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

Table of contents

I. PERSECUTION AND RESISTANCE IN UKRAINE’S OCCUPIED TERRITORIES

II. MILITARY ‘REFUSENIKS’

III. CIVILIAN PROTEST

A. Nonviolent actions and reprisals – new cases

B. Nonviolent actions and reprisals – ongoing cases

C. Actual or alleged violent resistance

IV. POLITICAL PERSECUTION DIRECTLY UNRELATED TO THE WAR

V. EXODUS FROM RUSSIA AND TRANSNATIONAL REPRESSION

I. PERSECUTION AND RESISTANCE IN UKRAINE’S OCCUPIED TERRITORIES

  • 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)

II. MILITARY ‘REFUSENIKS’

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 )

III. CIVILIAN PROTEST

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)

IV. POLITICAL PERSECUTION DIRECTLY UNRELATED TO THE WAR

  • 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)

V.       EXODUS FROM RUSSIA AND TRANSNATIONAL REPRESSION

  • 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

I. RESISTANCE AND REPRISALS IN UKRAINE’S OCCUPIED TERRITORIES

II. MILITARY DISCONTENT AND REFUSALS TO FIGHT

III. THE MOTHERS’ AND WIVES’ COUNCIL: A GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT WARPED BY DISINFORMATION AND CONSPIROLOGY

IV. INDIVIDUAL CIVILIAN PROTEST

A. Nonviolent actions and reprisals – new cases

B. Nonviolent actions and reprisals – ongoing cases

C. Actual or alleged violent resistance

V. POLITICAL REPRISALS DIRECTLY UNRELATED TO THE WAR

VI. RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION

VII. REPRISALS AGAINST LGBTQ+

VIII. REPRISALS AGAINST THE MEDIA

IX. ‘FOREIGN AGENTS’

X. EXODUS FROM RUSSIA AND TRANSNATIONAL REPRESSION

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.

I. RESISTANCE AND REPRISALS IN UKRAINE’S OCCUPIED TERRITORIES

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.

II. MILITARY DISCONTENT AND REFUSALS TO FIGHT

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.

III.      THE MOTHERS’ AND WIVES’ COUNCIL: A GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT WARPED BY DISINFORMATION AND CONSPIROLOGY

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”.

IV.     INDIVIDUAL CIVILIAN PROTEST

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.

V.      POLITICAL REPRISALS DIRECTLY UNRELATED TO THE WAR

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.

VI.     RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION

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.

VII.      REPRISALS AGAINST LGBTQ+

          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.

VIII.   REPRISALS AGAINST THE MEDIA

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.

IX. ‘FOREIGN AGENTS’

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.

X.      EXODUS FROM RUSSIA AND TRANSNATIONAL REPRESSION

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)

THE RUSSIA OF TOMORROW: Antiwar Resistance & Human Rights Defense Digest / Issue # 12-13, Oct. 31 – Nov. 13, 2022

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. REPRISALS AGAINST RESIDENTS OF THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND THE WAR ZONE

II. THE ANTIWAR MOVEMENT IN RUSSIA

A. Discontent in the army

B. Nonviolent protesting and reprisals – new cases

C. Nonviolent protesting and reprisals – ongoing cases

D. Actual or alleged antiwar violence

III. POLITICAL REPRISALS DIRECTLY UNRELATED TO THE WAR

IV. RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION

V. ‘FOREIGN AGENTS’

VI. EXODUS FROM RUSSIA AND TRANSNATIONAL REPRESSION

Welcome to the new issue of our digest covering the events 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 tradition of the Soviet-era Chronicle of Current Events that was bringing international attention not just to the most famous and prominent dissidents but to the everyday resistance to oppression at the grassroots level of Soviet society. Our title – with tongue-in-cheek toward ‘Russia Today’, the powerhouse of the Kremlin’s global propaganda – reflects our belief in Vaclav Havel’s “power of the powerless”, including the long-term power of those Russian citizens, of many ethnicities and faiths, who are putting themselves in harm’s way to bring about a peaceful and less oppressive tomorrow for their country, for Ukraine, and for the rest of the world.

I. REPRISALS AGAINST RESIDENTS OF THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND THE WAR ZONE

Nov.1, Rostov-on-Don – Southern military district court extended the pre-trial detention of Marlen Mustafaev, a resident of Belaya Skala village (Crimea, Ukraine) until Feb. 10, 2023. Mustafaev has been behind the bars since February of this year, on charges of participation in Hizb ut-Tahrir (HuT), an international Islamic political party that has been banned in Russia, Germany, and about a dozen countries of the Muslim world. Mustafaev insists that HuT books used by the prosecution as evidence in his case were planted on him and do not have his fingerprints on them. The next hearing in his case is scheduled for Nov. 15. (Crimean Solidarity) In 2017, Mustafaev was fined 10,000 RUB for staging a street action in support of other Crimean Tatars. (OVD-Info) It is widely believed that charges involving HuT are used to penalize Crimean Tatars for their loyalty to Ukraine.

Nov. 2, Vlasikha (Moscow region) – Russia’s military appeals court upheld the sentence of 4 years in jail and 13 years in hard-labor colony for Emil Ziyatdinov from Oktyabrskoe village in Crimea. Ziyatdinov was found guilty of participation in HuT. He was also indicted for ‘preparing a violent coup’. He has been in detention since 2020. In his final remarks to the court, Ziyatdinov noted that charges against him were not substantiated by forensic analysis; he also reminded that he and other Crimean Tatars are citizens of Ukraine and should be treated as military captives, in accordance with the Geneva Convention. (Crimean Solidarity) On Nov. 8, the same court upheld the verdicts in the case of Lenur Seidametov and Timur Yalkabov (members of the so-called third Simferopol group of alleged HuT followers) who were sentenced in March by Southern district military court to 13 and 17 years respectively in hard-labor colony. This is in spite of the absence of any evidence in the documents of their case indicating that the defendants possessed any weaponry, planned any terrorist activities or encouraged others to commit them. (Crimean Solidarity)

II. THE ANTIWAR MOVEMENT IN RUSSIA

A. Discontent in the army

Nov. 6 – RFE/RL Idel.Realities published additional first-hand report of discontent among volunteer servicemen from Bashkortostan (‘The Shaymuratov Battalion’), the refusal of over 40 of them to remain in Ukraine, and reprisals in response. Many of them apparently enlisted because of financial need yet decided to quit after two weeks on the frontline where they saw the lack of properly functioning equipment, food and clothes, chaos, lack of professionalism and abuse by commanders, and mistaken orders to shoot at their own. As was reported earlier, on Sept. 17, two weeks after being deployed to Ukraine, 43 soldiers of the battalion filed for termination of their contracts; yet the military command prevented them from returning to Russia (which was confirmed by some of their relatives’ posts on social media) and ordered to destroy their documents at the border. According to the latest whistleblower report, they were kept for about two weeks in de facto detention in Novaya Kakhovka (Kherson region); after the publication of the first whistleblower video, they were threatened with criminal charges and the conditions of their detention changed to the worse. Most of them reportedly succumbed to the pressure and agreed to go back to the frontlines; only five were able to return to Russia where they were reportedly threatened with charges for going AWOL, in spite of having documentation about having lawfully terminated their contracts. (RFE/RL)

B. Nonviolent protests and reprisals – new cases

Nov. 7, Moscow – A district court ordered 25 days of arrest for Ilya Povyshev, for ‘repeat violation of the rules of public actions’. Povyshev was detained while wearing a mask with an inscription ‘No to the war’ at Boris Nemtsov’s memorial site. He was also fined 50,000 RUB for ‘disparaging the army’, by standing next to an antiwar poster that was left at the site by another activist. (SOTA Project)

Nov. 8, St. Petersburg – Aleksandr Makhankov, a district-level leader of the antiwar Yabloko party was charged for the second time with ‘disparaging the army’, on the basis of his antiwar statements during the local councils election campaign in September of this year. At the time, Makhankov faced these charges for the first time and was fined 30,000 RUB. He is now likely facing another fine, between 30,000 to 50,000 RUB. The next court hearing is set for Nov. 15. (Yabloko)

Nov. 9, St. Petersburg – Criminal charges of ‘knowingly spreading false information about the army due to political hatred’ were filed against Yevgeny Bestuzhev. The exact basis for the charges against him has not been reported. On Nov. 10, he was placed in pre-trial detention until Dec. 15. This was sought by the prosecution under the pretext that Bestuzhev was allegedly planning to leave Russia and join his daughter in Estonia. In his statement to the court, Bestuzhev denied spreading ‘knowingly false information’ but admitted that he was ‘guilty of an excessively emotional and politically incorrect statement’. Bestuzhev was actively protesting against the invasion from its first days in his online posts; his ‘VKontakte’ account was blocked already in April. Bestuzhev, 62, is a well-known democratic activist since early 1990s and a member of the political committee of the local branch of the Solidarity movement. (MR7.ru) The organization’s leadership includes Ilya Yashin, Vladimir Kara-Murza (both in pre-trial detention), and Sergei Davidis, currently based abroad.

Nov. 10, Kstovo (Nizhny Novgorod region) – Andrei Rossiev, a local resident detained in Krasnodar, was transported, and placed in pre-trial detention here. On Nov. 11, he was officially charged with ‘spreading false information’ about the army, based on his 10 comments in ‘VKontakte’ about the Bucha massacre and other potential war crimes by the Russian military. He was charged separately, for another 27 comments in ‘VKontakte’, with ‘inciting hatred toward a social group’, that is, Russian military and those Russians who support its actions in Ukraine. Yet on Nov. 12 city court released him from pre-trial confinement, against the will of the prosecution; instead, it imposed restrictions on his activities, including a ban on using communication equipment, a ban on attending public events, and a ban on participating in discussions on political and social issues. In August, Rossiev was already fined 300,000 RUB for allegedly ‘justifying terrorism’ and ‘inciting hatred’ with his online posts, and another 30,000 RUB for ‘disparaging the army’. (OVD-Info)

Nov. 11, Moscow – A district court placed Mikhail Simonov in pre-trial detention on charges of ‘spreading false information’ about the army ‘while being motivated by political hatred’. The exact basis of these charges is not known yet. (OVD-Info) According to Pavel Chikov, this is the 35th such case in Moscow alone. (Chikov’s Telegram channel)

                Kovrov (Vladimir region) – The local investigative committee announced charges against a 32-year-old local resident whose name has not been disclosed. The man is charged with ‘spreading false information’ about the army via 7 or more Telegram posts made in July. He may face up to 10 years of imprisonment or a fine of 3 to 5 million RUB. (Vladimir region investigative committee)

C. Nonviolent protests and reprisals – ongoing cases

Oct. 31, Prokopievsk (Kemerovo region) – A district court denied the appeal of Andrey Novashov and extended pre-trial restrictions that have been imposed on him since April, including the prohibition on using internet, mail, and phone except for emergency calls, communicating with his attorney, mother, son, and his colleagues at RFE/RL and other media for which Novashov had worked as a freelance reporter on human rights issues. The court justified these restrictions by claiming that without them he may ‘obstruct justice’. Novashov is charged with ‘knowingly spreading false reports about the Russian army’ via his posts in VKontakte about the destruction of Mariupol by Russian military. (RFE/RL)  

Nov. 7, Moscow – The notorious Basmanny district court extended the pre-trial detention of Ilya Yashin until Nov. 26, as sought by the prosecution. (Kommersant) Yashin has been charged with ‘spreading false information’ about the army, on account of his video stream about the Bucha massacre. During the hearing about extending his detention, two of his supporters, Irina Chivozertseva and Andrei Zhvakin, were detained during their solo protests next to the court building. (OVD-Info)

             St. Petersburg – A district court terminated the pre-trial house arrest of Irina Tsybanyova, a 60-year-old local resident charged with the desecration of the grave of Vladimir Putin’s parents; instead of house arrest, she is now prohibited from leaving the Leningrad region, communicating by phone and internet, and interacting with witnesses in her case. On Oct. 6, Tsybanyova reportedly visited the grave of Putin’s parents and left a note asking “the parents of this maniac” to take him from the face of the earth because “he has caused so much pain and disasters that the entire world is praying for his death … you raised a freak and a murderer”. Tsybanyova has admitted to these actions, stating that she did it after watching the news from Ukraine and realizing the extent of the casualties. (Mediazona)

Nov. 8, Moscow – City court denied Vladimir Kara-Murza’s appeal of the filing of criminal charges against him for ‘knowingly spreading false information’ about the Russian army actions in Ukraine. (SOTAvision) Kara-Murza is facing three separate charges, including high treason; his term in pre-trial detention is currently set until Dec. 12.

Nov. 9, Voronezh – A military court sentenced local resident Andrei Biryukov to 3.5 years in penal colony on charges of ‘public justification of terrorism’ and ‘inciting extremism’. Biryukov will be also prohibited from administering websites for two years. The court also ordered to confiscate his computer that was seized during search and to destroy Ukrainian flag ribbons that were found in his possession. Charges against him stem from his posts in ‘VKontakte’ social media network. Biryukov’s mother stated to OVD-Info that the actual reason for reprisals against him were his posts about Ukraine. (OVD-Info)

            Maikop (Republic of Adygea) – OVD-Info reported the sentencing of Elena Sumina who was charged with ‘spreading false information’ about the Russian military: according to the court ruling issued in September but published evidently later, Sumina was fined in the amount of her annual pension – 209,811.26 RUB (close to $3,500). Charges against her stemmed from her comment under an Instagram post in support of the invasion; according to the verdict, the ‘false’ information that she shared was related to the Russian military actions toward children in Ukraine. Sumina reportedly pleaded guilty and apparently did not appeal. As noted in court documents, Sumina is both a pensioner and a single mother of two minor children. (OVD-Info citing city court website)

             St. Petersburg – A district court extended the pre-trial detention of Oleg Belousov for another six months, until May 2, 2023. Belousov is charged with ‘spreading false information’ about the army and ‘inciting extremism’, via his posts in ‘VKontakte’. (OVD-Info)

Nov. 11, Kazan (Republic of Tatarstan) – District court extended, by request of the prosecutors, the pre-trial detention of Andrei Boyarshinov until Feb. 17 of next year. Boyarshinov is charged with ‘incitement of terrorism’ and ‘justification of terrorism’. As reported in our previous issues, charges against him stem from the posts he made under an alias in a Telegram channel during antiwar protests in Kazan on March 4 and 9; the content of these specific posts has not been made public. A district court initially placed him under house arrest yet the prosecution appealed and Tatarstan’s supreme court moved him to pre-trial detention at the end of March. Hence by the end of the current extension he will have stayed behind the bars for a total of 11 months. Boyarshinov considers the case against him to be political and has affirmed his opposition to the war. (RFE/RL)

               Belgorod – Antiwar media reported the verdict in the case of Vasily Devyatov who was sentenced on Oct. 27 to two years of restriction of movement. Devyatov was found guilty, per Russia’s criminal code, of ‘vandalism motivated by political, ideological, racial, ethnic or religious hostility or hatred’. The day after the start of the invasion, he was detained while drawing antiwar slogans with a spray paint at a bus stop; one of the inscriptions reportedly spoke of fascism in Russia. (OVD-Info) His attorney has appealed the sentence. (Mediazona)

D. Actual or alleged antiwar violence

Nov. 9, Izhevsk (Republic of Udmurtia) – Local court sentenced Ilya Farber to 3 years and 2 months in hard-labor penal colony and a fine of 2,600,000 RUB (circa $44,000) on two counts of arson – at a local defense ministry office and an army conscription station in Igra village. Both were reportedly set on fire in late May. Farber is a 48-year-old artist and a former teacher at a rural school; he is also a former director of a cultural center in Tver region. Farber allegedly committed this arson while visiting his relatives in the village. According to the court system press office, Farber pleaded guilty but refused to testify. He had a previous conviction from 2013, for an alleged bribe and misuse of his office; the court case against him at the time was widely criticized by the media as biased. (RFE/RL)

Nov. 10, Tomsk – According to official media, 36-year-old Mikhail Stepanishchev was detained here around 5am local time when he reportedly tried to set the local conscription office on fire. (SHOT Telegram channel)

                Yekaterinburg – On the same day, a 47-year-old man was detained here in the course of a ‘joint operation of regional FSB directorate and military counterintelligence’. (Interfax). According to the authorities, he was allegedly planning a ‘terrorist act at an administrative facility’. (TASS) Another opposition source revealed his name to be Mikhail Nikitin and that he was previously charged in 2020 with ‘disrespecting government authorities’ via his online posts that were deemed offensive toward Putin. (Avtozak LIVE)

III. POLITICAL REPRISALS DIRECTLY UNRELATED TO THE WAR

Nov. 1, Melekhovo (Vladimir region) – Alexey Navalny reported being placed yet again into the punishment cell, for 11 days – in his own words, for “sweeping the exercise yard poorly and insulting Сriminal Investigator Lieutenant Neimovich by calling him “Lieutenant Neimovich” instead of addressing him by his first name and patronymic”. (Alexey Navalny’s Twitter) On Nov. 10, a judge of the Kovrov city court denied Navalny’s appeal of his fifth placement in the punishment cell, on Sept. 23, but also ruled in his favor on the other part of his appeal, stating that the administration of the colony should provide Navalny with an opportunity to prepare for his court hearings. Russia’s investigative committee was not present at the hearing whose continuation was postponed until Nov. 24. (Mediazona)

Nov. 3, Potma (Republic of Mordovia) – Yury Dmitriev, the former head of Memorial branch in Karelia and a community historian of the Stalin-era political terror who is widely recognized as a political prisoner, was placed in a punishment isolation cell for the fourth time in two months. He will spend there another 10 days for allegedly not properly greeting a colony official. In Memorial’s assessment, this is a worrisome indication of an increasing pressure on Dmitriev. (Memorial Society) In 2016, Dmitriev became a defendant in a criminal case for allegedly indecent photographs of his foster daughter; he was initially acquitted, then rearrested after a successful appeal by the prosecution, and eventually sentenced in 2020 to a total of 13 years in penal colony.

Nov. 7, Kaliningrad – Regional court denied the appeal of Vadim Khairullin against his conviction for alleged ‘repeat violations of the rules for holding public actions’. In August, Khairullin was sentenced to one year in penal colony for his participation in several protests against the jailing of Navalny in January 2021. According to Khairullin’s attorney, the case against him had multiple procedural violations and his guilt was not proven. Memorial has recognized Khairullin as a political prisoner. (RFE/RL)

Nov. 8, Moscow – Police detained five environmental activists – Maksim Lubenets, Vitaly Kolesnikov, Dmitry Privalov, Egor Baranov, and Sergey Sinebryukhov – after they called police to prevent access of construction workers without permits to the Bitsa forest that the activists had been protecting against developers. On Nov. 9, three environmentalists were charged with ‘petty hooliganism’; Sinebryukhov was sentenced to 10 days or arrest; Privalov and Kolesnikov were fined 1,000 RUB each. (Activatica)

Nov. 9, Voronezh – A military court sentenced Dmitry Chalov to 300,000 RUB fine, to be paid in installments over the course of 5 years; this penalty is for allegedly ‘justifying terrorism’ via his posts in ‘VKontakte’. Reportedly the subject of one of his posts was about the need to blow up the Kremlin. (OVD-Info)

             Moscow – City court extended, until Dec. 14, the house arrest of Maria Platonova, a student at the Moscow Higher School of Economics, who is one of eleven defendants in the case charged with ‘inciting mass disturbances and hatred’ around the time of the Duma elections in Sept. 2021. The author of the report notes that there is no evidence of Platonova’s authorship of any of the Telegram posts that are used as the basis for the charges. (SOTA Project)

Nov. 11, Naberezhnye Chelny (Republic of Tatarstan) – Four local residents whose names have not been made public have been reportedly found guilty of “abetting terrorist activities” and belonging to an underground cell of an international organization that the official reports call ‘Islamic State’. They allegedly planned to commit several terrorist acts in Russia and then go to Syria. They have been sentenced to between 8 and 18 years in penal colony. (RFE/RL)

IV.     RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION

Nov. 10, Vologda – Regional court satisfied the appeal of Nikolai Stepanov, a local follower of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and amended his sentence from 4 years of penal colony to suspended imprisonment. The court did not change the 4-year suspended sentence of Yury Baranov, another JW believer who was a defendant in the same case. The initial verdict was issued by city court judge in September of this year. Stepanov has already spent 8 months in pre-trial detention, while Baranov was under house arrest for 3 months and is currently prohibited from leaving town. (JW’s Russian-language website on the legal situation in Russia)

Nov. 11, Volgograd – Regional court reviewed the appeal of the prosecution against the sentencing of five local residents convicted of alleged participation in ‘Tablighi Jamaat’, an international Islamic organization, and imposed harsher penalties on three of them as compared to the lower district court ruling: specifically, it replaced two years of a suspended imprisonment with two more years of probation for defendants Amanat Lukpanov, Batr Urazov, and Gilman Nitaliev with actual imprisonment in penal colony. All five defendants in the case, including Aslan Vakuev and Aleksandr Kolesnikov, were additionally sentenced to 10 months of restriction of movement upon release. (Volgograd regional court system press office) The initial six defendants in the case had been in detention since 2020 (one of them, Mikhail Kolotilin, was tried separately and sentenced in 2021 to three years in penal colony). ‘Tablighi Jamaat’ is a missionary Islamic organization that was banned in Russia in 2009 for allegedly ‘seeking global hegemony via the establishment of a worldwide Islamic state’. (Sova Center)

V.       ‘FOREIGN AGENTS’

Nov. 10, Moscow – The Kremlin has officially stripped the individuals deemed to be ‘foreign agents’ of privacy protection: by government order, as of Dec. 1 the register of ‘foreign agents’ published online by the ministry of justice shall include their personal data, including their dates of birth, individual taxpayer numbers, and other identifying information. (Russian government website)

VI.      EXODUS FROM RUSSIA AND TRANSNATIONAL REPRESSION

Oct. 31, MoscowArshak Makichyan, environmental activist with Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future and antiwar protester who was a naturalized Russian citizen born in Armenia, was officially informed that a week earlier he was stripped of his Russian citizenship, along with his father and two brothers, allegedly due to missing documentation in their application for it. Makichyan lived in Russia since the age of 1, has no other citizenship, and is now stateless. After the start of the war, he and his wife left Russia. (RFE/RL) In response to the court ruling, he posted an online statement in Russian and English, which says:

“The Russian state deprived me of my only citizenship. Many would say that I should be happy because I am no longer formally part of a state that rapes and kills women and children in Ukraine, occupies 20% of Georgia, tortures its own citizens. But Russia is something bigger than the Russian state. And I will always be part of the country I love. The indifference and fear of Russian people allowed Putin to start this criminal war. … He wants us to fear and hate each other. He is dividing us, stirring up ethnic and ideological discord. … It is a case against the entire multinational Russia we have been living in for the last 30 years. And we can’t keep silent about it. … Let’s fight together for a country that will be a place for all of us, not just for bloodthirsty murderers who belong in prison.” (Arshak Makichyan’s Facebook page)

Makichyan’s attorney has also stated to RFE/RL that the case against him looks to be politically motivated.

Nov. 9, Moscow – The ministry of interior has put a ‘wanted’ notice on Dmitry Kolezev, journalist and editor of ‘Republic’, an online publication critical of the regime and the war, without specifying the charges against him. (Mediazona) According to Kolezev, he has no idea of the criminal case against him and found out about it from the media, but was recently warned by his friends that the FSB had been ordering a forensic analysis of his publications. (Dmitry Kolezev’s Telegram channel) Official media has reported that Kolezev would be charged with ‘spreading false information’ about the military while ‘taking advantage of his professional position’; this subset of the corresponding article of Russia’s criminal code carries up to 10 years in jail. (RIA Novosti) The charges stem from his Instagram post made in April about the Bucha massacre. (Kommersant) ‘Republic’ (founded as Slon.ru in 2009) was placed on the list of ‘foreign agents’ and its website was blocked by Russia’s authorities in March of this year. Kolezev left Russia after the start of the war and is currently based in Luthuania. (RFE/RL)

Nov. 10, SerbiaIgor Azarov, Krasnodar city councilman, announced that after arriving to Serbia on a job-related trip he resigned from city council and decided to not go back to Russia: “The main reason for this is that I do not support Russia’s military actions in Ukraine.” Had he stayed in Russia, he felt he would soon be mobilized into the army. Azarov, who had been elected in 2020, stated that he felt compelled to resign because he would be unable to address his district needs from abroad. (Igor Azarov’s Telegram channel)

Thank you for reading. As always, we like it when we hear back from you (via email to rcc-ara@rcc-amrusrights.org). You are also more than welcome to join us on this journey by donating toward this project to our parent organization, RCC (a 501c tax-exempt NGO incorporated in New York in 2011), via PayPal – https://bit.ly/3DlUxy1, Facebook – www.facebook.com/RCC.org, or by check – Russian-speaking Community Council, Inc., P.O.Box 578, New York NY 10040.

Project Director Dr. Dmitri Daniel Glinski and our project team

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

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

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND THE WAR ZONE

II. THE ANTIWAR MOVEMENT IN RUSSIA

A. Nonviolent protesting and reprisals – new cases

B. Nonviolent protesting and reprisals – ongoing cases

C. Reprisals against servicemen

III. POLITICAL REPRISALS DIRECTLY UNRELATED TO THE WAR

IV. RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION (Jehovah’s Witnesses)

V. EXODUS FROM RUSSIA AND TRANSNATIONAL REPRESSION

Welcome to the new issue of our digest. Among all English-language publications on these topics, it provides the fullest coverage of the relevant events of the previous week ending Sunday. Most of the items in it are based on the original Russian-language sources and are hyperlinked to them. We seek to revive the tradition of the Soviet-era Chronicle of Current Events that was bringing international attention not just to the most famous and prominent dissidents but to the everyday resistance to oppression at the grassroots level of Soviet society. Our title – with tongue-in-cheek toward ‘Russia Today’, the powerhouse of the Kremlin’s global propaganda – reflects our belief in Vaclav Havel’s “power of the powerless”, including the long-term power of those Russian citizens, of many ethnicities and faiths, who are putting themselves in harm’s way to bring about a peaceful and less oppressive tomorrow for their country, for Ukraine, and for the rest of the world.

I. OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND THE WAR ZONE

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

II. THE ANTIWAR MOVEMENT IN RUSSIA

A. Nonviolent protests and reprisals – new cases

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

B. Nonviolent protests and reprisals – ongoing cases

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

C. Reprisals against servicemen

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

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

III. POLITICAL REPRISALS DIRECTLY UNRELATED TO THE WAR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IV.       RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION (Jehovah’s Witnesses)

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

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

V.     EXODUS FROM RUSSIA AND TRANSNATIONAL REPRESSION

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

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

Project Director Dr. Dmitri Daniel Glinski and our project team

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

THE RUSSIA OF TOMORROW: Antiwar Resistance & Human Rights Defense Digest / ISSUE # 10, Oct. 17-23, 2022

Table of contents

I. OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND THE WAR ZONE
II. THE ANTIWAR MOVEMENT IN RUSSIA
A. Nonviolent protesting and reprisals – new cases
B. Nonviolent protesting and reprisals – ongoing cases
C. Actual or alleged antiwar violence
III. MOBILIZATION AND THE COURTS
IV. POLITICAL REPRISALS DIRECTLY UNRELATED TO THE WAR
V. RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION (Jehovah’s Witnesses)
VI. EXODUS FROM RUSSIA AND TRANSNATIONAL REPRESSION
VII. INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN RUSSIA AND THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES

Dear friends, we are welcoming you to yet another issue of our weekly digest. Among all English-language publications on these topics, it provides the fullest coverage of the relevant events of the previous week ending Sunday; it also comes to you sooner than others, on Monday morning. Most of the items in it are based on the original Russian-language sources and are hyperlinked to them. We seek to revive the tradition of the Soviet-era Chronicle of Current Events that was bringing international attention not just to the most famous and prominent dissidents but to the everyday resistance to oppression at the grassroots level of Soviet society. Our title – with tongue-in-cheek toward ‘Russia Today’, the powerhouse of the Kremlin’s global propaganda – reflects our belief in Vaclav Havel’s “power of the powerless”, including the long-term power of those Russian citizens, of many ethnicities and faiths, who are putting themselves in harm’s way to bring about a peaceful and less oppressive tomorrow for their country, for Ukraine, and for the rest of the world.

We invite you to join us on this journey by donating toward this project to our parent organization, RCC (a 501c tax-exempt NGO incorporated in New York in 2011), via PayPal – https://bit.ly/3DlUxy1, Facebook – www.facebook.com/RCC.org, or by check – Russian-speaking Community Council, Inc., P.O.Box 578, New York NY 10040.

I. OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND THE WAR ZONE

Oct. 17 – Russia’s southern district military court in Rostov-on-Don extended the pre-trial detention of Alim Sufyanov and Seyran Khayretdinov and the house arrest of Aleksandr Sizikov in Simferopol (Crimea, Ukraine) until Jan. 20, 2023, as sought by the prosecution. (Source: Crimean Solidarity) The three Crimean Tatars are charged with alleged involvement with Hizb ut-Tahrir, an international Islamic organization prohibited in Russia, Germany, and a dozen of Muslim-majority countries. As noted by the ‘Crimean Solidarity’ website, in reality, the reprisals are in retaliation for the Crimean Tatars’ public protests over political reprisals, their critique of Russia’s authorities and lack of support for the annexation of Crimea. On the same day in Vlasikha (Moscow region, Russia), a military appeals court upheld the pre-trial detention of Ostam Arifmemetov and Rustem Sheykhaliev, defendants in yet another Hizb ut-Tahrir case, until Dec. 20. Defense attorneys stated that the entire case against them is fabricated and that a house search in the case was conducted without the requisite court order. The prosecution is seeking between 15 and 17 years of imprisonment for the five defendants in this case. (Source: Crimean Solidarity) And 3 days later, on Oct. 20, the supreme court of the occupied Crimea denied the appeal against a district court decision to extend the pre-trial detention of three other Crimean Tatars – Enver Krosh, Edem Bekirov, and Renat Aliyev; also charged with Hizb ut-Tahrir participation; they were detained in August of this year in Crimea’s Dzhankoy area. The decision was made in the absence of the defendants: they are undergoing compulsory evaluation by forensic psychiatrists that was ordered by the FSB. (Source: Crimean Solidarity).

Oct. 19 – The Kremlin media reported that the authorities installed by the Russian occupying force in Mariupil (Ukraine) dismantled the memorial to the victims of the Holodomor (Source: RIA Novosti). Holodomor [death from hunger] is the Ukrainian word for the famine in Ukraine’s countryside that was caused by Stalin’s expropriation of the peasantry in 1932-33 and led to nearly 4 million deaths. The memorial was erected in the central part of the city in 2004; Holodomor is recognized as an act of genocide by the Ukrainian parliament and the U.S. Senate.

Oct. 21 – In Alushta (Crimea, Ukraine), city court sentenced Aleksandr Tarapon to 2.5 years in maximum-security labor colony for ‘spreading false information’ about the army. The charges against him stem from a flyer with a portrait of his relative fighting on the Russian side in Ukraine, with an inscription stating that he was a “war criminal” “murdering children”; the flyer was posted by Tarapon posted on his relative’s door. The defendant pleaded not guilty stating that has action was part of a domestic dispute. (Source: ‘Setevye svobody’ Telegram channel)

II. THE ANTIWAR MOVEMENT IN RUSSIA

A. Nonviolent protests and reprisals – new cases

Oct. 20 – St. Petersburg State University fired Denis Skopin, associate professor of liberal arts, for his participation in a protest against the mobilization on Sept. 21 (where he was detained, subsequently spending 10 days under arrest). The official document signed by V. Eremeyev, vice dean for human resources, claimed that participation in the rally was “an amoral act incompatible with performing educational functions”. Skopin is planning to appeal this decision via the labor oversight board. (Source: Ivan Kurilla on Facebook)

              – On the same day in Novosibirsk, criminal charges of ‘disparaging the army’ were filed against Alexey Pinigin, for allegedly making an antiwar inscription on a monument. Pinigin’s home was searched, and his electronic equipment seized by the authorities; he has been prohibited from going out of town. Pinigin was among those detained at an antiwar rally in Novosibirsk in the first days of the invasion, on Feb. 27; he was initially fined, but the fine was later rescinded. (Source: OVD-Info)

Oct. 21 – In Sochi, a criminal case on charges of ‘disparaging the army’ was filed against Vladimir Atamanchuk, a 71-year-old local activist; he has been prohibited from going out of town. (Source: Caucasian Knot) The charges are based on the antiwar flyers that Atamanchuk allegedly printed and distributed on Sept. 4; on Sept. 7 or 8, he was jailed for 5 days for allegedly disobeying police. Prior to that, in March, he was sentenced to a 10-day arrest for organizing an unsanctioned protest; in May, he was fined twice for ‘disparaging the army’ – 50,000 and 30,000 RUB. (Source: OVD-Info)

B. Nonviolent protests and reprisals – ongoing cases

Oct. 17 – A district court in Verkhoturye (Sverdlovsk region) found Yevgeny Pinchuk (Nikander), a senior cleric at a local monastery of an autonomous Orthodox Christian denomination (Russian Orthodox Church Abroad of Metropolitan Agaphangel), guilty on criminal charges of ‘disparaging armed forces’ and fined him 100,000 RUB. This sentence follows upon prior ‘administrative’ (misdemeanor-type) verdict against him for the same, issued in March. (Source: TASS) Pinchuk allegedly made online posts characterizing Russia’s actions in Ukraine as a war of conquest and a ‘violation of the divine commandments by Russia’s leadership’. (Source: SOVA-Center)

Oct. 18 – A court in Elista (Republic of Kalmykia) sentenced activist Altan Ochirov to 3 years in penal colony for ‘spreading false news’ about the army ‘motivated by hatred’. It is worth noting that the sentence, harsh as it is, is the shortest possible term of imprisonment stipulated in Russia’s criminal code for this newly criminalized ‘felony’ and 4 years less than sought by the prosecution. Ochirov was charged for posting the video of a massacre committed by the Russian military in Ukraine and other reports from independent sources. Ochirov pleaded not guilty, saying that none of these posts were made by him. (Source: OVD-Info)

              –   On the same day in Novgorod, Irina Nelson was fined 300,000 RUB on charges of ‘inciting terrorism’, for her posts in ‘VKontakte’ social network against the invasion, against sending Russian troops to Ukraine, and calling for “open-ended mass-rallies with the use of force by the people”. (Source: OVD-Info) Nelson admitted her authorship in court, citing constitution to assert her right to free speech. Nelson is a mother of four children and a former attorney. (Source: 7×7 – Horizontal Russia)

             –   On the same day in Moscow, a district court sentenced Yevgenia Feklistova to 1.5 years of suspended imprisonment with two years of probation, for an alleged “violence against a representative of the authorities”. The prosecution claimed that Feklistova hit a policeman with her handbag at the antiwar rally on the first day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Feb. 24, and wounded his lip. Feklistova pleaded guilty. She is a 40-year-old teacher of Russian at a private school. According to Mediazona, while attending a rally, Feklistova saw a young woman being detained and asked the policeman to detain her too, which led to a physical confrontation between them. (Source: Mediazona)

Oct. 19 – In Vologda, city court released Gregory Markus Severin Vinter (born Grigory Vinter) from pre-trial detention, where he stayed since August, to house arrest. Vinter is being charged with ‘spreading false information’ about the military, via his posts in ‘VKontakte’ about the actions of the Russian army in Bucha and Irpin. Vinter is an environmental activist and human rights defender who was already imprisoned for his past activities. He was the head of the local branch of Lev Ponomarev’s Movement For Human Rights. On Oct. 20, Memorial included Vinter in its list of political prisoners. (Source: Memorial)

Oct. 20 – In Moscow, a district court fined a husband and wife, Igor Yakovlev and Tatiana Talankina, for 15,000 and 20,000 RUB respectively, for alleged participation in an unsanctioned antiwar protest, ‘shouting slogans and disobeying police’ on Feb. 28. On that night, they were both detained on their way home from a theater. The couple provided evidence that at the time of the rally they were at a theater watching a play, but that did not change the verdict. Yakovlev is the press-secretary of the antiwar Yabloko Party and of its founder Grigory Yavlinsky who ran for presidency against Vladimir Putin in 2000, 2012 (when he was disqualified from running by Russia’s board of elections), and 2018. (Source: Yabloko website)

C. Actual or alleged antiwar violence

Oct. 17 – In Moscow, three Russian citizens – Aleksandr Bylin, Oleg Antipov, and Dmitry Tyazhelykh – were placed under arrest by court order until Dec. 8 on charges of “committing a terrorist act”; the prosecution claims that they perpetrated the explosion on the Crimean Bridge on Oct. 8 and that it was organized by Ukraine’s military intelligence. (Source: Interfax) This announcement came four days after two Ukrainian citizens – Roman Solomko and Vladimir Zloba – and three citizens of Armenia – Artur Terchanyan as well as Artyom and Georgy Azatyan – were detained in Crimea; the FSB claimed that the first three had been involved in transporting the explosives via Bulgaria, Georgia, and Armenia. (Source: RFE/RL Russian Service)

              –  On the same day, in the village of Mukhorshibir (Republic of Buryatia), around 4am, a Molotov cocktail hit the roof and the façade of a local conscription station, reportedly causing no damage to the inside of the building. So far, the arsonist has not been found. (Source: Babr Mash) According to RFE/RL, since the announcement of the mobilization, there have been 13 similar arson attempts in Siberia and the Far East only; those convicted for perpetrating such acts are facing up to 15 years of imprisonment. (Source: RFE/RL Russian Service)

Oct. 21 – The FSB announced two new criminal cases against putative arsonists in the Republic of Bashkortostan: one of them, born in 1983 and a resident of the village of Isyangulovo, allegedly threw a Molotov cocktail into a local army conscription office on Sept. 26, damaging the building. Another, born in 2004 and a resident of the village of Arkhangelskoe, set on fire a military office at the village administration headquarters on Oct. 8, causing “significant damage”. The names of the defendants have not been made public. (Source: RIA-Novosti)

III. MOBILIZATION AND THE COURTS

Oct. 21 – According to the Volgograd region court system, in the month since the start of the mobilization, 14 lawsuits against military conscription offices disputing individual call-up decisions have been filed in the region’s local courts. The first of these lawsuits that is going to be heard was filed by 43-year-old Vitaly Kandalov who was mobilized notwithstanding his serious knee traumas. The hearing is scheduled for Oct. 25. (Source: Volgograd Online)

Oct. 22 – Russia’s investigative committee made clear that failure to obey a call-up notice will not be considered illegal: it disciplined the head of its directorate in Penza region for having “illegally” initiated a criminal case against Maksim Moiseyev for evading mobilization. The case against him was previously nulled by the local prosecution office, based on a 2008 ruling by Russia’s supreme court that only evading the initial regular draft between the age of 18 and 27 is a criminal offense. (Source: Pavel Chikov’s Telegram channel)

IV. POLITICAL REPRISALS DIRECTLY UNRELATED TO THE WAR

Oct. 17 – Russia extradited to Belarus Yury Kastsiuk, a former political prisoner of the Lukashenka regime. According to his attorney, during a previous extradition attempt, Kastsiuk attempted suicide at the airport, was treated and afterwards was beaten up by the marshals. Memorial recognized Kastsiuk as Russia’s political prisoner. (Source: Memorial)

             – In Moscow, a district court sentenced Ivan Volkov, a city resident, to 5 days of arrest and a fine (the amount of which has not been made public), for ‘taking part in an unsanctioned public action’ and ‘disobeying police’. Volkov was detained on Oct. 15 on the Red Square across from the Kremlin where he shouted, “Freedom to Navalny!” and other slogans. (Source: OVD-News)

Oct. 18 – Also in Moscow, an appeals court denied Aleksey Navalny’s appeal against his sentence of 9 years in high-security colony that was issued in March of this year for an alleged financial fraud and contempt of court. Navalny spoke at the hearings via video link. In particular, he noted that charges against him were based on the complaints of 4 out of over 300,000 donors to his Anti-Corruption Foundation; two of them filed their complaints that their funds were ‘stolen’ immediately upon making their donations; another two joined the complaint after they themselves were targeted by criminal charges. Further, witnesses of the plaintiffs against Navalny stated that they had been pressured by the prosecution, and a video recording of this pressure was made public. Navalny linked the intensifying reprisals against him to the invasion, expressing his regret that his team was “not effective enough” and was “unable to avert the catastrophe into which we are descending full-speed, the only question being how hard Russia will be hit and whether it may fall apart”. Navalny ended his remarks with a call to “all of Russia’s citizens … to fight against this war and this disgusting mobilization”. (Source: Meduza) Two days later, on Oct. 20, Russia’s investigative committee announced the launch of yet another criminal case against Navalny, charging him with ‘extremism, calls for terrorism, financing extremist activities, and exoneration of Nazism’. (Source: Interfax) On the same day, Navalny stated on Twitter that he was being charged along with his colleagues Leonid Volkov, Ivan Zhdanov (both have left Russia), and Lilia Chanysheva (currently in pre-trial detention); he noted that one of the charges was based upon Volkov’s statement effectively comparing Putin with Hitler and calling for an assassination attempt against the former. (Source: Navalny’s Twitter account)

              –  On the same day, also in Moscow, a district court sentenced Pavel Krisevich to 5 years of imprisonment, for ‘hooliganism involving the use of a weapon’. In June of last year, Krisevich went to the Red Square and made gunshots with blanks into the air and in his own head, in a performance act followed by a statement denouncing Russia’s “police state”, “a future failed state”. The prosecution charged him with “violating public order”, “causing fear and anxiety among those present”, and “inflicting moral damage” on them. Krisevich apologized in court to those who were allegedly traumatized by his performance and reportedly has already paid them compensation. (Source: OVD-Info) PEN America called upon the international community “to speak out in support of Krisevich’s right to free expression”. (Source: PEN America)

– On the same day, and yes, also in Moscow, the FSB launched a second criminal case against 58-year-old Bakhrom Khamroev, an activist of Memorial and a defender of the human rights of migrants from Central Asia. The charges against him, of “organizing the activities of a terrorist organization” (Source: Timofey Shirokov’s Facebook page) by ‘assisting defendants charged with terrorism’, are based on his representation of individuals in the cases involving alleged membership in Hizb ut-Tahrir, an international Islamist organization that is banned in Russia, Germany, and several other countries. This became known during the hearing on the first case against him, as the prosecution asked to extend his pre-trial detention based on the new case. Khamroev’s detention was extended for another two months. He has been in detention since February, on charges of supporting Hizb ut-Tahrir and ‘justifying terrorism’ based on six posts on Facebook. Russia’s financial oversight agency also placed him on the list of individuals involved with extremism (Source: Mediazona).

Oct. 19 – Ilya Yashin, Russia’s prominent opposition politician currently in pre-trial detention, announced that, according to the investigator in his case, the investigation was complete, and all his bank accounts had been frozen. (Source: Yashin’s Telegram channel)

           – On the same day in Chelyabinsk, a district court sentenced Vladimir Kazantsev, a local attorney who has represented environmental activists detained for protesting, to 4 years in penal colony and 500,000 RUB in damage compensation for an alleged bribery attempt. OVD-Info cites local activists who consider the case against Kazantsev to be politically motivated. (Source: OVD-Info)

Oct. 21 – The ‘regional security and anti-corruption department’ of the city of Moscow denied the request of Aleksandra Polivanova of Memorial for a permit to hold ‘The return of the names’, a traditional gathering on Oct. 29, the eve of Russia’s Day of Political Prisoners (recognized in 1991 by Russia’s legislature as the Day of Remembrance of Victims of Political Reprisals). The permit was officially denied due to COVID restrictions. Memorial has invited its supporters anywhere in the world to send videos with their readings of the names of the victims of Soviet-era political persecutions to october29@memo.ru. (Source: Memorial Society Telegram channel)

Oct. 23 – In Rostov-on-Don, prosecutors sought a two-year restriction of liberty and psychiatric treatment for Mikhail Selitsky; he is charged with ‘vandalism motivated by political hatred’, for taking part in the drawing of graffiti on the walls of several buildings that read “Putin is a thief”. The graffiti appeared in March of last year, and the local FSB reported the detention of participants of an ‘extremist group’ later in the same month. (Source: OVD-Info)

             –   On the same day in Moscow, Margarita Vaseva was detained during her solo protest action with a poster in support of Alexey Navalny (Source: OVD-Info)

V.       RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION (Jehovah’s Witnesses)

Oct. 20 – In Lesozavodsk (Primorye [Maritime] region), a district court sentenced 66-year-old Galina Kobeleva to 6 years of suspended imprisonment, as sought by the prosecution, for ‘organizing the activities of an extremist organization’, a staple charge against JW’s followers in Russia. Kobeleva pleaded not guilty, stating that she was merely observing her religion and not pursuing any organizational activities. The case against her goes back to May 2020; the charges are reportedly based on the testimony of an FSB agent who communicated with her posing as someone interested in the Bible and in JW’s services; according to JWs’ website, 20 witnesses denied charges against her. Russia’s financial monitoring agency added Kobeleva to its list of ‘terrorists and extremists’. Overall, 41 JWs in the region have already become defendants in criminal cases against them; 13 of them have been sentenced to suspended imprisonment.(Source: JW website)

              – On the same day in Maikop (Republic of Adygea), police searched 3 JWs’ homes, seized equipment, arrested 67-year-old Nikolay Voishchev, and filed a criminal case against him. He is reportedly the third JW follower in the republic to be persecuted for his belief; the other two, Nikolai Saparov and Inver Siyukhov, are in pre-trial detention.

              –  On the same day in Krasnodar, the regional court denied the appeal of Aleksandr Nikolayev against his sentence of 2.5 years in penal colony for his involvement with JWs. This means that he will stay in the colony until September 2023. Nikolayev is a 49-year-old resident of Kholmskaya hamlet and a father of five. Since April of last year, he was prohibited from leaving town; in September, he was placed in pre-trial detention; in December, he was convicted by a district court. Charges against him were reportedly based on the secret recordings of JWs’ services made by FSB operatives. According to Nikolayev’s attorney, some of the documentation in the case was apparently doctored. Overall, 6 residents of Kholmskaya have been sentenced for actual or alleged involvement with JWs; this includes Nikolayev’s father-in-law, Aleksandr Ivshin, sentenced to 7.5 years in penal colony. (Source: JW’s website)

VI.     EXODUS FROM RUSSIA AND TRANSNATIONAL REPRESSION

Oct. 17 – Artur Smolyaninov, a film and theater actor, was charged, in absentia, with ‘disparaging the army’, in an administrative case (equivalent to a misdemeanor); the likely sentence is a fine between 30,000 and 50,000 RUB. (Source: RFE/RL Russian Service) Smolyaninov declared his antiwar stance in April, after which he was removed from several government-sponsored projects; he is currently in the United States. (Source: Meduza)

           – On the same day, Nikita Yuferev, one of the neighborhood council members in St. Petersburg who on Sept. 8 launched a collective appeal to the State Duma urging it to charge Putin with high treason, announced that he, his wife, and children had moved to Belgrade a few days earlier. Yuferev declared that he “was going to return to Russia by all means” and that now he had “the privilege of calling a war a war” (Source: Yuferev’s Twitter account). On Oct. 21, another member of the same council and signatory of the appeal, Dmitry Baltrukov, declared that he was also stayed abroad – initially going on a work-related trip to Tashkent in late September and then staying there after finding out that he received a call-up notice on Oct. 2 and hints of a potential criminal case against him. (Source: Bumaga) On the same day, a third colleague of Yuferev and Baltrukov, Dmitry Palyuga, also stated that he had moved to Tbilisi a day before, adding that “we did the maximum of what we could by charging Putin with treason” and that “any further activities inside Russia will lead either to jail or to punitive mobilization”. According to him, only about a half of the council members were still in Russia (Source: Bumaga)  All three stated they were planning to continue, remotely, their work as local deputies. Their appeal to the Duma was signed by over 60 local council deputies across Russia; many of them were later charged with ‘spreading false reports’ about the army.

Oct. 20 – In Moscow, the notorious (but increasingly indistinguishable from others) Basmanny district court ordered to arrest, in absentia, Marina Ovsyannikova, the former editor of the 1st TV channel and an antiwar protester, on charges of ‘spreading false reports’ about the army. The court also restricted her parental rights with regard to her daughter, ordering the daughter to be placed with her father, Ovsyannikova’s ex-husband. On Oct. 1, Ovsyannikova escaped with her daughter from house arrest. According to her attorney, she has left Russia and is currently “under the protection of a European state”. (Source: OVD-Info)

              –  On the same day, it became known that Yaroslav Revenko, a Yabloko Party activist in Taganrog (Rostov region) left Russia and was now in Georgia. He was previous charged in a non-criminal case for taking part in an antiwar rally in March; he later reported anonymous threats against him on his Instagram account. (Source: RFE/RL Caucasus.Realities)

Oct. 21 – Vladimir Zavyalov, a businessman from Smolensk who is expected to be sentenced on Oct. 24 for ‘knowingly spreading false reports about the Russian army for political reasons’, had moved to another European country along with his family. (Source: ‘Setevye svobody’ {Net Freedoms] Telegram channel) Zavyalov was charged with allegedly placing stickers with information about the Russian army’s action in Ukraine instead of price tags in a supermarket. The stickers mentioned the number of refugees from Ukraine “as a result of Russia’s aggression” and the use of mobile body incinerators by the Russian army. Zavyalov pleaded not guilty; he was under house arrest since April; the prosecution sought a 6-year term for him in penal colony. (Source: OVD-Info)

Oct. 22 – Viktor Kamenshchikov, a member of the Vladivostok city legislature elected as a communist party candidate who spoke against the invasion from its first days and resigned from the party on Feb. 27 over its support of the war, announced online that he had been granted asylum in the United States and was currently in Miami (Source: Kamenshchikov’s Telegram channel). In March, Kamenshchikov stated in his interview for an RFE/RL publication that “if one does not speak out against the war today, it is the same as supporting it”. On May 19, it was reported that he was detained on the U.S.-Mexican border. A regional communist party boss denounced Kamenshchikov as a “traitor” who had “discredited the party” and “sullied its honor”. (Source: RFE/RL Russian Service)

               –  The New York Review of Books published a conversation with Daria Serenko, a poet and co-founder of the Feminist Anti-War Resistance launched in Russia in the wake of the invasion in February of this year. According to NYRB, Serenko was forced to leave Russia in March and is currently living in Georgia. She states that “in the near future, the antiwar activists who remained will face an escalating nightmare—violence, torture, long prison sentences. Also, any kind of legal protections may completely cease to work with respect to antiwar activists. Russia, which has isolated itself from international law, can afford to torture and kill. At the same time, the antiwar movement will continue to grow, and part of it will become radicalized, turning into an underground guerrilla movement. This will be the direct result of actions by the authorities. Antiwar protest will stand on three pillars—women’s resistance, the resistance of non-Russian ethnic groups, and radical guerrilla resistance.” (Source: New York Review of Books) Serenko’s poem, translated by Eugene Ostashevsky, is appearing in the NYRB Nov. 3 issue.

VII.    INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN RUSSIA AND THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES

Oct. 17 – Tatiana Glushkova, a lawyer of the Memorial Human Rights Defense Center, spoke about the situation in Russia at a briefing of the UN Human Rights Committee. She noted that, as of that date, the number of Russians recognized as political prisoners by Memorial was 496, which was 18 more than at the time of Memorial’s previous report to the committee on Sept. 12. Of these, 121 were imprisoned for political reasons and 375 were jailed for exercising their freedom of religion. 32 people are imprisoned for protesting the war. The number of different articles of Russia’s criminal code used for political or religious persecution is over 50. “The primary goal of political reprisals in Russia is not the imprisonment of every single dissenter but rather control over society. For this reason, reprisals are used selectively, relevant legislation is ambiguous, and victims are often picked randomly. This strategy is effective at spreading fear in society.” Memorial expects a large number of criminal cases against prisoners of war and civilians captured in Ukraine, as well as the rise in the number of fabricated charges of sabotage, spying, and high treason. (Source: Memorial) In another statement in connection with the beginning of the mandate of Volker Türk as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Glushkova urged him to “urgently improve and resource the OHCHR Petitions and Urgent Action Section, namely: increase the Section’s staff and introduce innovative approaches of examining the complaints including those already developed by the ECHR” (Source: International Service for Human Rights)

Oct. 18 – In her interview to Free Space, an offshoot of Novaya gazeta, prominent Russian human rights attorney Karinna Moskalenko notes that, with Russia cutting off its ties with the European Court of Human Rights and no longer being a part to the European Human Rights Convention, Russians have lost the opportunity they had to get compensated for damages from unfair trial, arbitrary and unlawful arrest, inhumane treatment in detention etc. The only international recourse that remains for them is the UN Human Rights Committee. Its authority has been recognized by Russia as a successor to the Soviet Union, under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that the USSR joined effective in 1976. Further, Russia’s constitutional court ruled that an HRC decision recognizing that a court procedure was unfair establishes new conditions for case review by the court. However, Russia’s authorities claim that HRC decisions on individual complaints are merely recommendations and not mandatory. Moskalenko states that HRC needs to be restructured to enable it to handle the increasing number of complaints, and that its decisions may need to be made more specific, including on the amounts of compensation for damages (Source: Svobodnoe prostranstvo [Free Space])

              – The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine established by the UN Human Rights Council delivered a report on its investigations and findings. According to its summary, “the Commission has found that war crimes, violations of human rights and international humanitarian law have been committed in Ukraine since 24 February 2022. Russian armed forces are responsible for the vast majority of the violations identified. Ukrainian forces have also committed international humanitarian law violations in some cases, including two incidents that qualify as war crimes.” (Source: UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights)

Oct. 19 – Human Rights Watch published a detailed report on the torture of detainees in Izyum (Kharkiv region) during the 6 months of its occupation by Russia. The report is based on more than 100 survivors’ interviews detailing beatings, electric shocks, waterboarding, and widespread property theft by Russian soldiers. (Source: HRW website)   

Thank you for reading. We will always appreciate your feedback (via email to rcc-ara@rcc-amrusrights.org), as well as your support in every shape and form. 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)

THE RUSSIA OF TOMORROW: Antiwar Resistance & Human Rights Defense Digest / Issue # 9, Oct. 9-16, 2022

Table of contents and summary of the week

I. OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND THE WAR ZONE: Asieh Chapukh fined for Facebook posts; pre-trial detention extended for Bohdan Ziza charged with ‘terrorism’ and imam Raif Fevziev charged with participation in Hizb ut-Tahrir; criminal charges filed against an unnamed woman for ‘anti-Russian statements’ and against Olga Sayenko for ‘disparaging the army’

II. ANTIWAR ACTIONS IN RUSSIA

A. Public protests and reprisals – new cases: Moscow city government staffer Oleg Sidorenko emails antiwar letters to over 1,600 city workers from abroad; Azat Agzamov fined for anti-Putin and antiwar protest on Putin’s 70th birthday; Nikolay Titarenko detained for alleged support of an underground sabotage group inside the army; Irina Tsybanyova under house arrest for alleged desecration of the grave of Vladimir Putin’s parents; Alexey Semyonov under house arrest for ‘repeat disparagement’ of the army; Ruslan Zinatullin and Zufar Garipov get their online profiles blocked; a defendant persuades a judge that she did not mean ‘war’ when writing ‘No to the w*r’ on the pavement

B. Public protests and reprisals – ongoing cases: antiwar protester Lev Lerman sentenced to 4 years in penal colony allegedly for storing 10 gun cartridges; prosecution seeks 7 years of imprisonment for Altan Ochirov and 6 years for Vladimir Zavyalov, both for ‘spreading false reports’ about the army; Vladimir Rumyantsev is indicted for ‘knowingly spreading false reports’ about the army; Oleg Belousov slapped with additional charges of ‘inciting extremism’; Anatoly Nogovitsyn charged with criminal ‘disparagement of the army’ is ordered a psychiatric examination with potential compulsory treatment; pre-trial restrictions imposed on Ilya Myaskovsky and Natalia Rezontova; pre-trial detention extended for Vladimir Kara-Murza (on the same day as he gets a Havel Prize from PACE), Vsevolod Korolyov, and Richard Rouz; court returns the case of Olga Smirnova, charged with ‘spreading false news’ about the army, back to the prosecutor due to procedural violations;

C. Burnings of conscription facilities and other government buildings: Igor Paskar indicted for alleged arson in an FSB building; Nikolay Baranov detained for allegedly setting a local court and conscription office on fire; Maksim Asriyan detained for allegedly planning to burn a conscription office

III. MOBILIZATION AND THE COURTS: Maksim Moiseyev is still under criminal charges for not showing up for mobilization even though per Russia’s supreme court it is not punishable

IV. POLITICAL REPRISALS DIRECTLY UNRELATED TO THE WAR: Anastasia Ponkina gets a suspended jail term for actions during protests against Navalny’s arrest; former policeman Magomed Dolgiev sentenced to a suspended jail term for disobeying orders to disperse protesters in 2019, Tatyana Kozlova fined nearly $5,000 for taking part in an anti-Putin protest in downtown Moscow on his 70th birthday; Maria Gordeyko and Renat Yakubov fined and Maria Gordeyko jailed for petitioning for student stipend raise; Vyacheclav Kryukov released after over 4.5 years behind the bars on a fabricated case

V. PERSECUTION OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES: Lyudmila Shchekoldina’s sentence of 4 years and 1 month in penal colony upheld; Boris Yagovitov and Ildar Urazbakhtin sentenced to suspended jail terms; Boris Andreev, Natalia Sharapova, and Anatoly Li placed in pre-trial detention; Oleg and Agnessa Postnikov get their suspended terms voided and case remanded

VI. EXODUS FROM RUSSIA AND TRANSNATIONAL REPRESSION: activist Mikhail Iosilevich, journalist Badma Byurchiev, and restaurant owner Nikita Botberg announce they have left Russia due to persecution; Lyubov Sobol, Prokhor Protasov, and Albert Mansurov subjected to reprisals in absentia

I. OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND THE WAR ZONE

Oct. 10 – In Rostov-on-Don, Southern district military court turned down the request of imam Raif Fevziev from the Simferopol area of Crimea, to release him to a house arrest and instead extended his pre-trial detention until Jan. 23 of next year. Fevziev, a father of 3 minor children, is charged with alleged participation in the international Islamic party Hizb ut-Tahrir which is banned in Russia, Germany, and some other countries for various reasons (in Russia, it was branded as terrorist by the supreme court in 2003). Charges against him are based on a single audio recording dating back to 2015. (Source: Crimean Solidarity)

Oct. 13 – In Yevpatoria (Crimea, Ukraine), 27-year-old artist Bohdan Ziza got his pre-trial detention extended until at least Jan. 16 of next year. He is charged with an ‘act of terrorism’ for allegedly splashing blue and yellow paint onto the Kremlin-controlled local administration headquarters in the night of May 16. Official media published a videorecording of Ziza admitting his guilt and recanting. He has also been included on the Kremlin list of ‘terrorists and extremists. (Source: RFE/RL)

Oct. 14 – In Coreiz (Crimea, Ukraine), police conducted a search in the home of Asan and Asieh Chapukh. Asan Chapukh is currently under house arrest after 15 months in detention on charges of extortion that are widely viewed as politically motivated. After the search, his wife Asieh was taken to Yalta where city court fined her for a total of 61,000 rubles (circa $975) under three administrative charges (an equivalent of a misdemeanor): ‘disparaging Russia’s armed forces’; ‘petty hooliganism on the Internet; and ‘propaganda or display of Nazi symbols’. All charges are based on the Facebook posts that she allegedly made under an alias. (Source: Crimean Solidarity) In one of them, Russia was called a fascist state. During court hearings, she did not deny that she made these posts. (Source: Graty)

– On the same day in Kerch (Crimea, Ukraine), local FSB publicized the detention of an unnamed 30-year-old woman, charging her with online chat comments allegedly inciting violence against ethnic Russians. She apparently posted them in the wake of the Crimean Bridge explosion. Charges against her carry a jail term of up to 5 years. Possible additional charges against her for ‘disparaging the army’ were pending at the time of the publication. (Source: KrymInform) On Oct. 11 charges of ‘disparaging the army’ were filed in Kerch city court against Olga Sayenko, but it is not yet known whether this is the same or a different case. (Source: OVD-Info)

II. ANTIWAR ACTIONS IN RUSSIA

A. Public protesting and reprisals – new cases

Oct. 10 – On or around that date, between 3am and 7am local time, Oleg Sidorenko, a staff photographer of a Moscow city municipal agency (committee on architecture) sent out an antiwar email individually to 1,621 employees of all city agencies. In his mass mailing, he stated that “the war initiated by Russia’s authorities is a crime against humanity and against the world. Don’t be afraid to go out and speak up if you have something to say.” In his own words, he had the time to progress from letter A to letter S of the city directory, after which his access to internal email system was restricted. In his own words, he had been intimidated at work with threats of firing in case he does not attend a pro-war rally or vote. Sidorenko is currently abroad and has no plans to return. (Source: ‘Ostorozhno Moskva’ [Beware, Moscow] and ‘ASTRA’ Telegram channels)

              –  On the same day in Meleuz (Republic of Bashkortostan), a district court fined Azat Agzamov 40,000 RUB (c. $640) for ‘disparaging the army’. These charges resulted from Agzamov’s street action on Oct. 7, Putin’s 70th birthday, when he held a solo street action holding a banner that said: “Putin, this is your last jubilee. Gorge yourself, beast.” According to the court order, while doing it he was also “encouraging others to impede the use of Russia’s Armed Forces” in Ukraine. The ruling posted on the court’s website states that Agzamov “fully admitted his guilt” and “clarified that he was opposed to military actions”. (Source: Meleuz district court website) This was Agzamov’s second sentencing after his action – on the day of it he was sentenced to 5 days of administrative (i.e. non-criminal) arrest, for allegedly disobeying police when they ordered him to remove the banner. His violent detention by police was covered in our previous issue.

Oct. 12 – Also in St. Petersburg, a district court placed 60-year-old Irina Tsybanyova under house arrest on suspicion of ‘desecrating a grave out of political or ideological hatred’. According to her son, on Oct. 6 she went to the cemetery where Vladimir Putin’s parents are buried and left a note there; on Oct. 10, she was visited by police. As documented in the case, the note asks for “the parents of this maniac to take him to where they are – he has caused so much pain and calamities, the entire world is praying for his death. … You raised a monster and a murderer.” Tsibanyova did not deny her authorship of the note. Prosecution sought to place her in pre-trial detention, but it is noteworthy that the court did not honor this request and let her go home. (Source: Mediazona)

              – On the same day in Tyumen, a court dismissed the charges of ‘disparaging the army’ that were filed against Alisa (last name unknown). On Sept. 24, she used a piece of chalk to write ‘No to the w*r’ on the street pavement; she was then arrested and immediately slapped with the charges carrying a fine of between 30 and 50 thousand RUB. However, in Russian, war (voina) is a 5-letter word, and the defendant asserted that she really meant another word – roach (vobla). Not only did the local judge close her case, but he also ordered the police to return the box of chalks that they had seized from her. This ruling immediately became the source of many jokes, memes, and cartoons in the Russian media. (Source: ‘Tyumen – bogaty region’ [Tyumen is a rich region] Telegram channel)

Oct. 13 – In Amur region, 25-year-old Nikolay Titarenko was detained and charged with ‘public incitement of activities directed against the security of the state’; this brand-new article of the criminal code carries a penalty of up to 6 years in jail. Titarenko is said to have posted on Telegram a video statement on behalf of the representatives of a self-described “underground movement” within the army consisting of Russians, Ukrainians, and Crimean Tatars; in this video, they declare that they let themselves be mobilized so as “to destroy the army from the inside” by sabotaging the war and passing information to the Ukrainians. This video reportedly originated on the Telegram channel of a Ukrainian public figure and has been circulating online since early October. (Sources: ‘ASTRA’ Telegram channel, OVD-Info)

            – On the same day in Izhma village (Republic of Komi), Alexey Semyonov, a local environmental activist, was subjected to a search and charged with ‘repeat disparagement’ of the army immediately upon his release from a 10-day arrest for allegedly disobeying police (which, in turn, immediately followed a 5-day arrest for nonpayment of a fine). On Oct. 14, district court ordered him under house arrest until Dec. 6. Charges against him stem from his online posts in VKontakte (Source: Izhma district court website); Semyonov was already fined for them in May, for 30,000 RUB. (Source: OVD-Info)

B. Public protesting and reprisals – ongoing cases

Oct. 10 – In Moscow, a district court extended Vladimir Kara-Murza’s pre-trial detention until Dec. 12. The hearing was closed to the public and the media, at the insistence of the investigator from the prosecution’s office. Kara-Murza has been in detention since April, initially for allegedly ‘disobeying the police’; he was later slapped with three criminal charges – first, for ‘spreading false information’ against the military in his remarks to the House of Representatives of the State of Arizona; second, for taking part in the activities of an ‘undesirable organization’ (The Free Russia Foundation); and most recently, for ‘high treason’, based on his remarks in Lisbon, Oslo, and Washington, where he spoke about political persecutions, election fraud, and censorship in Russia. (Source: Mediazona) On the same day in Strasbourg, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe awarded Kara-Murza with its annual Václav Havel Human Rights Prize. The prize honors “outstanding civil society action in defence of human rights in Europe and beyond”. Its prior recipients include this year’s Nobel Prize winner Ales Bialiatski (2013), Ludmilla Alexeeva (2015), Oyub Titiev (2018), and Maria Kalesnikava (2021). (Source: Council of Europe) The prize was accepted on Kara-Murza’s behalf by his wife Yevgeniya; she read out his statement in which he dedicated his win to the thousands of Russians who spoke against the war and stated that “a peaceful, democratic and Putin-free Russia” was going to regain its seat in the Council of Europe. And on Oct. 12 in Moscow, the Yabloko Party held a public screening of Kara-Murza’s documentary about Georgy Edelshteyn, Russian Orthodox priest and a long-time participant of the Soviet-era dissident movement who was also among a handful of the Russian clergy to speak against the war. The screening was briefly interrupted by a group of invaders in masks and hoodies who screamed “Kara-Murza is a traitor” but were escorted out of the building without further incidents. (Source: Yabloko)

– On the same day, in St. Petersburg, the detention of Vsevolod Korolyov, charged with ‘spreading false reports’ about the army via his posts in VKontakte, was extended for a record-breaking term of six months, until April 2, 2023. This decision was made in spite of 220 affidavits submitted in his support. Korolyov is a poet and a documentary filmmaker; before his arrest he was shooting documentaries about other antiwar protesters, Aleksandra Skochilenko and Maria Ponomarenko. (Source: SOTA Project) Korolyov may be facing a 5–10-year jail term.

– Also in St. Petersburg, a second criminal case, for ‘inciting extremism on the internet’, was filed against Oleg Belousov, who is already in detention since June for ‘spreading false reports’ about the Russian army. These initial charges against him were based on his comments in VKontakte; new charges reportedly also stem from his online postings but have not been finalized yet. (Source: OVD-Info)

– Also in St. Petersburg, a district court sided with the defense of Maria Smirnova, charged with ‘spreading false reports’ about the army, and ordered to return the case against her to the prosecution due to “serious procedural violations”. Smirnova has been in detention since May; the charges stem from her seven posts in VKontakte. Smirnova is an activist of a group called ‘Peaceful Resistance – Democratic Petersburg’. In 2021, she was charged with ‘justifying terrorism’ due to her street actions in support of the Crimean Tatars. A year later, prosecution found those charges to have been filed unlawfully and closed her case.

– On the same day in Nizhny Novgorod, Lev Lerman, 66-years-old retired pensioner, was sentenced to four years in a penal settlement – allegedly for possession of ten gun cartridges found in his basement upon a second search; local media reports that in reality, according to his friends and acquaintances, he was punished for speaking out against the invasion from its first days, encouraging people to protest against it. During the first search, police confiscated all his information devices. Lerman has been in detention since March 4. Lerman’s supporters were prevented by the authorities from attending his sentencing. On the same day, also in Nizhny, a district court imposed pre-trial restrictions on Ilya Myaskovsky, teacher, photographer, and blogger who had been covering the developments in Lerman’s case and was criminally charged in early October with ‘repeat disparagement’ of the army (as discussed in our previous issue). Myaskovsky is now prohibited from using the internet and regular mail and attending unsanctioned street actions during his pre-trial period. Natalia Rezontova, another local journalist, was placed under the same restrictions and in addition was banned from using cell phone. (Source: Reporter-NN)

–  On the same day in Yakutsk (Republic of Yakutia-Sakha), an investigator from the interior ministry ordered a forensic psychiatric examination of Anatoly Nogovitsyn, with the stated intent to determine whether Nogovitsyn requires compulsory treatment; a criminal case has been recently filed against him on charges of disparaging the army, based on his online video post that was critical of the invasion and the mobilization. Nogovitsyn is the head of the local branch of Yabloko, Russia’s only legal antiwar party. In April he was fined 30,000 RUB on ‘administrative’ charges of ‘disparaging the army’. (Source: Yabloko) On the same day, in Kazan, Ruslan Zinatullin, the head of Yabloko branch in Tatarstan, got his profile in VKontakte blocked by demand of Russia’s prosecutor general; it is now only accessible in Russia via VPN. (Source: ‘7×7 – Horizontal Russia’ Telegram channel) On the next day, the prosecutor general office also got the VKontakte profile of another Yabloko activist in Tatarstan, Zufar Garipov, blocked. (Source: Yabloko) Four members of Yabloko are defendants in criminal cases on ‘spreading false reports’ or on ‘disparaging the army’; 30 Yabloko activists have been sentenced to fines, for a total of over 2 million RUB.

Oct. 11 – In Vologda, Vladimir Rumyantsev, 61-year-old local resident, was issued final indictment on charges of ‘knowingly spreading false reports’ on the Russian military by posting online about civilian casualties in Ukraine. The prosecutors also charged him with allegedly running an underground antiwar radio station from his apartment. Rumyantsev pleaded not guilty. Before being placed in detention in July, he worked as a stoker. (Source: OVD-Info)

Oct. 12 – In Elista (Republic of Kalmykia), local prosecutor sought 7 years of imprisonment for Altan Ochirov, owner of ‘Volny ulus’ Telegram channel, who is charged with ‘knowingly spreading false reports’ about the murders of civilians by the Russian military in Ukraine. Achirov pleaded not guilty, asserting that all his posts were based on reliable sources. (Source: ‘Setevye svobody’ [Net Freedoms] Telegram channel).

– On the same day in Smolensk, prosecution asked the court to sentence Vladimir Zavyalov, a local businessman, to 6 years of imprisonment, for ‘spreading false reports’ about the army while being ‘motivated by political hatred’. Zavyalov allegedly replaced price tags with antiwar stickers at a supermarket (the same charge as against Aleksandra Skochilenko in St. Petersburg), spreading the information about the mobile cremation chambers that were brought by the Russian military to Ukraine and about the number of refugees from Ukraine which he openly blamed on Russia’s aggression. Zavyalov has reportedly pleaded partially guilty, claiming that he was acting upon somebody else’s request. (Source: SOTA Project)

– On the same day in Kirov, district court turned down Richard Rouz’ request to release him from pre-trial detention to a house arrest; instead, his detention was extended to Nov. 29 (prosecution sought to have it extended until Dec. 14). Rouz has been charged with ‘extremism’; after the start of the invasion, he and his wife Maria Rouz made online posts, including photos and videos of the Bucha massacre, that prosecution deemed to be “offensive and slanderous” with regard to the Russian military. (Source: RFE/RL)

Overall, according to a report published by Russia’s supreme court, in the first half of 2022, Russian lower courts dealt with a total of 16,151 charges of ‘violation of the rules of holding public actions’ (which is over 3,500 fewer cases than in the first half of 2021, during the wave of protests following the imprisonment of Alexey Navalny); and in 88% of these cases found the defendants to be guilty. According to previously published reports of Moscow and St. Petersburg courts, Moscow accounted for 53% of the cases involving public protests and another 32% of these cases were tried in St. Petersburg. In 87% of the cases related to public protests, these courts imposed fines, of circa 14,000 RUB. on average (circa $220), for a total of 171 million RUB. (c. $2.7 million), of which sentences for a total of 72 million RUB. have entered into force. Between January and June of 2022, lower-level courts also heard 2,955 cases involving the new crime of ‘disparaging the army’, with guilty verdicts issued in 85% of the cases; only 19% of these cases were in Moscow or St. Petersburg. The total amount of fines in these cases was 85 million RUB. (c. $1.4 million), with an average fine around 34,000 RUB. (c. $550) In most of the cases of either type where a guilty verdict was not reached, courts returned case materials to the police to correct procedural errors. (Source: OVD-Info)

C. Burnings of conscription offices and other government buildings

Oct. 10 – In St. Petersburg, a district court arrested, until Dec. 8, Maksim Asriyan, a 26-year-old nurse who has been charged with ‘attempted act of terrorism’ for planning to set a local army draft station on fire. Asriyan’s defense claimed that he brought the tools of arson to the building but at the last moment decided not to do it because of his rejection of violence. The prosecution declared that during the search of his devices police found “instructions on how to destroy railroad infrastructure” and a filled-out questionnaire of an applicant to the so-called ‘Free Russia Legion’, a putative armed guerrilla organization that was previously advertised online by Ilya Ponomaryov, a Russian politician in exile (according to the defense, Asriyan ended up not applying to join the ‘legion’). After the start of the war, Asriyan moved with his family to Georgia, but recently returned to Russia leaving his wife abroad. Asriyan has reportedly pleaded guilty. (Source: Mediazona)

Oct. 11 – In Ryazan, Nikolay Baranov was reportedly placed in pre-trial detention until Dec. 8, on charges of having thrown two Molotov cocktails into a district court building in the night of Oct. 9; according to one report, he was planning to burn a conscription office but mixed up the buildings (Source: FSB Ryazan Telegram channel); investigators allege that he was going to set up both buildings on fire (Source: Ryazan’s Soviet district court). Baranov reportedly admitted his guilt and stated that he had done it out of conviction. The criminal case against him charges him not with terrorism but with “intentional attempt to inflict property damage”.

Oct. 12 – In Krasnodar, prosecution finalized the indictment against Igor Paskar, charged with ‘an act of terrorism’. On June 14, Paskar allegedly threw a Molotov cocktail into a local FSB building. He is also charged with ‘vandalism’ for his alleged burning of a banner with letter Z that has become a semi-official war symbol. It was reported that Paskar may be facing up to 15 years in jail. The case will be heard by the Southern military district court and may become the first court case on the burnings of government buildings in Russia since the start of the war. (Source: Zona solidarnosti [The Solidarity Zone] Facebook page)

III. MOBILIZATION AND THE COURTS

Oct. 12 – In Kondol (a village in the Penza region), 32-year-old Maksim Moiseyev reportedly remains under criminal charges for refusing to mobilize – even though on Oct. 7 regional prosecutor’s office agreed to his lawyer’s motion to close the case and ruled that it had been filed unlawfully; these decisions were based upon Russia’s supreme court determination made in 2008 that criminal penalties for draft evasion only apply to regular conscription or alternative civilian service between the age of 18 and 27. (For more details on his case and his detention, please see our previous issue.) Yet according to Moiseyev’s wife, instead of being closed his case was transferred to the investigative committee of the city of Moscow (Source: OVD-Info)

IV. POLITICAL REPRISALS DIRECTLY UNRELATED TO THE WAR

Oct. 10 – In Izhevsk (Republic of Udmurtia), Anastasia Ponkina was found guilty of ‘hooliganism’ for her actions during the Jan. 2021 protests against the imprisonment of Alexey Navalny and given a 2-year suspended jail sentence. Prosecutors claimed that she urged protesters to block road traffic or tried to do it. In her final remarks Ponkina is said to have partially admitted her guilt and stated that she was not going to be involved in politics any longer. (Source: SOTA Project) Ponkina was one of more than 180 defendants in the criminal cases filed in the aftermath of the protests. OVD-Info continues to petition online for ending the reprisals against them. You can sign the petition here: https://palace.ovdinfo.org/.

             – On the same day in Moscow, a district court sentenced Tatiana Kozlova to a 300,000-RUB (almost $4,800) fine, for ‘repeat violation of the rules of holding street actions’. On Oct. 7, the day of Putin’s 70th birthday, Kozlova photographed a solo street protest of Grigory Samsonov across from the Kremlin but was charged with participating in his action. Samsonov was put in pre-trial detention for 28 days. (Source: OVD-News)

             – On the same day in Moscow, a district court sentenced Maria Gordeyko and Renat Yakubov for ‘violating the rules for holding public actions’ while petitioning for government stipend increase for college students. Yakubov was fined 18,000 RUB; Gordeyko, charged with ‘repeat violation’, was sentenced to 8 days of arrest. Both are activists of the Left Front organization. (Source: OVD-Info)

Oct. 14 – In Pyatigorsk, city court sentenced 47-year-old Magomed Dolgiev, a former policeman, to one-year suspended jail sentence for disobeying orders during police dispersal of a massive protest rally in Magas, Ingushetia, on March 27, 2019. Dolgiev was one of the 15 policemen who formed a line between the protesters and the troops of the national guard to prevent clashes. All of them were fired, 13 including Dolgiev charged with disobeying orders and all, and all 13 sentenced to suspended jail terms for ‘intentional disobedience … motivated by political hostility’. Dolgiev was the last to be sentenced. (Source: Memorial Human Rights Defense Center)

             –   In Rostov-on-Don, 23-year-old Vyacheslav Kryukov became the first of the defendants in the notorious case of the putative ‘New Greatness’ underground group to be released from imprisonment. He has spent over 4.5 years in pre-trial detention and penal colony on charges of ‘organizing an extremist community’. A total of 10 people were charged in this case which was widely reported to be fabricated by FSB operatives who played an active role in shaping this group and its activities. Prior to his detention, Kryukov was a third-year student at a law school but was expelled since then. Kryukov initially protested his detention, first by going on hunger strike for a month; in 2019, he and one of his co-defendants, Ruslan Kostylenkov, attempted suicide while in the courtroom. Still later, he reported being tortured by the guards during a break in the court session. (Source: OVD-Info)

V. PERSECUTION OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES

Oct. 10 – In Krasnodar, an appeals court upheld the lower-court verdict against 45-year-old Lyudmila Shchekoldina from Pavlovskaya hamlet. She was sentenced in May of this year to 4 years and 1 month in penal colony. Shchekoldina continues to insist on her innocence. In the five years since JWs’ organization was banned as ‘extremist’, no less than 349 believers have reportedly been jailed, even though in February of this year the chairman of Russia’s supreme court stated that participation in religious services in and of itself cannot be considered an extremist act. (Source: JW website)

              –  On the same day in Solnechnoe village (Khabarovsk region), 50-year-old Boris Yagovitov was sentenced by district court to 5 years of suspended jail term with further 3 years of probation and 1 year and 7 months of restriction of movement. This sentence comes after Yagovitov already spent over 9 months in pre-trial detention, and prior to that, several months under house arrest. The charges against him are the same as against most other JWs: ‘taking part in the activities of an extremist organization’ and ‘recruiting others to join’. (Source: JW website)

–   On the same day in Kodinsk (Krasnoyarsk region), 59-year-old Ildar Urazbakhtin was sentenced by district court for 3 years of suspended jail term. The court turned out to be substantially more lenient than the prosecutor who sought a sentence of 7 years in penal colony. In Krasnoyarsk region, 27 JWs have criminal cases filed against them; five have been sentenced, including Andrey Stupnikov, currently serving a 6-year term in penal colony. (Source: JW website)

              – On the same day, in Yaroslavsky village, Primorsky (Maritime) region, police conducted searches in 12 homes, after which 70-year-old Boris Andreyev and 49-year-old Natalia Sharapova were placed in pre-trial detention – the former, for ‘organizing the activities of a prohibited organization’ i.e., JWs; the latter, for allegedly ‘recruiting participants’. On Oct. 12, another village resident, 37-year-old Anatoly Li, was also placed in detention until Oct. 28. This is reportedly the 17th criminal case against JWs in Primorsky region, where 12 believers have already been sentenced. (Source: JW website)

Oct. 11 – In Birobidzhan (Jewish autonomous region), regional court voided the suspended jail terms of Oleg Postnikov (5.5 years) and his wife Agnessa Postnikova (5 years) and remanded their case back to the lower court. They were sentenced in April of this year for ‘participation in an extremist organization’ and ‘recruitment of its members’. According to JWs, 19 criminal cases have been filed against their followers in this region; in 14 of these cases, sentences have already been in effect. (Source: JW website)

VI.      EXODUS FROM RUSSIA AND TRANSNATIONAL REPRESSION

Oct. 10 – Mikhail Iosilevich, opposition activist from Nizhny Novgorod and former political prisoner, announced his departure from Russia along with his family. In September, he was released from a penal settlement where he was sent in May, after spending 15 months in between pre-trial detention and prohibition from leaving the town. In 2016, Iosilevich opened the first temple of the Flying Spaghetti Monster in Russia and next year managed to get it registered as a religious group. His troubles begam after he provided his church’s space for trainings of election observers. In 2020, he became a defendant in a criminal case that linked him to Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s Open Russia, although this connection was reportedly due to a proofreading error in an online article. As Iosilevich wrote in his Telegram post last week, “for me, returning to Russia would be the same as going back to jail. It is evident that today anyone may be jailed for an online post or simply for no reason at all! … Russia, as a state bound by laws, does not exist any longer. … Conscience and sense of honor urge me to go and fight on the side of Ukraine. But I cannot do it. I don’t know how to kill people and would not be able to shoot into those with whom I just recently shared a jail, a town, or simply socialized. I am not a military man. But alas, there is nothing else left for us to do. …” (Source: Mikhail Iosilevich’s Telegram channel)

              –  On the same day in Naberezhnye Chelny (Republic of Tatarstan), the local office of Russia’s investigative committee charged 39-year-old Albert Mansurov with ‘disparaging the use of Russia’s Armed Forces’, a felony that carries up to 3 years of imprisonment. This is reportedly the first such criminal case in Tatarstan. In May, Mansurov was already charged with disparaging the army, but in an administrative case (an equivalent of a misdemeanor). Around the same time, he left Russia for the United Arab Emirates; in September, he was placed on a ‘wanted’ list. Both cases against him have been based on his publications in VKontakte. (Source: BIZNES Online)

Oct. 12 – A district court in Moscow fined Lyubov Sobol 10,000 RUB for alleged violation of the ‘foreign agents’ law. She is a lawyer, long-time supporter of Navalny, and a former candidate in the Moscow city and Russian state Dumas elections. Sobol has not been in Russia since August of last year. While abroad, she was placed on a ‘wanted’ list (in October); sentenced to 1.5 years of restriction of liberty and mandatory public works (in December); placed on the list of ‘terrorists and extremists’ (in January); officially branded a ‘foreign agent’ and ordered to be arrested for ‘taking part in an extremist community’ (in May); and charged with ‘spreading false information about the Army’ and ‘justifying terrorism’ (in August). (Sources: SOTAVision, OVD-Info)

Oct. 13 – Prokhor Protasov, a composer and former orchestra director from Kirov currently doing graduate studies in Canada, announced that Russian authorities had filed a criminal case against him. He is being charged with ‘spreading false reports’ about the Russian army, due to ‘political hatred’. Charges are based on his VKontakte posts about the Bucha massacre and Russia’s missile strike on the Kremenchug shopping mall. In August, police searched his home; relatives in Kirov have been summoned to interrogation as witnesses. His VKontakte page has been blocked at the request of Russia’s prosecutor-general; Protasov himself is on the ‘wanted’ list. He is said to believe that these reprisals are in connection with his study trips to the US and their funding with grants from the U.S. State Department. (Source: OVD-Info)

– On the same day, RFE/RL reported that Badma Byurchiev, its correspondent in Elista (Republic of Kalmykia), had left Russia and requested political asylum in Norway. In the past, Byurchiev was repeatedly charged with violations for his participation in street protests, including an action against the appointment of a former head of a secessionist government in Donetsk as mayor of Elista and an action in support of Alexey Navalny. In September of this year, Byurchiev was beaten up by unknown assailants; on Oct. 11, he was fined 30,000 RUB for ‘disparaging the army’. (Source: RFE/RL)

Oct. 14 – Nikita Botberg, a restaurant owner in Perm who was protesting against the war, temporarily left Russia after repeated pressure on him by law enforcement, his company’s sudden eviction from rented spaces, and violent attack by an unknown assailant who broke his nose. The attack followed his latest protest action of Oct. 1. Botberg is currently in Armenia for treatment and recovery but plans to go back in two weeks to his wife in Perm. (Source: Caucasian Knot)

Thank you for reading. We will always appreciate your feedback (via email to rcc-ara@rcc-amrusrights.org or via our Facebook page www.facebook.com/AmRusRights), as well as your moral and, not least, material support. Speaking of which, you are welcome to donate toward this project to our parent 501c3 tax-exempt organization, Russian-speaking Community Council, Inc. – either by check (to P.O.Box 578, New York NY 10040), or via PayPal, or via our Facebook donation button. See you again soon.

Project Director Dr. Dmitri Daniel Glinski and our project team

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

Table of contents

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

II. OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND THE WAR ZONE

III. MOBILIZATION AND THE COURTS

IV. ANTIWAR ACTIONS IN RUSSIA

A. Public protesting and reprisals: new cases

B. Public protesting and reprisals: ongoing cases

C. Burnings of draft stations and other government buildings

V. SELECTIVE MOBILIZATION AS A POLITICAL WEAPON

VI. THE PERSECUTION OF VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA

VII. CRACKDOWN ON THE GOLOS MOVEMENT

VIII. POLITICAL REPRISALS DIRECTLY UNRELATED TO THE WAR

IX. MEDIA REPRISALS

X. EXODUS FROM RUSSIA AND TRANSNATIONAL REPRESSION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

II. OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND THE WAR ZONE

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

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

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

III. MOBILIZATION AND THE COURTS

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

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

IV. ANTIWAR ACTIONS IN RUSSIA

A.      Public protesting and reprisals: new cases

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

B. Public protesting and reprisals: ongoing cases

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

C. Burnings of draft facilities and other government buildings

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

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

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

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

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

V. SELECTIVE MOBILIZATION AS A POLITICAL WEAPON

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

VI. THE PERSECUTION OF VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA

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

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

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

VII. CRACKDOWN ON THE GOLOS MOVEMENT

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

VIII. POLITICAL REPRISALS DIRECTLY UNRELATED TO THE WAR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IX. MEDIA REPRISALS

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

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

X. EXODUS FROM RUSSIA AND TRANSNATIONAL REPRESSION

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

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

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

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

Project Director Dr. Dmitri Daniel Glinski and our project team

THE RUSSIA OF TOMORROW: Antiwar Resistance & Human Rights Defense Digest / Issue # 7, Sept. 26-Oct. 2, 2022

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

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

I. OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND THE WAR ZONE

Sept. 26 – Russia’s southern district military court turned down the request of Rustem Murasov – a defendant in the ‘second Sebastopol’ group of four Crimean Tatars alleged to be Hizb ut-Tahrir followers – to replace pre-trial detention for the entire group to house arrest. Other defendants in the case are Zavur Abdullaev, Dzhebbar Bekirov, and Rustem Tairov. Abdullaev has a serious medical condition but reportedly is not provided with medical care; Bekirov has a disabled dependent son. In justifying his request, Murasov characterized the conditions in detention as ‘torturous’. The prosecution objected, claiming that once released defendants “may continue their terrorist activities” and that “there is no information about their health conditions in the file”. As requested by the prosecution, the court also extended the term of their detention from previously set to end on Oct. 23 to Jan. 23 of next year. (Source: Crimean Solidarity)

II. ANTIWAR PROTESTERS IN RUSSIA

A. Public actions and reprisals: New cases

Dagestan. After massive protests on Sept. 25 in Makhachkala and several villages that was dispersed using tear gas and clubs, over 100 people were reportedly detained; around 30 criminal cases have been launched. Several protesters – including Adam Gadzhiev, Muhamma Magomedov, Sultan Akhmedkhanov, Magomed Ubaidullaev, Murad Aligadzhiev, and Isa Abdullaev – have been charged with using violence against law enforcement. Seven of them are represented by attorneys affiliated with OVD-Info, the leading Moscow-based police watchdog in the country. On Oct. 1, an attorney representing four defendants told the media that all those detained in the aftermath of the protests were severely beaten and had clear signs of violence. Also detained was Vladimir Sevrinovsky, a Russian journalist, photographer, and documentary filmmaker; he was covering the event for Meduza, the news portal based in Riga, Latvia, and listed by the Putin regime among ‘foreign agent media’. Sevrinovsky has been charged with ‘petty hooliganism’. Further, official media reported the detention of the administrators of antiwar Telegram channels; the authorities claimed these channels were set up “in the framework of a subversive action by Ukraine’s foreign ministry under CIA patronage”; ‘Morning of Dagestan’ and ‘Dagestani Basement’ Telegram channels denied the reports of their administrators’ detention. (Sources: State TV and 6Radio Broadcasting Company Dagestan; OVD-Info; ‘Novoe Delo’ Telegram channel)

Sept 26 – In Moscow, the day was marked by violent reprisals against participants of the ‘Mayakovsky readings’, a poetry reading performance that is held monthly on the last Sunday of the month next to Vladimir Mayakovsky’s monument. Its organizers declared that the performance held on Sept. 25th was explicitly directed against the mobilization. Those detained at the event included Nikolay Dayneko; he was charged with ‘participating in a public action that was not cleared in advance with the authorities’ and sentenced on Sept. 26 to a 20,000-rouble fine, after which he was immediately detained again. On Sept. 26, police also visited Artyom Kamardin, a poet and a participant in 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; later, Kamardin told the media that he and his girlfriend were beaten and tortured by the police, with elements of sexual violence. On Sept. 28, Dayneko, Kamardin, and Yegor Shtovba (another participant of the Mayakovsky readings) were charged with ‘inciting hatred with a threat of violence’, allegedly against the militaries of the Donetsk and Lugansk self-proclaimed republics and placed in pre-trial detention until Nov. 25. (Sources: Novaya Gazeta.Europe; Mediazona; ‘Vot Tak’ Telegram channel)

            –  On the same day in Ivanovo, prosecutors interrogated Olga Nazarenko, who is currently a ‘suspect’ in the case of ‘repeat disparagement of the military’. Nazarenko is a teacher in a pharmacy studies program at a local medical school. It is reported that she was subjected to a search in the workplace, during which the authorities seized two banners with antiwar, anti-Putin and ‘freedom for Navalny’ messages. Nazarenko took part in several antiwar protests; in March, she was sentenced to a 75,000-rouble fine for her solo antiwar protests; two months later, she was sentenced to 180 hours of compulsory public works for a street action in support of political prisoners. She is also listed as a witness in the case against Sergey Veselov (see below); in May, she was subjected to a house search in this connection. (Source: OVD-Info)

Sept. 27 – In Vladimir, district judge found Anton Ganyushkin guilty of ‘vandalism motivated by political/ideological hatred’ and sentenced him to 8 months of de facto house arrest, with additional restrictions. The charges stemmed from an anti-war graffiti that appeared in March of this year. (Source: Pavel Chikov’s Telegram channel).

                – In Ufa, authorities detained Fail Alsynov, a prominent environmental activist who in 2020 was among the leaders of the protests against industrial deforestation of Kushtau Hill, a natural landmark in the area; local commentators opined that he was detained because of his recent online post that was critical of the mobilization. On the next day, Alsynov was released by court which ordered police to redo the paperwork on his detention because of the ‘major flaws’ in it. (KushTau Online’ Telegram channel)

Sept. 29 – A protest action was held in Kyzyl, Tyva, an ethnic minority region bordering with Mongolia and widely viewed as one of the most politically passive areas in the country. The action was reportedly organized by women; they chanted ‘No to mobilization! No to genocide!” The rally was dispersed a few minutes after it started. At least 27 women were detained, including, according to published video, a woman with a child in a stroller; she was sentenced to a 10,000- rouble (c. $170) fine despite claiming that she was merely passing by and did not participate in the protest. (Sources: OVD-Info; RFE/RL-Siberia.Realities)

– On the same day, in Novorossiisk, Krasnodar region, Askhabali Alibekov, 51-year-old popular blogger known under the nickname ‘Wild Paratrooper’, was placed in pre-trial detention. Alibekov has been charged with repeat offense of ‘spreading false information’ about the military, which constitutes a felony. According to his wife, he was initially imposed a curfew, but after he refused to put on an electronic bracelet to track his movements, he was placed in pre-trial detention. Alibekov is a former commander of a detachment of Russia’s Black See Fleet. He first clashed with the authorities after an act of police violence against Chechen students in the city of Stavropol in which one of them died; Alibekov urged an investigation and for charges to be brought against police; instead, he ended up serving a jail term for ‘offending representatives of the authorities’. In 2018, he published a video address to Putin, charging him with concealing the real number of Russian casualties in the then-‘hybrid’ war 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. (Sources: RFE/RL-Caucasus.Realities; OVD-Info)

– Also on Sept. 29, city court in Maikop, Republic of Adygea (bordering with Georgia), after a one-day trial, sentenced Elena Sumina, on charges of ‘spreading false reports’ about the military. The details of the case and the sentence are not known, and Sumina’s attorney declined comment. In this connection, ‘Setevye svobody’ [NetFreedoms] Telegram channel reported that this was the 11th sentence in such a case since the start of the invasion; there are currently at least 19 criminal cases of this nature pending before the courts, while another 75 cases are in the pre-trial stage. (Source: NetFreedoms)

– On the same day pro- and anti-Kremlin sources reported that Andrey Akimov, a lawyer, and environmental activist, was detained in Yaroslavl. A pro-war channel claimed that Akimov was detained because of his YouTube videos that encouraged antiwar protests. (Source: OVD-News)

Sept. 30 – In Penza, criminal charges were brought against Valentin Snegirev, an investigative blogger and anti-corruption activist, for his article published on Aug. 14, in which he questioned the funding sources for the payments to recruits from the region that had been fighting in Ukraine. Snegirev was summoned for interrogation but responded to the prosecutors that he was not going to be able to attend as he was staying in Israel. (Source: ‘Horizontal Russia’ Telegram channel)

B. Public actions and reprisals: Ongoing cases

Sept. 26 – A court in St. Petersburg sentenced Igor Maltsev (alias Egor Skorokhodov) to 3 years and 8 months behind the bars on charges of ‘hooliganism motivated by political hatred, for staging a performance in March of this year that involved the burning of an effigy in Russian military uniform. Maltsev, whose father is reportedly a Chechnya war veteran with post-traumatic syndrome, repeatedly took part in antiwar actions. He expressed his regrets that his actions may have been viewed as offensive. (Source: Sotavision)

Sept. 27 – In Barnaul, court extended the pre-trial detention of Maria Ponomaryova, reporter of RusNews agency, for another six months, until March 27 of next year. As discussed in a previous issue of this digest, Ponomaryova attempted suicide while in detention. (Source: RusNews)

Sept. 28 – In St. Petersburg, the pretrial detention of Aleksandra (Sasha) Skochilenko was also extended, until Nov. 1. She has been charged with ‘spreading false reports about the army motivated by political hatred’; the charges stem from the five stickers with information about civilian casualties in Ukraine that Skochilenko reportedly put in the place of price tags at a local food store. She has been in detention since April and suffered from the inability to comply with her medically prescribed dietary restrictions until this issue was resolved after multiple interventions by her attorney. (Sources: ‘Free Sasha Skochilenko’ Telegram channel; OVD-Info)

               – In Shuya, Ivanovo region, Sergey Veselov was officially charged with repeat offense of ‘disparaging the army’. As discussed in the previous issues of this digest, Veselov was charged for the first time in July, for the videos on his YouTube channel which had 16 subscribers at the time. The second batch of charges was brought against him in September, based on his remarks at the appeals court hearing on his first case. In these remarks, which he subsequently posted on YouTube, Veselov condemned the invasion of Ukraine. Beside these criminal charges, he was also charged in March with ‘vandalism’, for his antiwar graffiti on the wall of the city administration headquarters. Veselov has not been placed in detention but is currently under restrictions imposed by the court on his activities. (Source: OVD-Info)

– In Pushkino, district court fined Aleksandr Makhankov, leader of the local branch of the Yabloko Party and a former city council candidate, for 30,000 roubles, on charges of ‘disparaging the army’. The charges stemmed from his online comments that were interpreted by prosecution as critical of Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Makhankov claimed that these were “general musings” and that the real purpose of the charges against him was to prevent him from running for office. (Source: Yabloko)

Sept. 29 – A district court in St. Petersburg issued a ‘wanted’ alert for Boris Romanov, a defendant charged with ‘spreading false reports’ about the military, reports that were allegedly ‘motivated by political hatred’, which is an aggravating circumstance under the current law. Romanov was initially detained in May; the charges against him stemmed from an online video in which a man who looked like him congratulated the session of a local neighborhood council with ‘Ukraine’s victory in the war’. After two months in pre-trial detention, the court released him but prohibited him from engaging in various activities. The charges against him carry up to 10 years in jail. In the past few days, he did not show up at two of the court hearings, and his attorney stated that she did not know of his whereabouts. The court that issued the ‘wanted’ notice also ordered him to be placed once again in detention. (Sources: ZAKS, OVD-Info)

Sept. 30 – Also in St. Petersburg, prosecutors demanded for the youth antiwar ‘Spring’ [Vesna] movement to be declared extremist. Vesna activists called for antiwar protests in the first days of the invasion; in May, they were charged with ‘incitement of unlawful activities’, with subsequent additional charge of ‘encouraging mass disturbances. Six activists, including Evgeny Zateev, Valentin Khoroshenin, Angelina Roshchupko and Timofey Vaskin, have been under a court-ordered curfew and a ban on using regular mail and internet, except for emergencies, communicating with other activists and attending public events. Regarding Zateev and Khoroshenin, a Moscow district court extended these restrictions, also on Sept. 26, until Dec. 11. Four activists, including Vesna’s founder Bogdan Litvin, as well as Ivan Drobotov, Roman Maksimov, and Ekaterina Goncharova, have left Russia. The organization has been in existence since 2013 and is mainly based in St. Petersburg, with a few branches around the country. (Sources: Vesna; RIA Novosti)

– In Petrozavodsk, Karelia’s supreme court denied the appeal of Dmitry Rybakov, city council member from the liberal Yabloko Party and environmental activist, regarding the 30,000-rouble fine that was imposed on him by city court for ‘disparaging the army’. Rybakov was fined for his online post that did not even mention the military. (Source: Yabloko)

Oct. 1 – Marina Ovsyannikova, the former anchor of Russia’s official TV Channel One who became world-famous for her antiwar performance in the studio that was broadcasted live, reportedly escaped with her daughter from house arrest. According to her ex-husband, her and her daughter’s whereabouts were unknown. (Source: Zhivaya Kuban’ Telegram channel)

            –  On the same day, Renat Salimov, an antiwar activist in Kazan, told the media that local authorities denied his request to hold a 10-person rally “in protest against the war in Ukraine”. The authorities also reportedly threatened him with charges of ‘disparaging the army’. (Source: ‘Astra’ Telegram channel)

            – In Khabarovsk, Nikolay Zodchii, a local activist, was detained during his solo street action with a banner that said: “Ukraine is not Russia”. (Source: Sota Vision Media)

C. Burnings of draft facilities and other government buildings

Sept. 26 – In Uryupinsk, Volgograd region, around 4 am, Molotov cocktail was thrown into the army draft station. The arsonist, Mikhail Filatov, was detained. Filatov, 35, is reported to have been a supporter of Russia’s radical rightwing nationalist groups. (Source: MolokoNews’ Telegram channel)

– In Tarusa, Kaluga region, Andrey Lysenkov, a local activist subjected to house search a few days earlier, was summoned to court, although the charges against him are still unclear; on the same day, Kaluzhskie Novosti, a local paper, reported of an arson attempt at the Tarusa district draft station. (Source: OVD-Info)

– On the same day in Nizhny Novgorod, a court released Artyom Lebedev, detained on Sept. 23 on suspicion of setting a draft station on fire on Sept. 21. Lebedev was released for lack of sufficient evidence but remains under the prohibition from leaving the city. (Source: OVD-Info)

– In St. Petersburg, Viktor Melnikov, a 20-year-old freshman college student, was placed in detention for allegedly setting a vacant ministry of defense property on fire in the town of Lomonosov. The damaged building has ‘draft station’ plaque on its doors; however, the actual station is in the adjacent building. (Source: Fontanka)

Sept. 27 – in Togliatti, Samara region, 35-year-old Pavel Korshunov was placed in pre-trial detention on charges of allegedly throwing a Molotov cocktail into the mayor’s office on Sept. 22. Korshunov is said to have worked as a sales agent or a contractor of a tour company. (SHOT’ and Horizontal Russia’ Telegram channels)

Sept. 29 – In Zimovniki, Rostov region, a resident set the local administration’s headquarters on fire. The detained arsonist is reportedly 37 years old; his name has not been disclosed. (Sources: Donnews, Bloknot-Rostov)

– In Ukhta, Komi, Vladislav Kraval was charged with falsely reporting a would-be arson at the local draft station, allegedly by calling the police on Sept. 25. Kraval was previously protesting the war. He is currently reported to be under arrest for failing to comply with a court order that sentenced him to mandatory public works. (Source: OVD-Info)

– In Chernyakhovsk, Kaliningrad region, a city court ordered the arrest of a man on suspicion of setting up a local draft station on fire on Sept. 25. He was reportedly detained on the next day based on witness testimonies. Only the initial of the defendant’s last name, Ch., is known. The term of his pre-trial detention is set until Nov. 25. (Source: Chernyakhovsk city court website)

Sept. 29-30 – In Novosibirsk, an attempted arson took place at the local draft station. A suspect was reportedly detained by the authorities. On the next day, the Federal Security Service announced that a 23-year-old man, reportedly unemployed, was charged with “recruiting, on assignment from foreign customers, would-be perpetrators of planned arsons of army draft stations” in the region. The young man, whose name has not been disclosed, was charged with ‘attempt to organize terrorist acts’ and placed in pre-trial detention for an initial 2-month term. It is not clear whether this is the same person as the one that was detained the day before in connection with the actual arson at the draft station. (Sources: Tayga-Info, ‘Novosibir’ Telegram channel)

Oct 1 – A draft station was put on fire in Kyzyl, Tyva, one of the traditionally most low-key and politically stable ethnic minority regions. No arrests have been reported as of today. (Source: ‘Astra’ Telegram channel)

III. POLITICAL REPRISALS DIRECTLY UNRELATED TO THE WAR

Sept. 26 – Yury Dmitriev, 66-year-old researcher of Stalin’s mass political terror in Karelia, who is serving his 15-year term in hard labor penal colony in Mordovia, was ordered, for the third time in 10 days, to an isolation ward for his alleged transgressions. The official reasons given for these penalties include not saying hello to an administrator of the colony according to the protocol and not placing his hands behind his back when required. Memorial Society reports that, despite his harsh conditions, Dmitriev continues his research and recently published a second volume of his work on the mass executions in Karelia’s Sandarmokh in 1937-38. Dmitriev was sentenced on charges of sexual violence toward his adopted daughter who was a schoolchild at the time; the charges were assessed by the international human rights community as being fabricated; Memorial and several other organizations recognize Dmitriev as a political prisoner. (Source: Memorial Society)

Sept. 27 – In Samara, a district court ordered to seven local activists to pay a total of 435,000 roubles (c. $7,500) in ‘costs’ incurred by the local police during their protest rallies against the arrest of Alexey Navalny in January 2021. The defendants that were sued by the police for this amount include Sergey Podsytnik, editor of ‘Protokol Samara’ Telegram channel; Marina Evdokimova and Yegor Alasheyev, both former heads of the local branch of the Navalny movement; and activists Ilya Yudin, Mikhail Nikolaev, Viktor Sanzhenakov, and Vadim Sheremetev. (Source: Protokol Samara’)

Sept. 29 – In Arkhangelsk, at the court hearings in the case of Ruslan Akhmetshin, prosecutors asked for a 3-year term for him in a colony-type settlement. They also asked the court to prohibit him from administering websites for five years, citing his “popularity and the number of subscribers that may enable himto influence public opinion”. Akhmetshin, a former photographer of the local branch of Alexey Navalny’s movement, is charged with ‘exonerating Nazism’, based on his online comments in which he criticized Russia’s official Victory Day parades and, in the words of his indictment, “spread an intentionally false claim about the Soviet Union’s involvement in the unleashing of World War II”. Akhmetshin claims that his guilt has not been proven and his comments have been “misunderstood”. Initially, the court imposed restrictions on his activities; in May, he tried to leave the country to Armenia but was stopped at the airport, after which he was placed in detention. He is also listed as a witness in the case involving Navalny’s organizations. Further, he is one of 10 defendants in the lawsuit by the local police demanding a total of 766,184 roubles (over $13,000, i.e., $1,300 per person) from these activists for the ‘costs’ incurred by their protest actions against the arrest of Navalny in January 2021. (Sources: Sota Project; OVD-Info)

IV. EXODUS FROM RUSSIA

Among the over 200,000 people who either left Russia over the past week or were on their way out, let us mention the following individuals:

Leonid Gozman, a prominent right-of-center political activist and a longtime associate of Anatoly Chubays, flew from the country on Sept. 29, followed by his wife Marina. Prior to that, he served two consecutive 15-day jail terms for his online publications dating back to 2013 and 2020, in which he compared the Soviet Union unfavorably to the Nazi Germany. The law that criminalizes such comparisons was passed in 2021 but was applied to Gozman retroactively. As Gozman stated, he “did not want to leave” but “was placed in a situation whereby he would either leave the country upon leaving the detention center, or else would die in jail.” “I withstood this for as long as I could, and consider myself to be in exile,” said the 72-year-old Gozman. (Source: RFE/RL)

Andrey Zubov, a prominent historian and another right-of-center politician, member of the leadership of the near-defunct People’s Freedom Party (PARNAS) that was co-founded by the late Boris Nemtsov, left Russia on Oct. 1. According to his Facebook post, Zubov crossed Russia’s border with Finland “at the last moment before it was shut down”. He is heading to Brno, Czech Republic, where he was invited to lecture at a local university. In his own words, “it is very painful for me to take this step. I hope this will be for a short time. … I will return already to a new Russia.” (Source: Zubov’s Facebook page)

Oleg Mandrykin, an environmental activist from Severodvinsk, Arkhangelsk region, also left Russia on Oct. 1. Formerly director of a real estate agency, he became one of the leaders of the protest movement against the construction of a trash site at the Shies station where waste from Moscow was reportedly going to be stored. In 2020 a local environmental coalition put him forward as a gubernatorial candidate, but he was denied registration. Last year, he ran for the Duma and finished second after the official pro-Putin United Russia candidate. (Source: Sota Project)

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

Project Director Dr. Dmitri Daniel Glinski and our project team

THE RUSSIA OF TOMORROW: Antiwar Resistance & Human Rights Defense Digest / ISSUE # 6, SEPT. 19 – 25, 2022

As Vladimir Putin’s dictatorship and the war unleashed by it are entering a critical stage, we are glad to be able to share with you this newest issue of our digest. It does not aim to be exhaustive but provides more granular detail on the antiwar and human rights struggle inside Russia than any other English-language publication. We seek to revive the tradition of the Soviet-era Chronicle of Current Events that was bringing international attention not just to the most famous and prominent dissidents but to the everyday resistance to oppression at the grassroots level of Soviet society. Our title – with tongue-in-cheek toward ‘Russia Today’, the powerhouse of the Kremlin’s global propaganda – reflects our belief in Vaclav Havel’s “power of the powerless”, including the long-term power of those Russian citizens, of many ethnicities and faiths, who are putting themselves in harm’s way to bring about a peaceful and less oppressive tomorrow for their country, for Ukraine, and for the rest of the world.

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

I,   RUSSIA RESPONDS TO MOBILIZATION: PROTESTS IN 54 PLACES, A DOZEN OF ARSONS IN DRAFT STATIONS, CLASHES IN DAGESTAN

On Sept. 21, Vladimir Putin announced the ‘partial mobilization’ of reserves in support of his failing invasion of Ukraine. Coincidentally, Sept. 21 was the 29th anniversary of the announcement by his predecessor Boris Yeltsin of his decree to disband the legislature (the Congress of People’s Deputies), a decree that brought the country to the verge of a civil war, led to a massive bloodshed in Moscow, and was followed with the imposition of the super-presidential system of governance.

The summary of principal developments across the country in the four days since mobilization was announced is below:

  1. Public protests have been taking place across the country every single day, in a total of 54 locations. While the number of protesters in each place on a given date can only be estimated, the number of those detained is a more precise indicator, even though far from every case of police detention is reported to the media. In the table below, we summarized the data on detentions that have been published by OVD-Info, Russia’s most informative monitoring group (https://bit.ly/3LJSPZl). In this table, Russia’s cities are listed by size, in descending order, according to 2020 census data; capitals of ethnic minority republics are bolded. It should be kept in mind that the actual number of those detained is higher than available to OVD-Info, and the total number of those protesting may be twice as large:
 Wed 9/21Thur 9/22Fri 9/23Sat 9/24Sun 9/25TOTAL TO DATE
TOTAL1,3691527836140-190c. 2,400
Moscow (13 mln. residents)5466 399 951
St. Petersburg (5.6 mln.)4983 143 644
Cities with 1-1.6 mln. population, incl.: 
   Novosibirsk15 171 87
   Yekaterinburg522 9 63
   Kazan5  14 19
   Nizhny Novgorod3  5 8
   Chelyabinsk26 12 29
   Krasnoyarsk19  1 20
   Samara4  3 7
   Ufa232 16 41
   Omsk1  2 3
   Krasnodar14  15938
   Voronezh17  8 25
   Perm30  26 56
   Volgograd2  11417
Cities with 100,000-900,000 population, incl.: 
   Saratov9  8 17
   Tyumen1  427
   Barnaul   1 1
   Izhevsk2  17 19
   Makhachkala    100-150100-150
   Khabarovsk  23 5
   Irkutsk9 2120 50
   Tomsk21 19 22
   Ryazan12  3 15
   Kaliningrad11    11
   Tula8    8
   Kirov1    1
   Sochi, Krasnodar region1    1
   Ulan-Ude4  9 13
   Tver13  3 16
   Surgut, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District1    1
   Ivanovo1  3 4
   Yakutsk2   2426
   Vladimir1  1 2
   Belgorod1    1
   Kaluga1    1
   Chita  11 2
   Smolensk1  1 2
   Saransk   1 1
   Vologda2  10 12
   Cherepovets, Vologda region   10 10
   Oryol  1  1
   Arkhangelsk8  2 10
   Petrozavodsk9    9
   Korolyov, Moscow region6    6
   Syktyvkar1    1
   Pskov   8 8
   Kamensk-Uralsky, Sverdlovsk region1    1
   Salavat, Bashkortostan republic2    2
Towns smaller than 100.000 population size, incl.: 
   Zheleznogorsk3    3
   Vyatskie Polyany, Kirov region1    1
   Lobnya, Moscow region 1 1 2
   Gatchina, Leningrad region   1 1
   Reftinsky village, Sverdlovsk region    11

For comparison, on the first day of the invasion on Feb. 24, according to OVD-Info, there were 2,006 protesters detained in 68 cities (https://bit.ly/3DUxQB9).

Many of those detained in recent days reported that police seized their cell phones or forced them to provide passwords for searching them; many were denied access to attorney; and many of the detained men were served orders from the army drafting stations to show up for mobilization right after their release.

2. Since Sept. 21, more than a dozen incidents of arson in military drafting stations and other government building have been reported. According to various sources, this brings the total number of such arsons in the period since the launch of the invasion to between 40 (https://bit.ly/3LHjrtQ) and 54 (https://bit.ly/3xSPJfS). Such arsons have been reported in:

–  St. Petersburg (https://t.me/mashmoyka/10253) as well as in nearby Kirovsk (https://t.me/horizontal_russia/15028) and Syaskelevo (https://47news.ru/articles/219078/);  

– Nizhny Novgorod (https://t.me/shot_shot/44081), where one 19-year-old suspect has been detained.

– Togliatti in Samara region (https://bit.ly/3DTE5VG).

– Gay in Orenburg region (https://gts.tv/news/37784).

– Kyra village in Trans-Baikal region (https://bit.ly/3fh1SEU).

– Kamyshin (https://t.me/horizontal_russia/14903), Bereslavka (https://t.me/news_sirena/4681), and Uryupinsk (https://bit.ly/3SuKLOc), all three in Volgograd region;

– Svobodny in Amur region (https://t.me/bazabazon/13366).

– Khabarovsk (https://t.me/shot_shot/44148).

– Tselinny village in the Altai region (https://t.me/shot_shot/44153).

– Kansk in Krasnoyarsk region (https://t.me/kansklife/12059).

– Chernyakhovsk in Kaliningrad region (https://t.me/horizontal_russia/15022).

– Ruzaevka in Mordovia (https://t.me/horizontal_russia/15016).

– as well as the offices of the ruling United Russia in Salavat, Bashkortostan (https://t.me/myufarb/6736) and of the pro-war Communist Party in Volgograd (https://t.me/activatica/25106).

The map of these incidents is available here: https://t.me/news_sirena/4688. Among opposition groups, Alexey Navalny’s team has openly declared its support for violent protest, including arson: on Sept. 21, Ivan Zhdanov who currently lives outside of Russia announced that they “would support just any forms of protest against mobilization … if you are ready to put drafting stations on fire, we support this too and are ready to provide some assistance”  (https://bit.ly/3DUollA).  

3. The largest protest action outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg took place on Sunday in Makhachkala, where protesters blocked the highway in nearby Endirey and clashed with police. The rally was reportedly dispersed by the National Guard (former interior troops) firing shots at the crowd (https://t.me/utro_dagestan/3041). According to various estimates, between 100 and 150 Dagestanis were detained, including Anvar Aliomarov, Nina Gadzhieva Nazhmutdinova, Salikh Chopalaev and Maria Yuristovskaya (https://t.me/utro_dagestan/3026).  As of the end of the day, only about 10 people were released while the rest were held incommunicado in detention while their families and lawyers were struggling to get access to them. ’Morning Dagestan’, a Telegram channel that was covering these protests close up, announced “the launch of a guerrilla movement in Dagestan” (https://t.me/utro_dagestan/2964) and some as yet unspecified plans of action across Russia to stop mobilization, promising to disclose ‘instructions’ at 3pm local time on Monday (https://t.me/utro_dagestan/3042). Dagestan, which has a relatively large number of young men compared to the rest of the country, also leads all other regions in the number of reported military casualties in Ukraine – 306 out of 6.756 officially confirmed (https://bit.ly/3ShTxzA).   

Meanwhile, Chechen anti-Kadyrov Telegram channels announced a protest to be held in Nalchik, Kabardino-Balkaria, on Monday, Sept. 26, also at 3pm (https://t.me/IADAT/14663).

4. The exodus of disaffected Russians from the country has also accelerated. As Russia’s Western neighbors – members of the EU have restricted entry in recent weeks even for Schengen visa holders from Russia, those fleeing from mobilization and the effects of growing crisis in the country are taking routes that would have been inconceivable before the war, including to Kazakhstan and Mongolia. The head of the checkpoint in Mongolian town Altanbulag told AFP that between Wednesday and Sunday over 3,000 Russians, including 2,500 men, crossed this checkpoint on their way to Mongolia. Most of them were single young men with their parents (https://bit.ly/3r5fKon). In the city of Uralsk in Northern Kazakhstan director of a movie theater reportedly provided its space overnight to newcomers from Russia with children who were wandering around the city in search of housing (https://bit.ly/3LK8Le7).   

Meanwhile, FSB and the ministry of defense are reportedly restricting exit from Russia for certain potential draftees, however, it is still on a case-by-case basis as no official decision on that has yet been made in the Kremlin as Putin is currently on vacation in Valdai (https://bit.ly/3Ca0xbZ). In Chechnya, where the number of applications for foreign passports has sharply increased, Ramzan Kadyrov reportedly ordered not to issue these passports (https://t.me/IADAT/14448).

Among other news of the antiwar movement:

  • On the day when mobilization was announced, Russia’s media oversight agency issued a warning stating that any publication about mobilization must “use only the information obtained from federal and regional executive authorities:” (https://bit.ly/3BKCC1s).
  • The military commissioner of Moscow City sent a letter to the president of the Moscow bar association in which he threatened the attorneys assisting those trying to avoid the call-up to the army with criminal cases for ‘abetting draft evasion’ and ‘disparaging the military’ (https://bit.ly/3Swe035).
  • College students in more than a dozen of cities have reported being pressured by their administrations to attend pro-war rallies while also subjected to intimidation intended to dissuade them from joining protests. DOXA has published an extensive list of such reports (https://bit.ly/3SfGazB).
  • On the day when mobilization was announced, the website of the Pulkovo airport in St. Petersburg was reportedly hacked: for a while it displayed an anti-mobilization message, which said among other things: “Airports are not needed any more. The loony old man is gambling with our lives! If you get called up to the army, surrender with military equipment. You may obtain a reward and an EU citizenship.” (https://t.me/paperpaper_ru/28791)    

II.       OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND THE WAR ZONE

On Sept. 21 in Simferopol, the Kremlin-controlled supreme court of Crimea sentenced three Crimean Tatar community leaders to lengthy jail terms on charges of blowing up a gas pipeline in August 2021 and of an illegal possession of explosives; the charges are widely believed to have been fabricated. 42-year-old Nariman Dzhelyal – political scientist, journalist, and 1st vice chair of the Crimean Tatar Assembly (Mejlis) was sentenced to 700,000-rouble fine and 17 years in high-security colony with subsequent 1.5 years of restricted movement; Asan Akhtemov, also a journalist and assistant editor of a Crimean Tatar newspaper, got 500,000-rouble fine and 15 years of high-security colony, with subsequent 1 year of restricted movement; his brother Aziz Akhtemov was sentenced to the same except his jail term is 13 years  (https://bit.ly/3RfwcwO). All three defendants told the media they had been tortured, including by electric shock, to obtain confessions. The Akhtemov brothers initially pleaded guilty but then retracted their pleas stating they were made under duress. According to the office of representative of President Zelensky in Crimea, the real reason for their persecution was Nariman Dzhelyal’s participation in the summit of the Crimea Platform, a diplomatic initiative that seeks the restoration of Ukrainian sovereignty over Crimea (https://bit.ly/3Sf7LBa).

On Sept. 20, Russia’s Southern military court extended the pre-trial detention of Ernes Ametov, a Crimean Tatar charged with participation in Hizb-ut-Tahrir, a pan-Islamic political party prohibited in Russia, until Jan. 11, 2023. Ametov was first arrested with a group of Crimean Tatars in 2017 and spent 3 years in pre-trial detention. In 2020 the same Southern district military court acquitted him, for lack of evidence in support of the charges; this was the first such acquittal ever in a Kremlin-initiated criminal case involving Hizb ut-Tahrir (the typical outcome of such cases is a jail term of between 15 and 25 years). However, prosecution appealed the verdict, and an appeals court ordered a re-trial. The charges are based on testimonies of anonymous witnesses and intelligence operatives (https://bit.ly/3dD5NM0).

III. THE ANTIWAR MOVEMENT: NEW AND ONGOING COURT CASES

A. New cases

On Sept. 19 in Maikop, Republic of Adygea, hearings began in the case of Elena Sumina, charged with ‘spreading false information’ about the military (https://bit.ly/3fmbb6E). There is little information available about this case.  

On the same day in Petrozavodsk, Republic of Karelia, police detained Sergey Drugov, antiwar activist and administrator of a Telegram channel, and his female friend on their way out of the city. Drugov has been sentenced to a 1,500-rouble fine for showing disrespect to letter ‘Z’, the semi-official symbol of Russia’s invasion and of its invading forces (https://t.me/horizontal_russia/14644).  

Also in Petrozavodsk, on Sept. 23, the authorities conducted a search in the house of Tatiana Savinkina, a 77-year-old native of Sumy, Ukraine, and interrogated her. Savinkina has been flyering against the invasion from its very first days and calling upon Putin to step down. After being fined 4 times, in September Savinkina became a defendant in a criminal case on ‘disparaging’ the army. The charges against her reportedly stem from her flyers in which she said she was ashamed of her country. Savinkina is a former employee of the interior ministry, a former staffer of a local legislator, and a supporter of Memorial and the Yabloko Party (https://t.me/fromkareliawithfreedom/683).    

On Sept. 20, in Blagoveshchensk, a man whose name has not been reported was sentenced to a 30,000-rouble fine for making others listen to the hymn of Ukraine that sounded from his apartment’s window. The man was also forced to apologize on video “to society and to the Russian people” and promised to “stay neutral” in the future. This video was then shared by pro-Kremlin Telegram channels (https://t.me/sotaproject/46366).  

B. Ongoing cases

On Sept. 21, Kamchatka military court sentenced Ilya Karpenko, a military serviceman, to 800,000-rouble (circa $13,740) fine, for ‘spreading false reports’ about the army. This is the first known case of sentencing of a Russian serviceman under this article of the criminal code. Details of this case have not been made public, and it is not known where Karpenko served or what was the basis for the charges against him. Two other such cases against military officers are still in earlier phases (https://bit.ly/3dGU3YN).

On Sept. 19, another military court, in Makhachkala, Dagestan, rejected the lawsuit by Firudin Gadzhibekov, a former serviceman of the Russian Navy who served in the Caspian Fleet and disputed the legality of his firing for his refusal to be dispatched to Ukraine to fight against the Ukrainian army. Gadzhibekov had been a contract soldier for over 10 years and served as platoon commander. In May, Gadzhibekov refused to go to Ukraine without written instructions and was fired (https://bit.ly/3dMFWB1).

On the same day in Moscow, an appeals court essentially reconfirmed the harsh sentence of city councillor Alexey Gorinov – reducing it by one month only, from 7 years to 6 years and 11 months. After that, he will also be prohibited from holding government jobs for another 4 years. The session of the appeals court was closed to the public, the media, and even to Gorinov’s wife and son. The public was only allowed to attend the reading of the verdict. In his final statement, reflecting on the length of his jail term, Gorinov said: “Let’s see whether these seven years will be enough for Russia’s political leadership to become aware of the extent of the catastrophe that it brought upon the country. … I want to plead guilty – before the suffering people of Ukraine and before the entire international community – guilty for not having been able, as a citizen of my country, to do anything to prevent this insanity from happening.” (https://t.me/alexei_gorinov_2022/296) The EU mission in Russia issued a statement of solidarity with Gorinov (https://bit.ly/3Cao8JD).

On Sept. 21, also in Moscow, city court denied the appeal of Marina Ovsyannikova, former employee of the pro-Kremlin First TV Channel, against her house arrest on charges of ‘spreading false reports’ about the army. Since March 14 when she appeared live on TV with her antiwar poster, Ovsyannikova has already been fined twice for ‘disparaging the military’ (https://bit.ly/3R9Kqzn).

On the next day, also in Moscow, a district court extended the pre-trial detention of Dmitry Talantov, attorney and president of the Bar of the Republic of Udmurtia. The charges against Talantov stem from his five Facebook posts about the war; he may be facing a jail term of up to 15 years (https://t.me/deptone/3706).   

In St. Petersburg, on Sept, 20 a district court extended for another six months the pre-trial detention of Viktoria Petrova, 28-year-old company manager who has been charged for ‘spreading false reports’ about the army through her Facebook posts shortly after the start of the invasion. The charges against Petrova carry a penalty of up to 10 years in jail. Petrova has been in detention for four months already, and her detention was extended for the fourth time (https://mr-7.ru/articles/247643/).

Thank you for being with us. We will be happy to hear from you, whether via email to rcc-ara@rcc-amrusrights.org or via our Facebook page. Have a nice week, and see you again soon.

Project Director Dr. Dmitri Daniel Glinski and our project team

‘THE RUSSIA OF TOMORROW’: Antiwar & Human Rights Defense Digest / ISSUE 5, SEPT. 12 – 18, 2022

We are glad to see you opening this newest issue of our digest. It does not aim to be exhaustive but provides more granular detail on the antiwar and human rights struggle inside Russia than any other English-language publication. We seek to revive the tradition of the Soviet-era Chronicle of Current Events that was bringing international attention not just to the most famous and prominent dissidents but to the everyday resistance to oppression at the grassroots level of Soviet society. Our title – with tongue-in-cheek toward ‘Russia Today’, the powerhouse of the Kremlin’s global propaganda – reflects our belief in Vaclav Havel’s “power of the powerless”, including the long-term power of those Russian citizens, of many ethnicities and faiths, who are putting themselves in harm’s way to bring about a peaceful and less oppressive tomorrow for their country, for Ukraine, and for the rest of the world.

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

I. Occupied territories and the war zone

According to the latest update from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), between Sept. 1 and Sept. 11 OHCHR recorded 362 civilian casualties in Ukraine. Of these, 96 were killed (including 4 children) and 266 injured (including 20 children). As a result, the total number of civilian casualties in Ukraine since the start of the Kremlin invasion, has reached 14,218 people – 5,827 killed, of which 375 were children; and 8,421 injured, of which 647 were children. 95 % of the casualties were caused by explosive weapons, including artillery shelling, missiles, and air strikes. 5 % by mines and explosive remnants of war. OHCHR “believes that the actual figures are considerably higher”. (https://bit.ly/3eUG2H8).   

The reported discovery of mass graves in the city of Izyum in the Kharkiv region after its liberation by the Ukrainian army reopened the issue of the likely war crimes committed by the invaders. OHCHR announced that “UN investigators already in Ukraine would be looking to see if those buried were soldiers or civilians, and whether they had died in hostilities or from natural causes” (https://bit.ly/3BmGC89). EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Sept. 15 that there was “no doubt that war crimes had been committed in Ukraine”: “That is the basis of our international legal system, that we punish these crimes. And ultimately, Putin is responsible.” (https://bit.ly/3xyMQAy). French President Emmanuel Macron condemned “in the strongest possible terms the atrocities committed at Izium in Ukraine under the Russian occupation”, adding: “The perpetrators will be held responsible for their actions. There is no peace without justice.” (https://bit.ly/3LoAXTN). US State Secretary Blinken tweeted that the US stands with Ukraine in pursuing accountability for these crimes (https://bit.ly/3qJTaBF).

Meanwhile in Crimea, on Sept. 14, official sources reported that five “organizers and participants” of a wedding in Bakhchisarai were found guilty by district court of an equivalent of misdemeanor for singing a Ukrainian song which the Kremlin-controlled court found to be ‘one of the symbols of Ukrainian nationalists’ and ‘disparaging’ toward Russian military. Of these five, the bride’s mother was fined 50,000 roubles (c. $830); the owner of the establishment was sentenced to 15 days of arrest, DJ and a dancer – to 10 days of arrest, and the groom’s mother – to 5 days of arrest (https://bit.ly/3RWFWxs). The names of the defendants have not been made public, except for the restaurant owner who posted his apology on video and offered to provide funding in support of the Russian military in Ukraine (https://bit.ly/3LnSdIA). Last month a Crimean DJ was sentenced to 10 days in prison for playing another Ukrainian song at a café.

And on Sept. 16, five Crimean Tatars currently on trial by military district court in Rostov-on-Don where they were moved from Crimea got their pre-trial detention extended until Dec. 20. Servet Gaziev, Dzhemil Gafarov, Alim Karimov, Seiran Murtaza, and Erfan Osmanov, all of them from Simferopol, are charged with involvement with Hizb ut-Tahrir (‘the Party of Liberation’), a pan-Islamist organization deemed terrorist by Russia’s authorities and banned there as well as in several other countries, including Germany, whose Interior Ministry determined it to be anti-Semitic. Russia’s human rights advocates note that Muslims in Russia as well as Crimean Tatars are often being charged with alleged participation in Hizb ut-Tahrir simply because of taking part in unrelated religious gatherings.

II. Russia’s antiwar movement and reprisals against it

A. New cases

On Sept. 15, Khabarovsk military court announced a criminal case against serviceman Miroslav Nych, for ‘spreading false information’ about the army. The lawsuit was filed on Sept. 7. No further details have been provided. This is the third such case against a military soldier that has been publicly reported: on Aug. 31, in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, soldier Ilya Karpenko was found guilty of ‘spreading false information’ and sentenced, but the details of his sentence were not made public. Another soldier, Valery Kotovich of Rostov-on-Don, is currently in pre-trial detention (https://bit.ly/3qMprId).

As both silent and explicit discontent with the war is growing among Russia’s military and potential recruits, lawyers who assist them with defending their rights are getting increased attention. One of them is Moscow-based attorney Maksim Grebenyuk who runs the Military Ombudsman channel on Telegram. As reported by RFE/RL on Sept. 12, most of his clients these days are servicemen and their families from the North Caucasus and the Far East; their most common complaints are about government failure to pay promised compensation for their injuries. But many are also asking for advice on how to refuse participating in the operation and Ukraine without suffering consequences. While commanders are often telling such servicemen that they may be criminally liable for violating their contracts, in practice they simply get dismissed and may not be able to receive their payments; but so far, no recruits have been brought to court for violating their contracts. However, once in the field, those who want to leave and not take part in the operation in Ukraine may be subjected to violence and illegal imprisonment in military camps, as was reported in the Russian media. On his Telegram channel, Grebenyuk has posted a ‘Know your rights’ instruction for those recruits who are kept in Ukraine through force and threats by their commanders (https://bit.ly/3RWW1TG).  According to Grebenyuk, he has been receiving anonymous threats for his activities (https://bit.ly/3QUHPJz).

Some would think that leaving an antiwar message on a voting ballot should be a relatively safe option, as voting is supposed to be secret. Yet at least a few Russian voters who showed up on Sept. 11 to take part in their regional and local ‘elections’ found that this was not the case. In Moscow, 21-year-old Lev Karmanov took a ballot to the voting booth, painted a dove on it, wrote “No to the war” across the ballot and was about to drop it into the electronic voting machine. Poll workers did not allow him to do it. They gave him another ballot instead, and he left the ballot with his antiwar message on it on their desk. Later on that same day, a local court sentenced him to a 50,000-rouble (circa $780) fine for ‘disparaging the army’. Karmanov pleaded not guilty (https://bit.ly/3RUcwQx). In Nizhny Novgorod, Anton Bochanov  Nizhny Novgorod was detained and charged for writing “Fuck the war” on his ballot (https://bit.ly/3qT718w); the same happened to 48-year-old Natalia Ryabova in Kirov whose message on her ballot was: “Putin is a dick, glory to Ukraine, Russia will be free” (https://bit.ly/3R1Owty). There were similar but less detailed reports from other regions.

Meanwhile in Lipetsk, Aleksandr Grigoriev, a 60-year-old construction worker, was charged with ‘spreading false information’ about the army for his posts on Yandex and a local pro-Kremlin website. On Aug. 29, he was detained at his workplace; his apartment was searched, and equipment seized by the authorities. Grigoriev is openly opposed to the invasion, as he stated to OVD-Info that publicized his case on Sept. 15 (https://bit.ly/3Uk4QIL).

On Sept. 17, it was reported that 51-year-old Aleksandr Skryabnev, a store owner in Novouralsk and a former serviceman, had become a defendant in the latest criminal case on ‘disparaging the military’. Skryabnev advocated against the invasion from its very first days and placed an antiwar poster at the entrance to his store. He was charged three times with ‘administrative violations’, equivalent to a misdemeanor, and was fined 30,000 roubles. After that, he posted in VKontakte that Russia “was moving in the direction of [Hitler’s] Third Reich”. These words led to a criminal case against him; his equipment was seized during search, and he is currently under written obligation to remain in the city (https://bit.ly/3xVIQdV).

And in Vladivostok, on Sept. 14, Aleksandr Kulikov was detained and charged with treason for allegedly having passed a photo of a local electricity station to Ukrainian intelligence agents. He may be facing up to 20 years in jail. His relative told OVD-Info that Kulikov was outspoken in his criticism of the authorities and of the invasion of Ukraine (https://bit.ly/3BngaeF).

B. Ongoing cases

On Sept. 14, additional charges were brought against Dmitry Talantov, attorney and chairman of the Bar of the Republic of Udmurtia. Talantov has been in pre-trial detention since June for ‘spreading false information’ about the military; now he is facing five separate charges (including being ‘motivated by political hatred’ in spreading this information, and ‘utilizing his position to incite hatred’). These charges carry a penalty of up to 15 years in jail (https://t.me/deptone/3650). Talantov was detained in Izhevsk after his post about Russian strike on the supermarket in Kremenchug and was transported to Moscow to face charges there. He was previously an attorney for Ivan Safronov who was sentenced last week to 22 years in jail for allegedly passing information to Czech and German intelligence agents.

In St. Petersburg, on Sept. 12 a court ordered Ioann Kurmoyarov, a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCA), to stay in pre-trial detention until February 28 of next year. Kurmoyarov was charged with ‘spreading false reports’ about the military, allegedly ‘for pecuniary gain’ and at the same time ‘being motivated by hatred’. The charges are based on his video posts with critique of the invasion. Kurmoyarov has pleaded guilty and asked for a release on medical ground. His next court hearing is scheduled for Sept. 20. Several years ago, Kurmoyarov moved to Russia from Ukraine where he got in trouble with the authorities for his Russian nationalist views. Kurmoyarov says that in Ukraine he was advocating for peace as he always does (https://bit.ly/3eWsBGE).   

Also in St. Petersburg, on Sept. 12, Professor Iskander Yasaveyev, a sociologist with the Higher School of Economics, was de facto fired from his teaching job there; as he noted in his Facebook post, he remains the school’s senior researcher but this may change as well in the near future (https://bit.ly/3qPLLk4). Yasaveyev was also a columnist for RFE/RL Idel.Realities, its news site covering the Volga region. He was sharply critical of the invasion from the very first days, when he wrote that “we [Russians] became citizens of an aggressor country”. At the time, he was also sentenced to 5 days under arrest for his antiwar protesting. In August, Yasaveyev, along with other reporters and authors of Idel.Realities, was subjected to house search in connection with a case involved alleged ‘justification of terrorism’ (https://bit.ly/3f03WB8).

In Shuya, Ivanovo region, on Sept. 12, 52-year-old Sergey Veselov was charged with ‘disparaging the military’ because of the content of his closing statement in the previous court hearing in the ‘misdemeanor’ case against him on the same charges (https://bit.ly/3S3OCBI). In that previous case, in July, he was sentenced to a fine, which he appealed; he then videorecorded his closing statement at the appeals hearing and posted it on YouTube. In these remarks, he mentioned Bucha, said that “it is impossible to win a war against the entire world” and that “Russia is moving toward a catastrophe”. After that, his profile in VKontakte was blocked, and police conducted a search in his apartment. Beside ‘disparaging the military’, Veselov is also charged with ‘vandalism’ for his ‘No to the war’ graffiti on the wall of the city administration headquarters (https://bit.ly/3DzwnAb).

Meanwhile in Barnaul, regional court denied the appeal of Maria Ponomarenko, reporter of RusNews, against her pre-trial detention where she has been since April of this year: she will now remain behind the bars until at least Sept. 29. Ponomarenko, a mother of two young daughters, was detained after her online post about the Russian shelling of the Mariupol drama theater and was charged with ‘spreading false reports’ about the military. She was recently forced to spend a week in a psychiatric ward, then placed in isolation cell where she reportedly attempted suicide. Ponomarenko’s defense asked for moving her from detention to house arrest. Her trial is scheduled to begin on Sept. 27. RusNews has provided contact information for those who would like to write a letter to her or support her family: https://bit.ly/3xyuAr1.

In Blagoveshchensk, Amur region, on Sept. 14, city court extended the detention of human rights activist Vladislav Nikitenko until Oct. 17 – denying his defense request for a release due to his need to take care of his old mother. In response, Nikitenko declared a hunger strike (https://bit.ly/3QMk5Y4). Nikitenko is facing criminal charges of ‘disparaging the military’, even though Russia’s current laws only allow for a criminal case to be initiated only after repeat ‘administrative’ cases (equivalent to a misdemeanor); Nikitenko’s previous administrative sentencing, stemming from his Facebook posts, has not yet come into force, and he has been trying to appeal it, but the court did not accept his appeal because he submitted it electronically and not on paper. On the first day of the invasion, Nikitenko wrote to Russia’s Investigative Committee and to military prosecutors demanding that they file suits against Putin and the members of his security council for “acts of international terrorism and unleashing a war of aggression”. He also filed a complaint with local police against the governor of the Amur region for his support of the ’operation’ in Ukraine; for his complaint, he was sentenced to a fine. After criminal charges against Nikitenko were filed, he was initially placed under house arrest; in July, the court deemed him to be violating its conditions and put him behind the bars. Nikitenko also faces multiple other charges, including 15 criminal charges for alleged offenses against prosecutors and judges in his written complaints. His mother was denied access to court hearings (https://bit.ly/3f3Zq4I).

In Cherepovets, Gregory Marcus Severin Vinter (born Grigory Vinter), a human rights activist currently in pre-trial detention for ‘spreading false reports’ about the military, has complained about the violations in his pre-trial facility, including lack of heat and food, but on Sept. 13 his complaint was denied by district court (https://bit.ly/3xxKsdm). The charges against Vinter stem from his posts in VKontakte about the actions of the Russian military in Bucha and Irpin. Vinter has a previous record of persecution for his statements: in 2020, he was charged with spreading ‘fake news’ about COVID, after he reported the information about inmates from the local pre-trial facility being transported on a train with violations of COVID-related precautions despite the evidence that they had symptoms of COVID. Afterwards, regional court ruled that his detention was illegal; Vinter reported that he was being tortured in detention (https://bit.ly/3Se1Agd).

In Yakutsk, on Sept. 15, as reported by ‘Free Yakutia Foundation’, city court sided with antiwar activist Aikhal Ammosov, denying prosecution’s request to move him to pre-trial detention (https://bit.ly/3xVhKDJ). He is currently serving his third (15-day) arrest sentence for ‘disparaging the military’ and is under sworn obligation to remain in the city until the start of his criminal trial. In April, Ammosov was detained while protesting with an antiwar poster next to a funeral home. Since then, he was found guilty several times of ‘disparaging the army’ under misdemeanor charges, has served three 15-day arrest sentences and has paid several 30,000-rouble fines (https://bit.ly/3BQ3bUf).  

III.     Other political reprisals

Las t week, the regime made another attempt to seize the remaining infrastructure of the International Memorial Society. The Society and its Human Rights Center were disbanded last year but left behind themselves several autonomous entities established over the course of past 30 years. One of them, founded around the same time as the International Memorial, is the Memorial Research and Educational Center {NIPTs Memorial). After the International Memorial was disbanded, its board of directors lawfully donated to NIPTs the building that it purchased in 2005 for its headquarters. However, on Sept. 12, Elena Zhemkova, former executive director of the International Memorial, and Boris Belenkin, executive director of NIPTs, were summoned to court and informed that the building transfer was going to be nullified, and the property was going to be confiscated by the government. On Sept. 14, at the request of the prosecutors, a district court ordered to freeze the property and bank accounts of NIPTs as well as Zhemkova’s and Belenkin’s personal bank accounts (https://bit.ly/3BLPVQl). The defendants have asked the judge to unfreeze their personal accounts and to transfer the case to the arbitration court that handles disputes related to economic activities. The hearing on these and other matters is scheduled for Oct. 7 (https://bit.ly/3QXS3sC).

On Sept. 14, in Nizhny Novgorod, an appeals court reaffirmed the decision of Tatarstan’s supreme court to disband the All-Tatar Public Center (VTOTs). That decision was issued in July and was made effective immediately. The move to liquidate the Center was based on the findings of Tatarstan’s attorney general office that VTOTs was “motivated to pursue Tatarstan’s autonomy” and its activities “were aimed at propagandizing the need for the moves directed toward seceding from Russia” (https://bit.ly/3RS3TWs). The Center’s operations were already suspended since 2021 by Russia’s ministry of justice, on the grounds of alleged ‘extremist activity’ (https://bit.ly/3UkuCfT). It was also charged with inciting hatred toward ethnic Russians and fined 250,000 roubles (over $4,000). VTOTs, like Memorial, is one of the grassroots organizations born in the Gorbachev era. It was advocating for Tatarstan’s sovereignty without necessarily seceding from Russia – a sovereignty that was recognized by Moscow at the time and codified in the 1992 Federation Treaty.

And on Sept. 12 in Chelyabinsk, a regional court ruled that ‘People’s Self-Defense’, a self-described anarchist group, was a terrorist organization and banned it. Official media claim that the group had over 400 member and organized about 200 ‘extremist actions. The group was founded in 2015. In 2019, some of its alleged participants were sentenced to actual and suspended terms in penal colony on charges stemming from a broken window in the office of Putin’s United Russia party in a Moscow suburb. One of them was Azat Miftakhov, a graduate student in math, who ended up being sentenced in 2021 to 6 years in colony (later shortened by three months only), despite many public protests, including from international math organizations. (Miftakhov was denied his request of early release on the same day, Sept. 12, that ‘People’s Self-Defense’ was banned.) Several individuals detained in the broken window case, including the alleged leader of the group, Stanislav Rechkalov, reported being tortured. Rechkalov obtained political asylum in France in 2020. Two of the group’s putative associates are currently awaiting sentencing on charges of placing a banner on the FSB regional headquarters that said: “The FSB is the terrorist-in-chief”. (https://bit.ly/3LmvEE4).

In Moscow, on Sept. 14, Leonid Gozman, longtime oppositionist on the right wing of the spectrum, was sentenced for a second 15-day jail term in a row, for essentially the same charge – allegedly ‘equating’ the Soviet Union with Nazi Germany. In both cases, the 72-year-old Gozman was charged retroactively, for his online publications of 2013 and 2020; the law criminalizing such comparisons was passed in 2021. He was detained on new charges on the day when he was leaving jail after serving his first 15-day term (https://bit.ly/3RZ8Z3h). Gozman, an associate of Anatoly Chubais and a former employee of government agencies that were managed by Chubais, has been a vocal opponent of the invasion. At the beginning of it, he initially left Russia but then returned. Gozman was also recently investigated for not reporting his second (Israeli) citizenship. After he was rearrested, his daughter posted a statement on his behalf on Facebook; in that statement, Gozman said that he did not regret any of his writings and was “confident that this darkness will go away” (https://bit.ly/3xygTZ7). On Sept. 15, Gozman’s supporter Nadezhda Orekhova was briefly detained and released for protesting his arrest (https://bit.ly/3UhRTzh). On Sept. 16, his appeal of the sentence was denied (https://bit.ly/3LmclLk). Gozman’s daughter later reported being unable to pass to him the food that he needs due to his medical condition.

Also in Moscow, on Sept. 12, city court extended the pre-trial detention of four administrators of ‘What Is to Be Done!’ Telegram channel. Vyacheslav Abramov, Igor Nagibin, Ildar Sadriev and Dmitry Chebanov have been in detention for a year already and will now stay there until at least Dec. 14, i.e., for a total of 15 months. Russia’s investigative committee charged them with setting up a network of Telegram channels aimed at ‘organizing mass disturbances’ during the elections to the Duma and ‘regional legislatures’ in September 2021. Nagibin is additionally charged with illegal possession of explosives which he alleges were planted on him. Six other defendants in this case – Igor Kuznetsov, Dmitry Lamanov, Alexey Kurlov, Zhanna Chernova, Nikita Kreshchuk, and Alexey Yanochkin – are also in pre-trial detention, while a seventh, Maria Platonova, is under house arrest (https://bit.ly/3QYjdiV).  

Over the weekend, three protesters in three different cities were detained during their street actions in support of political prisoners. On Sept. 17 in Voronezh, Lidiya Yardova went into the street with a poster saying, ‘Freedom for all political prisoners, Navalny, Yashin, Safronov’ and ‘No to the war’; she was briefly detained and released (https://bit.ly/3LqSEli). On the same day in Ufa, Lyaisan Sultangareeva, an activist of the Libertarian Party, was also detained while protesting and released; her poster mentioned Alexey Gorinov, Ilya Yashin and Alexey Navalny as the people who are in jail ‘for standing for truth’ (https://bit.ly/3xyEYPG).  And on Sept. 18, on Moscow’s Pushkin Square – its traditional center of political protesting -police briefly detained and later released Evgeny Aleksandrov who was standing with a poster calling for the release of political prisoners (https://bit.ly/3RSEMml).

IV.      Reprisals against semi-independent media and the media union

On Sept. 14, Moscow City court disbanded the Union of Journalists and Media Workers at the request of the prosecutor’s office. The pretext for disbanding it was that allegedly since 2019 no dues were paid by members to the union. More to the point, prosecution charged that union members were repeatedly found guilty of taking part in unsanctioned protests, including in support of Ivan Safronov; raising money for the media identified by the Kremlin as ‘foreign agents’; and “systematic distribution of publications with unlawful information” (https://bit.ly/3diXaGh). The union has already been suspended by the court for the publication on its website that allegedly ‘disparaged’ the Russian military. The union was founded in 2016 and obtained legal status next year. Its attorneys are planning to appeal the disbanding order (https://bit.ly/3Lmp2FZ).

On the next day, Russia’s supreme court dealt the final blow to Novaya gazeta by ordering to invalidate the registration certificate of its website. The pretext for this decision was Novaya’s failure to mark two of the ‘foreign agent’ organizations mentioned on its website as ‘foreign agents’. Russia’s media oversight agency, Roskomnadzor, issued warnings on these two occasions and immediately sued the paper. Novaya appealed these warnings, but its appeals were still pending review as of Sept. 15.

V.     Religious persecution

The legal department of Jehovah’s Witnesses reported of the following court rulings that were issued this week:

  • On Sept. 14, a court in Vladivostok reaffirmed the sentence of 29-year-old Tatyana Sholner from Birobidzhan. Last year, she was sentenced to 2.5 years of suspended imprisonment for ‘participating in the activities of an extremist organization’, i.e., JW. Sholner was a defendant in a criminal case since 2020, along with six other women from Birobidzhan (https://bit.ly/3Dx8j0L).
  • Meanwhile on Sept. 15, in Chelyabinsk, another higher-level court went against the opinion of the prosecution in reaffirming the acquittal of Aleksandr Pryanikov, Venera Dulova, and Darya Dulova from Karpinsk, Sverdlovsk region. In 2020, all three were sentenced to suspended jail terms, but the sentence was later overturned by an appeals court in Yekaterinburg (https://bit.ly/3S9VSfm).

VI.     Migrant rights and extraditions to dictatorial regimes

On the same day, at the request of the attorney general office, Russia’s supreme court banned the Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan (IPRT), as a ‘terrorist organization’ (https://bit.ly/3UjDwKL). IPRT was an officially recognized political party in Tajikistan and was never officially present in Russia. In 2015, it was banned in Tajikistan, and its leaders and followers subjected to severe reprisals. The ban is most likely aimed at Tajik migrants in Russia who may be also de facto political refugees and IPRT supporters. It may be also viewed as a symbolic gesture intended to strengthen the Kremlin’s ties with the Rakhmonov regime. A week before, Komyor Mirzoev, a Tajik blogger from the restive Gorno-Badakhshan region and a critic of Rakhmonov was reportedly abducted from Moscow to Tajikistan by Tajik security agencies, according to his relatives’ report to RFE/RL. In Tajikistan, he may be sentenced to a jail term of up to 12 years. Over the past month, two other Gorno-Badakhshan natives, Mamadbek Atobekov and Maqsud Ghayosov were arrested in Moscow; their whereabouts are still unknown.

VII.    Environmental rights struggle

On Sept. 13, Russia’s human rights and environmental organizations, including representatives of the Social and Environmental Union (SoES) and of EcoDefense, filed the first-ever lawsuit against the Russian authorities for their anti-environmental policies. According to the plaintiffs who filed the suit with Russia’s supreme court, Russia’s weak response to climate change violates its constitution. The lawsuit seeks to compel the authorities to reduce emissions in line with the goals set by the Paris Accord of 2015 (https://bit.ly/3eWX2fS).

VIII.   New developments on the ‘foreign agents’ law

On Sept. 14, group of Duma deputies led by Vasily Piskaryov of Putin’s United Russia have introduced new amendments to the foreign agents law. Under these amendments, fines could be imposed not just upon currently registered ‘foreign agents’, but also upon those who only ‘intended to act as foreign agent’, i.e., expected to receive foreign funding and did not inform the authorities about it. The amendments do not provide any definition of how the existence of such ‘intentions’ may be identified (https://bit.ly/3BtjFQA).

IX.     Russia’s human rights NGOs and the international community

On Sept. 13, a dozen of Russia’s human rights organizations published their joint updated alternative reports for the UN Human Rights Committee’s 134th, 135th, and 136th sessions. The updates were due to the fact that the Committee postponed the review of the human rights situation in Russia twice, as Russia’s delegation did not attend the 134th and the 135th sessions. Below is a synopsis of some of the key data included in these reports:

  • As of Sept. 12, 176 publications and individuals were included on Russia’s official list of ‘foreign agent media’ (of these, about 75% were put on the list after the start of the invasion in February); the number of people recognized as individual, i.e., not media ‘foreign agents’ was 22 (all of them designated as such since April of this year); in  separate registers, 69 registered and 8 unregistered NGOs were listed as ‘foreign agents’; 65 foreign groups were included in the register of ‘undesirable organizations’.
  • Over the past year, at least 504 employees of 27 Russian media are estimated to have permanently left Russia.
  • There are now over 240 criminal cases initiated against opponents of the invasion, under at least 27 different provisions of Russia’s criminal code; 23 of the defendants in these cases are journalists. In more than 100 cases, defendants have been charged with ‘spreading deliberately false information’ about the Russian military. Over 3,800 Russians have been charged with ‘administrative violations’ (an equivalent of a misdemeanor) – for ‘disparaging’ either the military or government authorities; in Moscow and St. Petersburg only, a total of 616 such cases were reviewed by district courts; 490 of the defendants were found guilty and fined; the average amount of the fine in Moscow was circa $740, in St. Petersburg – circa $570.
  • Since the start of the invasion, there have been at least 16,437 detentions of antiwar protesters (some of them were detained multiple times).
  • In Moscow and St. Petersburg alone, since February 2022, courts heard over 13,700 cases related to public protesting; in more than 12,200 of them (i.e., 89%) defendants were found guilty; nearly 10,900 were sentenced to fines, over 1,150 to arrests, and 163 to compulsory public works.
  • On Russia’s three public holidays, at least 115 protesters and alleged protesters were detained ‘preventively’ in the Moscow subway based on the facial recognition AI system used to track criminals.
  • There have been at least 57 cases of vandalism against the property of the invasion’s opponents and at least 14 physical attacks on them personally.
  • At least 24 artists and musical bands had their performances canceled or disrupted because of their antiwar position.
  • The number of individuals currently recognized by Memorial as political prisoners has reached 478. Since the start of the invasion, their number grew by 10%. About 75% of the total are prosecuted de facto their religious beliefs: most of them are Muslims charged with alleged involvement with Hizb ut-Tahrir; the rest are Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The NGOs contributing to this report included OVD-Info, Memorial Human Rights Defense Center, No To Violence, Stitching Justice Initiative, International Committee of Indigenous Peoples of Russia, Mass Media Defense Center, Citizens Watch, The Sphere Foundation, Conscientious Objectors’ Movement, and the Public Verdict Foundation (https://bit.ly/3BoHfOC).

X.      Exodus from Putin’s Russia

On Sept. 12, two antiwar activists from the Oryol regionViktor Zyrianov and Sergey Nosov – announced that they had left Russia and were now in Georgia. A few days earlier, their homes were searched, and they were identified as witnesses in the criminal case on ‘spreading false reports’ about the military in connection with Ilya Ponomaryov’s putative network of reporters across Russia; Zyrianov’s bank accounts were frozen (https://bit.ly/3BshnBb). Nosov is also a defendant in a separate criminal case stemming from his online publication about the murders of civilians by the Russian army in Bucha and Irpin. Zyrianov is administrator of ‘Orlets’, a regional news portal, and Nosov is a blogger. Two of ‘Orlets’ employees have been placed under house arrest (https://bit.ly/3BSgPWZ).

On Sept. 13, Raushan Valiullin, a Tatar schoolteacher from Nabereznye Chelny as well as a union and antiwar activist, announced via social media that he had left Russia with his family and was “in one of the currently free former Soviet republics”. He stated that while the decision to leave was not an easy one, they made it because of their “unwillingness to stay in the atmosphere in which everyone is afraid, there is total control, and free thought is being persecuted … We want to have the opportunity to live in a free country, to express ourselves freely, to feel safe about the future of our children.” In the past, Valiullin headed the Tatarstan branch of Teachers’ Alliance, organized protests (for which he was fined more than once) and ran for office. The administration of his school tried to fire him, he sued back and won; more recently, they allegedly tried to take away some of his key responsibilities and a part of his salary, and after he rejected these conditions, the school fired him on Sept. 1 (https://bit.ly/3Lnuybc).

On Sept. 18, Mikhail Demchenko, an antiwar activist from Saratov, also announced on social media that he and his wife Anna left Russia, via Turkiye, and were already in the United States where they plan to seek political asylum. In June, police searched his home and let him know that they had been informed of his antiwar comments in the workplace. According to Demchenko, police knew that he had relatives in Kharkiv and tried to recruit him to obtain intelligence about Ukraine’s military moves in that region. They also knew of his correspondence with his sister in which he allegedly encouraged her son, an army recruit, to leave the service. Demchenko’s wife was issued a written warning of possible treason charge for having transferred $1 as her donation to Ukraine’s armed forces a few days after the start of the invasion (https://bit.ly/3SiB9WR).

We appreciate your attention to this update. Your feedback (via email to rcc-ara@rcc-amrusrights.org or via our Facebook page), moral and not least material support are always welcome. See you again next week.

Project Director Dr. Dmitri Daniel Glinski and our project team

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