OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 62: Drugs, hunger strikes, and psychiatry

This week in Russia: there's some good news, and there's some bad news. 

6 July 2018
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Zarema Bagavutdinova. Source: OVD-Info.

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

Russian anarchist Dmitry Buchenkov, now living outside Russia, has written a book on how criminal cases are fabricated in Russia — and it is accessible online! Dmitry was prosecuted in the Bolotnaya Square case, despite the fact he was not in Moscow during the unrest on 6 May 2012. Buchenkov was held on remand for more than a year before being convicted. He left Russia before sentence was pronounced.  

A human rights defender from Dagestan, Zarema Bagavutdinova has been released. Great news! Bagavutdinova worked in a human rights organisation and gathered together information about fabricated prosecutions, detentions, cases of torture and disappearances. She had been charged with aiding and abetting participants in an armed attack on police officers in the town of Buinaksk. The only evidence produced by the prosecution was that the accused, as a staff member of the Dagestan NGO Human Rights Defence, had criticised law enforcement and military agencies on the media. In May 2014, a court found Bagavutdinova guilty of persuading a person to join an illegal armed group and sentenced her to five years in a prison colony.

The investigation into the so-called “Network” case continues. Eleven young people in Penza and St Petersburg are accused of taking part in the organisation of a terrorist group, named The Network. Allegedly, they were making preparations for disturbances around the country. A number of defendants in the case have stated that FSB officers tortured them using electric shocks.

  • - Two suspects in the Network case, Mikhail Kulkov and Maksim Ivankin, have been detained and remanded in custody. Kulkov’s father has said he saw his son and Maksim Ivankin in court for a few minutes while they were being taken along a corridor. He noticed bruises and abrasions on their skin. Kulkov and Ivankin are accused of organising a terrorist group.
    The first time they were detained, they were arrested along with Alexey Poltavets, an anti-fascist activist, who has claimed he was tortured. Kulkov and Ivankin were at that time beaten, after which they left Penza.

  • - Dmitry Pchelintsev, one of the suspects in the Network case, has been taken to St Petersburg from the No. 1 pre-trial detention centre in the city of Penza where he was being held for further investigative measures. According to members of the local Public Oversight Commission, Pchelintsev has no complaints about the temporary detention centre in which he was kept: “He is surprised that detainees are given food which is OK to eat.”

  • - Penza regional court has upheld the custody of Ilya Shakursky and Andrey Chernov, who are held on remand.

Stanislav Klykh, sentenced to 20 years in a prison colony on charges of killing Russian soldiers during the First Chechen War, has been transferred to a psychiatric hospital.

- Klykh has said that after his arrest in 2014 he was tortured with electric shocks, deprived of sleep, suspended from handcuffs, had his eyes crushed, and was beaten. He would have been physically unable to take part in military action in Grozny during the period in relation to which he was charged. As confirmed by witnesses and university documents, from the end of December 1994 Klykh was finalising his university coursework, and at the beginning of January 1995 his university exams had already begun.

- In court, Klykh behaved in a strange manner: he was at times apathetic, at times rowdy. Human rights defenders assert that Klykh became mentally ill because of the torture to which he was subjected. At one of the court hearings he began to shout at the prosecutor. Additional charges were laid against him of failing to respect the court, and he was given an extra month in the prison colony.

Vyacheslav Shatrovsky has been transferred to a prison colony before his sentence entered into force. According to his lawyer, this constitutes a violation of Article 49 of the Constitution (presumption of innocence until a sentence enters into force). Shatrovsky has been sentenced to three years in a general-regime prison colony on charges of attacking a police officer during the so-called “Maltsev revolution”. At the time of his arrest, Shatrovsky suffered an open head injury.

In Crimea, pro-Ukrainian activist Vladimir Balukh has been sentenced to five years in a general-regime prison colony and a 10,000 rouble fine. According to the trial judge, Balukh attacked the head of a temporary detention facility, thereby disrupting the work of the institution. The activist’s sentence was handed down on the basis of two criminal charges: earlier Balukh had been found guilty of possessing ammunition and explosive materials. Balukh remains on hunger strike, which he began on 19 March.

Two charges have been brought against Renat Paralamov, a Crimean Tatar, who reported disappearances and torture. Renat Paralamov has been charged with illegal trafficking of explosive materials and ammunition. The prosecutor refused to institute an investigation of the actions of FSB officers who conducted the search of Paralamov’s home and subsequently took him away with a plastic bag over his head.

Mikhail Savostin, an activist from Mineralnye Vody suspected of possessing drugs, has gone on hunger strike without water. Mikhail Savostin has drunk no water for nine days since he went on hunger strike, and his condition has seriously deteriorated. The activist asserts that the drugs had been planted on him and he demands that the criminal charge against him be dropped.


Protect our forest: Buryatia residents are ready to pay fines to defend the taiga. In Buryatia the authorities’ plans to develop forestry and export timber to China have met with protests from local residents. We have found out how local protests have saved the forest in one particular district. True, the authorities immediately promised business they could fell trees in another area.

“He’s got involved with the wrong kind of things.” We relate the story of Maksim Neverov, a Navalny election campaign volunteer, who has only just entered the 11th [final] class at high school. Maksim wants to go to university to study law. Police in the town of Biisk, where Maksim lives, are even now introducing him to the basic features of the rule of law in Russia. They want to prosecute Maksim Neverov under administrative law for “gay propaganda” among minors.


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