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Attacks on Russian journalists must stop

A series of assaults on Russian journalists this week accompany a continuing campaign against anti-corruption activists.

Stanislav Zimovets was sentenced to 2.5 months in prison for violent conduct towards a police officer at an anti-corruption rally in Moscow on 26 March. Source: VKontakte.

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. 

Stanislav Zimovets, a defendant in the 26 March case, has been sentenced to 2.5 years in a general-regime prison colony. The prosecution had asked for three years. Stanislav Zimovets was charged with using force against a police officer during a rally against corruption. An OVD-Info correspondent attended the final court hearings in the case and we have published her article that includes Stanislav Zimovets’ final words in court, the arguments of the defence and the prosecution, and also a description of the unforgettable atmosphere in the courtroom.

This week the Russian police and the Investigative Committee refused to open an investigation into assaults on journalists. In Orenburg, a pro-Kremlin activist explained that he had attacked a journalist because he had toothache, and police officers would agree only to make an official record of part of the journalist’s complaint. Meanwhile, in Petrozavodsk, the Investigative Committee refused to bring charges against a police officer who assaulted a journalist working for the online-journal Chernika at the 26 March rally against corruption. During the rally the police officer struck the journalist in the face, breaking his glasses. At the time the journalist was wearing a press badge on his chest. And the attacks continue. In Moscow, assailants sprayed an acrid gas of unknown chemical composition into the home of journalist Yulia Latynina.

Petroavodsk: Footage of journalist Alexei Vladimirov being assaulted at an anti-corruption rally on 26 March.

Intimidation against the campaign offices of politician Alexei Navalny and his supporters continue. For example, in Gatchina police refused to launch a criminal investigation into an assault on supporters of Navalny with a spade. In Omsk, police officers demanded that passers-by who accepted Navalny campaign leaflets should write explanations for their action. In Khabarovsk, Navalny’s election headquarters were covered with paint, ostensibly in retaliation for putting up election materials in the entrance halls of apartment buildings. In Astrakhan, unidentified people smashed the windows of a car parked in the courtyard with a “Navalny 20!8” sticker.   

And, in completely absurd news, in Kurgan a 14-year-old teenager blogger with anarcho-capitalist views was summoned to the police because of a meme of a gingerbread man in a German army cap with a swastika. Blogger Dmitry Morozov was summoned to the police station because of a comment posted by another individual on his VKontakte page. “They say that I am inciting hatred under Article 282 [of the Russian Criminal Code] and have violated Article 20.3 of the Administrative Law Code, since I did not DELETE A POST IN GOOD TIME AND ASSISTED IN ITS DISSEMINATION. That’s me, and not the person who posted the comment,” the videoblogger wrote.

We have published two descriptions of arrests – one by a Soviet dissident, the other by a supporter of Navalny. The first text was written by Irina Ratushinskaya, a poet and an inmate of political prison camps in the 1980s. She tells how she was jailed for 10 days for taking part in the annual traditional dissident protest on 10 December on Moscow’s Pushkin Square: how at 6pm people came and stood in silence, bareheaded. The author of the second text, who is an activist in Navalny’s election campaign, has asked to remain anonymous. In his case, both in his arrest and in his release, a key role was played by a smartphone.

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About the author

OVD-Info was launched by volunteers in 2011 as a means of quickly monitoring arrests during mass protests. It has evolved into a full-scale analytical project dealing with law enforcement issues in Russia. Find out how you can help here.

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