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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

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