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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 # 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

PRESS RELEASE: ARA Rallies Supporters In 6 US Cities For The Russian-Ukrainian Peace Actions

* * FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE * *  

 Press Contact: Natalya Petroff

Phone: 917 288 0722E-mail: communications@rccmb.org

 

September 22, 2014, New York City-Washington-Los Angeles-San Francisco-Seattle-Houston 

 

Association Rallies Friends & Supporters In Six US Cities

For Joint Russian-Ukrainian Peace Actions  

In Solidarity With The Russian Peace March

     On Sunday, September 21, American Russian-Speaking Association for Civil & Human Rights (ARA), jointly with other organizations and independent activists, brought hundreds of its friends and supporters into the streets of New York City, Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Houston for the joint Russian-Ukrainian actions of solidarity with the Russians’ Peace March against the Putin regime’s military interference in Ukraine. The Association also provided media and information support for the seventh rally, in Boston, which was held by the Ukrainian community.

“Ukrainians and Russians have a rich shared history, including their joint struggle for human rights and democracy in the former Soviet Union, which is often overlooked,” said Lyuba Murzhenko, Vice President of Russian-Speaking Community Council of Manhattan and the Bronx and a participant of the Soviet dissident movement in the 1970s-1980s. “Today, tens of thousands of Russians have hit the streets in over 40 cities in Russia and throughout the diaspora, protesting against the Kremlin’s assault upon their closest neighbor. Putin’s war is not their war, even while many in Russia have been brainwashed or simply have to put up with the regime in order to survive. The struggle for a peaceful, democratic Russia and a secure Ukraine is hard, but we’re in it together, and we shall prevail.”

“I proudly stand with American Russian-Speaking Association for Civil and Human Rights and other participants in today’s rallies in opposing the Russian government’s aggression against Ukraine,” said Kirill Reznik, Delegate of Maryland State Assembly, in his written message. “The Russian-speaking community in the United States, and I, as its member as well as the first Ukrainian-born American legislator, understand that peaceful cooperation is the only way to achieve economic, political, and social prosperity.  We oppose the actions of Mr. Putin and his separatists in Eastern Ukraine and urge the United States Government, as well as all of the governments of Europe, to take every action necessary to bring peace and stability back to the region.”

“As Russian-Americans, we cannot be silent when the present Russian government intervenes militarily in Ukraine’s affairs, while continuing to suppress freedoms in Russia, and transforms it into a pariah state,” said Dmitri Glinski, ARA’s Co-Chair of the Board. “We have come here to affirm our vision of a future peaceful, democratic Russia that respects the rights of its own and other people, is a respected member of the community of democratic nations, and asserts itself by the power of its ideas, science, technology, and the arts, not by military power. This is the vision upon which Russian Federation was built in 1990-1991, and we stand in solidarity with those Russians who are rallying today in Russia and around the world in support of this vision.”

 

 

At the Russian Mission to the UN in New York City:

NYC rally for VNS

 Photo by Leonid Aptekar

At the Peace March in Washington DC:

 Photo by Vyacheslav Revin

 

Peace Rally at the Federal Building in Los Angeles:

 Photo by Igor Kokarev

 

At the Russian Consulate in San Francisco:

 Photo by Iva Demchuk

 

At the Russian Consulate in Seattle:

 Photo by Lyudmila Dovgan

 

 At the Russian Consulate in Houston:

Photo by Natalya Fisyak

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