: Nobel Prize website)

The recognition of this year’s laureates’ achievements and of their struggle has implications far beyond the boundaries of these three countries. As noted by the UN Secretary-General in his congratulation, “civic space is narrowing across the world.  Human rights defenders, women’s rights advocates, environmental activists, journalists, and others face arbitrary arrest, harsh prison sentences, smear campaigns, crippling fines, and violent attacks. As we congratulate this year’s winners, let us pledge to defend the brave defenders of universal values of peace, hope and dignity for all.” (Source: United Nations

While in Ukraine some have expressed their unease about their country being allegedly lumped together with Belarus and Russia by this award, Vladimir Yavorsky, an expert of the Center for Civil Liberties, commented that it had “nothing to do with any attempt to unify us into a single people”. (Source: Facebook). Sharing the prize with Bialiatski and Memorial is “important and honorable: these are our colleagues, with whom we are jointly serving one purpose – the protection of human rights and making our countries democratic.” For him, the message of this award is that “if all three countries were democratic and observed human rights, then the current war may not have taken place.” (Source: RFE/RL Russian Service)

In its statement on the Nobel Prize, Memorial defines itself as “a network, a movement, the people. We work in Russia, in Ukraine, in other countries, and we carry on the cause that was started by Andrei Sakharov and Arseny Roginsky over 30 years ago. … We keep working and will continue doing it under any circumstances.” As noted in the statement, the announcement of the prize comes “at a time when Russia is waging a war of conquest against Ukraine, while rights and liberties inside Russia are being violated every single second.” (Source: Memorial Society Telegram channel)  According to Yan Rachinskii, the Board Chair of the International Memorial (that was ordered out of existence by the court last year), the organization had been among the nominees for the prize for over a dozen years. Yet in his interview to Meduza, he admitted that it might lead to additional reprisals against Memorial, as it already happened to Dmitry Muratov, the previous laureate from Russia. (Source: Meduza) Oleg Orlov, one of the long-term leaders of Memorial and the head of its North Caucasus program, stated that “in the midst of the horror that we are living through, it would be misplaced to talk about achievements. While this may not be good to say at such a moment, but we do not deserve this award. We failed to clarify the importance of freedom to the Russian society…” (Source: RFE/RL Caucasus.Realities)

Our Association, the publisher of this digest, along with our Russian-speaking Community Council and our international Russian Diaspora Council for Ending Political Reprisals ‘Vypuskai!’, joined the many voices around the world in congratulating these three prizewinners: “We consider this one of the most admirable choices that have ever been made by the Prize committee and for which it deserves respect. It reaffirms that Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia are bound with each other and many other countries by their shared legacy of struggle for human rights and dignity, against tyranny and empire – a struggle almost always led by a small group of people accepting enormous personal risks and sacrificing their own safety. This decision also reminds us that, as noted by Andrei Sakharov in his Nobel lecture, peace, progress, and human rights are indeed “inseparable, and one of theme cannot be achieved while neglecting the other” (Source: our Facebook page).

A day earlier, on Oct. 6, RAW in WAR, a UK-based NGO working to support women who are human rights defenders or victims of war, presented its annual Anna Politkovskaya Award jointly to Svetlana Gannushkina – Russia’s longtime defender of the rights of migrants, one of the key members of the leadership of Memorial and of the antiwar Yabloko Party – and to Tetiana Sokolova, a midwife who helped deliver babies in Mariupol during its siege by Putin’s army. (Source: RAW in War) Oct. 6, the day of the award announcement, marks the anniversary of the assassination of Anna Politkovskaya (1958-2006), Novaya gazeta reporter and author of explosive investigations of the war crimes committed during the two Chechnya wars under Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin.

Meanwhile, in Moscow, within hours after the Nobel decision was announced, a district court gave the regime’s response to it – by declaring the transfer of Memorial’s headquarters to one of its affiliates and namesakes, the Memorial Research and Education Center (NIPTs Memorial), null and void. The building was owned by the Memorial Society and was transferred by it to NIPTs in the process of the liquidation of the Society that was court-ordered last year. The court ruling means that the Kremlin will now seize and nationalize the building, as requested by the prosecutor’s office. The court also voided the previous decision of Sept. 14 to arrest the personal bank accounts of Elena Zhemkova and Boris Belenkin, the executives of the Memorial Society and of NIPTs, in connection with this case. (Source: Memorial Society Telegram channel) As noted by Rachinskii, the loss of the building will not prevent Memorial from completing the digitizing its archive of Soviet-era political persecutions. Memorial will also keep monitoring human rights abuses across Russia and seek to assist their victims. Memorial’s work in Russia cannot be stopped because it is a network of autonomous organizations, only some of which are also legal entities, said Rachinskii. (Source: Meduza)

On the same day in Geneva, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution on the situation of human rights in the Russian Federation. 17 countries voted in favor, 6 – Bolivia, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Kazakhstan and Venezuela – were against, and 24 countries abstained (including Armenia, Benin, Brazil, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Gambia, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Pakistan, Qatar, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan). The resolution “strongly urges the Russian authorities to comply with all of the State’s obligations under international human rights law; decides to appoint a special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Russian Federation for a period of one year, and requests the mandate holder to monitor the situation of human rights in the Russian Federation, to collect, examine and assess relevant information from all relevant stakeholders, to make recommendations, and to present a comprehensive report to the Council at its fifty-fourth session and to the General Assembly at its seventy-eighth session; and calls upon the Russian authorities to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur”. (Source: United Nations)

II. OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND THE WAR ZONE

Oct. 3 – In the Hague, The International Court of Justice of the UN received Russia’s preliminary objections in the case concerning Allegations of Genocide under the Convention of Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Ukraine v. Russia). (Source: ICJ) The document has not been published; however, as noted on the court’s website, preliminary objections “are raised to challenge the competence of the Court to decide on the merits of the case (the respondent State may contend, for example, that the Court lacks jurisdiction or that the application is inadmissible)”. Shortly after Ukraine filed its complaint, Russia disputed ICJ’s jurisdiction in this case, but the Court reaffirmed it pursuant to Article IX of the Genocide Convention. On March 16, the Court, with 13 votes ‘for’ and 2 ‘against’, indicated as provisional measures that Russia “shall immediately suspend the military operations” and “shall ensure that any military or irregular armed units which may be directed or supported by it, as well as any organizations and persons which may be subject to its control or direction, take no steps in furtherance of the military operations”. (Source: ICJ)

Oct. 4 – In Simferopol, a district court extended the pre-trial detention of six Crimean Tatar Muslim activists – Vilen Temeryanov, Enver Krosh, Murat Mustafaev, Edem Bekirov, and Rinat Aliev – to Jan. 10 of next year. They are charged with alleged involvement with Hizb ut-Tahrir, a pan-Islamic political organization banned in Russia, Germany, and some other countries. (Source: Crimean Solidarity)

Oct. 6 – A court in Sebastopol sentenced three Jehovah’s Witnesses – Vladimir Sakada, Yevgeny Zhukov, and Vladimir Maladyka – to six years of imprisonment each, with prohibition from conducting any educational work for seven more years and a year of restriction of movement after their release. All three were initially detained in Oct. 2020, later moved to house arrest, and finally ordered to refrain from certain communications and public activities.  Zhukov had been the head of the Sebastopol organization of JWs which had a legal status from 1997 to 2017 when the Kremlin banned JWs’ organization as ‘extremist’. The case against the three men was based on FSB recordings of their Zoom gatherings for prayer.  All defendants pleaded not guilty, denying any organizational activities on their part, and citing last year’s decision of Russia’s supreme court that joint religious services should not be treated as participation in a prohibited religious organization. Dozens of local sympathizers of the group from several cities came to the final hearing, applauding the arrival of the defendants. Yet only 10 of their supporters were allowed to attend the sentencing; using cell phones, photographing, and videorecording was prohibited. (Source: Graty) Two days earlier, Russia’s Investigative Committee charged another Crimean Jehovah’s Witness, Sergey Parfenovich, with ‘organizing the activities of an extremist organization’; Parfenovich was detained during police searches that were conducted on Sept. 28 at 6:30am at the homes of eight JWs in three Crimean villages. (Source: JW Russian site on the legal situation in Russia)

III. MOBILIZATION AND THE COURTS

Oct. 3 – In Kondol, a village in the Penza region, 32-year-old Maksim Moiseev was detained in a raid with participation of the special-purpose police units and placed in a pre-trial facility for his refusal to sign an acknowledgement of his call-up notice delivered to him on Sept. 23.  The notice reportedly had a wrong date of birth and other mistakes in his personal information. Russia’s Investigative Committee initiated a criminal case against him. On Oct. 5, he was released but ordered not to leave the city. This was the first such case, and it is also likely to be the last: as noted even by pro-Kremlin media, Russia’s supreme court ruled in 2008 that only males drafted between the age of 18 and 27 to regular or alternative service were criminally liable for draft evasion, provided that the statute of limitations in the case had not lapsed. (Source: Russia’s Supreme Court rulings) As a result, on Oct. 7 the regional prosecutor’s office voided the criminal case against Moiseev as unlawful and ruled that he is entitled to exoneration and payment for spending 48 hours in detention. (Source: Pavel Chikov’s Telegram channel) Russian human rights lawyers believe that the purpose of this criminal case was intimidating others; they remind Russians of their constitutional right for alternative civilian service. (Source: ‘Prizyv k sovesti’ [Appeal to conscience] coalition for alternative civilian service)

         – On the same day in St. Petersburg, Aleksandr Chetverikov, a 48-year-old local resident who was served a mobilization notice on Sept. 22 and complied with it, filed a lawsuit against his local army station. The lawsuit charges it with violating Chetverikov’s constitutional right to health care because the notice was served upon him without any medical checkup to find out whether he is fit for service. He asks the court to annul the call-up notice. (Source: Fontanka SPB Online) This is the second such lawsuit in the city: in another pending case, Daniil Bakalinsky sued for his call-up to be canceled because military service is at odds with his beliefs; he asked the court to replace his mobilization with alternative civil service, which would be in accordance with the Russian law. Bakalinsky also argues that those responsible for his mobilization did not inquire into the state of his health or eligibility for exemptions from the call-up. On Oct. 3, the court denied his request for immediate release from the service, ruling that a call-up notice is mandatory. The hearing in his case is set for Oct. 17. (Source: Fontanka SPB Online)

IV. ANTIWAR ACTIONS IN RUSSIA

A.      Public protesting and reprisals: new cases

Oct. 3 – In Lipetsk, Aleksandr Grigoriev, antiwar activist, and member of the Yabloko Party, charged with ‘spreading false information’ about the military, was denied the extension of his employment contract with a construction unit: the employer reportedly told him that he “did not need felons on his team”. The specific charges against him may lead to a fine between 700,000 and 1.5 million Rbl, compulsory public works, or a jail term of up to 3 years. Grigoriev was repeatedly detained in the past for his protest actions. (Source: Yabloko)

            – In Izhevsk, Republic of Udmurtia, the authorities denied the request of Dmitry Dukhtanov for a permit to hold a rally on Oct. 8 against mobilization and the war in Ukraine. (Source: OVD-Info)

Oct 4 – In Nizhny Novgorod, Margarita Murakhtayeva was charged with ‘disparaging Russia’s armed forces’ and sentenced to a 50,000-rouble fine (circa $850). Murakhtayeva is the daughter of Irina Slavina, opposition journalist and editor of her own online resource, Koza.Press, who in 2020 killed herself by self-immolation next to the police headquarters after an abusive police search at her home in connection with Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s now-defunct Open Russia movement. Slavina left a note saying, “blame the Russian Federation for my death”. Murakhtayeva held her solo anti-war protest on the place of her mother’s suicide on its second anniversary (Oct. 2).  (Source: RFE/RL Idel.Realities) On the same day, also in Nizhny Novgorod, Ilya Myaskovsky, a teacher and photographer (who had coincidentally photographed Murakhtayeva’s action), was charged with ‘repeat disparagement of Russia’s armed forces’. The criminal charges are based on his allegedly being one of the administrators of a group in VKontakte, Russia’s leading social media platform, in which some photos of antiwar graffiti had been shared. Police visited Myaskovsky’s home, seized his equipment and detained him, allegedly for not giving his name to them; on the next day, a court sentenced him to three days of arrest for disobeying police orders. (Source: SOTA) Also on Oct. 4, in nearby Dzerzhinsk, police attempted to search the home of Andrey Rudoy, a left-wing, antiwar activist and blogger. According to Rudoy, the order was for a ‘preliminary inspection’ toward an as yet nonexistent criminal case involving ‘public disparagement’ of the military; the anticipated charges would be based on the antiwar publications in a VKontakte group in which he was one of the administrators (possibly the same group as in the case against Myaskovsky). On the advice of his attorney, Rudoy refused the ‘inspection’. On Oct. 7, he announced that he had left Russia because of this and other charges against him and was now in Kazakhstan. (Source: ‘Ostorozhno Novosti’ [Beware of the news]) Rudoy has a track record of being pressured for his activities, including his home search in 2013 related to his leadership role in the Left Front, now-defunct opposition group, and a detention in 2017 while protesting against the increase in the prices of public transportation tickets. (Source: OVD-Info)

Oct. 5 – In Moscow, a 10-year-old school student was detained by police following a report by her school principal. The principal had asked the police to look into her family situation in connection with the child’s pro-Ukrainian comments and her yellow-and-blue avatar in her school chat. Another parent also reportedly complained about the girl’s posting a poll on the war in that chat. The child’s mother was also detained, but initially separated from her daughter. The mother was compelled to provide her phone chats to the agents of the ‘antiextremist center’ of the interior ministry. This was followed by the family’s home search. (Source: OVD-Info)

Oct. 6 – In Grozny, 17 students at the Russian Islamic University were reportedly expelled from this religious school for not showing up for Ramzan Kadyrov’s pro-war rally on Sept. 23. (Source: 1ADAT)

– In Petrozavodsk, 77-year-old Tatiana Savinkina was charged, for the second time, with ‘disparaging the army’, for hanging antiwar flyers on the wall inside a building. The first criminal case against her was opened on Sept. 19; on Sept. 24, she posted inside an elevator a flyer about the Ukrainian and the Russian casualties in this war that also stated she was “ashamed for what was going on”. Currently a pensioner, in the past Savinkina was allegedly chief of the local interrogation department of the interior ministry, in the rank of a major. She is reportedly a native of Ukraine and still has family members there. (Source: Baza Telegram channel).

Oct. 7 – In Moscow, charges of ‘spreading false reports motivated by hatred’ regarding the army’s actions in Ukraine were brought against L.V.Tolmacheva (full name unknown). The prosecution asked a district court to place her in pre-trial detention. So far, no other information is available about this case. (Source: OVD-Info)

B. Public protesting and reprisals: ongoing cases

Oct. 3 – In Vologda, city court extended until Oct. 27 the pre-trial detention of Vladimir Rumyantsev, a stoker charged with ‘spreading false information’ about Russia’s armed forces. Rumyantsev, 61, has been in detention since July for his online posts about civilian casualties in Ukraine. (Source: OVD-Info)

Oct. 4 – Memorial Human Rights Defense Center reported of the funeral of Adam Muradov, the husband of one of the antiwar protesters who were prevented by the authorities from holding a rally on Sept. 21 in Grozny and whose husbands were subsequently compelled by police officers to beat up their wives with plastic pipes, as a punishment for protesting; police threatened to beat them up themselves if husbands do not comply. Muradov’s 18-year-old son was mobilized and sent to Ukraine, along with many other male relatives of the protesting women. On Sept. 28, after learning that his son was already in Luhansk and about to be sent to the frontline, Adam Muradov died from heart attack. According to Memorial, the family is being pressured to deny, on camera, that any of the above ever took place. Adam Muradov’s nephew, Daud Muradov, fled several years ago to France and asked for asylum but was returned by the French authorities to Russia where he was charged with terrorist activities, reportedly tortured, and died in February of last year in pre-trial detention. The cause of his death remains unclear; his body was never released to his relatives for burial. (Source: Memorial)

– On the same day, in an unidentified location in Kostroma region, law enforcement searched the house of the mother of Aleksandr Zykov, former chief of the Kostroma and Saratov branches of the Navalny movement who is currently based in the Netherlands. This is yet another instance of a transnational repression using one’s relatives inside the country as hostages. In Russia, Zykov is on the ‘wanted’ list facing two criminal charges of ‘spreading false information’ about the military: one for his online post about the casualties in Ukraine among his local paratroopers’ regiment, and another for his publication of correspondence with a friend from Ukraine telling him about her experience of living under the shelling by the Russian forces. (Source: OVD-News)

Oct. 5 – In Moscow, the final indictment was issued in the case of Ilya Yashin. As cited by Yashin on his Telegram channel, the document states that he “dislikes the political system in Russia, denies the evident need to secure Russia from external threats” etc. etc. Yashin’s defense asked to summon for questioning Igor Konashenkov, the press secretary of the ministry of defense. On Oct. 7, the notorious Basmanny court denied the motion of the defense to recognize the criminal case against him as unlawful due to the absence of evidence that any breach of law took place. In his remarks at the hearing, Yashin stated in his defense: “You cannot imprison someone for openly expressing their doubts as to whether the authorities tell the truth and do everything right. The criminal in this case is not me, but rather those who put these charges against me together. The crime was committed not by me, but by those who unleashed this massacre in the neighboring country. Instead of me, those scoundrels who bear responsibility for the spilling of Russian and Ukrainian blook should be sitting behind the bars.” Yashin is facing the possibility of a jail term of up to 10 years. (Source: Ilya Yashin’s Telegram channel)

   Oct. 6 – On the same day in Kirov, Maria Rouz has been formally charged with ‘spreading false information’ about the military ‘motivated by political or social group hatred’ and with ‘using internet to incite extremist activities’). The charges are based on her allegedly posting a video in VKontakte with the list of Russian soldiers allegedly involved in the war crimes in Bucha, with her commentary calling for a violent end to the perpetrators and their families. Maria and her husband Richard Rouz were detained in April; he was charged with ‘disparaging the military’ and is still in detention pending the conclusion of the investigation. (Source: RFE/RL Idel.Realities)

               – Also in Moscow, the Investigative Committee charged Nikolay Daineko and, on the next day, Artyom Kamardin – poets and participants in the monthly Mayakovsky poetry readings held under the monument to Vladimir Mayakovsky – with ‘inciting hatred’ toward pro-Russia combatants in East Ukraine and ‘threatening violence’ against them. The evidence of these ‘crimes’ consists of the poems they performed at the readings on Sept. 25; the readings were advertised in advance as directed against the mobilization. (Source: ‘The Mayakovsky Readings’ Telegram channel) A government-appointed ‘linguistic expert’ concluded that the poems included ‘traits characteristic of an offense to the dignity’ of the soldiers. The charge carries a penalty of up to six years behind the bars. As noted in our digest’s previous issue, Daineko was detained at the event and already sentenced to a 20,000-rouble fine for taking part in an unapproved street action; Kamardin was detained on the next day after a house search during which he was reportedly beaten and sexually abused by police special-purpose units; his girlfriend, Aleksandra Popova, who was present at the scene, was also beaten and later diagnosed with concussion and multiple bruises. Daineko, Kamardin and Yegor Shtovba, another participant of the readings, are in pre-trial detention until Nov. 25. (Source: OVD-News) All three were forced to apologize for the readings on record, which was later posted on a pro-Kremlin channel. The Mayakovsky readings go back to 1958, the earlier period of Soviet-era dissent, and were revived in 2009. On Oct. 8, the organizers’ Telegram channel announced the suspension of the readings in Russia and the plan to resume them in emigration. They stated their commitment to preserving “civic poetry” and the responsibility for “surviving in spite of everything, in order to be able to determine the direction of society’s development in the future, inspiring it to engender new meanings.” (Source: ‘The Mayakovsky Readings’)

– On the same day in St. Petersburg, Nikolay Vorotnev was sentenced to one year of restriction of movement for ‘vandalism’: around March 2, Vorotnev and another person (whose name has not been made public and who is a defendant in a separate case) sprayed yellow and blue paint on the shields of two 1938 howitzers that were displayed for public view next to the historical museum of the defense ministry. According to the investigators, the defendants “were motivated by political and ideological hatred of the authorities’ actions” in Ukraine, disagreed with these actions and “wanted to discredit them”. Vorotnev reportedly pleaded guilty, apologized for his act and “took steps to compensate for the damage”. (Source: Politzek-Info)

– In Abakan, Republic of Khakassia, the pre-trial detention of Mikhail Afanasyev, chief editor of Novy Fokus [New Focus] and member of the antiwar Yabloko Party, was extended for another two months. He has been in detention for six months already. Afanasyev is charged with ‘spreading false reports about the army using his position’, i.e., as a publication editor. The charges stem from Novy focus article about eleven officers from Khakassia who refused to be sent to Ukraine. The court ruled that Afanasyev cannot be released because he would “either abscond or continue his criminal activities having obtained free access to the online resources that he administered”. (Source: Media Rights Defense Center)

  Oct. 7 – In St. Petersburg, a district court fined Alexander Shishlov, chair of the Yabloko caucus in St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly and of the Yabloko chapter in the city, as well as former St. Petersburg Human Rights Commissioner. Shishlov was fined 35,000 Rbl for ‘disparaging the army’. Charges were based on his two online posts, one of which was critical of the late Vladimir Zhirinovsky while the second post questioned the attempts to give an official status to the Ribbon of St. George, an informal military symbol of imperial Russia. Shishlov pleaded not guilty and stated that, in his opinion, the case against him was yet another step in the pressure against political opposition. (Source: Fontanka SPB Online) He also noted that according to the opinion polls published in Russia, over 20 percent of respondents do not support Russia’s military activities in Ukraine. Overall, 30 of Yabloko members and supporters have been charged a total of 37 times with ‘disparaging the army’. (Source: Yabloko)

– In Bolshoy Kamen, Primorye (Maritime) region, in a bout of long-distance intimidation of a political exile through pressuring his family, law enforcement conducted a search in the homes of the parents and the wife of Denis Ruzavin, a journalist and activist who has already left Russia. Police reportedly searched for his equipment in connection with the ‘false reports’ that Ruzavin was spreading online. (Source: OVD-Info)

C. Burnings of draft facilities and other government buildings

Oct. 3 – In Kazan, a 17-year-old female student of lyceum # 121, whose name has not been released, was detained after an alleged attempt to set a military draft station on fire at 4am local time. She threw two Molotov cocktails into the building but did not hit it; a third Molotov cocktail was found on her while she was being detained. On Oct. 5, at a closed hearing, a district court placed her under house arrest until Dec. 3. (Source: Realnoe vremya) She reportedly admitted to trying to set the building on fire due to her opposition to the war and the mobilization.

– On the same day in Krasnoyarsk two Molotov cocktails were thrown into a local army draft office, causing fire. The arsonist was not found. (Source: Baza)

Oct. 7 – In Rostov region, 37-year-old Roman Shvedov was charged with ‘terrorism’, in connection with the arson at a local administration headquarters in Zimovniki; it was set on fire on Sept. 28. FSB claimed that Shvedov did it “to destabilize government operations and to influence their decisions” because he was opposed to the war and the mobilization. He was allegedly planning to commit “other acts of terror”. (Source: ‘Che po Rostovu’ Telegram channel) On Sept. 30, he was also fined 2,000 Rbl for disobeying police and an alleged attempt to destroy evidence during his home search in connection with the arson. Shvedov reportedly pleaded guilty to all charges and “repented”. He faces between 10 and 15 years in penal colony. According to one report, he was previously tried for theft, but it is not clear whether he was ever convicted. (Source: ‘Don Mash’ Telegram channel)

             – On the same day in Krasnoyarsk police detained 23-year-old Andrei Petrauskas, on suspicion of arson at the local army draft station that was set to fire in the night of Oct. 2-3. During interrogation Petrauskas allegedly said he just wanted to do a good deed. (Source: Baza Telegram channel) Official sources claim that he is a “supporter of an extremist organization that is outlawed in Russia” (according to SOTA Project, the organization is Artpodgotovka, which has been defunct for several years) and that his intent was “to intimidate the population and encourage residents of the region to deny their participation and support” to the war in Ukraine. As with Shvedov, the charges against Petrauskas carry 10 to 15 years in penal colony. (Source: Sibnovosti.ru)

– Also on Oct 7, in Krasnodar, a man whose last name was reported as Goncharenko was detained on charges of setting up a local army draft station on fire on Oct. 6 in Goryachy Klyuch by throwing four Molotov cocktails into the building. (Source: RFE/RL Caucasus.Realities)

V. SELECTIVE MOBILIZATION AS A POLITICAL WEAPON

Oct. 4 – In St. Petersburg, police and military draft commission officers visited public hearings at the Vladimirskoye neighborhood council to deliver call-up notices to the council members. The only two councillors who were available to receive their notices were Denis Tikhonenko, the head of the district, and Dmitry Prytkov, a councillor. Neither had served in the army or has any military specialty, which is supposedly a pre-requisite for being mobilized. On Oct. 7, it became known that the draft commission found Tikhonenko legally exempt from mobilization. The source notes that the majority in this council belongs to the anti-war/anti-Putin Yabloko Party. A few days earlier, on Sept. 28, call-up notices were also delivered in person to the members of another opposition-minded council, in Murino (a town in the Leningrad region), where pro-Putin’s United Russia is in a minority since 2019. (Source: Fontanka)

VI. THE PERSECUTION OF VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA

Oct. 4    – In Moscow, city court dismissed the appeal of Vladimir Kara-Murza, one of the leaders of Russia’s democratic opposition and its long-time representatives in the West, against the decision of the Basmanny district court not to open a criminal case concerning the assassination attempts against him in 2015 and 2017. Kara-Murza was also asking the court to issue a ruling that the lack of response from Aleksandr Bastrykin, the head of the Investigative Committee, to his request to initiate such a case, was in violation of the law. In his remarks at the hearings, Kara-Murza reminded of the journalistic investigation of his poisoning produced by Bellingcat that implicated 4 FSB operatives, the investigation that he relied upon in his request to Bastrykin. (Source: Facebook) On the same day, the European Court of Human Rights (whose jurisdiction is no longer recognized by the Kremlin) ruled in Kara-Murza’s favor in his longstanding complaint against Russia stemming from the authorities’ decision in 2013 to remove him from the slate of candidates fielded by Boris Nemtsov’s Republican Party-Party of People’s Freedom in the elections to the Yaroslavl regional legislature. ECHR ruled that the annulment of Kara-Murza’s registration as a candidate “was disproportionate to the alleged legitimate aims”. As noted by Kara-Murza in this regard, in the nine years that it took, Nemtsov was murdered, his party ceased to exist, “there are no more elections in Russia”, and he is in jail for speaking out against the war in Ukraine. (Source: Facebook) Kara-Murza has been in detention since Apr. 11 on charges of ‘spreading false information’ about the military in his remarks at the Arizona House of Representatives.

Two days later, on Oct. 6, Kara-Murza was additionally charged with high treason. The corresponding article of Russia’s criminal code refers to “exposure of state secrets to a foreign government; defection to the enemy side; or providing a foreign state with financial, material or technical, advisory or other assistance directed against the security” of Russia. The charge, which threatens him with a potential jail term between 12 and 20 years, is based on Kara-Murza’s remarks at public events in Lisbon, Helsinki, and Washington. Kara-Murza pleaded not guilty. Pro-Kremlin media have cited prosecutors’ claims that over the past year Kara-Murza was consulting “foreign intelligence agencies” for $30,000 per month. (Source: Ren TV) His attorney Vadim Prokhorov notes that one of Kara-Murza’s speeches, in Lisbon on Oct. 8 of last year, was focused on the lack of legitimacy of elections in Russia, including the upcoming 2024 presidential election, and that such statements “created threats to the constitutional order and sovereignty” of Russia. (Source: Facebook)

On Oct. 10, the Basmanny district court will decide on the extension of Kara-Murza’s pre-trial detention. (Source: Facebook) And on Oct. 11, Moscow city court will hear another appeal by Kara-Murza, to a district court dismissal of his lawsuit against his precinct’s election committee that did not provide him with the means to cast his ballot in the neighborhood council elections held on Sept. 11. (Source: Facebook) Meanwhile in New York, Dmitri Glinski, the editor of this digest and co-chair of the American Russian-speaking Association for Civil & Human Rights, delivered a testimony to NYC Council’s Committee on Immigration, in which he called upon the Council to pass a resolution in support of Kara-Murza and grant him an honorary citizenship, on account of Kara-Murza’s strong connection to New York, his past work here and the good memories he left about himself in the hearts of many in the city. The video of the testimony can be viewed here: https://fb.watch/g3zSmqPFlY/

VII. CRACKDOWN ON THE GOLOS MOVEMENT

           Oct. 5 – Around 6am, police searches were conducted in the Moscow office of Golos [Voice], Russia’s election observers’ movement, as well as in the homes of its activists and allies in Moscow, Pskov, Ivanovo, Perm, and Chelyabinsk: co-chair of the movement Grigory Melkonyants; members of its council Vitaly Kovin (in Perm), Arkady Lyubarev, and Irina Maltseva (who had left Russia in early March); Yekaterina Novikova, Golos observer in Pskov and member of the regional council of the Yabloko Party; and Sergey Shpilkin, mathematician and elections expert who repeatedly published evidence of elections rigging (and who is also currently based outside of Russia). At the Moscow headquarters of Golos, police detained one of its coordinators Vladimir Yegorov. He was charged with disobeying police; according to his attorney, Yegorov left the local police precinct in an ambulance with possible symptoms of a concussion. A day earlier, Natalia Guseva, Golos chapter head in Chelyabinsk region, also had her home searched. In some of these searches, police broke into the apartments; equipment, bank cards and foreign passports were seized (including from Melkonyants). Officially, Golos activists were searched as witnesses in the case against Mikhail Gusev, an activist and election observer in Ivanovo, accused of ‘repeated disparaging the army’ on account of his antiwar street action and a Telegram post of Aug. 9 announcing his departure to Serbia to avoid being mobilized into “an army of fascists and occupants that murders civilians and bombs residential buildings”. (Source: ‘Diary of an Émigré’/PutinIsWar – Gusev’s Telegram channel)  In connection with this case, searches were also conducted at the homes of Nikolai Kuzmin, a local councillor from the Yabloko Party; and the parents of Denis Kamalyagin, chief editor of Pskovskaya guberniya paper, who is not in Russia. Yet according to Vitaly Averin, a member of Golos council who reported about the searches, the case against Gusev, who “is not a full-fledged member” of Golos and only took part in its observer missions, “it is merely a pretext to punish Golos participants for its unwavering struggle for fair and free elections, for rule of law and a humane government”. (Source: RFE/RL Russian Service) According to Golos own statement, it was an act of “as pressure on civic observers in the run-up to the 2024 presidential election campaign, which is less than 15 months away. Such large-scale pressure on our members took place in 2011–2012, in the context of mass protests against unfair and unfree elections.”. (Source: Golos website)

VIII. POLITICAL REPRISALS DIRECTLY UNRELATED TO THE WAR

Oct. 3 – In Ussuriysk, a district judge extended compulsory psychiatric treatment of Aleksandr Gabyshev, the Yakut shaman who led the march to Moscow in 2019 promising to exorcise Putin from the Kremlin. The court denied his defense request for a psychological and psychiatric evaluation at a Moscow clinic. The defense is planning to appeal. Memorial recognizes Gabyshev as a political prisoner. His supporters in Siberia and the Far East continue holding public events in his support.

Oct. 4 – In Nizhny Novgorod, an unnamed young woman was detained during her solo action in downtown with a banner calling upon the legislators to impeach Putin. (Source: Vesna [Spring] Telegram channel)

– On the same day in Yekaterinburg, the regional ministry of security disallowed a rally that was planned against the violations of the standards of treatment of inmates in jails and detention facilities; the rally was invented by activists as a substitute for the rallies in support of political prisoners that were held in the city on the 6th of every month until this March, when these rallies started being banned by the security ministry on the grounds that they ‘propagandized anti-social behavior’. (Source: Vechernie vedomosti [Evening News]

Oct. 5 – In Moscow, the Basmanny district court (who active involvement in political reprisals gave rise to the term ‘Basmanny justice’) extended the pre-trial detention of Lilia Chanysheva until Nov. 9, which will bring her current stay behind the bars to a full year. Chanysheva headed the branch of the Navalny movement in Ufa, Republic of Bashkortostan. The charges against her include ‘creating an extremist community or participating in it’, ‘public incitement of extremist activities’ etc.; they add up to a total of 18 years of potential imprisonment. (Source: Nikolay Lyaskin Telegram channel)

Oct. 6 – In Krasnodar, Vitaly Votanovsky, a retired lieutenant colonel and owner of a local Telegram channel ‘Titushki v Krasnodare’, was fined 5,000 Rbl for reposting information from Bellingcat, the investigative group that has been branded in Russia as an ‘undesirable organization’. (Source: SOTA Project) Votanovsky had been subjected to a house search as early as in 2019 in connection with his support for Alexey Navalny; in March of this year, he was charged with ‘disparaging the army’. In July, he was reportedly investigated for ‘disclosing a state secret’ after he published photos of the graves of Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine on his channel. (Source: OVD-Info)

           –   On the same day in Moscow, an appeals court denied the appeal of the extension of the pretrial detention for the group of defendants in the case involving the ‘Chto delat!’ [What Is to Be Done!] Telegram channel. As reported in a previous issue of this digest, the 11 defendants in this case hailing from seven regions across Russia – Dmitry Chebanov, Igor Kuznetsov, Vyacheslav Abramov, Dmitry Lamanov, Igor Nagibin, Alexey Kurlov, Ildar Sadriev, Zhanna Chernova, Nikita Kreshchuk, Alexey Yanochkin, and Maria Platonova (the only one who is not in detention but under house arrest)  – are charged with “inciting mass disturbances” and “hatred”, via their network of Telegram channels around the time of the 2021 Duma elections. (Source: OVD-Info)

Oct. 7 – In Moscow, on Putin’s 70th anniversary, police detained Grigory Saksonov and an unidentified woman across from the Red Square after Saksonov unfolded a poster with Putin’s name and a swastika. Both were charged with repeat violation of the rules for holding a public action. (Source: OVD-Info)

– In Meleuz, Republic of Bashkortostan, a young man staged a solo street action with an angry anti-Putin banner and was violently detained by the police, even though he did not resist his arrest. The name of the protester and his current situation are not known. (Source: AteoBreaking)

IX. MEDIA REPRISALS

Oct. 6 – ‘ECHO’, the project launched last month by former staffers of the ‘Ekho Moskvy’ radio after its shutting down by the regime in March of this year, has reported that its website is now being blocked in Russia and can only be accessed through VPN. (Source: ’ECHO’ Telegram channel)

Oct. 7 – Nadezhda Filinova, a journalist who worked for Udm-Info, the pro-Kremlin local outlet in the Republic of Udmurtia, and for ‘7×7 – Horizontal Russia’, an independent regional news channel, reported being asked to resign from Udm-Info for giving an interview to anti-Putin’s TV Rain about the mass murder at a local school in Izhevsk. She claims that Udm-Info chief editor who wants he out told her that he had also asked for permission for communicating with TV Rain from his own management in the media holding to which Udm-Info belongs and was prohibited from engaging in such contacts. Filinova said she was going to sue; her boss at Udm-Info declined request for comment. (Source: ‘7×7 – Horizontal Russia’)

X. EXODUS FROM RUSSIA AND TRANSNATIONAL REPRESSION

Oct. 3 – Erentsen Dolyaev, a disabled activist from the Republic of Kalmykia, currently living in France where he emigrated following threats of persecution after last year’s elections to the Duma, has been charged in absentia with ‘spreading false information’ about the military. Dolyaev has edited ‘Volny Ulus’, an antiwar Telegram channel. Police visited his ex-wife, telling her about the criminal case and the plans to put out an international ‘wanted’ notice for Dolyaev, apparently via Interpol. (Source: RFE/RL Caucasus.Realities)

– On the same day it was reported that Elena Shukaeva, an activist from Yekaterinburg and a freelancer for RFE/RL Russian Service and Novaya gazeta, had left Russia for Germany. Since the start of the war, court fined her five times for ‘disparaging the military’, for a total of 200,000 Rbl, as well as for sharing a Navalny video about Dmitry Medvedev five years ago. Shukaeva announced that she was now in Magdeburg and planned to collaborate with Memorial’s partner organization in Germany. (Source: Vechernie Vedomosti [Evening news])

Oct. 4 – Two Russian citizens arrived on a small boat to Gambell, Alaska, on St. Lawrence Island, and asked for political asylum, claiming that they fled from one of the coastal areas in Russia’s Far East to escape mobilization. In the words of U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK), their arrival makes clear that “Russian people don’t want to fight Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine”. (Source: Sen. Murkowski’s website)

This is all for today. Your feedback (via email to rcc-ara@rcc-amrusrights.org or via our Facebook page www.facebook.com/AmRusRights), moral and not least material support are always welcome. See you again next week.

Project Director Dr. Dmitri Daniel Glinski and our project team

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