Russian protester gets one-year prison sentence for waving his leg in the air (while he was carried off by police)

This week, a Russian activist was prosecuted in a landmark trial that is being used to restrict freedom of assembly — and punish citizens who try to assert it. 

23 February 2018
Dmitry Borisov at court. Source: Irina Yatsenko.

This article is part of our partnership with OVD-Info, an NGO that monitors politically-motivated arrests in Russia.

The latest person to prosecuted in connection with the 26 March protest has been sentenced to one year in a prison colony. Prosecutors had asked for a three-year sentence.

Dmitry Borisov is a Muscovite and activist of the “14%” movement who works in a small hotelier business. He was arrested on 9 June. According to the investigators, when four police officers were carrying Borisov to a police van, he freed his left leg and twice kicked police officer Ilya Erokhin in the head. Erokhin suffered no physical harm and did not request medical care. The first time Erokhin remembered he had been hurt, according to the prosecution, was in mid-May, about two months after the events.

Watch the following video (in Russian) for the incident in question:

The Investigative Committee has finally begun a review of complaints about torture by the anti-fascist activist Viktor Filinkov.

The young man has been charged with taking part in the “Network” terrorist group. Filinkov has reported that he was tortured by FSB officers when they tried to obtain confessions from him. The officers forced him to learn answers to questions by heart. If he made a mistake, he was given an electric shock.


Viktor Filinkov. Source: Personal archive. - “It’s important not to panic”: we have spoken with Aleksandra, Viktor’s wife, about life before and after her husband’s arrest, and also about how you can help someone close to you if you are in another country.

In Chelyabinsk one of three left-wing activists who were detained has reported they were tortured.

On the evening of 19 February, police officers arrested three left-wing activists at their homes. Subsequently, it was not possible to get in touch with them. Two other individuals also went missing at the time.

On 21 February, the activists were located and one of them said they had been tortured after their arrest. “After the search, we spent that night and the next day at the FSB, and they used physical methods to put pressure on us [...] I stood in an uncomfortable pose for hours, they pinched my wrists with handcuffs, I have marks from the handcuffs on my wrists. My brother and a friend, who had been at my home, were subjected to electric shocks.”

According to the investigators working on the case, those arrested could be involved in acts of solidarity with activists who have reported being tortured. On 15 February, on the fence surrounding the regional FSB headquarters, unidentified persons hung a banner with the words: “FSB is the main terrorist!” and threw a smoke bomb over the fence.  

Leader of the “Russians of Astrakhan” organisation, Igor Stenin, has left Russia.

According to the latest court ruling in his case, Stenin should have been sent back to serve time in a prison colony. In 2016 a court sentenced the activist to two years in an open prison colony for incitement to extremist activities. The evidence against him at his trial was a repost on the VKontakte social media website of an article about the war in Ukraine. According to Stenin’s defence, he was convicted for a repost and commentaries made by another person using his name. In 2017 Stenin’s sentence was quashed, but subsequently, on an appeal by the prosecutor’s office, the case was reviewed and the sentence reinstated.

A student from Krasnoyarsk has been added to the register of terrorists and extremists for a meme.

The student has been charged with inciting hatred. The court ruling authorising an expert assessment in the case states that Alexey Sverdlov saved 61 pictures on VKontakte, which included “depictions of the Teletubbies characters with a Nazi swastika,” “a photograph of a fist with raised middle finger with two police officers in the background, standing with their backs turned,” and also a “photo-collage with people standing against a background of the Tower of Pisa with extended right arms, one of whom was depicted as Adolph Hitler.”

  • Our correspondent Alexsander Litoi has looked into the high profile “extremist” case against Alexander Kruze, a resident of Stary Oskol, sentenced to two-and-a-half years in an open prison colony for texts posted on VKontakte. Kruze asserts that he posted the texts “for research as part of his work on a diploma.” This may seem doubtful, but, even if it is not true, his actions hardly represent a serious danger to the public.

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