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THE RUSSIA OF TOMORROW: Antiwar Resistance & Human Rights Defense Digest / Issue # 11, Oct. 24-30, 2022

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND THE WAR ZONE

II. THE ANTIWAR MOVEMENT IN RUSSIA

A. Nonviolent protesting and reprisals – new cases

B. Nonviolent protesting and reprisals – ongoing cases

C. Reprisals against servicemen

III. POLITICAL REPRISALS DIRECTLY UNRELATED TO THE WAR

IV. RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION (Jehovah’s Witnesses)

V. EXODUS FROM RUSSIA AND TRANSNATIONAL REPRESSION

Welcome to the new issue of our digest. Among all English-language publications on these topics, it provides the fullest coverage of the relevant events of the previous week ending Sunday. Most of 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.

I. OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND THE WAR ZONE

Oct. 26, Rostov-on-Don – A district court sentenced Vladimir Kulbatsky, a citizen of Ukraine from the Donetsk region, to 7 years and 11 months of hard labor colony, on charges of “participation in an illegal armed group” and an “extremist organization”. The group and the organization is the ‘Right-Wing Sector”, a Ukrainian paramilitary entity. According to the prosecution, Kulbatsky joined the ‘Right-Wing Sector’ in March of 2014 (the month of the Putin regime’s first invasion of Ukraine); took part in armed fight in Selidovo (Donetsk region) against the pro-Russian secessionist authorities; and “propagandized” the organization online. He was in Russian detention since March 2022. (Interfax)

II. THE ANTIWAR MOVEMENT IN RUSSIA

A. Nonviolent protests and reprisals – new cases

Oct. 26, St. Petersburg – Police detained Eva Bairamov who was demonstrating with a “No to the war” banner. (OVD-Info) Later on the same day, her father Vadim Bairamov was also briefly detained, during his solo protest action on the central Senatskaya [Senate] Square historically famous as the location of the Decembrist uprising in 1825. Bairamov held a poster saying, “Freedom for political prisoners”. (OVD-Info)

B. Nonviolent protests and reprisals – ongoing cases

Oct. 25, TulaDmitry Kozyrev, a 27-year-old local resident, was sentenced to two years of restriction of movement and activities, for “vandalism motivated by political hatred”. At the start of the war, Kozyrev allegedly made an inscription underneath one of the Tula Kremlin towers, which said: “War is the requiem to the common sense”. He has been under house arrest since his detention in March and reportedly pleaded guilty. (Sova-Center)

               St. Petersburg – District court extended the pre-trial detention of Aleksandra (Sasha) Skochilenko to April 10, 2023. This means that she will have spent entire year there. She is being charged with ‘spreading false information’ about the Russian army ‘while motivated by political hatred’. The case against her is based on her allegedly having replaced price tags at a local supermarket with stickers containing information about civilian casualties in Ukraine. (Freedom to Sasha Skochilenko Telegram channel)

               St. Petersburg – On the same day, another district court extended the pre-trial detention of Oleg Belousov to Nov. 26. He has been charged with ‘spreading false information’ about the army and ‘incitement to commit extremist actions’, via his online posts in ‘VKontakte’. Belousov’s relatives and reporters were prohibited from attending the hearing. He has been kept in detention since June, in spite of a disability. Charges against him carry a penalty of up to 10 years of imprisonment. (SOTAvision)

Oct. 27, Kirov – Regional court rescinded the lower court’s extension of the pre-trial detention of Richard Rouz, a local antiwar activist, and remanded his case back to the lower court. Rouz and his wife Maria Rouz were detained in April, but Maria was subsequently released and ordered to refrain from public activities and certain types of communication. The charges against both stem from their online posts about the Bucha massacre. Richard Rouz has complained of severe beating during his detention. (RFE/RL Idel.Realities)

              Krasnodar – Regional court went against the demand of the prosecution in yet another case, of Evgeny Zolotov, who was convicted of ‘spreading false reports about the army’. The lower-level court sentenced him in August to a 3,000,000 RUB fine (close to $49,000); the prosecutor appealed, seeking a 6-year term in penal colony. (Setevye svobody [NetFreedoms]) Zolotov is a physician specializing in infectious diseases. In March, he allegedly made several Facebook posts discussing Russia’s military losses and the role of the Chechen units in the invasion. (OVD-Info)

                Nizhny Novgorod – The investigative committee closed a criminal case against an unnamed individual who was charged with ‘spreading false reports about the army’. The case was based on the video about the Bucha massacre that was allegedly posted by the defendant online. The official cause for discontinuing the case is that the video was posted “prior to the publication of the official statement of the defense ministry about the events in Bucha and Irpin” disputing the information about the massacre. This is reportedly the first instance of a case on ‘spreading false information’ about Russian actions in Ukraine being closed by the authorities.

Oct. 28, Abakan (Republic of Khakassia) – Mikhail Afanasyev, a prominent local journalist charged with ‘spreading false reports’ about the army and kept in pre-trial detention since April, and his wife Elena Afanasyeva have issued a public appeal for material assistance. The Afanasyev family has five minor children. Charges against Afanasyev are based on his article on the website of his Novy focus [New focus] publication about 11 members of the local special-designation police units (typically used for dispersing protest rallies) who refused to take part in the invasion in Ukraine. The ‘felony’ he is charged with is punishable by either a fine between 3 and 5 million RUB, or 5 years of compulsory public works, or 5 to 10 years of imprisonment. The hearings are expected to begin around December. Donations in support of the family are accepted via Sberbank card 2202 2036 8646 0710 for Elena Vladimirovna Afanasyeva. (Yabloko Party website)

C. Reprisals against servicemen

Oct. 26, Ulan-Ude (Republic of Buryatia) – The local division of the ministry of defense filed a criminal case against a mobilized soldier from Yakutia for allegedly absconding from the military detachment stationed here. Prior to leaving, he was reportedly refusing to go to Ukraine and saying that he “was not going to shoot into Ukrainians”. The man was mobilized on Sept. 23 and left the unit on Sept. 30; charges were filed on Oct. 17. The name of the defendant is not known; charges against him carry up to 7 years in penal colony. This is the first criminal case under the new article in the criminal code regarding mobilized servicemen going AWOL. (Pavel Chikov’s Telegram channel)

Oct. 27 – Russia’s investigative committee filed the first charges under the fresh amendments to the criminal code (adopted on Sept. 24) that criminalize the failure to follow military orders during hostilities and the refusal to take part in hostilities. The defendant is an unnamed contract soldier who allegedly “refused to take part in hostilities by failing to follow the order to depart as dispatched to take part in hostilities”. If convicted, the man is facing between 2 and 3 years in jail. (Pavel Chikov’s Telegram channel)

III. POLITICAL REPRISALS DIRECTLY UNRELATED TO THE WAR

Oct. 24-26, Arkhangelsk – District court ordered nine local activists to compensate local police for overtime work while dispersing their protests over the arrest and trial of Alexey Navalny in January of last year. Egor Butakov and Elizaveta Bychkova (Navalny’s former staffers in the region), Olga Shkolina (a volunteer of their organization), and unaffiliated activists Olga Kuznetsova, Yury Chesnokov, and Elena Fokina will have to pay a total of circa 233,000 RUB (about $3,800), while Ruslan Akhmetshin, Ilya Leshukov, and Dmitry Baturo were ordered to pay more than twice as much – around 530,000 RUB. Shkolina, Leshukov, and Baturo have already left Russia. (SOTA; OVD-Info) Two days later, on Oct. 26, regional court sentenced Akhmetshin in another case, to 2.5 years in a colony-type settlement, for alleged ‘exoneration of Nazism’. He is also banned for 3 years from administering websites and will have to reimburse the government 181,000 RUB (almost $3,000) for expert testimonies and the work of his court-appointed attorney. Akhmetshin was charged in March for his online posts, in which he wrote about the shared responsibility of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany for starting WWII and suggested that it would be better for the authorities to give material aid to war veterans than to stage annual Victory Day parades. He has been in detention since May when he tried unsuccessfully to board a plane to Armenia and was detained at the airport. He is a former photographer of the local chapter of the Navalny movement. (SOTA)

Oct. 25-26, Tyumen – District court added another two months to the pre-trial detention of Yury Neznamov, Danil Chertykov, and Deniz Aidyn, and, on the next day, to the terms of arrest of Nikita Oleynik, Roman Paklin, and Kirill Brik. All six allegedly belong to anti-Nazi (‘antifa’) groups in Tyumen, Ekaterinburg, and Surgut. They have been behind the bars since September; prosecutors have charged Oleynik with having created a “terrorist community” and being motivated by “hatred toward the present political regime”; the other five allegedly participated in that community; police also allege to have found explosives on Brik and Aidyn during search. Oleynik, Paklin, Neznamov, Chertykov, and Aidyn have reported being tortured while in detention, including by electric shock. (Tyumenskoe Delo [The Tyumen Case] Telegram channel)

Oct. 25, Kazan – It became known that on Oct. 19, military district court in Ekaterinburg sentenced 34-year-old Farit Sharifullin to 18 years in hard labor colony, on charges of ‘organizing a terrorist organization’, ‘financing terrorist activities’, and using forged documents or forging them. (Central district military court website) The ‘terrorist organization’ is the international Islamic political party Hizb ut-Tahrir which is banned in Russia, Germany, and a number of Muslim countries but is not know to engage in any acts of terror. Memorial has included Sharifullin in its list of political prisoners, stating that the prosecution did not provide any evidence showing that he was planning or encouraging any acts of violence (Support for Political Prisoners-Memorial Human Rights Project).

               Myski (Kemerovo region) – City court sentenced Maksim Andrianov to 40 hours of compulsory public works for “violating the rules of organizing a public action”. The violation consisted of a meeting of 10 residents of Berenzas, a local hamlet, who got together in July in order to elect a council. Andrianov claims he was acting within the framework of Russia’s law on local self-government and was not the initiator of the meeting. Andrianov is an environmental activist; he recently reported threats and damage to his property. (OVD-Info)

                Pyatigorsk (Stavropol region) – A second-level appeals court upheld the sentences of two Chechen men, Salekh Magamadov (sentenced to 8 years of imprisonment including jail and hard-labor penal colony) and Ismail Isayev (sentenced to 6 years in penal colony). Magamadov and Isayev are brothers. They were charged with ‘involvement in an illegal armed group’, for allegedly passing food to one of the militants of the underground opposition to Ramzan Kadyrov. They say they were tortured in Chechnya for having administered an online chat that was critical of Kadyrov and were forced under duress to apologize for it in public. (OVD-Info)

                MoscowErkin Zabiev was briefly detained at the entrance to the State Duma building while demonstrating with a poster that called for an impeachment for Putin. He was charged with ‘disparaging the army’. (OVD-Info)

Oct. 27, Moscow – Police detained Savva Karpov, a ward council candidate from the Yabloko Party in last month’s elections and member of a social democratic group, LeftSD; on the next day, district court fined him 2,000 RUB on charges of “displaying extremist symbols”, namely Alexey Navalny’s ‘Smart Voting’ logo on election flyers. Karpov pleaded not guilty, stating that he had nothing to do with these flyers; Yabloko is opposed to the ‘Smart Voting’ agenda (that encourages voting for viable candidates of minor parties, including ultranationalist and Communist, to reduce voting for Putin’s United Russia). Karpov was disqualified by the board of elections at the last moment, due to his alleged permanent residency status in Germany which he said he did not have; overall, 20% of Yabloko candidates were removed from the ballot. (Yabloko Party, SOTAvision)

              Yekaterinburg – Police detained Ivan Babushkin during his solo protest action with a poster ‘Freedom for Navalny!’ Babushkin was later released  but ordered to show up later for interrogation. (OVD-Info)

IV.       RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION (Jehovah’s Witnesses)

Oct. 25, Tynda (Amur region) – District court sentenced four JW followers to actual imprisonment: Vladimir Bukin, Valery Slashchev, and Sergey Yuferov to 6.5 years and Mikhail Burkov to 6 years and 2 months in penal colony. All four pleaded not guilty of “organizing the activities of an extremist organization”, a staple charge against JW believers. (OVD-Info)

               Birobidzhan (Jewish autonomous region) – On the same day, second-degree appeals court upheld the sentence of JW believer Andrey Gubin, sentenced in 2021 for suspended jail term of 2.5 years for his alleged involvement with JW’s organizational activities. (Source: JWs’ website on the legal situation in Russia) Russia’s supreme court banned JWs’ organizational structure, the Governance Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, in 2017 as an ‘extremist organization’. Hundreds of Russian JWs are on Russia’ financial oversight agency list of ‘extremists and terrorists’. (OVD-Info)

V.     EXODUS FROM RUSSIA AND TRANSNATIONAL REPRESSION

Oct. 27, Moscow – Russia’s investigative committee has filed a criminal case against Vladimir Osechkin, the founder of Gulagu.net, the investigative online channel best known for publishing shocking evidence of torture in Russia’s penitentiary system. Osechkin is being charged with ‘spreading false reports’ about the army; the decision about placing him on a ‘wanted’ list is “under review”. (Investigative committee website) He has lived abroad since 2015, most recently in France. In 2020, a Moscow court ordered his arrest in absentia on charges of an alleged financial fraud and reportedly placed him on a ‘wanted’ list twice. (OVD-Info)

That’s it for today. We will always appreciate your feedback (via email to rcc-ara@rcc-amrusrights.org), as well as your moral and, not least, material support. You are welcome to donate toward this project to our parent organization, RCC (a 501c tax-exempt NGO incorporated in New York in 2011), via PayPal – https://bit.ly/3DlUxy1, Facebook – www.facebook.com/RCC.org, or by check – Russian-speaking Community Council, Inc., P.O.Box 578, New York NY 10040.

Project Director Dr. Dmitri Daniel Glinski and our project team

(This bulletin is a successor to ‘In Their Own Voices: Eurasian Human Rights Digest’ that was produced in 2005-06 at Columbia University)

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