Vyacheslav Rybakov, a member of Artpodgotovka ("Artillery training") movement, pickets holding a sign: "The absence of justice is a direct road to revolution." Source: Facebook.
We continue our partnership with OVD-Info, an NGO that monitors politically-motivated arrests in Russia. Every Friday, we bring you the latest information on freedom of assembly.
This week’s update on freedom of assembly in Russia focuses on the persecution of supporters of Vyacheslav Maltsev who, since 2013, has been promising a revolution on 5 November 2017. Maltsev himself has left the country, and his nationalist-populist movement Artpodgotovka has been designated as “extremist”. Maltsev has urged his supporters to occupy city centres on 5 November 2017 and remain there until President Vladimir Putin resigns from office.
Over the past week six criminal cases have been brought against supporters of Maltsev on charges related to drugs, terrorism, mass disturbances and “incitement of hatred and enmity.” Below we list them in order.
1) Last Thursday, Krasnodar regional court ruled the Artpodgotovka movement “extremist” and banned its activities on the territory of the Russian Federation. The same day the FSB visited the Moscow home of a participant in the movement.
2) On Saturday, an Artpodgotovka activist in the town of Goryachy kliuch posted a video about the arrest of the movement’s coordinator in Krasnodar, as a result of which she ended up being jailed for 10 days.
3) On Sunday in Cheboksary police detained seven opposition activists from the Аrtvolga group (which is linked with the Artpodgotovka movement).
4) On Monday, the Kazan office of Artpodgotovka and the home of one of its local activists were searched by police.
5) On Wednesday, the homes of four activists in the city of Engels in Saratov region were searched. Two criminal cases were immediately opened on suspicion of incitement of hatred against Sergei Ryzhov and Dmitry Germanov.
In Krasnoyarsk, police removed a supporter of Maltsev from a train. He was subsequently remanded in custody for two months on charges related to alleged rioting (Article 212 of the Russian Criminal Code).
In St Petersburg an Artpodgotovka activist has been jailed on charges (under administrative law) for a third time. In total, this individual has now been jailed for 21 days.
Activists from the movement were detained in Krasnodar and Sochi. They were later jailed.
6) On Thursday, in Volgograd, the home of one of the movement’s activists was searched in connection with a criminal case under Article 228.1, Section 4, of the Criminal Code (large-scale drug trafficking which carries a potential jail term of from 10 to 20 years). The police confiscated leaflets, buttons, stickers and other items linked with the demonstration planned for 5 November. The young man was taken to the local Centre for Combatting Extremism, he was not allowed to see a lawyer, and communication with him has been lost.
In Kazan, one other participant in the movement has been remanded in custody until 29 December on suspicion of inciting hatred or enmity by means of the internet (Article 282, Section 2, of the Criminal Code).
In Arkhangelsk region, one of Maltsev’s supporters was detained. Police confiscated a hunting rifle.
And news came that Sergei Ryzhov is no longer suspected only of “inciting hatred,” but also preparing an act of terrorism (Article 205, Section 1; Article 30 Section 1, of the Criminal Code). He maintains his innocence.
However, it is not only the supporters of Maltsev that Russia’s law enforcement agencies are interested in. Presnensky district court in Moscow, which has yet to understand how Tor works, extended the house arrest of mathematician Dmitry Bogatov, charged with incitement to riot and justification of terrorism, until the end of January.
Incidentally, on 1 November a new law entered into force in Russia enabling the blocking of internet services which make possible access to websites blocked by the authorities.
In Kemerovo, pressure is being put on Kseniya Pakhomova, the local coordinator of the Navalny election campaign, through her relatives. Kseniya’s mother has been fired from the school where she had worked for 20 years. Her boyfriend was suddenly expelled from graduate school and received notification he was to be conscripted. And posters were put up around the town advertising Pakhomova’s services as a prostitute.
Ksenia Pakhomova. Image: Navalny Team, Kemerovo. In Ulyanovsk an Open Russia activist was fined 20,000 roubles for placing flowers on a memorial to the victims of political repression. In Nizhny Novgorod, activists were detained who had erected a cross in memory of the victims of political repression. Meanwhile, when Putin opened a memorial to the victims of political repression in Moscow, strange as it may seem, no one arrested him.
Aslan Iritov, the leader of a civil society initiative group in Volny Aul district in Nalchik, and his brother have been charged with attacking a police officer. This is despite the fact that Aslan Iritov has no hands. Several days earlier, riot police had burst into his home and seriously assaulted his family. Iritov’s wife had had fingers broken in the attack, and his brother a rib. According to Iritov’s daughter, the criminal charges were brought against her father and uncle after they refused to withdraw their complaint regarding the assault.
Our thanks to everyone who continues to support our work. Find out how you can help us here.
You can now read our regular quarterly report, which sets out all that we have been able to do with your support over the period 1 July - 30 September. This includes 1,333 phone calls about detentions and politically-motivated persecution received, 1,168 urgent news items published, and reports on 148 trials concerning freedom of assembly.
For more information on OVD-Info, read this article from the organisation's founder on how OVD is breaking the civil society mould here.