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Advancing the Summit for Democracy agenda with the Global Democracy Coalition / Наша работа в Глобальной демократической коалиции по продвижению повестки дня Саммита за демократию

Our Association, along with our Ukrainian & Russian Diasporas’ Antiwar Roundtable, was proud to join the Global Democracy Coalition Forum in Washington on Feb. 28 – March 1 and contribute to the discussion on the need for the Summit for Democracy process to continue and to develop the inclusive platforms that it has provided for USG-civil society dialogue and joint action on defending human rights, fighting international kleptocracy, and countering authoritarian aggression. Thank you to International IDEA for the amazing work of organizing it and to Counterpart International for hosting us at their HQ. / Наша Американская русскоязычная правозащитная ассоциация приняла участие в форуме Глобальной демократической коалиции – объединения около сотни НКО из различных стран мира, созданного в поддержку повестки дня Саммитов за демократию, которые проводит администрация Байдена. Основные темы саммитов – противодействие натиску авторитаризма, совместная борьба с коррупцией и защита прав человека. АРПА входит в состав этой коалиции. Форум проходил синхронно в Вашингтоне и Брюсселе с участием представителей администрации и членов Еврокомиссии. Наша делегация приняла участие в дискуссиях в Вашингтоне.

ARA delegation at the forum, left to right: Daria Bekina, our Volunteer Community Navigator in the DC area; Dr. Pavel Sulyandziga, ARA Co-Chair of the Board and President of the Batani Foundation; Dr. Dmitri Glinski, ARA Co-Chair of the Board and Managing Director, President & CEO of RCC; Liubov Stasiv, Co-Chair of our Ukrainian & Russian Diasporas’ Antiwar Dialogue, former Member of Ukrainian Parliament and of the Administration of President Viktor Yushchenko; and Pavel Suliandziga, Jr., ARA and Batani activist./ На фото, слева направо – Дарья Бекина (одна из координаторок вашингтонской группы АРПА); Павел Суляндзига (сопредседатель совета директоров АРПА и президент Международного фондв развития и солидарности коренных народов “Батани”); Дмитрий Глинский (сооснователь/сопредседатель совета директоров АРПА, президент Русскоязычного общественного совета в Нью-Йорке); Любовь Стасив (сопредседательница нашего Антивоенного диалога украинской и российской диаспор, экс-депутат Верховной рады Украины); Павел Суляндзига-мл. (активист АРПА и Батани)


As of Feb. 24, 2023, based on the publications and updates by OVD-Info, ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project (successor to the Memorial Human Rights Center), and other sources; roughly in chronological order of imprisonment

On the first anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine by the Putin dictatorship, our Association is releasing a directory of 116 individuals that are currently imprisoned or held under house arrest by Russian authorities for their antiwar actions. Our publication is based on the websites and periodic updates of Russia’s human rights organizations but also includes many people who have been jailed for alleged acts of violence (such as attempts to set army conscription stations on fire) and therefore are not recognized by these organizations as political prisoners. This list is not comprehensive, and in many of the reported cases the name of the defendant has not been made public. Inclusion in this directory should not be interpreted as our endorsement of any particular type of antiwar activism in Russia.


Igor Maltsev (aka Egor Skorokhodov; St. Petersburg), 23

     On 6 March 2022, the last day of the Russian Orthodox Shrovetide, Igor Maltsev and Sofya Semenova brought an effigy in camouflage with a bag over its head to the ice of a river in St. Petersburg and burned it. A video of the action was posted online, followed by an appeal to “take the soldiers and bodies back to Russia”. Within days, Maltsev and Semyonova were detained and charged with ‘hooliganism motivated by political hatred’ and ‘committed by a group with prior collusion’. Semyonova was released under certain restrictions and left the country. Maltsev was sentenced to 3 years and 8 months in prison. He has been recognized as a political prisoner by the ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project.

Alexey Gorinov, 61 (Moscow)

     Born in Moscow, Alexey is a geographer and a lawyer by training. He worked as a researcher and educator and has been a small business owner. He served as a local elected official in Moscow in 1990-93 and took part in the defense of the Russian parliament against the botched hardline coup in August 1991. He is a member of the Solidarity movement, co-founded by the late Boris Nemtsov, whose current leadership also includes Ilya Yashin and Vladimir Kara-Murza. In 2017, he was elected, for a 5-year term, to Moscow’s Krasnoselsky district council.  On March 15, at a council session, Gorinov made a motion to hold a minute of silence “in memory of the victims of aggression in Ukraine” which was supported unanimously. He also stated that “all the efforts of civil society should aim at stopping the war and pulling Russian troops out of Ukraine”. He was detained on April 26; on July 8, he was found guilty of ‘publicly and knowingly spreading false information on the use of Russia’s armed forces, being motivated by political hatred or hostility’ and sentenced to 7 years in penal colony (reduced in September to 6 years 11 months by appeals court). In December it became known that Gorinov was being denied medical treatment in prison. Soon, he was transferred to a hospital at a neighboring prison. Gorinov is recognized as a political prisoner by ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project.

Altan Ochirov, 41 (Elista, Republic of Kalmykia)

     Ochirov is an opposition activist who participated in election monitoring efforts. In March of 2022, he was fired from the local university for his antiwar online posts but managed to find a job at the mayor’s office. He allegedly used his workplace equipment to make antiwar posts in a Telegram channel that he reportedly administered. He was detained on April 13th in the mayor’s office, in a violent manner that was broadcast on social media and caused protests by local human rights defenders. Ochirov was charged with ‘spreading false information as part of a group about the use of Russia’s armed forces … while being motivated by hatred’, by allegedly publishing an anti-war Telegram channel that had less than 600 subscribers. He pleaded not guilty, and his defense stated that he had not been in charge of the channel by the time of his arrest. Ochirov stated that he was a pacifist and that he was charged under a “totalitarian” article of the criminal code. On Oct. 18, he was sentenced to 3 years in a prison colony, with prohibition on working in civil service for another 3 years. The prosecution appealed his sentencing as too lenient; in December 2022, the appeals court increased his term of imprisonment to 5 years. Ochirov has been recognized as a political prisoner by ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project.

Ilya Yashin, 39 (Moscow)

     Born in Moscow, and a political scientist by training, Yashin has been a prominent participant of Russia’s democratic movement for the past 20 years. In 2005, he spent two weeks in Belarusian jail for his participation in protests against the Lukashenka regime.  In 2006-08, he co-chaired the youth section of the Yabloko Party. In 2012, he was elected by opposition activists and supporters to the Coordinating Council that represented a significant part of the opposition to Putin; Yashin ranked 5th by the number of votes gained. In 2012-16, he was deputy chair of the PARNAS Party (Party of People’s Freedom) that was co-founded by Boris Nemtsov. Yashin collaborated closely with Nemtsov, notably in co-authoring a report about the Kremlin’s ‘hybrid’ war in East Ukraine. He is also a co-founder (along with Nemtsov and Garry Kasparov) of the Solidarity movement and a member of its main governing body which also includes Vladimir Kara-Murza. In 2017-22, he was, along with Gorinov, elected member of Moscow’s Krasnoselsky district council and its chair until his resignation in 2021. Yashin has tried to run for a seat in Moscow city legislature and for the mayor’s office, but in 2021 he was banned by court from running for elected office for 3 years, due to his involvement with Alexey Navalny’s movement which had been branded as ‘extremist’ by the Kremlin. In June 2022, immediately after serving a 15-day arrest for allegedly disobeying police, Yashin was charged with ‘spreading false information’ about the army, with aggravating ‘motivation of political hatred’. The charge stemmed from his YouTube broadcast in April about the Bucha massacre. In July, Russia’s ministry of justice placed him on its «foreign agents» list, and his bank accounts were frozen. On Dec. 9, he was sentenced to 8.5 years in penal colony. In his closing remarks, Yashin addressed Vladimir Putin directly: “Mr. Putin! As you look at the consequences of this monstrous war, you probably realize what a big mistake you made on February 24. No one is greeting our army with flowers. We are called invaders and occupiers. Your name is now firmly associated with death and destruction. You have brought terrible misfortune to the Ukrainian people, who will probably never forgive us. But you’re not only at war with the Ukrainians. You’re at war with your own people. You send hundreds of thousands of Russians into a combat inferno, and many of them will never come home. They will turn to dust. Many more will be disabled or lose their minds from what they saw and felt. … Hundreds of thousands of Russians are leaving their home country because they don’t want to kill or be killed. Those people are running from you … Did you forget that this kind of policy leads our country to disintegration? Although my words might sound like a voice crying in the desert, I’m urging you, Mr. Putin, to stop this madness immediately. You must admit that your policies regarding Ukraine have been an error. You must get the Russian troops out of Ukraine and start working on a diplomatic resolution of this conflict.” Yashin has been recognized as a political prisoner by ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project.

Vladimir Rumyantsev, 62 (Vologda)

     Rumyantsev is a gas equipment operator and repairman who also worked at brick and machine-building factories, drove a bus, and operated a boiler room. He also ran a homemade amateur radio station. Rumyantsev was a democratic activist since late 1980s and a longtime opposition supporter; he took part in local rallies in support of Navalny. After the start of the war, he was fined twice for ‘disparaging the army’, for a total of 60,000 RUB. On July 14, he was detained and charged with ‘publicly spreading false information about the use of the Russian army abroad, while being motivated by political and ideological hatred’. These charges are based on Rumyantsev’s posts in VKontakte made between March and June 2022, including six videos stating that Russian soldiers in Ukraine were “pillaging, killing, and raping civilians, destroying hospitals, maternity clinics, schools, and kindergartens” (as quoted in the court ruling), as well as on his radio broadcasts about civilian casualties in Ukraine. On Dec. 22, a court in Vologda found him guilty and sentenced him to 3 years in penal colony. Rumyantsev pleaded not guilty and stated his negative views of Putin and the war. He has been recognized as a political prisoner by ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project.

Lev Lerman, 66 (Nizhni Novgorod)

     Lerman, a native of Nizhni Novgorod (formerly Gorky), is an engineer, inventor, and longtime labor and environmental activist. In August 1991 he took part in the local resistance to the failed hardline coup. Since the first days of the invasion, Lerman was denouncing it in his online posts.  In early March, police and agents from the governmental “anti-extremist center” searched his home, showing particular interest in his Facebook posts, according to his wife. Lerman was detained and sentenced by court to 10 days in jail for violating the rules of participating in a protest. While he was serving this term, a second search was conducted at his home, and police allegedly found unlicensed gun ammunition. Lerman was immediately placed in pre-trial detention. In October 2022, he was sentenced to 4 years of prison colony on charges of illegal possession of ammunition. In December, his sentence was upheld on appeal. His wife was compelled to leave Russia.

Andrey Biryukov, 35 (Voronezh)

     Biryukov, who in the past administered a website about the war in Ukraine, was detained on July 28 and placed in custody.  He was charged with ‘public justification of terrorism and calls to extremist activities’, on the basis of his posts in VKontakte, including his supportive comments about Nadezhda Belova, another resident of Voronezh who was prosecuted for ‘public justification of terrorism’. According to Biryukov’s mother, in reality he was most likely prosecuted because of his posts about the war in Ukraine. According to his attorney, Biryukov’s relatives were not allowed to visit him and he was not allowed to call them until he pleaded guilty and started cooperating with the investigation – which he eventually did. On November 9, he was sentenced to three and a half years in penal colony and was also prohibited from administering websites for two years.

Mikhail Shendakov (Krasnogorsk, Moscow)

     Shendakov is a retired colonel and online blogger. In 2021, he was tried and given a suspended term of imprisonment for allegedly inciting hatred and violence against FSB employees in his video about Russia’s intervention in Donbas. In October 2022, he was fined 30,000 RUB for his antiwar posts online. In January 2023, he was detained, and the court changed his suspended term from 2021 sentencing to actual 2.5-year imprisonment.

Vladislav Nikitenko, 53 (Blagoveshchensk and/or Ivanovka village, Amur Region)

     Nikitenko is a lawyer, a journalist, and anti-corruption campaigner. In 2017, he was found guilty and sentenced to 6 years in penal colony for alleged contempt of court, slandering a judge and fighting with a police officer. He was released from colony in December 2021. In the first day of the invasion, Nikitenko penned official complaints to Russia’s investigative committee and the prosecutor-general against Vladimir Putin and members of his Security Council, urging these agencies to investigate them for violations of several articles of Russia’s criminal code, including the prohibition of unleashing an aggressive war, prohibition on inciting such a war, using prohibited methods of warfare, genocide, and act of international terrorism. Nikitenko himself was soon charged with making 10 antiwar social media posts that ‘repeatedly disparaged the Russian military’ and was fined 45,000 RUB. In May, after spending nearly two months in pre-trial detention, he was released by court and placed under house arrest and other restrictions; in July, however, he was returned to the detention center because of having allegedly used his cell phone and thus violated the restrictions imposed on him by court. In September, he went on a hunger strike in protest against the court decision to extend his detention. On January 31, 2023, Nikitenko was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment. He has been recognized as a political prisoner by ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project.


Vladimir Kara-Murza, 40 (Moscow)

     Kara-Murza, a graduate of Cambridge University and a historian by training, is one of the leaders of Russia’s democratic opposition and a contributing writer at The Washington Post. He also worked as correspondent and anchor for BBC, RTVi, Kommersant, Ekho Moskvy, and other outlets. He was a close collaborator of Boris Nemtsov. Kara-Murza ran for the Duma and served as deputy leader of the People’s Freedom Party (PARNAS), founded by Nemtsov. He played a key role in the adoption of the Sergei Magnitsky Act. He was the founding chairman of the Nemtsov Foundation and served as vice president at Open Russia and the Free Russia Foundation. Kara-Murza is a senior advisor at Human Rights First and a senior fellow at the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights; and has been a visiting fellow at the University of Chicago, leading a seminar course on contemporary Russia. Twice, in 2015 and 2017, Kara-Murza was poisoned and left in a coma; subsequent investigation by Bellingcat and The Insider identified FSB officers who were behind the poisonings. He has directed three documentary films: They Chose Freedom; Nemtsov; and My Duty to Not Stay Silent; and is the author of Reform or Revolution: The Quest for Responsible Government in the First Russian State Duma. Kara-Murza is a recipient of several awards, including the Sakharov Prize for Journalism as an Act of Conscience, the Magnitsky Human Rights Award, and the Geneva Summit Courage Award. He is married, with three children. Kara-Murza was detained in Moscow in April 2022 and initially placed under 15-day arrest for allegedly disobeying police. Immediately afterwards he was charged with ‘disseminating, being driven by political hatred, knowingly false information … including information about the targeting of social infrastructure facilities by Russia’s armed forces when bombing residential areas…” The charge against him is based on his remarks at the session of Arizona House of Representatives. He was also placed on the ministry of justice’ «foreign agent» list. In July 2022, another criminal case was opened against him for participating in activities of an “undesirable organization” (in connection with a conference in support of Russia’s political prisoners that he hosted in October 2022, allegedly with the financial support of the Free Russia Foundation. Further, in October 2022, a third criminal case was opened against him, on charges of ‘high treason’; these charges are based on his remarks in various foreign audiences about the illegitimacy of Russia’s “elections” and the suppression of dissent. In December 2022, investigators prohibited him from talking to his children, claiming that these conversations “might threaten their investigative work”. In February 2023, his pre-trial detention was extended until March 12. Kara-Murza is recognized as a political prisoner by ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project.

Sergey Vedel (aka Sergey Klokov, Samiel Vedel), 38 (Moscow)

     Reserve control point technician at the capital’s main Ministry of Internal Affairs directorate. He was placed in a pre-trial detention center on the 18th of March. According to lawyer Daniil Berman, the prosecution’s ruling of the case states that Klokov disseminated false information during a telephone conversation, not publicly. Later it became known Later it became known that, according to case materials, Klokov told his colleagues and friends over the phone that Russia has evacuated wounded military men to Belarus and understates the numbers of casualties. He also is claimed to have stated that Russian military men killed civilians and that Ukraine is, in fact, not «run by Nazis.» Additionally, he was allegedly planning to organize a phone conversation between his Russian colleagues and an acquaintance from Kyiv. Security forces informed Berman that Klokov declined the lawyer’s services. However, later Klokov signed an agreement with Berman. On August 10, the court returned the case to the prosecutor’s office, but later the case returned to the court. ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project has recognized Vedel as a political prisoner.

Aleksandr Nozdrinov, 37 (Novokubansk, Krasnodar Region)

     Nozdrinov is a war veteran, a YouTube blogger, and a longtime public critic of local law enforcement agencies. On March 27, 2022, his house was searched by police who also reportedly beat him up. He was initially placed under arrest for allegedly disobeying them and later was charged with ‘disparaging the military’. The charges are based on his publications on his Telegram channel about the bombings of Kyiv (one of his posts contained a photo of a ruined building with the caption ‘Ukrainian cities after the arrival of their liberators’). Nozdrinov has stayed behind the bars since March while his case is awaiting trial. Nozdrinov is a father of 3 minor children. Nozdrinov is recognized as a political prisoner by ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project.

Alberto Enrique Giraldo Saray, 40 (Moscow)

     Saray is a citizen of Colombia who used to be engaged in tourism business. He has lived in Russia for two decades and has two children, one of them a minor. He has been charged by the Russian authorities with being part of a group that ‘disseminated false information’ about the Russian military. State prosecutors claim that he “created bot farms to spread fake reports about Russia’s military operation in Ukraine on US instructions in the spring of 2022” and “mass mailing of fake messages for a monetary reward”, “in the interests of a foreign organization” allegedly associated with USAID. They further claim that he “conspired with persons that managed his actions from abroad to provide technical support and secretly install mobile devices in one of Moscow’s malls”. These devices facilitated “the remotely controlled mass mailing by unidentified persons of knowingly false information concerning the actions of the Russian armed forces in Ukraine, including the information about murders of civilians”, to Russian cell phone users. Saray has been in pre-trial detention since Apr. 2022; it has recently been extended to July 26, while his trial is going to be closed to the public, allegedly at the defendant’s request. ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project has recognized Saray as a political prisoner (noting, among other circumstances of the case, that some of Saray’s Facebook posts were in fact pro-Russian and critical of Ukraine).

Aleksandra Skochilenko, 32 (St. Petersburg)

     Skochilenko is an artist. She was detained on April 11, 2022, 11 days after she allegedly replaced price tags at a local supermarket with anti-war flyers referencing the number of civilian casualties as a result of Russia’s shelling of the Mariupol Drama Theater. Skochilenko was charged with “disseminating false information about the Russian military under the influence of political hatred”. She has been kept in pre-trial detention in spite of the public campaigns to release her due to her medical conditions causing special dietary needs. She also complained of bullying by her cellmates. ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project recognizes her as a political prisoner.

Mikhail Afanasyev, 46 (Abakan, Republic of Khakassia)

     Afanasyev is editor-in-chief of Novy Fokus, a local periodical, and author of many investigative reports, as well as an activist of the Yabloko Party. He was previously awarded the Andrei Sakharov Prize for Journalism-As-Action and was the first foreign recipient of the Swedish Publicists’ Association’s award for freedom of expression; he was also repeatedly harassed by security services as a result of his publications. On April 4, 2022, he published an article about 11 local riot police officers who refused to be deployed to Ukraine to participate in the war. On April 15, after a search at his and his mother’s homes, Afanasyev was charged with ‘disseminating apriori false information about the Russian army, aggravated by the use of one’ official position’, i.e. that of the publication’s editor. In November, the court remanded his case to the prosecution due to missing information about the date and location of Afanasyev’s actions that served as the basis for the charge. However, Afanasyev has remained in detention. ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project has recognized him as a political prisoner.

Sergey Mikhailov, 46 (Gorno-Altaisk, Altai Republic)

     Mikhailov is the former member of the Altai Republic legislature, former head of the local branch of the People’s Freedom (PARNAS) Party founded by Boris Nemtsov, and, since 1999, the founder and publisher of LIStok, an opposition newspaper which is reportedly the largest-circulation periodical in the republic. LIStok’s website was blocked by Russia’s media monitoring agency in 2016. Since the start of the invasion it published many articles about the war, including about the murders of civilians in Mariupol and Bucha, in which it accused the Russian army of war crimes. On April 13, 2022, Mikhailov was detained in a suburb of Moscow where he had been living recently, and charged with ‘spreading apriori false information about the Russian military under the influence of political hatred’. Mikhailov has been in detention ever since and has been recognized as a political prisoner by ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project.

Richard Rouz, 37 (Kirov)

     Richard and Maria Rouz are husband and wife known for their activism and participation in anti-Putin protests, including the major nationwide protest organized by Alexey Navalny’s team in 2018 under the slogan “He is not our tsar!” In 2021, Richard was summoned for interrogation to the local ‘anti-extremist center’ of Russia’s interior ministry. On April 14, 2022, the couple was detained and charged with ‘public dissemination of apriori false information about the Russian military under the influence of political hatred’; the charges are based on their posts of photos and videos about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including photos from the site of the Bucha massacre. Maria Rouz was subsequently released under certain restrictions upon her activities.  Richard has been reportedly pressured to plead guilty, under threats that his wife would be returned to the detention center, and their minor son would be taken to an orphanage. In December, Richard was additionally charged with ‘public justification of terrorism’, in connection with his other statements regarding the war. In his court statements and letters to a friend, Richard has complained of being beaten by security and threatened with more physical violence. He has been reportedly deprived of the right to correspondence. Meanwhile his wife has left Russia. ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project has recognized Richard Rouz as a political prisoner.

Bulat Shumekov, 31 (Kiselevsk, Kemerovo Region)

     Before the war, Shumekov was repeatedly prosecuted for participation in protest rallies. On April 15, 2022, he was detained and sent to custody.  According to local media, he had made online posts about the Russian military committing war crimes and murdering civilians. He has been charged with ‘disseminating apriori false information about the Russian armed forces, under the influence of hatred’. He has been in pre-trial detention ever since and has been recognized as a political prisoner by ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project.

Dmitry Ivanov, 23 (Moscow)

     Ivanov is a student at the Moscow State University (MSU) and the creator of the Telegram channel «MSU Protests». In May 2022, he was found guilty of ‘repeat violations of the rules for holding public rallies’ and sentenced to a 25-day arrest. June 2, on the last day of his arrest, he was detained again and charged with ‘dissemination, under the influence of hatred, of apriori false reports about Russia’s armed forces’. Charges against him are based on his posts about Russian military attacks on the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, about the shelling of a hospital in Mariupol, about the dispersal of rally in the occupied Kherson, about Russian air forces losses in the war, about the crimes committed in Bucha and Irpen, a repost of Zelensky’s address to the residents of Donbas, and a post in which Ivanov called the war its name rather than ‘special operation’. After a court hearing held in January 2023, it was reported that Ivanov was beaten up by one of the escorting officers. Ivanov is defended by an OVD-Info attorney. He has been recognized as a political prisoner by ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project.

Olga Smirnova, 54 (St. Petersburg)

     Olga Smirnova is an artist and a participant of St. Petersburg’s Peaceful Resistance group. She was detained on May 5, 2022, following a search at her home and the homes of five other activists and has remained in pre-trial detention ever since. Smirnova was charged on the basis of seven posts made by her group in early March on VKontakte, including posts about the shelling of Mariupol. She was also charged for organizing an antiwar protest on March 6. In October, the court remanded her case back to the prosecutor but in December it was brought again to the court. About the same time another criminal case was file against her, with charges of ‘destroying items that belong to cultural heritage’. Smirnova has been recognized as a political prisoner by ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project.

Viktoria Petrova, 29 (St. Petersburg)

     Petrova has graduated in management from the St. Petersburg State University and has worked in marketing. She says she does not view herself as an activist. Since the start of the invasion, she took part in several antiwar protests in the city. On May 6, 2022, she was detained after a search in her apartment and was charged with ‘disseminating, under the influence of political hatred, apriori false information about the Russian armed forces’. The charge against her stems from her posts in VKontakte in which she reportedly accused Putin and his entourage of causing civilian deaths and genocide. Petrova is being held in a pre-trial detention and has been recognized as a political prisoner by ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project.

Fr. Ioann (Dmitri) Kurmoyarov, 55 (St. Petersburg)

     Kurmoyarov is a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. He previously lived in Ukraine but several years ago was prosecuted there for displaying St. George’s Ribbon which is considered Russia’s semi-official military symbol. He then moved to Russia, obtained Russian citizenship, and was teaching theology at the Novosibirsk Seminary.  In 2020, he was fired from that job for his critique of Russia’s semi-official Orthodox Church. Since the start of the invasion, he openly criticized it; on April 1, he was deprived of his clergy rank by the authorities of the Russian Orthodox Church, after which he switched from it to the semi-autonomous Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (which is now also largely based inside Russia). In June 2022, a criminal case was initiated against him for ‘spreading false reports’ about the Russian military; the charges against him are based on his online video that he published in March, in which he stated that Russian soldiers killed during the invasion of Ukraine were going to hell and not to heaven. Kurmoyarov, who has been in pre-trial detention since then, has been recognized as a political prisoner by ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project.

Oleg Belousov, 55 (St. Petersburg)

     Belousov is an amateur underground digger. In April, he reportedly made comments in a local diggers’ online forum, in which he accused the Russian military in Ukraine of committing war crimes, “raping and pillaging”. Even though his comments were immediately deleted by the moderators of the group, one of the group members later reported him to the authorities. Belousov was detained on June 27, 2022, after a search at his home. In October, he was additionally charged with ‘inciting extremism’ by his social media posts, specifically a post in which he accused Vladimir Putin of war crimes.  Belousov has been recognized as a political prisoner by the ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project and is being defended by OVD-Info attorney.

Dmitry Talantov, 52 (Zavialovo, Republic of Udmurtia)

     Talantov is a lawyer and former president of the Bar Association of Udmurtia. He was one of the defense attorneys for journalist Ivan Safronov who was recently sentenced to 22 years of imprisonment for ‘high treason’, in a case that has been widely viewed as politically motivated. Since the start of the invasion, Talantov made multiple antiwar posts online, in one of which he accused the Russian military in Ukraine of “extreme Nazi practices”. He was detained in Izhevsk, the capital of Udmurtia, on June 28, 2022, and charged with ‘spreading, under the influence of political hatred, apriori false information’ about the Russian army. In September, additional charges were filed against him, including charges of ‘inciting hatred’ by his Facebook posts. In January 2023, Talantov had been removed from his position as president of the Bar Association of Udmurtia. He has been recognized as a political prisoner by ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project.

Vsevolod Korolyov, 35 (St. Petersburg)

     Korolyov is a documentary filmmaker and an activist who was previously involved with the local election monitoring efforts. Since the start of the invasion, he frequently denounced it on social media, attended the court trials of those charged with antiwar activities, collected donations for them, and made documentary films about Aleksandra Skochilenko and Maria Ponomarenko. He was detained on July 12, 2022, after a search in his apartment, and was charged with ‘spreading apriori false information about Russian military’. Charges against him are based on his posts made in March and April in VKontakte about the Russian military violence against civilians in Bucha, Borodyanka, and other locations. ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project has recognized Korolyov as a political prisoner.

Evgeny Bestuzhev, 62 (St. Petersburg)

     Bestuzhev is a member of the Solidarity political committee (a Saint Petersburg political movement). He has been charged with “openly disseminating, while driven by political hatred, deliberately false information about the use of the Russian armed forces”. In detention since Nov. 9, 2022; in February, his detention was extended by court until March 14. He is represented by an OVD-Info defense lawyer.

Maria Ponomarenko, 44 (Barnaul, Altai Region)

     Ponomarenko is a journalist with RusNews as well as an activist and a mother of two young children. She also administered a Telegram channel called “No to censorship”.  On March 17, 2022, she made a post in that channel about the Russian strike on the Mariupol Drama Theater and its civilian casualties. On April 23, she was detained in Saint Petersburg and charged with ‘disseminating false reports about the Russian military’. Since late April, she has been behind bars. In September, she reportedly attempted suicide, after which she was moved to an isolation cell and in November released from pre-trial detention to stay under house arrest. In January 2023, after a domestic conflict, the court moved her back to detention center. She is represented by an OVD-Info attorney. ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project has recognized her as a political prisoner.

Askhabali (Askhab, Askhat) Alibekov, 51 (Novorossiisk, Krasnodar Region)

    Alibekov is a popular blogger known as ‘Wild Paratrooper’, which is also the name of his YouTube channel. He is a former paratrooper who participated in the Chechnya war and a former commander of a regiment of Russia’s Black See Fleet.  Alibekov first clashed with the authorities in 2007, after an act of police violence against Chechen students in the city of Stavropol in which one of them died; he then urged an investigation and for charges to be brought against police, whom he accused of being in cahoots with neo-Nazi skinheads; instead, he ended up serving a jail term for ‘offending representatives of the authorities’. He gained fame in 2018, after publishing his video address to Putin, charging him with concealing the real number of Russian casualties in the then-unofficial Russian military intervention in East Ukraine. After the publication of this video, Alibekov was fired from the navy and had his prior suspended sentence in an unrelated case replaced with a real term of three years in penal colony. On his video channel, he urged paratroopers to refuse serving Putin and encouraged others to join rallies in support of Alexey Navalny. In July 2022, he was fined 50,000 RUB for ‘disparaging the Russian army’ by posting a video of a solo antiwar protest at the city main square. On Sept. 9, Alibekov was detained and charged with ‘repeat offense of spreading false information about the military’. He reportedly refused to put on an electronic bracelet to track his movements as a condition of his curfew and as a result was placed in pre-trial detention. ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project has recognized him as a political prisoner.

Alexey Nechushkin (Moscow)

     According to investigators, on February 27, 2022, Nechushkin intentionally drove a car onto the sidewalk on Pushkin Square, damaging the metal fence and then set fire to the car interior. A video of the incident appeared on social media, in which messages such as «people, stand up!» and «this is a war» were visible on the car. He has been in pre-trial detention since March 1.

Nikolai Daineko, 26 (Moscow)   Artyom Kamardin, 31 (Moscow)   Egor Shtovba (Moscow)

     Daineko, Kamardin, and Shtovba are participants of the ‘Mayakovsky readings’, a poetry reading performance held monthly next to Vladimir Mayakovsky’s monument at Moscow’s Mayakovsky Square. Its organizers declared that the readings on Sept. 25 would be explicitly directed against the military mobilization. Daineko and Shtovba were detained during the event and charged with ‘taking part in unauthorized public action’. The next day, court fined each of them 20,000 RUB, after which they were immediately detained again. On the same day, police also visited Artyom Kamardin, a poet and another participant of the readings; according to his attorney, during the search he was beaten to the point of a concussion, whereby emergency ambulance had to be called, and was also reportedly tortured with elements of sexual violence; the two other residents of his apartment were beaten as well. He was also forced to apologize on camera for the poem that he had read at the square. On Sept. 28, Dayneko, Shtovba, and Kamardin were charged with ‘inciting hatred with a threat of violence’, allegedly against the militaries of the Donetsk and Luhansk self-proclaimed republics; all three were placed in pre-trial detention. Charges against them stemmed from the poems they read on Sept. 25. All three are in pre-trial detention and have been recognized as political prisoners by ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project. Daineko is defended by an OVD-Info attorney.

Vitaly Barinov (Krasnoyarsk)

     According to the investigators, on October 15 he fired from a weapon into a promotional banner recruiting for military service which was hanging on Moscow St. in the city of Kansk (Krasnoyarsk region). The next day he was placed under arrest and remanded into custody by court ruling. In the ruling, the court said that Barinov was “accused of committing a crime out of political convictions, having to do with the military action between the Russian Federation and Ukraine.” He was later taken to Krasnoyarsk pre-trial detention facility.

Igor Pokusin 60, (Abakan, Republic of Khakassia)

     Pokusin is the leader of a local protest group named “How Much More (Dokole)” that was created to be the voice of victims of police abuse. According to investigators, he painted over a message on a banner that supported the Russian army. The banner was located at the intersection of Katanov and Pushkin streets. He additionally wrote an antiwar message on the facade of the Hakkas National Museum of Regional History, where previously a screen had been installed featuring letter Z. This letter is a symbol of support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He admitted his guilt and signed an agreement not to leave the city. On July 24, Pokusin was arrested at the airport in Krasnoyarsk while he was on his way to Astana. His wife told “Current Time” that after his arrest Pokusin had a plastic bag put over his head and was threatened with electric shocks. He was then placed under house arrest. On December 7, Pokusin received a 6 month suspended sentence. The next day he was arrested again and placed in pre-trial detention for a charge of attempted state treason.

Faik Khandzhigazov, 28; Anton Zavadsky, 28 (both from Tula)

     According to the charges against them, they wrote antiwar messages in the entrances of four apartment buildings. At first it was reported that they were taken to a pre-trial detention center. However, information has appeared that they are under house arrest.

Alexey Arbuzenko (Togliatti, Samara region), 46

     According to investigators, over the course of several weeks Arbuzenko spilled paint and wrote messages on three banners bearing images of Russian soldiers. The CHP Samara Telegram channel published a video where a man, stammering, tells that in June and July, on Voroshilova, Dzerzhinskogo and Revolyutsionnaya streets, he «committed acts of vandalism» against «posters with images of Russian army personnel that accomplished feats on the territory of Ukraine, ” that he regrets his actions and asks forgiveness of those whose feelings were hurt. He is under arrest. At first, a case was opened for vandalism motivated by political hatred, but later charges were added for discrediting the use of the military leading to destruction of property and for involving a minor in a crime committed by a group and motivated by political, ideological, racial, national, or religious hatred. The report of the Investigative Committee regional department states that the case also involves a 15-year-old minor. The case is currently being processed in court.

Aleksandr Snezhkov, 19, and Lyubov Lizunova, 16 (Chita, Trans-Baikal Region)

     They were detained on October 31 for graffiti saying “Death to the regime”. Law enforcement officers then looked into the Telegram channels “75zlo” and “Shugan-25,” run by Snezhkov and Lizunova, primarily posts that expressed support for lighting fire to military enlistment offices. Snezhkov and Lizunova were also charged with calls to extremism and the public glorification of terrorism. Searches were conducted in the anarchists’ apartments; they signed an agreement not to leave the city. In January 2023, Lizunova was arrested in Irkutsk and Snezhkov in Omsk, supposedly for violating their agreement not to leave the city. After this Snezhkov was placed in a pre-trial detention centre in Omsk while Lizunova was placed under house arrest.

Stanislav Shmakov, 25;

Kirill Dudarkov; Polina Plotnikova (all three from Tomsk)

     Stanislav Shmakov is an activist of the antiwar Yabloko Party, ex-candidate to the local legislature and legislative staffer in city council. All three were detained on Jan. 11, 2023, and placed under house arrest. They are being charged with having destroyed pro-war banners reading “Everything for the frontline”. Shmakov, whom the prosecution has presented as the leader of an organized group, reportedly pleaded guilty.

Stanislav Semenyuk, 34 (Vsevolozhsk, Leningrad region)

     According to investigators, he set fire to a flag with the letter Z hanging in the Yubileynoye-Ruchi gardening community. He has been detained.

Elena Tardasova-Yun (Novosibirsk)

     Adherent to the ideology of the “Citizens of the USSR” movement, 51. According to her passport, her surname is Yun. She was detained after a search. The reason for initiating the case was a repost of a WhatsApp message about a memorial service in the village of Mashkovo for a soldier who had died in Ukraine in a public group on Vkontakte. The author of the original message wrote that a thousand coffins had arrived in Novosibirsk. Tardasova-Yun was released after signing an agreement not to leave. However, she denied that any precautionary measure was enforced. On August 3rd, she was detained in Prokopyevsk (Kemerovo region) and transferred to Novosibirsk for interrogation. The following day contact with her was lost. On August 5th, information appeared that the court banned Tardasova-Yun from certain actions as a precautionary measure. The case is currently in the court. On December 26, Tardasova-Yun was placed in pretrial detention because she had supposedly posted two videos on her social media page, thereby violating the pretrial restrictions banning her from engaging in certain activities. Her lawyer said that at the time of the posts her pretrial restrictions had already expired–they were imposed for the duration of the investigation, and the investigation had already concluded. She is represented by OVD-Info defense attorney.

Ruslan Ganeev (Naberezhnye Chelny, Republic of Tatarstan)

     Ganeev is a web designer. The case against him was launched because of the two comments on VKontakte made in March. In the first, he stated that “according to NATO intelligence, the Russian army is beginning to retreat from Kyiv”, and in the second expressed his opinion about the number of killed civilians and soldiers in Ukraine. Ganeev did not show up in court in response to the summons and was detained on Dec. 6, 2022. Ganeev has been recognized as political prisoner by ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project.

Mikhail Simonov, 62(Moscow)

     On March 19 and 20, Simonov made two posts in VKontakte about the bombing of Kyiv and Mariupol by the Russian army. He was soon charged with ‘publicly disseminating, under the influence of political hatred, apriori false information’ about Russia’s military’. Prosecutors further found his posts to reflect a ‘dismissive, unfriendly and aggressively hostile attitude towards government authorities’, ‘disapproving of their actions to stabilize the socio-political situation on Ukrainian territory’. Simonov is in pre-trial detention and has been recognized as a political prisoner by ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project.

Alexander Martynov, Lyudmila Razumova (Konakovo, Tver Region)

     According to investigators, they «posted on their pages in one of the social networks, openly available to other users, videos containing knowingly false information about the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation to destroy cities and civilians in Ukraine.» These were obtained from unofficial Russian sources. They were arrested. Later they were also charged with vandalism. According to investigators, using paint and stencils they «desecrated buildings and other structures, ” as well as «damaged property» in the villages of Mokshino, Varaksino, Teshilovo, Mirny and Novozavidovsky. In particular, they wrote “Ukraine, forgive us” on the back wall of a shop called “Konfetka” (“Candy”). The couple has been recognized as political prisoners by ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project and is represented by OVD-Info lawyers.

Alexey Onoshkin, 32 (Nizhni Novgorod)

     Onoshkin is a blogger, traveler, political activist, and priest at the Temple of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. On April 28th, he was detained and forcibly admitted to a psychiatric hospital. The reason for this was a citizen’s statement about the activist’s suicidal tendencies due to a video in which he said that the Russian authorities were driving him to suicide. On July 21, Onoshkin was released from the hospital. On August 12, it became known that a criminal case was opened concerning «fake news.» The activist has not confirmed this. On August 16th, his home was searched and he was detained as a suspect. The following day, the court placed Onoshkin in pre-trial detention because of a post on social media network vk.com about the shelling of the Mariupol theater. On October 3rd, the court sent Onoshkin back to the psychiatric hospital because of his mental disorder until the investigation is completed. In November, information surfaced that Onoshkin was also prosecuted for ‘public justification of terrorism’. ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project has recognized him as a political prisoner.

Pavel Drozdov, 40 (Vorkuta, Komi Republic)

     According to investigators, he created a group in a messenger with at least 28 members. There he posted 2 videos that allegedly «consisted knowingly false information» about the Russian army. The website of the republican Investigative Committee also states that Drozdov posted comments with «false information» in public groups on the Internet. Apart from that, he is charged with illegal sale of drugs. He is in custody. On November 9th, the court found Drozdov guilty of selling drugs, while returning the case on disseminating “fakes” to the prosecutors, having found that the indictment needed to be revised. Specifically, they wrote that Drozdov adheres to pacifist views, but the charge said he disseminated false information motivated by hatred toward soldiers.

Valery Kotovich (Rostov-on-Don, Rostov Region)

     Kotovich is a colonel of Russia’s national guard who was in charge of supply operations. He has been charged with ‘spreading apriori false information about the Russian armed forces taking advantage of his official position and being motivated by hatred’. He is currently in custody. ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project has recognized Kotovich as a political prisoner.

Maksim Rachkov, 33 (Rostov-on-Don, Rostov Region)

     Rachkov has worked as head of electromagnetic lab at the Moscow Institute of Engineering and Physics. At the beginning of the war, Rachkov left Russia but he later came back. The criminal case against him was opened after his return to the country, in April 2022, in connection with a post on Vkontakte containing a video depicting the Russian military violently dispersing a peaceful Ukrainian demonstration. On July 21, after nearly 3 months of police surveillance, Rachkov was arrested and placed in pre-trial detention  He has been recognized as a political prisoner by ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project.

Gregory Marcus Severin Vinter (formerly — Grigory Vinter), 53 (Cherepovets, Vologda region).

     He was in custody for a post on VKontakte about the actions of the Russian army in Bucha, as well as eight reposts about the shelling of the drama theatre in Mariupol. Vinter said that at night the temperature in his jail cell goes down to 4-6 degrees Celsius. He also said that he has gone deaf in one ear because of the low temperatures and that he has run out of his supply of insulin. After that, he was given insulin, but still continued to write about the inadequate supply of medication. On October 19th, he was transferred to house arrest. On October 28th, the court of appeals overturned this decision. Vinter reported that he was humiliated and beaten in the pre-trial detention center while certain persons tried to get him to write a statement saying he had been placed on the «lowest rung» in the prison. Vinter is being defended by an OVD-Info lawyer and has been recognized as a political prisoner by ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project.

Maria Semerenko, 37 (Korolyov, Moscow Region)

     Semerenko is a local activist of the Libertarian party. She is being charged with publishing, on April 10, 2022 ‘knowingly false information’ about the war crimes committed by Russian military in Bucha Semerenko is in pre-trial detention. The court reportedly ordered her to undergo compulsory psychiatric evaluation. ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project has recognized her as a political prisoner.

Alexander Kamenyuk (Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Kamchatka Region)

     Ex-head of a local office of the pro-Kremlin ‘Fair Russia’ party. Detained on June 15th. The local MIA office reported that the case has been launched in connection to a post by Kamenyuk in a messenger app on May 24th. Previously, the activist had been a subject in at least two administrative cases on discrediting the Russian army. One of them concerned a video posted most likely on Facebook or Instagram. The court has already processed the case and fined Kamenyuk 50 thousand rubles. By the time the criminal case was launched, there had been no information on the court decision coming into force. The court barred Kamenyuk from engaging in certain actions. In September, security forces arrested Kamenyuk for an alleged attempt to “flee from investigative authorities” and held in jail for two days. In November, the court put him into pre-trial detention for violating the previously imposed pre-trial restrictions and failure to attend appointed meetings with the investigator. Later Kamenyuk was placed under house arrest. The case is already in the court.

Alexey Semyonov, 55 (Izhma village, Republic of Komi)

     Semyonov, a physician by training, has been an entrepreneur and an environmental activist. In March of 2022, he made a post in VKontakte about Ukrainian children killed as a result of Russia’s invasion. For this post, he was charged with ‘disparaging the Russian army’ and fined 30,000 RUB by a court order issued in May. In September, after making another online post that criticized the mobilization order, he was sentenced to 5-day arrest for the alleged failure to pay his previous fine, after which he was immediately re-arrested for allegedly disobeying the orders of the police. In October, he was was ordered to stay under house arrest and was subsequently charged with allegedly violating that order six times. Semyonov is recognized as a political prisoner by ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project.

Kirill Martyushev, 23 (Tyumen)

     On March 5th his house was searched. According to investigators, on February 24th Martyushev «recorded and posted a video assessing the activities of the police, which contained signs of inciting violence against a group of individuals united by service in the Ministry of Internal Affairs.» He did this on the public Telegram group #NOWAR while walking through Tyumen. On that day, Martyushev participated in an anti-war rally. He is now in a pre-trial detention center.

Andrey Trofimov, 55 (Tver)

     Trofimov is an opposition journalist who published articles on Kasparov.ru. He was detained on May 7 and was placed in pre-trial detention on charges of ‘extremism’. Trofimov’s son suggests that the grounds for his father’s prosecution are his antiwar posts in VKontakte

Dmitry Aritkulov, 44 (Anadyr, Chukotka Autonomous District)

     Aritkulov was detained on Dec. 18, 2022 and charged with ‘exonerating Nazism’ and ‘inciting extremist activities’. The extremism charge is based upon his comment in Telegram that wished success to Ukraine and said: “Death to the occupants, freedom to the peoples! Greetings from Chukotka!” Aritkulov was reportedly already penalized for his critical online posts in the pre-war period: in 2021, he was fined 100,000 RUB for ‘disrespecting the authorities’ by using obscenity in his comment about Putin.

Igor Levchenko, 26 (Krasnogorsk, Moscow Region)

     Levchenko is a singer and a native of Ukraine. According to investigators, Levchenko made an Instagram post February 24th that displayed signs of «instigating hatred or enmity toward Russia’s military with a threat of violence and murder.» He has reportedly pleaded guilty. After his arrest, a video appeared where Levchenko apologized for the post. He remains in detainment.

Andrey Boyarshinov (Kazan)

     Former employee of Kazan Federal University, with a graduate degree in biology. Repeatedly penalized over the past 5 years for participation in street protests. Detained after a search on March 17th as a suspect in a criminal case involving mass disorder. Taken away in an unknown direction directly after his release on March 19th. On March 20th it became known that Boyarshinov is under house arrest in connection to a case of public justification of terrorism. The grounds for opening this case were posts allegedly made by him under an alias on Telegram in early March 2022 during local antiwar protests. On March 29, 2022, Boyarshinov was placed in pre-trial detention and has been there for the past 10 months. In February 2023, his detention was extended by court until March 18.

Vladimir Timofeev (Irkutsk)

     Veteran of the Afghan and Chechen wars, left-wing activist. He has criticized the Russian authorities on social media since the beginning of the war in Ukraine. As a result, his page on VKontakte was blocked by request of the Prosecutor General’s Office. The case was opened for a post in his Telegram channel about the airstrike by Ukraine on the oil depot in the Belgorod region. Timofeev was placed under house arrest. Initially, it was also reported that a case had been opened against him for discrediting the Russian army.

Nikita Tushkanov, 28 (Syktyvkar, Republic of Komi)

     Tushkanov is a historian by training and former schoolteacher. He has been an opposition activist at least since 2021 when he held a street action in support of the freedom of speech. Within two months, he was fired from his school job. In March 2022, he was charged with ‘petty hooliganism’, ‘displaying Nazi symbols’, and twice with ‘disparaging the army’, but these court proceedings did not lead to a sentencing. However, on Dec. 7, 2022, he was detained after a search and placed in pre-trial detention on charges of ‘justifying terrorism’ and ‘repeat disparagement of the army’. These charges stem from his online posts about the Crimean Bridge explosion and about the annexation of Crimea by Russia. He was also placed on the list of terrorists and extremists by Russia’s financial monitoring agency. In January, his fiancée reported in a Telegram channel that prosecutors had prevented him from registering his marriage with her and did not issue permit for his mother and sister to visit him. In February 2023, Tushkanov’s detention was extended by court to April 5.

Vladislav Kraval, 47 (Ukhta, Komi Republic)

     According to investigators, on September 25th, he called a police department and gave «knowingly false» information related to the arson of a military draft office. Kraval’s house was searched, the police confiscated the jacket he was allegedly wearing when writing the slogan «No to war» and a crossed Z letter at an unknown location. While the search was conducted, Kraval was serving an administrative 6-day arrest in a pre-trial detention center on charges of evading compulsory work. Later, he was placed into custody in relation to a criminal case. Apart from the bomb scare charge, he is accused of vandalism on the grounds of political hatred.

Nikolay Titarenko, 25 (Amur Region)

     According to investigators, he posted a publicly accessible video of the movement «Atesh» in the comments of a public Telegram chat. The video allegedly discusses existing plans for an underground movement within the Russian army «to betray the positions of soldiers and machines» and «organize sabotage in warehouses and headquarters» in order to stop the war. Titarenko has been detained.

Saveliy Frolov, 21 (Vladikavkaz, Republic of North Ossetia)

     He was detained at the Upper Lars checkpoint on the Russian-Georgia border on October 30th. The border officials searched his phone and found subscriptions to anti-war Youtube and Telegram channels, anti-war statements in his private messages and messages about the Freedom for Russia Legion. The next day, Frolov was charged with disorderly conduct and placed under administrative arrest for 15 days. On November 14th, he was placed under another 15-day arrest for disobeying the lawful orders of border officials for, allegedly, using his smartphone at the checkpoint. On November 30th, he was placed under 15-day arrest for the 3rd time, charged with disorderly conduct for, supposedly, using profanities in public. On December 2nd, an investigation was initiated against Frolov for preparing high treason, accusing him of defecting to the enemy. According to investigators, Frolov was planning to travel through Georgia to Istanbul, Turkey, then to Poland and, finally, to Ukraine, where he would join the Freedom for Russia Legion. However, Frolov had neither a Schengen visa nor a plane ticket to Turkey. Frolov’s partner told Russian independent media “Mediazona” that they were planning to live together in Georgia while Evgeny Smirnov, Frolov’s lawyer, said that his client had been sending messages about the Legion before the law equating defection to the enemy’s side with high treason entered into force. Frolov was taken into custody.

Maksim Lypkan, 18 (Moscow)

     Lypkan is an activist who applied to the Moscow City authorities for permit to hold a 1,000-people-strong antiwar rally on Feb. 24, in front of the FSB headquarters, titled “A Year in Hell”. The application was denied on Feb. 14; Lypkan filed an appeal of this denial in court, but the appeal was also denied. On Feb. 15, he was charged with ‘disparaging the army’ and, separately, with trying to organize an unsanctioned street action. On Feb. 21, he was detained after a home search and was charged with spreading false information about the military. A district court has placed him in pre-trial detention until April 10.


Anastasia Levashova, 23 (Moscow)

     The first known person involved in the first known criminal case related to antiwar protests. According to investigators, she threw a Molotov cocktail at police officers at a rally on February 24th. The Investigative Committee published a video in which she, having been detained for threatening security forces with violence, apologizes. On March 28th she was sentenced to two years in a penal colony. On December 7th the appeals court shortened her sentence by two months.

Valery Dubenyuk, 29 (St. Petersburg)

     According to investigators, three people attacked police officers during the dispersal of a March 6th rally on Pirogov street. Two of them were detained while the third managed to escape. Korolev is accused of pushing an officer and is currently under house arrest. Dubenyuk has been taken to a pre-trial detention center. The incidents in which Korolev and Dubenyuk are alleged to have participated occurred in the same place: on Pirogov Street. However, it is not clear at the moment whether they are being charged in the same criminal case or in two different ones. Dubenyuk has confessed his guilt. His case was considered according to a special order. On April 25th, he was sentenced to one year in a penal colony.

Andrey Berezin (Astrakhan)

     According to investigators, he drove a car into a fence near the building of the local FSB, and also kicked one of the traffic police inspectors who detained him. According to inspectors, Berezin said after his arrest that he wanted to knock down a monument to Felix Dzerzhinsky, founder of the secret police, in response to the deaths of children in Ukraine. Berezin stated in court that he was not planning to damage anything, and that the inspector instead used force against him. He has been in custody since March 25. On August 4, the court sentenced Berezin to two years in a colony-settlement.


Vyacheslav Koshelev (Volzhsky, Volgograd Region)

     Detained on April 17th during a kind of race where participants climb the stairs of high-rise buildings. Koshelev believes that he was a subject of interest to security forces because of his clothes — he was wearing a cap with a Ukrainian flag and a hoodie with the message «30 years of Ukraine independence.» He was charged with petty hooliganism. The policemen claimed that he disrupted the race by shouting «indecent slogans.» On April 19th, it became known that a felony charge had been brought forward against Koshelev as during the detainment, according to investigators, he «intentionally kicked the right calf of Vlasov, a police officer, causing him physical pain.» Koshelev signed an agreement not to leave the city. On August 5th, the court ruled to send Koshelev to a psychiatric hospital. He is currently in custody while the sentence is being appealed.

Sultan Akhmedkhanov, 20;  Murad Aligadzhiev, 20; Magomed Ubaidulaev, 20 (all three – Makhachkala, Republic of Dagestan)

     According to the investigation, during the anti-mobilization protest on September 26th, they «punched and kicked various parts of the body» of police lieutenant S. Sarukhanov. The accused said that they were responding to the screams of a woman who had had her phone stolen at the protest. They suspected that Sarukhanov, who was not in uniform, had stolen it.  Their lawyers said that their clients had documented injuries: hematomas on their eyes, nose, limbs, chest, bruised ears, and concussions. Akhmedkhanov, Aligadzhiev and Ubaidulaev are currently being held in pre-trial detention.

Adam Gadzhiev (Makhachkala, Republic of Dagestan), 23

     According to the сharges against him, he used violence against a representative of the state during the anti-mobilization protest on September 26th. Further details are unknown. He is under arrest.

Natalya Filonova (Ulan-Ude, Republic of Buryatia), 61

     According to the charges against her, she used violence against two police officers on September 26th. On that day, both Filonova and сivil activist Nadezhda Nizovkina, who had been detained on September 24th during a public protest against mobilization, were taken to the Sovetsky District Court for a hearing on administrative cases concerning the repeated violations of protest participation regulations (Section 8, Article 20.2 of the Code of Administrative Offences). Unexpectedly, the court building was evacuated. Both women were picked up by different cars. According to investigators, Filonova slapped one police officer on the face and poked another using a pen. As a result, Filonova was placed under house arrest. On November 17, she was placed in a pre-trial detention — this happened after her adopted son went missing and she went looking for him with the electronic bracelet on her leg.

 Denis Serdyuk , 30 (Volgograd)

     Serdyuk has been in detention since May 2022. Prosecutors claim that on May 15 he set on fire a local army draft station by throwing “homemade incendiary devices” into its window. He has been charged with ‘damage to or the destruction of property’ and ‘hooliganism’. He has reportedly pleaded guilty and repented in the courtroom, while stating that his action was intended “to convey his position as a citizen and to stop hostilities”. Serdyuk is a father to 5-year-old son. State prosecution is seeking a 4-year-5-month term for him in penal colony.

Ilya Farber (Igra, Republic of Udmurtia)

     According to the charges against him, he set fire to a military registration and enlistment office (one of the rooms was burnt out as a result of a Molotov cocktail). He was arrested and taken into custody. A video appeared on Telegram channels, in which Farber states that he carried out these arsons because «he wanted to see what [he] was capable of.» On November 9th, he was sentenced to 3 years and 2 months in a maximum-security prison and fined 2,660,000 rubles. In 2012, Farber was sentenced to eight years in a maximum-security penal colony on charges of abuse of office and taking bribes. At the time, Farber was a rural teacher in Tver Oblast and the director of a local recreation center and was going to sue the general director of the company himself, who, according to Farber, did not conduct the repairs on time. Farber was sued by the general director of the company in turn. The sentence was later reduced to three years and Farber was released on parole in 2014.

Andrey Bogdanov, 60 (Zelenodolsk, Republic of Tatarstan)

     According to investigators, on September 4th, he threw a bottle with liquid resembling a Molotov cocktail towards the Zelenodolsk military commissariat. Nothing caught on fire, so for that reason the case was opened under attempted harm to property. On September 6th, Bogdanov was arrested. The aggravating circumstance leading to this form of pre-trial restrictions was a fine he had received for discrediting the Russian army which Bogdanov received on March 14th. He received a fine of 15,000 rubles for a picket with a poster that, according to Bogdanov, read «our Fatherland is in danger.» He is currently in pre-trial detention and on November 30th, he reported that he has been denied medical attention. He has hypertension, but has been unable to get access to a blood pressure monitor. He also needs to have temporary titanium plates in his arm and leg removed, but has not been given access to a surgeon, leaving him unable to use his arm.

Viktor Melnikov, 20 (St. Petersburg)

     According to the prosecution, Melnikov, who is a student, made a combustible mixture at home, because he allegedly wanted to burn the paper files of the military recruitment office, but was unaware that even though the building had the sign on it reading “military recruitment office”, the office was actually located next door. The building (which also belongs to the defense ministry) caught fire on Sept. 21, 2022; Melnikov was detained on Sept. 26. He has reportedly pleaded guilty. In November, he was placed into a psychiatric hospital for forensic evaluation; on Feb. 22, 2023, he was returned to the pre-trial detention.

Goncharenko (first name unknown; Krasnodar).

According to investigators, on October 6th, he threw four Molotov cocktails at the door of the military recruitment office in the city of Goryachii Kliuch, and fled. The resulting fire was put out by employees of the recruitment office before the fire brigade arrived. He was arrested.

Nikolai Baranov (Ryazan)

     According to the prosecution, he intended to set fire to the military commissariat building and the Moskovsky regional court: on the night of October 9th, in a drunken state, he got onto the territory of the courthouse and threw two bottles of flammable liquid through the first-floor window. Baranov was charged with attempted intentional destruction of property. He was arrested. Baranov did not deny his guilt and explained his actions as ideologically motivated.

Dmitry Mikheev, 21 (Bratsk, Irkutsk region)

     According to the prosecution, Mikheev, a sound engineer at “Bratsk” TV and Radio network, tried to set fire to the local military recruiting office. After information about his detention was made public, the network he had been working for announced that he no longer worked there. His name was removed from the company’s website.

Ilya Podkamenny, 18 (Irkutsk)

     Podkamenny was detained in November. According to investigators, he wrapped copper wire around the railroad tracks and attached leaflets handwritten on notebook sheets to the tracks. Podkamenny admitted his guilt. In December, it became known that a case concerning preparing and organizing a terrorist attack  was brought against him. Podkamenny is suspected of collecting funds to prepare an explosion at a local military registration and enlistment office.

Dmitry Lyamin, 31 (Shuya, Ivanovo Region)

     According to investigators, at the beginning of April, he threw «a hand-made explosive device» through the window of a military recruitment office. Nobody was hurt and the fire was quickly extinguished. At first, Lyamin was charged with an attempt to damage or destroy property. Lyamin was placed in custody. At the beginning of June, he was moved to Moscow — most likely, in order to conduct a psychiatric assessment at the Serbsky Center. For some unknown reason, Lyamin rejected the services of the lawyer he had had an agreement with. Human right defender Ivan Astashin believes this decision could have been made under pressure.

Igor Paskar, 46 (Volgograd)

     Paskar was detained in June 2022 in the city of Krasnodar and charged with allegedly throwing a Molotov cocktail into a local FSB office. The police also found tubes of blue and yellow paint in his possession and claimed that he had his face painted with these colors of the Ukrainian flag. He was placed in custody. In August, it became known that Paskar is also being charged with “vandalism”, as he had allegedly burned a banner with the war symbol Z on it. In January, at a hearing at Russia’s Southern district military court, Paskar claimed that he had been subjected to torture.

Oleg Vazhdaev (Krasnodar)

     According to investigators, he set fire to the enlistment office of the Western and Prikubansky districts located on Yan Poluyan Street using two Molotov cocktails. Initially, Vazhdaev was charged with intentional destruction of property, but then the charge was reclassified as a terrorist attack. One of the bottles he threw caught fire in front of the building, and the second did not break at all. Vazhdaev explained himself by saying that after the start of mobilization, he was afraid for his relatives and close friends. He was taken into custody.

Vladimir Zolotarev (Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Khabarovsk Region)

     Zolotarev is a taxi driver. He participated in protests. In March, his car was stopped by traffic police. According to investigators, following this stop he hit Senior Lieutenant Dmitry Feldman in the face with his head. Zolotarev states that, during the arrest, the police «twisted» him and, because of the pain, he «leaned back and accidentally hit» the traffic policeman’s face with the back of his head. A case was launched on committing violence toward a representative of the authorities. He was placed under house arrest. On June 4th, Zolotarev set the entrance to a National Guard office on fire. Later at the interrogation, he explained that this is how he wanted to express his protest against the war. The next day, he was detained and placed in custody, charged with an attempted terrorist attack. Another case was then opened concerning preparations for a terrorist attack.  According to investigators, when the traffic police stopped Zolotarev in March, he told them that he intended to break into police and FSB office windows with a pry bar and set them on fire using fuel. A pry bar and fuel were found in his trunk. Zolotarev completely denies this charge.

Roman Shvedov, 37 (Rostov-on-Don)

     According to investigators, on September 26th at around 3 am he approached the Zimnikovsky district town hall in Rostov region and threw a fuel barrel through a window of the office for the head of the construction and urban planning department. The FSB regional office believes that Shvedov committed this act «in order to destabilize the work of the state authorities, affecting their decision-making, expressing protest against the special military operation to defend the DNR and LNR as well as against the partial military draft in Russia.» At first, there was information that a case was opened against Shvedov on the intentional damage of property but this was reclassified as committing a terrorist act. After Shvedov’s detention, a video was released where a man with a blurred face admited his guilt and confessed his crime. Shvedov is in custody. He was also fined two thousand rubles as per the administrative article on disobedience to the lawful orders of the police, as he allegedly attempted to destroy evidence upon being subject to a search.

Pavel Korshunov (Togliatti, Samara Region)

     Korshunov was an employee of a tourism company. According to investigators, on September 22nd he threw a Molotov cocktail at a town hall building, setting its door on fire. On September 28th, Korshunov was placed into custody. He admitted his guilt and collaborated with the investigation. According to media reports, he explained that his action was in protest against the draft. Previously, he participated in demonstrations.

Maxim Asriyan, 26 (St. Petersburg)

     On October 7th, he was detained at Pulkovo airport where he intended to take a plane to Sochi. According to investigators, he bought bottles with explosive liquid in order to set the Frunzensky district military draft office on fire. He approached the building, looked at its windows, then left. He admitted his guilt before meeting an attorney. He is charged with an attempted terrorist act. On October 10th, the court placed Asriyan into custody. The prosecutor states that, on his smartphone, there was «a manual on exploding and destroying railroad infrastructure» and, on his laptop, a completed application to join the «Freedom to Russia» legion as well as links to Telegram accounts «connected to illegal trade of military weapons.» His attorney, Vera Ivanova, mentioned that Asriyan indeed filled in the application in order to provide medical treatment to civilians. However, once he «learned about the financial sources of the Legion, ” he decided not to submit it. She adds that Asriyan suffers from severe chronic diseases which do not allow him to be kept in custody.

Mikhail Babintsev, 39 (Ulan-Ude, Republic of Buryatia)

According to investigators, on the night of October 16-17 he hurled two Molotov cocktails onto the roof of a military recruitment office in Mukhorshibir village. As a result, two square meters of the building facade were burned, but the fire did not penetrate inside the building. Mikhail was taken into custody.

Andrey Petrauskas, 23 (Krasnoyarsk)

     He was detained on suspicion of setting fire to a military recruitment office. According to the sibnovosti.ru news portal, the detainee is a supporter of an extremist organization. SOTA states that the organization in question is “Artpodgotovka.” According to the “Baza” Telegram channel, during questioning Petrauskas claimed that he wanted to do a good deed for society. The young man was taken into custody and charged with attempting to commit a terrorist act.

Ivan Kudryashov, 26 (Tver)

     Kudryashov is a repairman. He conducted anti-war demonstrations in the city. He was detained on September 30 and taken into custody because he allegedly planned to set fire to a military recruitment office as a protest against mobilization. The activist has been charged with preparing to commit a terrorist act.

Vyacheslav Popov, 44 (Kaliningrad)

     He was charged with preparing to commit a terrorist attack and illegal manufacture of explosives. According to the investigation, on May 9 following the orders of one of the leaders of “Right Sector” he planned to commit a terrorist attack near a military base and then to go to Ukraine to fight on the side of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. On May 6 a search was conducted at Popov’s house and after that a video was made public in which Popov said that he contacted Leonid Butusin, commander of the Kaluga division of “Right Sector”, around 2008. However, as “New Kaliningrad” points out, “Right Sector” was not formed until 2013 and there were no reports of any divisions of this banned organization in the Kaluga region. Leonid Butusin is the son of “Right Sector” activist Oleg Butusin who died in Ukraine in April. Popov was placed in pre-trial detention. Previously, he was an activist in the “Baltic Vanguard of the Russian Resistance,” whose other members were sentenced to prison time for being part of an extremist group. Popov’s acquaintance Anastasia Nekhaeva, whose apartment was also searched as part of the criminal case, told Mediazona that Popov was opposed to the war but never mentioned ties with any local nationalist organizations. Popov did not confess at first but later changed his statement.

Anton Zhuchkov, 39; Vladimir Sergeev, 37 (both from Moscow)

     Detained at an antiwar protest on March 6th. Their relatives lost contact with them and only after March 12th was it found out that Zhuchkov and Sergeev were at a hospital. Later, they were released and taken to a pre-detention center. At first, they were charged with preparing a hooligan act committed, by a group of persons, with the use of a weapon. On March 6th, an anonymous group called «Polite People/War» on VK social media platform posted information that two people detained at Pushkinskaya square were in possession of explosives. Sergeev confessed his guilt and admitted that he was planning to set a police car on fire and then commit suicide. Zhuchkov claims that he only intended a suicide. On May 5th, it was learned that the charge was reclassified to the preparation of a terrorist attack by a group of persons. Sergeev has since reported that he was not provided with medical care in the pre-trial detention center.

Kirill Butylin, 21 (Lukhovitsy, Moscow Region)

     According to investigators, he broke two windows at a military draft office and threw two Molotov cocktails inside. He also painted the gate with Ukrainian flag colors and left a «provocative message about the Russian special operation in Ukraine.» Following the arson, he attempted to flee but was detained on March 8th at the Belorussian-Lithuanian border and handed over to the Russian authorities. On that day, he posted a video of his attack on a military draft office and a manifesto. On March 13th, Butylin managed to escape from the police office. He was put on a wanted list and later in the evening was detained again. Initially, he was charged with vandalism, but later the charge was reclassified to arson. Following this, a charge of an attempted terrorist act was added. Butylin is currently in custody.

Farrukhdzhon Zokirov, 18; Mustafa Shakhbazov, 18; Emin Sadygov; Sadygov’s brother (name unknown), 17 (all four from Ufa, Republic of Bashkortostan)

According to investigators, they made at least five attempts to damage electrical equipment connected to railway tracks. In so doing, they «opposed the special military operation in Ukraine and expected to destabilize the work of the authorities.» They have been taken into custody.

Mikhail Nikitin, 47 (Yekaterinburg)

According to the FSB, he was preparing “a terrorist attack on an administrative building”, a local military recruitment office, to “spread panic among the local populace”. The department believes the man had accomplices who currently form part of the investigation. He was placed in custody under an article on preparing a terrorist attack.

Alexey Nuriev, 37; Roman Nasryev, 27 (both from Bakal. Chelyabinsk Region)

     According to investigators, on the night of October 11, the two musicians broke a window on the ground floor of the administration building and threw two Molotov cocktails through it. The guard was able to extinguish the fire before the firemen arrived. The men were arrested within a couple of hours. On October 13, the Central District Court of Chelyabinsk sent them to a pre-trial detention center for two months. Initially, Nuriev and Nasryev were charged with intentional destruction and damage to property, but later the case was requalified as a terrorist act carried out by a group of persons by prior conspiracy. The press service of the FSB in the region noted that the detainees “are members of several dozen left- and right-wing radical Internet communities, including pro-Ukrainian nationalist ones.” Another case was also opened against Nureyev and Nasryev for undergoing training for the purpose of carrying out terrorist activities. A source in law enforcement told URA.RU that the musicians “took courses on carrying out terrorist activities online and by phone. The arson attack on the mayor’s office was a premeditated act.”

Mikhail Balabanov, 20 (Nevinnomyssk, Stavropol Region)

     According to Telegram channels, he spoke out against the war in Ukraine. Investigators believe that he planned to set fire to a military recruiting office in Nevinnomyssk and Kochubey districts. The Telegram channel SHOT claims that Balabanov was recruited by a man who introduced himself in their correspondence as “Ben” and allegedly worked for the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine. According to law enforcement officials, the Nevinnomyssk resident bought materials for making an incendiary mixture and planned to set fire to the local military recruiting office as per the instructions of “Ben.” A case was filed concerning preparing an act of terrorism by prior conspiracy.

Nikita Oleynik, 27; Denis Aidyn, 23; Kirill Brik, 24; Roman Paklin, 25 (all 4 from Surgut, Tyumen Region)

Yuri Neznamov, 27; Danil Chertykov, 28 (both residents of Yekaterinburg).

Oleynik is an “antifa” activist and the founder of a local library of libertarian literature. Investigators claim him to be the founder and leader of a terrorist group which planned to overthrow the current government and commit terrorist acts on railways on which Russian military hardware was supposed to pass. He is currently in custody and has reported instances of torture as well as being forced to confess. After Oleynik refused to testify, he was transferred to a different detention facility, with his defense not ruling out the possibility of further torture. Investigators believe that Aidyn, Brik, Paklin, Neznamov, and Chertykov participated in a terrorist group created by Nikita Oleynik. Aidyn and Brik, both musicians and “antifa” activists, were detained with an explosive substance. They claimed they wanted to test it out of curiosity. They were detained and placed in custody. Later, both reported being tortured, which resulted in them testifying against themselves and other targets of the investigation. Aidyn and Brik are charged with the manufacture of explosives by a group of people. Paklin (a car mechanic), Neznamov (a designer) and Chertykov (a veterinarian) were detained the next day and taken into custody. They later reported confessing under torture. Paklin and Brik were transferred to another detention facility, with their support group suspecting this being done for the purposes of leveraging pressure on them.

Valeria Zotova, 19 (Yaroslavl)

Valeria was detained on Feb. 16, 2023; she was charged with an attempt to commit a “terrorist act” by burning a facility that housed aid for mobilized soldiers. On Feb. 18, a local court ordered her to pre-trial detention until Apr. 16. Local pro-Kremlin media published a video of her alleged confession of having provided information about such buildings to the Ukrainian army for monetary reward; the video shows her asking someone several times what exactly she is supposed to say. Valeria’s mother reported that she herself had also been fined for ‘disparaging the army’ after she made a graffiti that said “No to war” and had participated in pro-Navalny rallies and other protest actions prior to the war.


Valeria Goldenberg (Sudak, Crimea, Ukraine)

     According to the charges against her, she desecrated the grave of Valentin Isaychev, a serviceman of Russia’s 810th Marine Brigade of the Russian Federation who perished during hostilities in Berdyansk. Goldenberg pleaded guilty, allegedly stating that she did it “for the sake of revenge and out of compassion for the people of Ukraine”. She was sentenced to two years in a penal colony.

Aziz Fayzullaev, 25 (Sovetsky, Crimea, Ukraine)

     According to information from the «Baza» Telegram channel, in June he voluntarily went to a police station and confessed to setting fire to the Pushkino village administrative building due to his anti-war position. On October 26, he was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment.

Andrei Belozerov, 45 (Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine)

     Belozerov is a former professor at Belogorsk Technological College. He is currently under house arrest. The social media post that resulted in the opening of the case was dated October 9th and said “Innocent children and women of Ukraine have been bombed for 8 years in Donbas by Russian Military Forces turning their guns away from the frontlines and towards Donetsk. And yet again, for the past six months, Russian Military Forces have been bombing Ukrainian cities and killing Ukrainian residents.” Earlier, Belozerov was found guilty under the same administrative article  for playing a video with the song “Bayraktar” for his students at the technical college. Following the students’ complaint against the professor, he was arrested for 13 days under part 1 Article 20.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses, “Displaying prohibited symbols” and later was fired. On October 28th, Belozerov was once again placed under administrative arrest for 14 days under the same Article for displaying prohibited symbols, this time for posting the song “Chervona Kalina” on VKontakte. He was beaten during the arrest. Belozerov is represented by an OVD-Info lawyer.

Vadim Ignashov (Vladivostok)

     Ignashov is a Ukrainian citizen and a sailor. He was detained sometime between February 27th and March 4th for social media posts. Allegedly, he published photos and videos of dead Russian soldiers and destroyed military equipment, called for the killing of Russian troops, encouraged fellow countrymen to record the movements of Russian columns in the Kherson region and called for them to send this information to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. A video in which a man calling himself Vadim Ignashov admits his guilt, apologizes and says that Banderites and Nazis have no place among the civilian population and that Russia and Ukraine are brotherly nations has since been published on the internet. On March 5th he remained in a pre-trial detention center.

Bogdan Ziza, 27 (Evpatoria, Crimea, Ukraine)

     Ziza is an artist. According to investigators, on May 16th he spilled blue and red paint on the building of a local administration, following which he threw a Molotov cocktail into it. It did not result in a fire. Ziza was detained on the same day. Security forces published a video in which Ziza confessed his guilt. Later, it became known that Ziza was to be charged with attempting a terrorist act. He is being held in a pre-trial detention center. He is also being reportedly charged with ‘attempted damage or destruction of property’ and ‘vandalism’.

Project director & editor – Dmitri Daniel Glinski

Our roundtable on refugees in Russia and from it to the U.S. with Svetlana Gannushkina / Наш круглый стол о беженцах в России и из неё в США со Светланой Ганнушкиной

On January 30, our Association, along with the Andrei Sakharov Foundation, held our first international online roundtable of this season (which is the third year since we launched this program). Its topic was the wartime flight of refugees into Russia and from it to the US. The event’s keynote speaker was Svetlana Gannushkina – co-founder and chair of the Civic Assistance Committee, member of the Council of Russia’s Human Rights Defenders and of the Federal Political Committee of Yabloko. Opening remarks were delivered by Jacob Levin, a representative of the U.S. State Department. Other speakers at the roundtable included: Elena Denevich, Esq., member of the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association; Stanislav Stanskikh, director of The New England Institute for Country Conditions Expertise, LLC and co-founder of the Russian Refugees advocacy project; Viktor Kamenschikov, former member of Vladivostok city legislature, antiwar protester, and recent asylum recipient in the US; and Alexey Semyonov, president of the Andrei Sakharov Foundation. The event was organized and moderated by Dr. Dmitri Glinski, co-founder and Managing Director of the American Russian-speaking Association for Civil & Human Rights. The latest data published by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse indicate that the number of encounters with Russian refugees on the U.S.-Mexican border continues to rise (from less than 800 in February 2022 to nearly 8,000 in December). The number of Russians granted asylum or another form of stay in the U.S. by immigration courts has also increased tenfold – from about 500 in the entire fiscal year 2021 to 1,330 in the first 3 months of fiscal year 2023 (which began on Oct. 1, 2022).

You are welcome to watch the videos of the entire roundtable and some of the individual presentations posted on www.facebook.com/AmRusRights.

30 января наша Американская русскоязычная правозащитная ассоциация совместно с Фондом Андрея Сахарова провела очередной международный круглый стол онлайн. Он был посвящён ситуации с беженцами в России и из неё в США. С основным докладом выступила Светлана Ганнушкина – соосновательница и глава Комитета “Гражданское содействие”, член Совета российских правозащитников и федерального политкомитета “Яблока”. Также выступили: сотрудник администрации Байдена Джейкоб Левин; президент Фонда Сахарова Алексей Семёнов; член Американской ассоциации иммиграционных адвокатов Елена Деневич; сотрудник Флетчеровской школы права и дипломатии Станислав Станских; недавно получивший политубежище в США бывший депутат думы Владивостока Виктор Каменщиков. Организатор и ведущий круглого стола – cопредседатель совета директоров АРПА Дмитрий Глинский. Согласно официальной статистике, число российских политбеженцев, зафиксированных пограничной службой США на границе с Мексикой, продолжает расти и в декабре достигало почти 8 тыс. чел. за месяц, а число россиян, получивших убежище или иное разрешение остаться в США через иммиграционный суд, с 2021 г. выросло с примерно 500 за весь 2021 финансовый год до 1330 только за первые 3 месяца 2023 финансового года (окт. – дек. 2022 г.).

Видеозаписи всего круглого стола и отдельно некоторых из выступлений участников опубликованы на www.facebook.com/AmRusRights и на t.me/AmRusRights.

Statement / Заявление

On the Kremlin’s actions against the Moscow Helsinki Group, the Sakharov Center, and the Andrei Sakharov Foundation / О действиях Кремля против Московской Хельсинкской группы, Сахаровского центра и Фонда Андрея Сахарова

Jan. 27, 2023, New York / 27 января 2023 г., Нью-Йорк

American Russian-speaking Association for Civil & Human Rights (ARA) and the Russian-speaking Community Council (RCC) stand in solidarity with the leading human rights organizations in Russia and in diaspora. The Moscow Helsinki Group, the Sakharov Center and the Andrei Sakharov Foundation have been subjected to reprisals by its ruling regime in recent days. Each of them has its own unique agency and role in the history of the Russian and international civil society; just like Memorial Society, all three exemplify the continuity of Russia’s tradition of nonviolent resistance to arbitrary rule and the defense of rights of those affected by it. It is obvious that in response to losing its war of conquest in Ukraine the Kremlin is taking out its impotent rage on independent NGOs and individual human rights activists. We are confident that these measures will fail, and their work will continue. At the same time, given the immediate threat of government seizure of the Moscow offices of the Moscow Helsinki Group and the Sakharov Center with their unique documentation and artefacts of Russia’s modern history, we ask UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – to designate the holdings of Russia’s human rights organizations as part of the world cultural heritage. This would provide them with additional, however symbolic, international safeguards.

Boards of Directors, ARA and RCC


Американская русскоязычная правозащитная ассоциация (АРПА) и Русскоязычный общественный совет выражают нашу солидарность и поддержку ведущим правозащитным организациям России и русскоязычной диаспоры, подвергшимся репрессиям в последние дни. Это- Московская Хельсинкская группа (МХГ), Сахаровский центр и Фонд Андрея Сахарова. Каждой из них принадлежит уникальное место и роль в истории российского и международного гражданского общества и правосознания; так же, как и Общество Мемориал, все три продолжают российскую традицию ненасильственного противостояния произволу властей, а также защиты прав и самоорганизации пострадавших от него. Очевидно, что режим, проигрывающий захватническую войну с Украиной, вымещает свою бессильную злобу на независимых от него НКО и отдельных правозащитниках. Уверены, что ему не удастся заставить их прекратить свою работу. Вместе с тем, ввиду непосредственной угрозы захвата помещений в Москве, в которых работают МХГ и Сахаровский центр, и где находятся уникальные документы и артефакты современной истории России, мы обращаемся к Просветительской, научной и культурной организации ООН (ЮНЕСКО) с просьбой объявить все материалы, хранящиеся в российских правозащитных организациях, памятником мирового культурного наследия и тем самым предоставить им дополнительную, пускай и символическую, международную защиту.

Советы директоров АРПА и Русскоязычного общественного совета

Announcing our campaign for the release of Russia’s political prisoners jailed for protesting the invasion of Ukraine

On December 22, at his press event, Vladimir Putin called the war that he unleashed in Ukraine its proper name for the first time ever – stating that his goal was “to end this war” and “the sooner, the better”. Meanwhile, there are at least 28 political prisoners currently in Russian penal colonies or pre-trial detention, imprisoned exactly for the same – for calling the war its name and urging for it to end as soon as possible. Four of them – Alexey Gorinov, Altan Ochirov, Ilya Yashin, and Vladimir Rumyantsev – have been found guilty and sentenced to lengthy terms in penal colonies. Twenty-four individuals are in detention awaiting trial. While reprisals against them were unjust and unfair all along, violating Russia’s own constitution, after Putin’s use of the previously prohibited word to describe the hostilities in Ukraine, their continued imprisonment also defies basic common sense.

We are hereby launching an international campaign for their immediate release, by asking the UN Human Rights Council President Mr. Villegas and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mr. Turk to appeal to Vladimir Putin directly, urging the immediate release and full exoneration of these political prisoners. We are inviting other human rights organizations and advocates around the world to join or support this campaign one way or another.

We also strongly encourage Mr. Putin to take the best, the shortest, and the long overdue path to ending this war: that is, to announce an immediate ceasefire and to withdraw Russia’s troops from all of Ukraine’s territories occupied by him since 2014.

The Board of Directors and the team of American Russian-speaking Association for Civil & Human Rights

The list of prisoners jailed for antiwar protests (per Memorial Project in Support of Political Prisoners):

Alexey Gorinov, Altan Ochirov, Ilya Yashin, Vladimir Rumyantsev, Vladimir Kara-Murza, Sergey Vedel, Aleksandr Nozdrinov, Sarai Alberto Enrique Hiraldo, Aleksandra Skochilenko, Mikhail Afanasiev, Sergey Mikhailov, Richard Rouz, Bulat Shumekov, Dmitry Ivanov, Olga Smirnova, Viktoria Petrova, Ioann Kurmoyarov, Oleg Belousov, Dmitry Talantov, Vsevolod Korolyov, Maksim Rachkov, Evgeny Bestuzhev, Vladislav Nikitenko, Askhabali, Alibekov, Nikolai Daineko, Egor Shtovba, Artyom Kamardin


Американская русскоязычная правозащитная ассоциация начинает международную кампанию за освобождение российских политзаключённых, оказавшихся за решёткой за свою позицию против вторжения в Украину. Мы обращаемся к Верховному уполномоченному по правам человека ООН и Председателю Совета ООН по правам человека с призывом поставить перед Кремлём вопрос об их немедленном освобождении

22 декабря на своей пресс-конференции Владимир Путин впервые назвал развязанную им в Украине войну этим словом, сказав, что его цель – «закончить эту войну» и «чем быстрее, тем лучше». Между тем в России на сегодня не менее 28 человек находятся за решёткой за те же самые или такие же по сути высказывания. Четверо из них – Алексей Горинов, Алтан Очиров, Илья Яшин и Владимир Румянцев – уже приговорены к длительным срокам заключения. Ещё 24 (те, о ком известно правозащитникам) – в следственных изоляторах в ожидании суда. Их уголовное преследование было изначально несправедливым и незаконным, противоречащим российской конституции и международному праву. А после вышеуказанных слов Путина оно также противоречит и элементарному здравому смыслу.

По этой причине наша Ассоциация объявляет о начале международной кампании за немедленное освобождение этой группы политзаключённых. Мы обращаемся к Верховному уполномоченному по правам человека ООН г-ну Фолькеру Тюрку и к председателю Совета ООН по правам человека г-ну Федерико Вильегасу с просьбой поставить перед Владимиром Путиным вопрос о немедленном освобождении этих заключённых и их полной реабилитации. Приглашаем все другие правозащитные организации и отдельных правозащитников поддержать эту кампанию тем или иным образом.

Мы также настоятельно призываем г-на Путина предпринять действия, которые позволят быстрее всего закончить эту войну, а именно: немедленно объявить о прекращении огня и вывести российские войска со всех украинских территорий, оккупированных им с 2014 г.

Совет директоров Американской русскоязычной правозащитной ассоциации

Список заключённых по антивоенным статьям (по данным проекта “Мемориал. Поддержка политзаключённых”):

Алексей Горинов, Алтан Очиров, Илья Яшин, Владимир Румянцев, Владимир Кара-Мурза, Сергей Ведель, Александр Ноздринов, Сарай Альберто Энрике Хиральдо, Александра Скочиленко, Михаил Афанасьев, Сергей Михайлов, Ричард Роуз, Булат Шумеков, Дмитрий Иванов, Ольга Смирнова, Виктория Петрова, Иоанн Курмояров, Олег Белоусов, Дмитрий Талантов, Всеволод Королёв, Максим Рачков, Евгений Бестужев, Владислав Никитенко, Асхабали Алибеков, Николай Дайнеко, Егор Штовба, Артём Камардин

Our digest team is on vacation

We will let our readers know once it will resume the publication.

Wishing you peace and justice in 2023

Dear friend of our multilingual and multiethnic immigrant and refugee community,

At the year’s end, let us wish you, your loved ones, and all of us peace, justice, and a speedy liberation of Ukraine from the Kremlin’s invading forces.

In this eleventh year of our teamwork we organized in support of Ukraine, by taking part in aid drives and holding joint Ukrainian-Russian antiwar rallies against Putin’s invasion; we sustained the one and only Ukrainian-Russian antiwar dialogue in the diaspora that we launched back in 2014; held six international roundtables on Zoom with speakers from three continents (including the leadership of the International Memorial Society, of the Yabloko caucus at the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly, of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, of the Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Ukraine, and of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia Desk of the International Federation of Human Rights); produced a regular digest of antiwar resistance and human rights defense in Russia; published research reports and information materials for new refugees and asylum seekers in Ukrainian and in Russian, including ‘Know Your Rights’ flyers; advocated for our refugees and exiles in Congressional meetings and at the hearings in the New York City Councilrepresented our community at We Are All America annual convention; and worked with U.S. Government agencies and partner organizations around the upcoming second Summit for Democracy and on other topics. In spite of the continuing attempts to silence our grassroots anti-imperial and pro-democracy organizing in the Russian-speaking American diaspora, we keep providing these unique services and will do it in the years ahead.

We will be looking forward to reconnecting with you in 2023 at our Zoom events and on our social media. In the meantime, we invite those of you who can afford to support our work with your contribution here. RCC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, so a U.S. taxpayer’s contribution to us is tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. Thank you for your attention and support.



* * *

Дорогой друг нашего многоязычного и многонационального иммигрантского сообщества в США,

Провожая уходящий год, мы желаем Вам и всем Вашим близким наступления мира и справедливости и скорейшего освобождения Украины от кремлёвских захватчиков.

В уходящем году – одиннадцатом с начала нашей работы – мы действовали в её поддержку, участвуя в сборе и переправке в Украину материальной помощи и проводя совместные с украинцами митинги против путинского вторжения; возобновили и продолжали наш на сегодня единственный в мире антивоенный диалог между деятелями украинской и российской диаспорначатый нами в 2014 г.; провели шесть международных круглых столов в зуме, на котором выступали учёные, правозащитники и общественные деятели с трёх континентов (в том числе руководители Международного Мемориала, фракции “Яблока” в Законодательном собрании Санкт-Петербурга, Харьковской правозащитной группы, Ассоциации еврейских организаций и общин Украины, отдела Восточной Европы и Центральной Азии Международной федерации прав человека); публиковали регулярную сводку событий антивоенного и правозащитного движения в России, а также аналитические материалы по выборам в США и информацию в помощь беженцам, включая документы американских государственных учреждений в переводах на украинский и на русский; участвовали во встречах с сотрудниками Конгресса и выступали на слушаниях в Нью-Йоркском горсовете по вопросам поддержки беженцев из нашего регионавыступали на ежегодном съезде содружества иммигрантских организаций “Мы все – Америка”; и сотрудничали с администрацией и нашими партнёрами по Глобальной демократической коалиции в подготовке второго Саммита за демократию и по другим вопросам. Вопреки попыткам систематического замалчивания и подавления нашего внеэлитного, антиимперского и демократического направления в эмиграции господствующими в ней группировками мы продолжаем нашу работу и планируем её на всё обозримое будущее.

До встречи, дорогие друзья, на наших зум-конференциях и в соцсетях в новом году. А тем временм приглашаем тех из вас, кто может это сделать, поддержать нашу работу предновогодним пожертвованием на наши проекты (это можно сделать здесь). Если вы – американский налогоплательщик, Ваше пожертвование может быть списано с налогов, т.к. Русскоязычный совет имеет федеральный безналоговый статус с 2012 г. Спасибо за ваше внимание и поддержку!



THE RUSSIA OF TOMORROW: Antiwar Resistance & Human Rights Defense Digest / Issues # 17-18, Dec. 5-18, 2022

Dear friends, welcome to yet another issue of our digest covering developments of the past two weeks. Most of the items in our digests are based on the original Russian-language sources and are hyperlinked to them. We seek to revive the legacy of the Soviet-era Chronicle of Current Events that was bringing international attention not just to the most famous and prominent dissenters but to the everyday resistance to oppression at the grassroots level. Yet with the rapidly increasing number of reports about protests and reprisals, we are bound to be selective and do not attempt to provide comprehensive coverage. Starting from this issue, we will also not be including any more the reports on protests and resistance on Ukraine’s occupied territories, so as to focus entirely on developments in Russia.

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 our world.

As you read it, we’d like to draw your attention in particular to six reports in two weeks about alleged attempts by Russian civilians to move to Ukraine and enlist either with the Ukrainian armed forces or with a paramilitary group fighting against the Russian army. However, there is not enough reliable evidence yet to conclude whether this is emerging as a new form of protest against the war, or whether most of these cases are being fabricated by Russian coercive apparatus for its own purposes.

Table of contents




A. Ilya Yashin sentenced to 8.5 years in penal colony for denouncing the invasion

B. Nonviolent actions and reprisals – new cases

C. Nonviolent actions and reprisals – ongoing cases






  • Dec. 7 – It became known that Russia’s 2nd western district military court ruled in favor of Zakhar Kukareko, a former paratrooper from Ryazan, who had sued his commanders for having put a derogatory seal on his military ID in retaliation for his refusal to fight in Ukraine. Kukareko served in military unit No. 41450. After his refusal he was discharged, and his superiors put a seal on his ID stating that he was ‘inclined to betrayal, lie, and treason’. It was reported that the practice of putting such disparaging seals on army IDs gained currency after the start of the invasion but were discontinued after a few months. Kukareko’s case was initially heard in the military court of Ryazan garrison, but later was transferred to a higher-level court due to alleged “state secrets” involved in this case. Ultimately, the court ruled that placing such a seal was illegal and ordered the local army station to issue a new ID to the plaintiff. (Pavel Chikov’s Telegram channel)

  • – On the same day in Moscow, during his meeting with his loyal human rights council (recently purged of all potential troublemakers), Vladimir Putin claimed that Russian authorities do not have any camps for deserters from the frontline, and that any reports about such camps were “nonsense and fakes”. (Gazeta.Ru) Meanwhile, next day, on Dec. 8, the regional government of Pskov was compelled to respond to a public statement by Natalya Semyonova, a sister of one of the mobilized soldiers from the region, who claimed that her brother may have been kidnapped and held hostage by military authorities, along with 265 other mobilized soldiers who, together with him, refused to be deployed to the front line. A representative of the administration of the Pskov region responded to Semyonova that the information she provided “was forwarded to the office of the military prosecutor of the western military district for review in the shortest time possible”. (Horizontal Russia) And on Dec. 12, in Moscow, Roman Martynov, a mobilized soldier from Bryansk region who reportedly refused to fight and was punished with illegal detention, filed a complaint with the chief  military investigative directorate, with support of Maksim Grebenyuk, a prominent Moscow-based attorney representing military officers in cases involving the defense of their rights. According to Martynov, he arrived to the frontline in the Luhansk region on Oct. 1 and on the next day declared his refusal to participate in hostilities. (Pavel Chikov’s Telegram channel) He then went through three different informal detention centers in Luhansk region: in Rubezhnoe, in Kremennaya, and in Perevalsk. In Kremennaya, his jailers suspected him of being a source of information about the location of this basement jail that was publicized by ASTRA; they beat him up and threatened to bury him alive. (ASTRA)

  • Dec. 9 – In Krasnodar, contract soldier Vadim Bai has been criminally charged for two instances of disobeying orders related to fighting in Ukraine. His case will be tried by the Krasnodar garrison military court. Charges against him, based on the new law enacted in the first days of the mobilization on Sept. 24, carry between 2 and 3 years of imprisonment. (RFE/RL Caucasus.Realities)

  •            –   On the same day, in Paris, Gulagu.net, a prison watchdog project led by Vladimir Osechkin from his exile in France, published videos of alleged violence by Russia’s penitentiary service officers against four unnamed inmates who were being punished for their refusal to consent to being mobilized to the war. According to the source, the video was filmed at the penal colony # 4 in Kaluga region. (Gulagu.net Telegram channel)


  • Dec. 7 – In Abakan (Republic of Khakassia), Igor Pokusin, a 60-year-old local opposition activist and a native of Ukraine, was reportedly charged with ‘attempting high treason’. On Dec. 13, federal security service announced the detention of an Abakan resident, whose name it did not disclose, for allegedly trying to board a plane in Krasnoyarsk to leave Russia, after which he was planning to enlist into Ukrainian army. Local media identified him as Igor Pokusin, noting that he was detained at the airport in Krasnoyarsk on July 24, reportedly on his way to Astana. (’Baza’ Telegram channel) According to RFE/RL, a source close to Pokusin has denied his intention to join Ukrainian army. Pokusin was born in Odessa and grew up in Ukraine before moving to Russia. In 2013, Pokusin tried to run for Khakassia parliament as a candidate of Boris Nemtsov’s PARNAS Party but was denied registration. He also organized a local group that denounced abuse by law enforcement agencies. In May of this year, he was charged with ‘vandalism’ for allegedly damaging pro-war banners with blue and yellow paint and writing “Glory to Ukraine” on the wall of a local museum. (RFE/RL Siberian Realities) Per official media, Pokusin may be facing up to 20 years in jail. (RIA Novosti)

  • Dec. 12 – In Vladikavkaz (Republic of North Ossetia), district court placed 21-year-old Savely Frolov in pre-trial detention until Feb. 11, 2023. He is charged with high treason for preparing to defect to the side of an unspecified enemy. Prosecution alleges that Frolov sought to join the so-called Freedom for Russia Legion which is purportedly an autonomous military unit of Russian citizens fighting on the Ukrainian side but is believed by some to be a largely fictitious entity promoted by Russia’s émigré politician Ilya Ponomaryov. In October, media reported that Frolov had been removed from a bus on the Russian-Georgian border, allegedly for uttering profanities in public, and was sentenced to 15 days of arrest for ‘petty hooliganism’. (‘Department One’ lawyers group Telegram channel)

  • Dec. 14 – In Krasnoyarsk, local court sentenced 30-year-old Sergey Ulukshonov to 4 years and 8 months in hard-labor penal colony, allegedly for a similar intention as imputed to Pokusin (see previous entry). However, Ulukshonov was charged not with ‘high treason’ but under a different article of the criminal code that penalizes the act of ‘preparing to join an armed formation on the territory of a foreign country against Russia’s interests’. Ulukshonov, who according to official media was unemployed, was planning to join not the Ukrainian army but an autonomous paramilitary unit. With this purpose, he was allegedly communicating with a Ukrainian state security officer; on April 3, he went to Minsk where, according to the prosecution, he obtained instructions from the Ukrainian officer on how to cross the border into Ukraine. On April 8, he was reportedly detained by Belarusian border patrol and transferred to Russia. Ulukshonov is reportedly a native of the Republic of Yakutia-Sakha. Per official media, he had been “fervently opposed to Russia’s domestic and foreign policies”. According to them, in June of 2021, he went to Mexico trying to apply for asylum in the US but was denied his application and removed to Russia. From the first days of the invasion, he was speaking out against it in his online posts. The trial was partially closed to the public due to ‘state secrets contained in the prosecution file’. Official sources claim that Ulukshonov pleaded guilty. (Kommersant)

  •               –  On the same day in Bryansk, regional court sentenced 29-year-old Anatoly Syntulsky, allegedly unemployed resident of Votkinsk (Republic of Udmurtia) to 5 years of hard-labor penal colony, on the same charges as in the case against Ulukshonov – ‘attempting to take part in an armed formation on the territory of a foreign state’. (Bryansk regional court system  website) Court found Syntulsky to be ‘a supporter of Ukraine’s Nazi ideology and an active opponent of Russia’s domestic and foreign policies’ who planned to participate in hostilities on the Ukrainian side. He was allegedly corresponding with a recruiter from an unnamed military unit in Ukraine and was detained by Russia’s border patrol in Bryansk. In November, Russia’s financial oversight agency placed Syntulsky on its list of ‘terrorists and extremists’. (Mediazona)

  • Dec. 15 – Also in Bryansk, the same regional court sentenced Artyom Bogolyubov, a resident of Leningrad region, to 6 years in hard-labor colony, followed by one year of further restriction of liberty, on exactly the same charges as the ones levied against Ulukshonov and Syntulsky. Intriguingly, like Syntulsky, Bogolyubov is labeled by prosecution to be ‘a supporter of Ukraine’s Nazi ideology and an active opponent of Russia’s domestic and foreign policies’ (no direct relationship between the two defendants has been made public). According to the authorities, Bogolyubov is 24 years old and unemployed; they claim that he was motivated not just by his political views but by ‘material need’ and bank debt. The story of his purported correspondence with an officer of an unnamed paramilitary unit in Ukraine and his subsequent detention by border patrol in Bryansk region is also just the same as Syntulsky’s. Media reports that this is the third such sentencing in the border region, the first being issued in October in the case of Artyom Skakalin from Tambov, a street cleaner who was sentenced to 7 years in penal colony. (Mediazona) There are three similar cases currently in the queue for sentencing. The names of the defendants are Ilya Kutsev, Kirill Belousov, and Maksim Timerkhanov. (Bryansk regional court system website)

  • – On the same day in Khabarovsk, local FSB reported that an appeals court upheld the initial sentence of Khabarovsk regional court in the case of Vyacheslav Mamukov, a local resident sentenced to 12.5 years for ‘high treason’ on charges of allegedly trying to sell unspecified secret information about Russia’s transportation infrastructure to Ukrainian security services. (Russia’s federal security service)


A. Ilya Yashin sentenced to 8.5 years in penal colony for denouncing the invasion

  • Dec. 9 – In Moscow, Meshchansky district court found Ilya Yashin guilty of ‘spreading false information’ about the army, with aggravating ‘motivation of political hatred,’ and sentenced him to 8.5 years in penal colony. The charge stemmed from his video broadcast in April about the Bucha massacre.

39-year-old Yashin has been an elected member of the ward council of Moscow’s Krasnoselsky district since 2017; from 2017 to 2021, he served as chair of this council and head of the district. His successor in this job and one of his allies Elena Kotyonochkina has been forced to leave Russia, while one of his colleagues in the council, Alexey Gorinov, has been sentenced to seven years less one month of imprisonment for his critique of the war. Yashin has played an active role on the radical flank of Russia’s democratic opposition for the past 20 years. In 2005, he spent two weeks in Belarusian jail for taking part in protests against the Lukashenka regime.  In 2006-08, he co-chaired the youth section of the Yabloko Party. In 2012, he was elected by opposition activists and supporters to the Coordinating Council that represented a part of the opposition to Putin; Yashin ranked 5th by the number of votes gained. In 2012-16, he was deputy chair of the PARNAS Party (Party of People’s Freedom) that was initially co-chaired by Boris Nemtsov and Mikhail Kasyanov and after Nemtsov’s assassination in 2015 chaired by Kasyanov alone. Yashin collaborated closely with Nemtsov, notably in co-authoring a report about the Kremlin’s ‘hybrid’ war in East Ukraine. He is also a co-founder (along with Nemtsov and Garry Kasparov) of the Solidarity movement and a member of its main governing body, which also includes Vladimir Kara-Murza, Sergey Davidis, and others. In recent years, Yashin repeatedly tried to run for a seat in Moscow city legislature and for the mayor’s office but was blocked by the barriers designed to eliminate opposition candidates from the ballot and by discord within the opposition. This year, Yashin was initially placed in detention for allegedly disobeying police and then was slapped with criminal charge.

On Dec. 5, Yashin delivered his closing statement in his trial. In these remarks, he acknowledged the opportunity provided to him by the judge Oksana Goryunova’s decision to keep proceedings open to the public, and the judge’s seeming openness to doubt and reflection. “I’m sure that you are just as shaken by this war as I am, and that you pray for this nightmare to end as soon as possible,” stated Yashin in addressing the judge. “You know that I’m innocent, and I know that you’re under pressure from the system. It’s obvious that you’ll have to issue a guilty verdict. I have no hard feelings against you.” He then addressed Vladimir Putin directly: “Mr. Putin! As you look at the consequences of this monstrous war, you probably realize what a big mistake you made on February 24. No one is greeting our army with flowers. We are called invaders and occupiers. Your name is now firmly associated with death and destruction. You have brought terrible misfortune to the Ukrainian people, who will probably never forgive us. But you’re not only at war with the Ukrainians. You’re at war with your own people. You send hundreds of thousands of Russians into a combat inferno, and many of them will never come home. They will turn to dust. Many more will be disabled or lose their minds from what they saw and felt. To you, this is just statistics — columns of numbers. But for countless families, this means the unbearable pain of losing husbands, fathers, and sons. You are taking away the Russian people’s home. Hundreds of thousands of Russians are leaving their home country because they don’t want to kill or be killed. Those people are running from you, Mr. President. … Did you forget that this kind of policy leads our country to disintegration? Although my words might sound like a voice crying in the desert, I’m urging you, Mr. Putin, to stop this madness immediately. You must admit that your policies regarding Ukraine have been an error. You must get the Russian troops out of Ukraine and start working on a diplomatic resolution of this conflict.” Yashin’s closing words were directed at his supporters: “Please don’t give in to despair, and don’t forget that this is our country. It’s worth fighting for. Be courageous, don’t give in to this evil, and resist. Defend your neighborhood. Defend your city. And above all, defend one another! There are many more of us than it seems, and together we are a great force. … Believe me: Russia will be happy and free.” (Meduza)

Upon learning of his 8.5-years sentence, Yashin responded that “those who issued this sentence are too optimistic about Putin’s prospects”. He further stated that “we have won this process. It was conceived as a show trial over an “enemy of the people” (embodied by me), but instead it turned into an anti-war megaphone. … Change is not far away, and soon we’ll have to do a lot of work to restore justice and humanism in our country.” (Meduza)

  •            Dec. 8 – Also in Moscow, Basmanny district court extended the pre-trial detention of Vladimir Kara-Murza, another leading democratic politician, until February 12, 2023. Unlike Yashin’s trial, this hearing was closed to the public and the media. Like Yashin, Kara-Murza is a member of the bureau of the political council of the Solidarity movement. He is also a columnist of The Washington Post and an advisor to Human Rights First. Kara-Murza is a dual citizen of Russia and United Kingdom, which in the past was used by the Kremlin to bar him from running for elected office. Kara-Murza is facing three criminal charges, one of them – for ‘high treason’. In his comment on the decision to close the hearing from the public, he stated: “As a historian, I know that a system built on lies and violence is bound to collapse, and I believe it will happen sooner than it might seem to those who are keeping me in this cage.” (Vladimir Kara-Murza’s Facebook page)

B. Nonviolent actions and reprisals – new cases

  • Dec. 5 – In Balashov (Saratov region), Oleg Nepein, a 67-year-old city council member representing the communist party, announced that a criminal case had been launched against him for ‘spreading false information’ about the military. On Dec. 1, police searched his home and seized his equipment without providing a court order that would authorize the search. Nepein was then interrogated at the local office of Russia’s investigative committee; while the documents in his case were shown to him, he was prohibited from photographing them. Nevertheless, it became known that charges against him stem from 11 posts in his local Telegram channel, and that these included comments about the Bucha massacre. Nepein is retired and states that he cannot afford an attorney; his city council position is unpaid. Prior to the invasion, he reportedly organized several protests in Balashov on environmental and social issues. (OVD-Info)

  • Dec. 6 – In Krasnoyarsk, two criminal cases was launched against Igor Orlovsky, a local resident, charged with ‘incitement of extremism and terrorism’ as well as ‘justification of Nazism’. Evidence against him is based on his posts in VKontakte. ‘Incitement of extremism and terrorism’ was found by prosecutors in his online comments that stated “Death to Russian occupiers! Peace to Ukraine and to the world!” and expressed his wish to see Putin dead. In another post that became the basis for the second criminal case against him, he opined that “Stalin was just the same kind of an aggressor as Hitler”. Orlovsky has been prohibited from traveling out of town. (OVD-Info)

  • Dec. 7 – in Nizhny Tagil (Sverdlovsk region), district court sentenced Yury Potashkin, already an inmate at a local penal colony No. 12, to 30,000-RUB fine for ‘disparaging the army’. (Nizhny Tagil court website) Human rights sources report that Potashkin is alleged to have sharply criticized the actions of the Russian military after being placed in an isolation cell for an unspecified transgression. (Mediazona)

  • Dec 8 – In Arkhangelsk, Yelena Kalinina, a local environmental activist, 46-years-old and a mother of four, was subjected to search and interrogation on charges of repeated ‘disparaging of the military’. On the next day, the local court, while stopping short of placing her in detention, prohibited Kalinina from engaging in a range of activities, including the use of any electronic communications except in emergency, and taking part in any public actions. The case against her is based on her posts in VKontakte against the invasion. Kalinina was previously sentenced twice, to two 30,000-RUB fines for her initial transgressions. The new charges carry the penalty of up to 3 years in jail. Prior to the war, in 2021, she was also detained for making a snowman that appeared to carry a poster with the words: “Down with the Tsar!” (Arkhangelsk Online) Kalinina cannot afford to hire an attorney; her family is crowdsourcing for her. (‘Pomorye – ne pomoika [The Seaside region is not a trash can] Telegram channel)

  •             –  On the same day in Volgograd, district court sentenced Ruslan Narushev to two fines, for a total of 85,000 RUB, on charges of ‘disparaging the use of armed forces’. Narushev reportedly committed his transgressions in October and November, by displaying two antiwar banners, one on a bridge and another one next to a memorial to WWII heroes. One of the banners read: “End the war, bring soldiers home.” Per official sources, he admitted to having placed these banners but denied having disparaged the army. (Mediazona) On Dec. 16, Narushev was reportedly fined for the third time, for another 40,000 RUB.

  • –   On the same day in Chita, 26-year-old Ivan Losev was fined 30,000 RUB by district court for ‘disparaging the army’ via his Instagram posts about the war, which included the slogan ‘Glory to Ukraine’. After the sentencing, on Dec. 12, an extensive interview with Losev was published by RFE/RL; in this interview, he expressed his belief that the war was going to end very shortly, and not in Russia’s favor: “I am confident that Ukraine will prevail. And as soon as it does, all those who are currently in jail for spreading false information about the military will be released…” (RFE/RL Siberian Realities) After that, on Dec. 15, his mother Nelly Loseva was also charged with ‘disparaging the army’, on the basis of two likes that she made under the posts that were critical of Putin and stated that Crimea belongs to Ukraine. Loseva was reportedly prohibited from photographing the documents of the case against her. (RFE/RL Siberian Realities)

  • –   On the same day in Perm, a local division of Russia’s Higher School of Economics fired Dinara Gagarina, associate professor at the department of humanities, as a result of complaints by the parents of her students over Gagarina’s antiwar posts on her Facebook and Instagram. Gagarina previously reported that her antiwar stance already caused her employer to shut down the master’s program in digital humanities that she was managing. (Dinara Gagarina’s Instagram)

  • –   On the same day in Syktyvkar (Republic of Komi), local court placed Nikita Tushkanov in pre-trial detention until Feb. 5, 2023. (NetFreedomsProject) The hearing, except for the announcement of the court ruling, was closed to the public. 28-year-old Tushkanov, a former schoolteacher, is charged with ‘nurturing the idea of acceptability of terrorist acts’. The charge is reportedly based on Tushkanov’s posts in VKontakte made on Oct. 8-10 in the wake of the explosion on the Crimean bridge; these comments are apparently viewed by the prosecutors as approving of the explosion. Tushkanov may be sentenced for imprisonment of up to 7 years. Tushkanov was a history teacher in a small town of Mikun, until last year, when he was fired after taking part in protests against the arrest and the sentencing of Alexey Navalny. This year, Tushkanov has already been fined for ‘disparaging the army’. (Mediazona)

  • Dec. 9 – In Elista (Republic of Kalmykia), authorities detained Valery Badmaev, 72-year-old journalist and editor-in-chief of Sovremennaya Kalmykia [Modern Kalmykia] periodical. He was subjected to a house search and his equipment was removed by law enforcement. On the next day, he was prohibited by court order from using internet and phone; however, the prosecution was unsuccessful in trying to get him placed in pre-trial detention. Court hearing was closed to the public, under the pretext of COVID restrictions. (The Insider) Badmaev is charged with ‘public activities intended to disparage the use of Russia’s armed forces in defense of Russia’s interests’. Badmaev is known in the region as a prominent organizer of the Kalmyk ethnic revival movement since early 1990s. (Activatica)
  • Dec. 13 – In Rossosh (Voronezh region), criminal charges for ‘public incitement to extremist activities via Internet’ were filed against a 31-year-old local resident; his name has not been disclosed. According to the indictment, the defendant allegedly posted or reposted a text in Telegram in which Russian soldiers in Ukraine were called occupiers, using a verb that could be construed as incitement of violence against them. Official media emphasize that charges against the man may lead to a jail term of up to 5 years. (Rossosh district court website)
  • Dec. 16 – In Moscow, human rights sources reported that the Civic Assistance Committee, Russia’s leading migrants rights NGO, was charged on Dec. 1 with ‘disparaging the military’. (Avtozak LIVE) The hearing in this case is scheduled for Dec. 20. The basis for these charges has not been made public, and the indictment was not shared with the organization. In its comments on the news, its staff underscored that the Committee did not mention the army in any of its statements about the events in Ukraine. (Mediazona) The maximum penalty for an organization under this charge is 500,000 RUB. Civic Assistance Committee, founded in 1990, is one of the few remaining by-products of the Gorbachev-era democratic movement. The Committee’s co-founder and leader, 80-years-old Svetlana Gannushkina, is one of Russia’s most senior human rights defenders, a member of the leadership of Memorial and of the Yabloko Party. In March of this year, she was fined for an alleged violation of the law on holding public actions. Over the past two years, the organization has been subjected to searches and a government audit.

C. Nonviolent actions and reprisals – ongoing cases

  • Dec. 6 – In Moscow, Valery Kachin, a 35-year-old researcher at a wildlife preserve in Russia’s Far East and former staffer of the mayor’s office of Birobidzhan (Jewish autonomous region), was charged with ‘high treason’. No further details on the basis for this charge have been made public. Kachin was detained in September; on Dec. 7, a Moscow court extended his pre-trial detention. (OVD-Info) Proceedings in his case are closed to the public. He is being held at Lefortovo, Russia’s top-notch jail for politically sensitive inmates. Kachin has an IT degree and has worked on geolocation. Human rights sources report that Kachin’s name was previously made public by a leak of the database of Alexey Navalny’s supporters, in which he was listed; he is also known to have made online posts in support of pro-democracy protesters in Belarus and against the invasion of Ukraine and to have posted antiwar songs on Yandex. (‘Ostorozhno novosti’ [Beware of the News] Telegram channel) He is reportedly the fourth Russian scientist to be charged with high treason in the past several months.

  • – On the same day in Abakan (Republic of Khakassia), city court sentenced Mikhail Afanasyev to a 450,000-RUB fine for ‘inciting hatred against law enforcement officers’; charges against him were based on his publications in Novy fokus [New Focus], online periodical that he owns and publishes. Afanasyev was also charged with ‘spreading false information about the army’, on account of his widely read article about 11 special designation police officers from Khakassia who refused to comply with the order to be deployed to Ukraine. However, in November the court remanded the case back to the prosecution due to procedural errors in its documents. The prosecution has one month, subject to possible extension, to correct the errors. In the meantime, Afanasyev remains in pre-trial detention under these charges, at least until Jan. 23 of next year. Afanasyev is a Yabloko Party activist and a winner of Russia’s Sakharov Prize in journalism. (Yabloko)

  • –   On the same day in St. Petersburg, city court designated Vesna [Spring], a democratic and antiwar youth group, as ‘extremist’, thus branding it with the same label as Alexey Navalny’s organization. This means that any involvement with the organization, including financial contributions, is also criminalized. It is notable that the text of the organization’s indictment was not made public or even shared with its activists; proceedings in the case were closed to the public. (‘Department One’ lawyers group Telegram channel) Vesna, which was mostly based in St. Petersburg and organized peaceful pro-democracy rallies for the past several years, gained more visibility this year due to its creative visual protest against the war in many Russian cities. In September, it called for mass protests against mobilization; about 2,200 people were detained at these protests across Russia. In October, Russia’s financial oversight agency placed Vesna on the register of terrorist and extremist organizations. (Mediazona) Many of the organization’s leaders and activists have already left Russia. In response to the verdict, Vesna vowed to continue its activities in Russia and abroad and to appeal the ruling. (Vesna Telegram channel)

  • Dec. 9 – In Yekaterinburg, local resident Denis Yedomin was fined by court for three counts of ‘disparaging the use of the Russian army’, for a total of 90,000 RUB. Yedomin allegedly disparaged the army by vandalizing three cars decorated with semi-official pro-war symbols Z and V.  Yedomin was compelled to repent in public, on video camera, and explained that he was motivated by his pacifist views. (Vechernie vedomosti [Evening News])

  • Dec. 12 – In Omsk, district court sentenced Yevgeny Kruglov to 8 months of compulsory public works, upon finding him guilty of ‘spreading false information’ about the army. (Omsk district court website) Kruglov, an archaeologist, was charged on the basis of his allegedly sharing online a post about the Russian army violence against civilians in Bucha and Mariupol. The post was shared in May; in July, he was charged and prohibited from going out of town; in October, he was detained while trying to leave by train to Minsk, thus violating court order; he had been in detention since then. He was also court-ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluation, which led to him staying for a month at a psychiatric hospital. Kruglov pleaded partially guilty, admitting that he shared the post but stating that he did not know whether the information in it was accurate. (OVD-Info)

  • Dec. 14 – In St. Petersburg, district court extended the pre-trial detention of Olga Smirnova for another 6 months – until June 5, 2023. She is charged with spreading false information about the army. The hearing was closed to the public and the next hearing in her case, scheduled for Dec. 20, is also ordered to be closed. (RusNews)


  • Dec. 5 – Sakh.com, the largest independent news agency in the Sakhalin Island, announced that it was shutting down after 23 years in operation. The decision was caused by the authorities’ repeated decisions to block access to several of its articles. Sakh.com was launched on Aug. 5, 1999, a few days before Boris Yeltsin announced his selection of Vladimir Putin as his new prime minister and presidential successor. (Sakh.com)

  • Dec. 7 – In Moscow, appeals court upheld the city court sentence of 22 years in hard-labor penal colony and 500,000-RUB fine for Ivan Safronov, journalist, and former advisor to the head of Russia’s space agency Dmitry Rogozin. In September, Safronov was found guilty of ‘high treason’, in a court hearing that was closed to the public. He was charged with allegedly passing classified documents to a Czech and a German agent, which he denied doing. His sentencing caused massive protests in the media community; Memorial has recognized him as a political prisoner. (RIA-Novosti)

  • Dec. 11 – According to Roskomsvoboda, this month Russia’s internet censors intensified their activities against independent online sources: during the week of Dec. 5 -11, the number of websites that have been blocked and included in the government register of prohibited links increased by about 14,800 items. This is nearly 3 times more than the average number of resources blocked every week since the start of 2022. It is also reported that in many cases decisions about blocking a website no longer refer to a particular government agency that sought this action. It is believed that the agency whose name is no longer publicly associated with these decisions is the office of the prosecutor general. This month, Russia’s media oversight agency published a proposed rule that would allow to keep the decisions of the prosecutor general away from the public; the rule does not appear to have been officially finalized yet it is possible that it is already being implemented, according to the above information. (Kommersant)


Dec. 5 – In Moscow, Vladimir Putin signed into law two new repressive bills. One of them, on holding public actions, prohibits them in nearly every location that makes them visible on the political map. Protests can no longer be staged next to government buildings, as well as airports, train stations, colleges, schools, and hospitals. The second law bans ‘LGBT propaganda’, penalizing it with fines of up to 10 million RUB (over 150,000 USD). (Russia’s official law register) In response, at least three major books distributors announced that they were going to withdraw from their shelves any books that may potentially fall under this prohibition. LitRes, a major Russian bookseller, has sent letters to copyright holders requesting them to review their works and identify anything that may qualify as LGBT propaganda. Some authors are being advised to re-write their works so that they may return to the bookshelves and online bookselling platforms. (RosBiznesKonsulting – RBC) It has been reported that some of the booksellers and their attorneys view the law as so elastic that it may criminalize such classics as Dostoyevsky’s The Possessed and Sholokhov’s Quiet Don. (Mediazona)

On top of the draconian new laws, there has been an increase in informal prohibitions affecting Russian government officials. Thus, on the eve of Putin’s meeting with his recently sanitized human rights council, media reported that its chair, Valery Fadeev, instructed its members not to raise with the president any of the following issues: – the application of the law criminalizing ‘false information about the military’; – casualties on the frontline, a topic which is reportedly considered ‘toxic’ in the Kremlin; – protests by the relatives of mobilized soldiers; – and the barbaric extrajudicial execution by soldiers of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Wagner of a former Russian prisoner of war upon his return to Russia. The purpose of this self-censorship was “not to upset the president”. They were also advised to be “very careful” in discussing anything related to mobilization and the provision of necessities to the mobilized soldiers. On the other hand, members of the council were advised to ask questions about the end of the partial mobilization, which would enable Putin to reconfirm his oral statements to the effect that it has indeed ended; as well as about Western sanctions, problems of refugees, and the ban on LGBT propaganda. (Verstka)

On the eve of the meeting, it became known that two of last remaining liberal holdovers in this ‘human rights council’ – attorney Genry Reznik and journalist Leonid Nikitinsky – resigned from their seats on the council. Reznik, who has acted as defense lawyer for many prominent oppositionists and organizations, did not comment about his decision. At the start of the invasion, he co-signed an appeal urging Putin to end hostilities as soon as possible; October he also withdrew from the board of Russia’s defense attorneys bar and from the advisory council of the ministry of justice. Nikitinsky stated that he asked Fadeev to strike him from the council roster at the start of the invasion, but this was never done; regardless, he stopped participating in any of the council’s activities. (Mediazona)


  • Dec. 5 – Russian émigré source reports that Interpol has turned down Russia’s request for issuing red notices against prominent antiwar influencers, including Aleksandr Nevzorov, Andrei Soldatov, Oleg Kashintsev, and Veronika Belotserkovskaya. (Andrei Soldatov, Agentura.Ru)

  • Dec. 6 – Olga Zhulimova, artist, and former head of the Penza chapter of Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s Open Russia, reportedly crossed into the US via Mexican border and applied for asylum. Her case will be heard in Los Angeles in July of next year. Open Russia has been banned by the Kremlin as an ‘undesirable organization’. (Kasparov.Ru)

  • Dec. 12 – In St. Petersburg, district court imposed a 45,000-RUB fine for ‘disparaging the media’ on Miron Fyodorov, a famous rap singer known as Oxxxymiron. Charges against him were based on the antiwar video that he posted in VKontakte on the day of the invasion (Feb. 24 or 25); in this video, he stated that he was ‘opposed to the war that Russia is unleashing against Ukraine right now’. Shortly after making this post, Oxxxymiron left Russia; he has since staged several performances abroad to benefit Ukrainian refugees. Over the past month, one of his songs was officially recognized in Russia as ‘extremist’, and he was placed on the list of ‘foreign agents’ by Russia’s ministry of justice. (Mediazona) Oxymiron was awarded a prize by the Moscow Helsinki Group.

  •                –   In Astana, Vlast.kz, a Kazakh Russian-language news website, reported that Russia’s media oversight agency pressured it to remove several items about the war in Ukraine (including a report about the number of civilian casualties in Mariupol), threatening the periodical to block access to it on Russia’s territory. In response, Vlast.kz stated that its editorial board had no intention to comply. (Vlast.kz) Other Kazakhstani news sources that recently refused to comply with similar requests reportedly include Arbat.media and Ratel.kz; in contrast, Newtimes.kz agreed with Russia’s agency request to remove an article about Western sanctions on Russia, stating that it was reluctant to lose access to its audience in Russia. (RFE/RL)

  • Dec. 13 – In Moscow, police broke into the home of Yelena Verzilova, the mother of Pyotr Verzilov who is a co-founder of the Pussy Riot group and publisher of Mediazona. The authorities searched her apartment, seized all her electronic equipment, and summoned her for interrogation to the headquarters of Russia’s investigative committee. Verzilov left Russia all the way back in 2020 after he and his relatives were subjected to a series of searches and criminal charges were filed against him for failure to report his Canadian citizenship. Verzilov has been listed by the Kremlin as a ‘foreign agent’ and was placed on the ‘wanted’ list for the alleged failure to properly mark his publications as such. (Mediazona)

  •               –  On the same day in Lipetsk, district court issued an arrest warrant for Ilya Danilov, a member of Avtozak LIVE, an online anti-repression watchdog project, and former coordinator of the Lipetsk branch of Alexey Navalny’s movement. The charge against him is based on his antiwar posts in his Telegram channel; the article of the criminal code under which he is being charged carries a penalty of up to 10 years in jail. Last month, Danilov, who left Russia last year, was placed on the ‘wanted’ of the interior ministry. (Avtozak LIVE)

  •               – In Stockholm and Munich, conflicting information has emerged about Tumso Abdurakhmanov, a Chechen political exiled and leader of one of the anti-Kadyrov factions in the diaspora. As reported in our previous issue, sources outside of Russia claimed that Abdurakhmanov was assassinated in Sweden on Dec. 1. Yet neither Swedish authorities nor his relatives have so far confirmed or denied these reports. On Dec. 9, Radio Sweden announced, citing an official from a German court in Munich, that Abdurakhmanov was expected to testify at a court hearing there in a case that involves the assassination attempt against his brother Mukhammad. Yet on Dec. 13 Caucasian Knot reported, citing another official from the court, that Abdurakhmanov had already provided his testimony and was not expected to do so again. (Caucasian Knot) Tumso Abdurakhmanov recently announced the launch of a new political party in the diaspora, The Voice of Chechenia. His last online post is dated Nov. 30. His contacts in the human rights community have not heard from him or his brother since Dec. 1. Svetlana Gannushkina of Memorial and the Civic Assistance Committee commented that his relatives may keep mum about his assassination either because they renounced him, likely under the pressure from the authorities, or because they are afraid to remind about themselves. (Caucasian Knot) Some of the Chechen diaspora leaders stated that it was their hope that both of the Abdurakhmanov brothers were temporarily incommunicado due to the protection provided to them by Swedish and German police.

  • Dec. 14 – In Moscow, the notorious Basmanny district court, issued an arrest order, in absentia, for Andrey Zayakin, journalist and scholar who is known as the co-founder of an online project exposing academic plagiarism by members of the ruling elite. Zayakin is charged with ‘financing extremist activities’, based on his donation of 1,000 RUB to Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK); Zayakin made his donation on the day when the ruling that criminalized FBK as an ‘extremist’ organization, thus outlawing any contributions to it. In August, he was prohibited by court from using phone and internet, sending and receiving correspondence, and leaving his home at night. Zayakin is believed to have left Russia to Lithuania, although his defense attorney has not confirmed it to the court. (SOTA) The Kremlin has already placed him on the official register of ‘extremists and terrorists’; the ministry of justice has declared him a ‘foreign agent’; the interior ministry has placed him on its ‘wanted’ list.

  •               –   On the same day, RFE/RL reported that Maria Zakharchenko (according to another publication, Zakharova), an antiwar protester from Krasnodar, had crossed into the US via Mexican border with her husband and 7-year-old son and applied for asylum. Zakharchenko staged a solo street protest on March 1, in the first days of the war, and has since protested against it with her Instagram posts. (RFE/RL Caucasus Realities)

  • Dec. 15 – In Moscow, the office of the prosecutor general finalized the indictment of Aleksandr Nevzorov, an iconic TV anchor from the early 1990s who is currently publishing the most widely read antiwar Telegram channel, with over a million subscribers. Nevzorov is charged, predictably, with ‘spreading false information on the use of Russia’s armed forces’ in Mariupol and Bucha. Nevzorov, who has left Russia, has been on the ‘wanted’ list of the interior ministry since April; in May, Basmanny district court ordered him into pre-trial detention. (Prosecutor-general website)


  • Dec. 10 – In Oslo, Norway, representatives of the three Nobel Peace Prize winners – Natalya Pinchuk on behalf of her husband Ales Bialiatski; Oleksandra Matviichuk on behalf of Ukraine’s Center for Civil Liberties; and Jan Rachinsky on behalf of Memorial – received their awards and delivered their Nobel Prize lectures. In her introductory statement, Berit Reiss-Andersen, Chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, noted that the three laureates “have a common approach to exposing oppressors and perpetrators of war crimes. Their method is to systematically collect evidence of past and current human rights violations and war crimes. The purpose is to hold perpetrators accountable, to honour the victims and to prevent the repetition of atrocities. Reliable evidence is of vital importance not only for a legal process, but also for historical documentation and moral restoration of the victims’ perspective.” (Nobel Prize website) In his lecture, Jan Rachinsky, board chair of the International Memorial Society (one of the two legal entities in Memorial’s network that were officially liquidated by Russia’s court order), said that the sharing of this award with a Ukrainian and a Belarusian honorees “has great symbolic meaning for us: It underlines that state borders cannot and should not divide civil society”. He characterized the Kremlin’s military action as “insane and criminal war of aggression against Ukraine”. Rachinsky condemned the impunity of the perpetrators of war crimes by the Russian military, from Chechnya to Ukraine, concluding: “This chain of unpunished crimes continues, and it will not stop on its own. Nor will compromise lead to any durable solution to this problem.” In the final part of his lecture, Rachinsky rejected the notion of Russians ‘collective guilt’ as “abhorrent to fundamental human rights principles. The joint work of the participants of our movement is based on a completely different ideological basis – on the understanding of civic responsibility for the past and for the present. The responsibility of a person for everything that happens to their country, and to the whole of humanity, is based, as Karl Jaspers also noted, on solidarity, civil and universal. The same applies to the sense of responsibility for the events of the past. It grows out of a person’s sense of his connection with previous generations … Readiness for responsibility is an exclusively personal quality … And most importantly, a sense of civic responsibility, unlike a sense of guilt, requires not “repentance”, but work. Its vector is directed not to the past, but to the future. …” (Jan Rachinsky’s Nobel lecture)

A project of the American Russian-speaking Association for Civil & Human Rights (ARA)

Project Director – Dr. Dmitri Daniel Glinski

For further contact: rcc-ara@rcc-amrusrights.org

THE RUSSIA OF TOMORROW: Antiwar Resistance & Human Rights Defense Digest / Issue # 16, Nov. 28 – Dec. 4, 2022

Table of contents




A. Nonviolent actions and reprisals – new cases

B. Nonviolent actions and reprisals – ongoing cases

C. Actual or alleged violent resistance




  • Dec. 1 – In an unspecified location in Crimea, Ukraine, an unnamed high schooler that had been relocated to Crimea from Kherson allegedly wrote ‘Glory to Ukraine!’ on her class drawings. She also refused to stand with the rest of the class during the mandatory performance of Russia’s anthem. Her classmates reported on her to the school authorities and made a video of her during the anthem incident. (Astra)
  • Nov. 28 – In Melitopol (Zaporizzhe region, Ukraine), FSB claims to have detained three Ukrainians who allegedly planned to organize an explosion at a local market. The names of the defendants are Anton Zhukovsky, Dmitry Sergeev, and Yanina Akulova. The occupying authorities allege that the three were in possession of explosives and weapons and that they confessed to such planning. According to the source, they are also believed to have blown up a car carrying two officials of the Kremlin-installed administration. They have been placed in detention until Jan. 23. (Baza)
  • Nov. 30 – A Russian court in Rostov-on-Don sentenced Marlen Mustafayev, a Crimean Tatar activist, to 17 years of imprisonment (including first 3 years in jail, followed by 14 years in hard-labor colony, and 1.5 years of restriction of movement upon release) on the routine charge of ‘organizing the activities of Hizb ut-Tahrir’ in Belogorsk, Crimea. Mustafayev, a car repairman by trade, is from Belogorsk. After Russia’s occupation of Crimea, he became involved in advocacy in support of political prisoners and in providing aid to their families. He was detained in February 2022, two weeks before the start of the current invasion. The case against him was entirely based on the testimonies of FSB operatives, government-provided forensic experts, and an anonymous witness; evidence in the case is limited to audio recordings of conversations on religious and political issues devoid of any violent content. (Crimean Solidarity) Charges of involvement with Hizb ut-Tahrir (an international Islamic organization based in the UK and banned in Russia, Germany, and most Muslim countries) are systematically used by Russian authorities in Russia and in the occupied territories to prosecute Muslims.
  • – On the same day in Krasnodar, a higher-level appeals court upheld the ‘sentence’ of Mustafa Dzhemilev, the legendary leader of the Crimean Tatar national movement and Soviet-era political prisoner. Dzhemilev was sentenced earlier this year by city court in Armyansk, Crimea, for alleged ‘illegal possession of weapons’ and ‘illegal border crossing into Russia’, that is, into Crimea; in May, Crimea’s supreme court imposed an even harsher sentence on appeal, i.e., 4 years of imprisonment and 20,000 RUB in fine. Court proceedings took place in absentia, as Dzhemilev is currently not on the territory controlled by the Kremlin. (Crimean Process) Dzhemilev is a member of the Ukrainian parliament.
  • Dec. 1- City court in Armyansk (Crimea, Ukraine) sentenced Jehovah’s Witnesses Aleksandr Dubovenko and Aleksandr Litvinyuk, to 6 years each in penal colony, followed by 1-year restriction on movement upon release and 5-year ban on educational, media, and any public activities upon release, on charges of “organizing the operations” of JW’s organization. The hearings were closed to the public. The criminal case against the two was initiated by the FSB in August of last year; the defendants spent over a year under house arrest and afterwards were prohibited from leaving town. (Crimean Process)


Russian media sources continue to report about widespread efforts by soldiers to avoid the frontline. While these ‘refuseniks’ almost never openly speak against the invasion itself, it must be kept in mind that their disobedience and refusal to fight can lead them to jail and other, potentially deadly consequences, even without the aggravating element of political protest. Reports of routine discontent over the lack of proper training and equipment, including from commanders, without information about actual refusal to fight or be deployed, are ubiquitous and we do not cover them in this digest.

The story about the ‘refuseniks’ illegally imprisoned in the occupied territories, has continued to develop: On Nov. 28, Aleksandr Afonin from Moscow and Andrey Vasilyev from Pskov, two of the contract soldiers who had been detained for two weeks in the largest of the 12 jails identified by Astra – in Zaitsevo (Luhansk region, Ukraine) – teamed up with the relatives of three of the current detainees in Zaitsevo and filed criminal charges against their commanders with Russia’s investigative committee. (Pavel Chikov’s Telegram channel) By the end of the week, some or all of the ‘refuseniks’ from Zaitsevo had been moved to an undisclosed location to avoid further publicity; according to a relative of a ‘refusenik’ mobilized from Voronezh region, she had lost contact with him after that move. (ASTRA) Meanwhile, on Nov. 28, ASTRA reported that makeshift jails for ‘refuseniks’ had been operating at least since May. It published a video allegedly made in the village of Novotroitskoe (Donetsk region, Ukraine), in one of such jails which is reportedly no longer being used. The author of the video, who initially agreed to enlist on a contract but soon afterwards felt that he had been duped and started complaining, was imprisoned in Novotroitskoe for 3 days. He claimed there were about 50 soldiers imprisoned with him. He eventually agreed, under duress, to go back to the army and ended up on the frontline, even though he had not agreed to that. He later was able to return to Russia and filed written complaints about his experience but found that “nobody cares”. (ASTRA) On Nov. 30, ASTRA published a video interview with Mikhail Nosov (identified in a previous issue of this digest as Mikhail N.)  Nosov, who was mobilized from the Primorye region in the Far East, was recently released from his detention in a cellar in Zavitne Bazhannya (Donetsk region, Ukraine). In this interview, Nosov clearly stated his objection to the war itself: “This is a foreign country. It is not clear what we are fighting for. This was not for me.” Nosov stated that he wanted to pursue the release of all others illegally detained and seek accountability for those who jailed them. ASTRA claims to have identified by name 70 out of possibly more than 300 imprisoned ‘refuseniks’. (ASTRA) On the same day, ASTRA also reported about the 12th makeshift jail that it discovered, this time in Makarovo village (Luhansk region, Ukraine), on the territory of a former children’s camp. ASTRA was alerted to it by a wife of one of the prisoners, a soldier from Sverdlovsk region; reportedly, around Nov. 3, soldiers stationed there refused to go back to the frontline (the hamlet of Ploshchanka). After that, commanders took away their IDs, weapons, and uniforms, placed them in detention, and started threatening them, demanding them to sign 3-year contracts. According to ASTRA, there are currently 88 ‘refuseniks’ in Makarovo; it also published an audio file of a conversation with one of them in which the soldier states: “We are being denied food and water. They are trying to break us physically and mentally. … I have no idea what will happen to us. … We will keep pushing to the end.” (ASTRA)  

  • Nov. 29 – An opposition channel reported that in early November 33 mobilized soldiers deployed in a forest near Nizhnyaya Duvanka village (Luhansk region, Ukraine) refused to move forward to Yagodnoe village to participate in its ‘cleanup’ from Ukrainian forces. According to the soldier who anonymously reported it to the media, ‘refuseniks’ have been subjected to intimidation and have been told that FSB operatives are on their way to the forest. The soldiers are reportedly with military unit 38838 from Kaliningrad. (Sirena)
  •               – On the same day in St. Petersburg, city court denied the appeal by Kirill Berezin against a district court decision to deny his request to substitute alternative civilian service for mobilization to the army. The court ruled that civilian service is envisioned as an alternative to regular draft only, but not to mobilization. This ruling is effective immediately. The appeal hearing was closed to the public on the grounds of “confidential defense-related information”. 27-year-old Berezin is a conscientious objector. He was mobilized in October; upon arrival to the unit, he refused to take up arms. He endured threats from his commander and was reportedly in a suicidal mood. He eventually left the unit without permission and returned home. His going AWOL is now under review by Russia’s investigative committee. (Rotonda) Boris Vishnevsky, an antiwar member of the St. Petersburg legislature and one of the leaders of the Yabloko Party, notes that the right to a civilian alternative to military service is enshrined in Russia’s constitution which states that it can only be restricted by law or by the state of emergency, but neither any such restrictions, nor a state of emergency have been enacted in Russia. Vishnevsky asked the military prosecutor to intervene in Berezin’s case, to no avail. (Boris Vishnevsky’s Telegram channel) Berezin is now back with a military unit, albeit in the vicinity of St. Petersburg; he is reportedly subjected to constant threats and expects to be sent to the frontline. His lawyer plans to appeal the latest ruling with Russia’s supreme court. (Novaya Gazeta-Evropa)
  • Nov. 30 – In the neighboring Gatchina (Leningrad region), city court made an opposite choice and ruled in favor of Pavel Mushumansky, another conscientious objector insisting upon his right to an alternative civilian service. His initial request for it was denied by the conscription office, and he was sent to the army; he sued in response, and the court ruled that his mobilization was unlawful. Mushumansky is 23-year-old; unlike Berezin, who did a regular conscription stint in the past, Mushumansky has already served alternative service in place of the regular draft. His lawyer commented that this worked in Mushumansky’s favor in this case, because, unlike Berezin’s, his pacifist beliefs had already been established with the conscription authorities. (Novaya Gazeta – Evropa)
  •                   –  On the same day, governor of the Vladimir region was compelled to deny the reports that a group of mobilized soldiers from regiment 346 who had abandoned their position on the front line were threatened to be court-martialed. He hinted that “the had been controversies” about their commanders’ behavior, but “the problem had been resolved”, as both the soldiers and their commanders allegedly “cooled off”. (’A Day in Vladimir’ Telegram channel) As was acknowledged even by Russia’s defense ministry, the soldiers had reportedly turned their weapons over to the commanders and refused to continue, allegedly due to lack of proper training; afterwards, their families published three videotaped appeals to Putin insisting that untrained soldiers should not be sent to Ukraine.               
  • Dec. 1 – An opposition channel in the Republic of Chuvashia reported that over 2,000 ‘refuseniks’ from a training unit stationed in Ulyanovsk who were expected to be deployed to Ukraine by Nov. 28 were reportedly designated as a reserve unit and were going to stay put at least until January. Many of these ‘refuseniks’ are ethnic Chuvashs. It is interpreted as a victory for one of the most visible groups of protesters in the army – following upon many meetings with government officials and a special one-time payout to quell their discontent in late October – early November. “When you are united and determined, protests may pay off – this should be the most important lesson for other soldiers around the country, and not just for them,” concludes the report. ( ‘Angry Chuvashia’ Telegram channel)
  •                  – A Belarusian opposition channel reported that 3 Russian soldiers fled from Obuz-Lesnovsky training ground near Baranovichi (Brest region, Belarus). (’Motolko Help’ Telegram channel )


A. Nonviolent actions and reprisals – new cases

  • Nov. 28 – The Mothers’ and Wives’ Council, a rising grassroots force whose VKontakte page was blocked last week by Russia’s authorities, issued a defiant open letter addressed to Putin, Shoigu, and the State Duma. The letter’s content reflected the internal contradictions of this group, or, perhaps more likely, external pressures on it, as it mixed democratic demands of ending political persecution of human rights defenders with anti-Western and militaristic statements. The Council declared that it had “no confidence in our country’s power system that, in our opinion, failed to avoid a bloody armed conflict with a neighboring country while Russia’s army was unprepared for it.” It stated that “the leadership of the country and the army is afflicted by corruption” and noted that “the entire world has armed up against us, which we also view as a result of the policies of our president”. The Council pushed back on the charges in the pro-Kremlin media that it is connected to CIA by claiming that “before presenting Putin to the people as his successor, Yeltsin got Clinton’s approval of his candidacy”.  (Mothers’ and Wives’ Council open letter online)
  • Nov. 29 – In Irkutsk, authorities detained Vladimir Timofeev, on charges of ‘disparaging the army’ and ‘rationalizing terrorism’; his bank accounts and ‘VKontakte’ page were also blocked. Timofeyev is a veteran of the Soviet war in Afghanistan and Russian war in Chechnya, a leftwing antiwar activist, and the publisher of a Telegram channel. His associate Sergey Kulikov was detained with him. (‘New Red’ VKontakte page) On the next day, Timofeyev was released and ordered to stay under house arrest while awaiting  trial. (RFE/RL)
  • – On the same day, local pro-war media in Smirnykh (Sakhalin region) reported that Tatos Mkoyan, a local councilman and developer, allegedly challenged mobilization orders by getting on a bus that was going to transport the newly mobilized to their unit, announcing that mobilization is illegal, and urging future soldiers to leave the bus and go home. Mkoyan was predictably charged with ‘disparaging the army’ and on Nov. 18 was slapped with 30,000-RUB fine. The story apparently made it into the media only last week. Mkoyan has appealed the verdict. (‘ChP Sakhalin’ Telegram channel)
  • Nov. 30 – In the village of Balakhta (Krasnoyarsk region), criminal charges of disparaging the army were filed against a man whose name has not been disclosed. The case against him is based on his posts in VKontakte. He may be facing a range of possible penalties, including up to 3 years in jail or a fine between 100,000 and 300,000 RUB. (NewsLab.Ru)
  • Dec. 1 – In Aleksin (Tula region), a man whose full name has not been disclosed, was placed in pre-trial detention for the next 30 days, as a ‘suspect’ in a case of ‘vandalism’. He allegedly left five inscriptions on the walls of the local administration headquarters and the army draft station; the content of these inscriptions ‘disparaged the president and the government’. The man also set some ‘patriotic banners’ on fire. (Tula region court system press service)
  • This week, charges of ‘disparaging the army’ were also filed against Kermen Cherchesov, a resident of Vladikavkaz (Republic of North Ossetia; the hearing in his case is scheduled for Dec. 5) and against Vyacheslav Tolstonozhenko in Volzhsk (Volgograd region; the hearing to be held on Dec. 13). Ivan Tsikunov from Slavyansk-on-Kuban (Krasnodar region) was fined for the same ‘misdemeanor’. No further details on the specifics of the charges against them have been made public. (RFE/RL Caucasus.Realities) In addition, Vladimir Shishkov from Yeysk (Krasnodar region) was also charged with disparaging the army, and two residents of Stavropol, Vladimir Pankov and Roman Zadorozhny were fined 30,000 RUB each, for the same kind of transgression. The verdict in the latter two cases was issued in absentia, which may indicate that the defendants were no longer in Russia. In Krasnodar, similar charges have been filed against prominent attorney Mikhail Benyash (who is also on the list of ‘foreign agents’); and in Astrakhan, against Sergey Bataev. (RFE/RL)

B. Nonviolent actions and reprisals – ongoing cases

  • Dec. 2 – In Izhma (Republic of Komi), district court extended the house arrest of Alexey Semyonov, environmental activist charged with ‘repeat offense of disparaging the army’, until Feb. 6, 2023. Charges are based on his post in VKontakte. His VKontakte account has been blocked. Semyonov was previously fined in May, in the amount of 30,000 RUB, for another post there. (OVD-Info)

C. Actual or alleged violent resistance

  • Nov. 28 – In Cherepovets (Vologda region), city court sentenced two young men, one 17- and another 16-years old, to 1.5 years of suspended imprisonment each, with 2-year probation, on charges of unsuccessfully trying to set up a local conscription office on fire. The names of the defendants have not been disclosed. Official court version claims that a third person paid one of them to commit arson. (Vologda region court system press office)
  • – On the same day in Yekaterinburg, several cars sporting pro-war Z symbol were set on fire. Arsonists have not apparently been found yet. (E1.Ru – Yekaterinburg Online)


  • Nov. 28 – In Yekaterinburg, the central district military court opened the hearings in the case against five residents of Ufa (Republic of Bashkortostan), each of them between 19 and 21 years old. They are charged with “setting up a terrorist group aimed at seizing power”, which, according to the prosecution, they planned to accomplish by “attacking government and law enforcement agencies”. They are also charged with producing explosives and preparing to commit terrorist acts. Intriguingly, prosecution claims that young men were planning to seize power in Russia in … 2024, right after the presidential elections, “against the backdrop of massive public protests by those who would disagree with the results”. The purported leader of the group is Ruslan Bogdanov.  (Kommersant)

  • Dec. 1 – Alexey Navalny was placed once again in isolation cell, for 11 days, reportedly as a punishment for not wearing his coat in the wee hours of the morning. (Kira Yarmysh)


  • Dec. 4 –RFE/RL Russian Service reported that Tumso Abdurakhmanov, an anti-Kadyrov blogger, whom it calls “Kadyrov’s chief critic”, was shot to death in the night of Dec. 2 in Sweden. Abdurakhmanov left Russia in 2015 because of his conflict with Kadyrov’s inner circle. (RFE/RL) Last year, he obtained asylum in Sweden. In Russia, he was placed on the ‘wanted’ list on the grounds of his alleged involvement in insurgency in Syria, although Abdurakhmanov denied that he ever traveled there. In 2020, there was an apparent assassination attempt against him in Sweden. (OVD-Info)

  • Nov. 30 – Russia’s interior minister placed Ilya Novikov, a reputable attorney, on its ‘wanted’ list. This means that he is a defendant in a criminal case, but the details of this case had not been made public. Five days earlier, he was included in the list of ‘foreign agents’, on the grounds of his alleged funding by Ukraine. In the past, Novikov defended in court Nadiya Savchenko, Ukrainian officer captured by Russian forces, and Oyub Titiev, human rights activist from Chechnya. Novikov has left Russia and currently lives in Kyiv. (RFE/RL)

  • Dec. 1 – In Vologda, criminal charges were filed against Yevgeny Domozhirov, chief editor of SOTAvision, an opposition Telegram channel, and former head of the local branch of Alexey Navalny’s network. Domozhirov is charged with “spreading false information” about the army “due to political hatred”. Charges are reportedly based on his Telegram posts. (SOTAvision) Domozhirov and his family left Russia in May; in October, he was placed on the ‘wanted’ list. Domozhirov repeatedly clashed with authorities over the past 10 years and was first fined in 2012 for allegedly confronting police during a protest action. (OVD-Info)

  • Dec. 2 – Amyr Aitashev, a journalist from the Altai region and head of the ‘Anticorruption committee’ project, announced that he had to leave Russia to avoid criminal charges for his antiwar stance and that was currently in Istanbul. Aitashev had already been fined twice for ‘disparaging the army’ and was issued an official warning that a third charge would lead to a criminal case against him. (He was fined for the first time for reposting Arnold Schwarzenegger’s appeal about the war in Ukraine.) (Amyr Altashev’s Telegram channel)

A project of the American Russian-speaking Association for Civil & Human Rights (ARA)

Produced under the direction of Dr. Dmitri Daniel Glinski

THE RUSSIA OF TOMORROW: Antiwar Resistance & Human Rights Defense Digest / ISSUE # 14-15, Nov. 14-27, 2022

Table of contents





A. Nonviolent actions and reprisals – new cases

B. Nonviolent actions and reprisals – ongoing cases

C. Actual or alleged violent resistance







Welcome to the new issue of our digest that covers the past two weeks. Among its contents, we’d like to draw your attention in particular to ASTRA’s report about the mass detentions of Russian soldiers refusing to fight; and to our section about the military wives’ and mothers’ movement.

Most of the items in our digests are based on the original Russian-language sources and are hyperlinked to them. We seek to revive the legacy of the Soviet-era Chronicle of Current Events that was bringing international attention not just to the most famous and prominent dissenters but to the everyday resistance to oppression at the grassroots level. Yet with the rapidly increasing number of reports about protests and reprisals, we are bound to be selective and do not attempt to provide comprehensive coverage.

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 our world.


Nov. 14 – In Yalta (Crimea, Ukraine), occupying authorities forced a woman to apologize on video for having turned on a song by a popular Ukrainian singer. And on Nov. 22 in Belogorsk (also in Crimea), Andrey Belozerov spoke to Russian antiwar media about having spent 14 days under ‘administrative arrest’ because of a Ukrainian song that he posted on his page in VKontakte. Belozerov taught at a local trades school for 23 years; he was fired from his job in September for a similar online post for which he also spent 13 days behind the bars.

Nov. 15 – In the township of Kirovskoe (also in Crimea), an unnamed 42-year-old man was sentenced to 5 months of compulsory public works for ‘inciting extremism on the Internet’, allegedly by online posts calling for violence against the Russian army. He will be further prohibited from posting online for another 2 years. Per pro-Kremlin media, the defendant allegedly pleaded guilty and repented at the court hearing.

Nov. 18 – In New Haven (Connecticut, United States), the Yale School of Public Health released its report, ‘Extrajudicial Detentions and Enforced Disappearances in Kherson Oblast’, produced with support of the U.S. State Department. The report documents “allegations of detention and disappearance … consistent with an intentional and targeted campaign” and involving 226 individuals between March and October 2022. About a quarter of them “were allegedly tortured and five are known to have died in custody or shortly thereafter, all allegedly because of torture”. As of the date of this publication, less than half of 226 were known to have been released and could be located.

Nov. 22 – In Kerch (Crimea, Ukraine), city court sentenced an unnamed 36-year old resident of Yevpatoria (Crimea, Ukraine) to one year in penal colony, with probation, for ‘public incitement of extremist activities’. Upon release, he will be also prohibited to work in local government, to teach, and to organize large-scale events for another 2 years. The man is reportedly a sailor who sent video messages from his ship upon its arrival to Kerch, urging Russian soldiers to surrender to Ukrainian forces and calling for violence against Russians. Charges against him were filed in July.

Nov. 24 – In Rostov-on-Don, Russia’s southern district military court sentenced five Crimean Tatars – Enver Ametov (47 years old), Yashar Muedinov (54 years old), Ruslan Suleymanov (39 years old), Rustem Sheykhaliev (43 years old), and Osman Arifmemetov (37 years old) – to imprisonment for ‘terrorist activities and attempt to seize power’, in connection with their alleged involvement with Hizb ut-Tahrir. Hizb ut-Tahrir (hereinafter HuT; translated from Arabic as ‘the Party of Liberation’) is an international Islamic organization which is banned in Russia, China, Germany, and most of the predominantly Muslim countries. Ametov and Muetdinov were sentenced to a total of 13 years of imprisonment, Suleymanov, Sheykhaliev, and Arifmemetov – to 14 years; each of their terms includes 4 years in jail followed with the remainder of the time in hard-labor penal colony. Upon release, they will also have to spend a year under additional restrictions on their movement and participation in public gatherings. All of them are activists of the Crimean Solidarity, an informal group that provides support to victims of political reprisals. They have been in detention since 2019. Arifmemetov worked as a math teacher, Suleymanov as computer programmer, Ametov and Muetdinov as construction workers, and Sheykhaliev as an assistant cook. As noted by their defense, evidence against them was based on testimonies of classified witnesses whose information was not verifiable but which were contradicting themselves. The court refused to listen to Suleymanov’s and Arifmemetov’s closing remarks as they wanted to deliver them in their native language. The closing remarks of all five defendants, telling about their families’ and their people’s struggle under Russia’s rule, are available on the Crimean Solidarity website.

Nov. 26 – In Berdyansk (Zaporizzhe region), the occupying forces detained Ivan Levitsky and Bohdan Geleta, two clerics of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC); they are being charged with storing military equipment on their church premises. UGCC authorities note that the priests never took part in any protests and that accusations against them were levied only after Ukraine’s security service conducted a search at the headquarters of the Moscow-affiliated Ukrainian Orthodox Church.


Pro- and anti-Kremlin media have continued to report about numerous flare-ups of discontent among mobilized soldiers; while those occurrences that have become known ostensibly involved only material conditions, questions about the purpose and the legitimacy of the war were often implicit in the protest, lurking beneath its surface and kept under the lid most likely by fear and disorientation.

Over the past two week, ASTRA (Telegram channel founded and led by Anastasia Chumakova after her firing from NYC-based RTVI for her public criticism of this TV station) kept releasing updates to its month-long investigation about Russian soldiers imprisoned on the occupied territories for refusing to fight. On Nov. 17, it reported, citing relatives of detained soldiers, that there were circa 300 of such ‘refuseniks’ held in the basement of a cultural center in the borderline village of Zaitsevo (Luhansk region, occupied part of Ukraine) and that new people were being herded into that basement all the time. (On the same day, RFE/RL posted a video about two of the refuseniks imprisoned in ZaitsevoAleksei Arsyutin and Andrei Marchuk, both from Moscow region.) According to one of the relatives, soldiers were given food only once a day and constantly threatened or otherwise pressured into returning to the frontlines. The relatives who tried to visit them were denied entry to the village and told that they would be required to obtain a special military pass. ASTRA claims to have identified about 70 of those held in Zaitsevo by their names. It also publicized the location of seven more basement jails in Donetsk and Luhansk regions where ‘refuseniks’ are being held. And on Nov. 20, it ran an interview with Mikhail N., a mobilized soldier from Primorye region and one of reportedly 14 soldiers who in early October filed official refusals to fight in Ukraine and were imprisoned without trial in a basement in the village of Zavitne Bazhannya (Donetsk region, occupied part of Ukraine). According to him, at the time of his release on Nov. 13 or 14, there were about 25 more ‘refuseniks’ held at that location; he stated that he now wanted to campaign for the release of other soldiers imprisoned by their commanders for the same. On Nov. 26, ASTRA posted a photo from the basement in Zavitne Bazhannya saying there were still about 20 ‘refuseniks’ there.

Meanwhile, on Nov. 16, Olga Romanova, Russia’s prominent campaigner for the rights of inmates who currently lives in Germany, claimed that operatives of Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin’s private army, had committed at least 40 extrajudicial executions of their recruits from Russia’s jails (of which only the murder of Yevgeny Nuzhin has been publicized with online video footage). These recruits get executed by Wagner for desertions and attempts to surrender, among other reasons.

Nov. 14 – A periodical in the Krasnodar region published a complaint of the wife of one of the mobilized soldiers currently stationed in Ukraine’s Donbas region about her husband’s and his fellow soldiers’ lack of basic equipment. An official complaint on behalf of 15 soldiers to their civil and military authorities was filed a month earlier but remained unresolved. In the absence of government support, soldiers’ wives had to buy and send them shoes and hatchets. The publication notes the contradictory statements of federal and regional governments about the distribution of responsibilities between them for providing for soldiers’ everyday needs. On the same day, the governor of Russia’s Lipetsk region admitted to receiving “many worrisome complaints” from soldiers’ relatives about the lack of equipment, training, and even supervision for mobilized soldiers deployed on the frontline; the governor stated that he was going to request the ministry of defense to conduct a review of this situation.

Nov. 16 – In Novosibirsk, wives of soldiers mobilized from this city reported that 12 of the mobilized stationed at an unspecified village on the border filed official refusals to serve on the frontline, allegedly due to the absence of proper training and medical check-ups.

Nov. 17 – In Vladimir region, relatives of mobilized men told a Telegram channel that these soldiers (deployed in an unspecified village of the Luhansk region in the occupied part of Ukraine) abandoned their position and turned their weapons over to the commanders, refusing to fight for lack of proper equipment. In response, they were allegedly threatened with extrajudicial execution, then asked to go back to the frontline. Meanwhile, their relatives addressed the authorities with a demand to “get their issues resolved”.

Nov. 19 – In Yaroslavl, relatives of several mobilized soldiers informed the media that these soldiers had refused to continue their training due to its low quality and their commanders’ alleged misappropriation of the equipment sent to them as humanitarian aid. Prior to that, they complained about the lack of promised payments.

                On the same day, in Belgorod region, two mobilized soldiers were arrested in front of their regiment for refusing to follow the orders to deploy to Ukraine. According to the media, they stated their refusals both verbally and in writing. The footage of their arrest quickly spread through Russian Telegram channels. Criminal charges were filed against them for ‘disobeying orders’, reportedly the first such criminal case since the start of the war; these ‘refuseniks’ are facing a jail term of 2 to 3 years.

Nov. 21 – In Sverdlovsk region, mobilized soldiers and their relatives filed over 125 complaints with a single Duma member over the lack of promised monthly payments or underpayments. Over the next 24 hours, he reported receiving another 537 complaints about the same. Meanwhile, on Nov. 23, In a video footage published on Twitter, soldiers mobilized from Yekaterinburg appealed to their city administration, the ministry of defense, and Putin personally over the lack of promised monthly payments and the inequality in payments to soldiers mobilized from different regions of Russia.

Nov. 22 – In Smolensk, the wife of a volunteer recruit who signed a 3-month contract with the army and was deployed in August to Ukraine told a pro-Kremlin channel that since then they never received any of the promised payments. Her husband is the only breadwinner in a family with four children. She keeps filing complaints with various government offices but has not received a response.

              –  On the same day, Current Time, a joint Russian-language video project of RFE/RL and Voice of America, published a compilation of video recordings by soldiers and their female relatives from across Russia. In these recordings, they complain about their material conditions, about having to fight with rifles against Ukrainian tanks, about fellow soldiers being killed by friendly fire, and the broken helmets they received. Some state that they were “dropped like dogs” “somewhere in a field” in Ukraine, with no proper equipment.


The self-organizing of women from military families and their vocal demands were arguably the most significant development within Russia’s society in the past few weeks. The All-Russian Mothers’ and Wives’ Council was launched in the end of September after the mobilization announcement. In one of their very first posts on their Telegram channel, the Council’s organizers directly attacked Putin, stating that “he is failing to fulfill his responsibilities”. They demanded that he send FSB, police, investigative committee, and other security and law enforcement agencies’ staff, as well as over 2 million members of his most loyal United Russia party, to the frontlines, to replace the mobilized soldiers. They also pointed to the glaring disparities within Russia in their public address to Putin and Shoigu in which they listed young scions of Moscow’s most powerful families, including Putin’s own sons-in-law, and demanded an official response as to whether these men were being called up to the army on a par with those less privileged, and if not, why. The channel also reported on government officials’ and commanders’ threats to whistleblowers in the army. Local chapters of the Council sprang up quickly across the country. The organization did not officially incorporate (apparently to avoid being immediately sued and liquidated) and does not have an official leadership but is de facto led by Olga Tsukanova, the mother of a draftee from Samara. The Council’s national convention, which was held online, was filled with scathing critique of the regime and the war, calls to resist, and condemnations of Putin’s statements that hinted at his possible use of nuclear weapons. The convention launched a petition to Putin “prohibiting” him from such use, which also included a demand to “restore power to the people”.

Yet at the same time, at least some of the organization’s key leadership appeared to have been quickly co-opted by retrograde populist as well as pro-Kremlin entities; they, in turn, seem to have successfully redirected the aim of its protest from the war as such to the material conditions in the army and the treatment of soldiers. Within days of its founding, the Council’s Telegram channel began transmitting messages of Yevgeny Prigozhin, Ramzan Kadyrov, and ‘The Union of Russia’s Revival’ (OSVR), an ultranationalist entity calling for the restoration of the USSR and spreading anti-Semitic concoctions about “the role of Chabad” in pitting Russia and Ukraine against each other; OSVR apparently provided its bank account for donations to the Council, and the Council agreed to join OSVR as a collective member organization. On the other hand, vigorous debates in comments to the channel’s posts appear to show that many of its supporters and followers are completely opposed to the invasion and to the regime itself.

The Council has been quite successful in forcing the authorities to meet and listen to its members’ grievances. On Nov. 15 in St. Petersburg, after two days of picketing of the headquarters of the Western military district by about 20 Council members, which was widely covered by the media, the organization’s representatives virtually stormed the entrance to the headquarters and were allowed to meet with the district’s military authorities. Afterwards, some of the soldiers’ mothers reported that their sons were being pressured by commanders to persuade their mothers to end their activism. On Nov. 16, Tsukanova stated in an interview that their demands included negotiations with Ukraine and renunciation of the use of nuclear weapons by Russia. At the press conference held online on Nov. 20, Tsukanova denounced not only corruption in the military but also political reprisals, intimidation, and alleged torture of one of the critics of the operation in Ukraine (while simultaneously spreading conspiracy theories about Russian law enforcement alleged control by ‘transnational elites’). The organization called upon Shoigu and other senior government officials to meet with its representatives at a roundtable. In its statement on Nov. 21, it denounced the laws criminalizing the ‘disparagement of the army’ and stated that “the real discreditation of the army is caused … by those who issue criminal orders and who let war criminals get away without retribution…”. During its roundtable held on Nov. 23 in Moscow, the Council declared that it had “no confidence in the power system” in the country; denounced the corruption of ‘Putin’s clan’ and of minister Shoigu; and demanded “to put an end to reprisals against human rights defenders and civic activists” – while at the same time calling upon the army “to destroy all those transportation lines that are used to supply equipment and ammunition to Ukraine’s army” and regurgitating conspiracies about Chabad and a ‘secret deal’ between Putin and Zelensky. The roundtable issued an open letter to Putin, charging him with having replaced democracy in Russia with a “totalitarian-authoritarian” order.

On the next day, official media reported about Putin’s plans to meet with mothers of some of the mobilized soldiers; the Council immediately stated that its representatives had not been invited to the meeting and challenged to Putin to a public dialogue. Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, Russia’s oldest military watchdog organization, was also not invited, nor did it seem to be interested in such a meeting. As stated by the organization’s leader Valentina Melnikova, “what can we talk with Putin about? We are a peacemaking organization”. Putin met ‘soldiers’ mothers’ on Nov. 25 in Novo-Ogarevo; an opposition channel reported that most of the invitees at the meeting were either current or past government officials, their relatives, and officers of pro-Kremlin organizations.

On Nov. 24-25, pro-Kremlin channels reported of the Council’s alleged plans to stage a protest on the Red Square on Russia’s Mother Day, Nov. 27; the organization denied having such plans. Official sources have also accused it of being funded by the CIA. On Nov. 26, Russia’s prosecutor general ordered to block access to the Council’s chat group in VKontakte, signaling that this movement was not going to be tolerated any longer. Meanwhile, on Nov. 27 (Russia’s Mothers Day), the website of Vesna, a banned antiwar network, published an unsigned ‘Open letter of Russian Federation’s mothers’ to Russia’s senior legislators sitting on family-related committees, on behalf of “mothers of the Feminist Antiwar Resistance movement and a group of mothers of mobilized soldiers and regular draftees”. The letter stated that “the so-called ‘special military operation’ causes destruction, grief, blood, and tears”. While its critique of the situation in Russia covers a broad range of issues, such as child poverty, the authors emphasize that they are against their men’s participation in hostilities that “were unleashed against the will of many Russian citizens” and they “demand the withdrawal of troops from Ukraine and the return of all soldiers back home”.


A. Nonviolent actions and reprisals – new cases

16 Russian organizations and groups – including ‘Vesna’ [Spring] Youth Democratic Movement, Feminist Antiwar Resistance, Movement of Conscientious Objectors, and others – initiated an online petition demanding that Putin sign a decree announcing the official end of the ‘partial mobilization’. As stated in the appeal, ‘our loved ones, our relatives, sons, husbands, and brothers are still under threat: they may become victims of the mobilization and of the ‘special military operation’. By Nov. 25, the petition was signed by over 42,000 people. Meanwhile, on Nov. 17, a district court in Vladimir ordered to block access to another major petition against mobilization with nearly 500,000 signatures; this order was sought by the military prosecutor’s office.

Nov. 18 – In Gorno-Altaysk (Republic of Altay), a local group called ‘The People’s Council of the Republic of Altay’ visited the acting mayor of the city for a scheduled appointment to inquire about their city readiness for war-related emergency situations, including evacuations, bomb shelters, and strategic reserves of food and drugs. The group started videorecording the meeting, but the acting mayor demanded that they turn off their recorders and after their refusal to do so ordered to kick the visitors out of her office. In response, the group called upon other city residents to “organize to protect themselves and their families”.

Nov. 20 – In Moscow, Maria Volokh, former candidate of the liberal Yabloko party in this year’s neighborhood council elections, along with three other Yabloko activists (Maria Balandina, Viktoria Makeeva, and Irina Rodionova), staged a street action against the threat of nuclear war next to the defense ministry headquarters. On the next day, Volokh was detained and sentenced to 20 days of administrative arrest for ‘repeat violation of the rules of holding public actions’. Other participants of the protest were interrogated and one was sentenced to a 20,000 RUB fine. Volokh was previously fined 60,000 RUB for alleged violation of said rules and for ‘disparaging the army’ (which she did by organizing a protest against censorship and political reprisals). In the run-up to the elections, she was removed from the ballot for allegedly possessing citizenship of the Netherlands, which she in fact did not have.

Nov. 25 – Also in Moscow, antiwar channel Baza reported that several days earlier an unknown person wrote ‘No to war!’ on the Kremlin’s wall. The inscription was deleted; nearly a dozen of additional police and security officers were allegedly dispatched to protect the wall.

B. Nonviolent actions and reprisals – ongoing cases

Nov. 14 – In Barnaul, Maria Ponomarenko, charged with spreading ‘false information’ about the army, was released from pre-trial detention and placed under house arrest. Ponomarenko is a RusNews reporter and mother of two young children. Charges against her are based on her online post about the deaths of civilians in Mariupol’s theater during its shelling by the Russian forces. She was in detention since April and reportedlyattempted suicide in September.

Nov. 17 – In Abakan (Republic of Khakassia), city court ruled to remand the case against Mikhail Afanasyev, chief editor of Novy fokus [New Focus] periodical and Yabloko member, to the prosecutors due to unspecified errors in their filing. The prosecution was given one month to correct the errors; Afanasyev’s pre-trial detention was extended to Jan. 16 of next year. Reprisals against Afanasyev and his publication stem from his article published in April about 11 officers of the local special designation units who refused to be deployed to Ukraine.

– On the same day in Kolpashevo (Tomsk region), a local judge closed the case against 61-year-old Natalia Indukaeva who was charged with ‘vandalism’ in March for allegedly making an inscription about the war in Ukraine on the wall of a cultural center. According to the court statement, the woman repented and compensated the damage. She was previously fined 30,000 RUB for ‘disparaging the army’.

Nov. 18 – In Penza, a local court dismissed the charges of ‘disparaging the army’ that were filed in June against antiwar protester Albert Gerasimov. The case against him was based on the allegation that he made a blue-and-yellow-colored graffiti on the fence of a former governor’s mansion which read ‘Peace to the world, no need for a war’. Forensic experts affiliated with a lab of the ministry of justice concluded that this inscription “did not contain indications of disparaging the armed forces and was not encouraging to obstruct their utilization”.

Nov. 23 – In Moscow, district court judge extended the arrest of Ilya Yashin, one of Russia’s leading democratic oppositionists, to May 10, 2023. The extension was sought by the prosecutor on the grounds of Yashin’s ownership of real estate in Bulgaria, even though he had not been there for several years. In the hearing on extending his detention, Yashin stated that he could have left Russia long ago but was a “patriot” and did not believe he was acting against his country’s interests. The trial hearing was postponed to Nov. 29. Yashin is charged with spreading ‘false information’ about the Russian military, via his YouTube stream show in April in which he discussed the Bucha massacre; under the new laws, he may be sentenced to 10 years in jail. He has been imprisoned since June, initially on charges of disobeying police. In his extensive interview published on the same day by Meduza, Yashin expressed his regrets that he and his fellow oppositionists “had believed that the Putin system could be fundamentally changed by civilized means”, such as petitioning, elections, or protest rallies. “On the other hand, what else should we have done? … We are not killers; we are made of a different material.” Yashin believes that after Putin’s exit Russia is likely to go through “a dark time of troubles”, including a possible attempt to install a “military junta”; but there are still chances that the democratic movement will prevail, because “society is tired of aggression and violence”.

C. Actual or alleged violent resistance

Nov. 16 – In Krasnoobsk (Novosibirsk region), Dmitry Karimov, 22-year-old disabled man, told local media that he had falsely confessed, under duress and threats of execution, to setting two pro-war banners on fire. One of these banners was hanging on a building of the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences and was burned on Sept. 30. Karimov was charged with ‘intentional destruction of property’; he is prohibited by court from going out of town, and may face up to 5 years in jail. According to his revelation, in October he was detained by masked men who drove him to the woods and beat him with electric shocker, demanding his admission of guilt.

Nov. 22 – In Krasnodar, Oleg Vazhdaev was indicted for ‘committing act of terrorism’ with his failed attempt to burn a local conscription station in the night of Sept. 25. Vazhdaev reportedly confessed to attempted arson, saying that he was fearing for his relatives due to mobilization.

Nov. 26 – In Novorossiysk (Krasnodar region), after a month of search, authorities detained a 50-year-old man for allegedly vandalizing cars that were decorated with semi-official pro-war symbols.


Nov. 14 – In Moscow, the ministry of justice outlawed the All-Tatar Public Center (VTOTs) and put it on the list of extremist organizations. VTOTs, whose activities date back to Gorbachev’s perestroika, had already been disbanded in September by Tatarstan’s supreme court, as sought by the prosecution.

              – On the same day, and also in Moscow, police detained Stanislav Ilyin, 40-year-old Belarusian citizen who is on the ‘wanted’ list in Belarus on criminal charges for allegedly ‘offending the president’ of the country. Ilyin is likely to be deported to Belarus where he is facing up to 4 years in jail.

Nov. 22 – In Krasnodar, regional court denied the appeal by Andrey Pivovarov, former executive director of Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s Open Russia that was ruled ‘undesirable’ by the Kremlin. His closing remarks at the appeal hearing are published here. Pivovarov was detained in May 2021, found guilty of managing an undesirable organization, and sentenced in July 2022 to 4 years in penal colony and a prohibition on engaging in public activism for another 8 years.

Nov. 24 – In Moscow, police and officers of the Kremlin’s ‘anti-extremist center’ broke into a coworking space and dispersed a meeting of solidarity with six imprisoned young leftists in Tyumen that have been charged with ‘organizing a terrorist network’. About 30 participants of the meeting, including journalists and minors, were detained for several hours at the precinct without access to attorneys; police reportedly used violence to compel a SOTA journalist to provide access to her phone without a court order, as required by Russian law. This brings additional attention to ‘the Tyumen case’, where all six defendants – Nikita Oleynik (the alleged organizer of the group), Roman Paklin, Yury Neznamov, Daniil Chertykov, Deniz Aidyn, and Kirill Brikhave complained of torture during interrogations; five of them filed these complaints with Russia’s investigative committee. Their friends are raising funds online for their legal expenses.


Nov. 14 – In Georgievsk (Stavropol region), city court convicted Viktor Zimovsky and Anatoly and Irina Gezik (husband and wife) of ‘extremism’ for their alleged involvement in Jehovah’s Witnesses organizational structure. Zimovsky was sentenced to 6 years and 2 months in penal colony; Anatoly Gezik to 4 years and 2 months of compulsory public works; and Irina Gezik to 4 years of suspended imprisonment. The defendants pleaded not guilty. Zimovsky is reportedly a disabled man with 3 minor children. Currently in Stavropol region, 8 other JW followers, 5 of them elderly women, are standing trial in similar court cases.

Nov. 21 – In Kislovodsk (Krasnodar region), a court sentenced eight local men – Imanali Khadzhiev, Issa Bogatyrev, Komil Kholbaev, Amil Gaziev, Murat Apsov, Dmitry Ledenev, Aleksandr Bazhenov, and Abumuslim Fatullaev – each of them to 2.5 years in penal colony, for alleged participation in At-Takfir wal-Hijra, a putative Islamic organization that is banned as ‘extremist’ in Russia since 2010. According to local FSB, these men were “trying to recruit residents into the organization by propaganda on behalf of foreign emissaries” and by holding meetings in which they “propagandized” Islam as superior to other religions; the indictment did not mention any political activities or violent intentions whatsoever on the part of the defendants. Takfir wal-Hijra (meaning ‘Excommunication and Exodus’ in Arabic) is known to have existed almost exclusively in North Africa and Lebanon where it was involved in local political and religious struggles; experts have expressed doubts as to its actual presence and purpose in Russia.


          Nov. 24 – In Moscow, Russia’s state Duma unanimously passed the law that threatens fines of up to 5 million RUB (over $80,000) for the ‘propaganda of non-traditional sex relations’ and gender change, regardless of the age of the target audience. Foreigners found guilty of such transgressions may be deported. Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin stated triumphantly that this law “will enable to protect our children and the future of the country from the darkness spread by the US and European states”.

Nov. 25 – In Kazan (Republic of Tatarstan), Acceptance.Queer, local LGBTQ+ support center announced the suspension of its activities and the shutting down of its social media channels in response to the new law against LGBTQ+ “propaganda”. The group can still be contacted at accept.center@gmail.com.


Nov. 17 – In Moscow, Russian media oversight agency ordered to block access to the website of the Nobel Prize-winning Novaya gazeta, which suspended its publication back in March.

Nov. 22 – In Kazan (Republic of Tatarstan), a court issued arrest order, in absentia, for a term of 2 months, for Andrey Grigoryev, a reporter of RFE/RL Idel.Realities, and placed him on a ‘wanted’ list. Grigoryev, who is already on the list of ‘foreign agents’, is charged with “public incitement to terrorist activities, justification or propaganda of terrorism in mass media”. Charges are reportedly based on his YouTube video footage covering the assault on Russia’s ambassador in Poland.


Nov. 23 – In Moscow, the State Duma (the lower house of Russia’s legislature) passed afar-reaching bill on regulating ‘foreign agents’ activities. The bill prohibits ‘foreign agents’ from: working in civil service; teaching in public schools and universities; teaching minors in any, public or private, setting; contracting with government agencies; donating to political parties or transacting business with them; organizing or co-sponsoring any public events; taking part in election campaigns; and serving on the boards of elections, except as non-voting members. Any information produced by ‘foreign agents’ is banned from distribution to minors. Any print materials produced by them can be sold in non-transparent packaging only. The ministry of justice will be entitled to obtain their bank records and even information about their marriage and divorce acts “for oversight purposes”. In a major restriction on their property rights, the bank accounts of organizations branded as ‘foreign agents’ will no longer be insured by the government. Further, the definition of a ‘foreign agent’ will no longer be limited to those who receive actual foreign funding and will include anyone considered to be under ‘foreign influence’. These regulations are set to be enacted from Dec. 1.


Nov. 17 – In Madrid, Nikita Chibrin, who until recently was reportedly a soldier of unit 51460 of the Russian army’s 64th motorized rifle brigade that was deployed in Bucha during its short-lived occupation, requested asylum upon arriving to Spain. Chibrin is a 27-year-old native of Yakutsk. He has declared his willingness to testify about the war crimes that were ordered by his commander. Vladimir Osechkin, producer of Gulagu.net, a multimedia antiwar project with over 500,000 followers that is based in Paris, claims that his team arranged Chibrin’s departure from Russia. On the same day in Paris, Roman Rugevich, producer of an anti-torture Telegram channel, was allowed to enter France and apply for asylum there, with assistance from Gulagu.net and ‘New dissidents foundation’.

Nov. 22 – In Khabarovsk, regional court rejected prosecution’s appeal and upheld the prior acquittal of Yulia Tsvetkova, 29-year-old artist and LGBTQ+ activist. Tsvetkova was charged in 2019 with producing and distributing pornography because of her nude drawings that she posted online. In July of this year, she was found not guilty by local court. By Russian law, she is entitled to full exoneration; yet at the same time she remains on the list of ‘foreign agents’ of Russia’s ministry of justice. On the next day, an exhibit of her paintings opened in Marseille, France. On Nov. 25, it became known that Tsvetkova had left abroad. Her mother, who resides in France, stated to RFE/RL that two new criminal cases had been initiated against Tsvetkova in Russia .

Nov. 23 – In Kirov, district court held the initial hearing in the case of Prokhor Protasoff, 34-year-old composer, orchestra conductor, and the author of Kirov’s anthem who has lived in Toronto since last year and is being tried in absentia. Protasoff is charged with ‘disparaging the army’ with his online comments in VKontakte. Some of these posts were about the Bucha massacre and about Russia’s missile strike on the Kremenchug mall. Soon after Protasoff made these post, his parents’ apartment was searched, he was placed on the ‘wanted’ list, and his VKontakte account was blocked by order of the prosecutor general. The court questioned several witnesses including his former teachers, colleagues, and even his mother. The charges against Protasoff carry a sentence of up to 10 years in jail with subsequent prohibition on certain types of activities. The next hearing is set for Dec. 21. Protasoff is a Fulbright scholar and a recent graduate of Bard College.

Nov. 24 – Antiwar channel SOTA reported that Ilya Danilov, former coordinator of the local chapter of Navalny’s movement in Lipetsk (2017-21), was placed on the ‘wanted’ list by Russia’s police ministry. Danilov left Russia last year. On the same day, according to OVD-Info, two more Navalny associates – Stas Kalinichenko, his movement’s coordinator in Kemerovo; and Sergey Bespalov, his movement’s coordinator in Irkutsk – were also put on the interior ministry’s ‘wanted’ list. Bespalov had left Russia after another criminal verdict against him was issued, while Kalinichenko’s whereabouts have not been reported. Charges against them have not been made public, yet both are listed as ‘terrorists’ and ‘extremists’ by Russia’s financial monitoring agency.

Nov. 26 – As reported by Pavel Chikov, Russia’s justice ministry launched the first criminal proceedings against those designated by it as ‘individual foreign agents’, charging them with alleged violations of foreign agent requirements that have been enacted since the start of the war. The first three cases are against international celebrities living in exile who used to belong to Russia’s establishment. Hearings in these cases will be held in three different Moscow district courts in the first half of December: the case against Mikhail Khodorkovsky on Dec. 2; against Yevgeny Kiselyov on Dec. 8; and against Garry Kasparov on Dec. 12. The justice ministry’s list of ‘individual foreign agents’ currently contains 62 names.

Thank you for reading. On the Giving Tuesday, or any other day, we will appreciate your donation toward this work, which can be given 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 – to Russian-speaking Community Council, Inc., P.O.Box 578, New York NY 10040. Have a nice day, and see you again soon.

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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