This Is What Antifascism Looks Like

Varya Mikhaylova
Facebook
May 11, 2018

We stood, too. Not because we believed it would change anything, but so nothing would change us.

The good news was that many passersby were aware of The Network Case, especially young people. Tons of schoolkids had their picture taken with me, promising to come out next time themselves. Amazing kids.

picket 1.jpg
“Stop torture at the FSB”

picket-2.jpg
“They’re not terrorists. The terrorists are at the FSB, and they torture people.”

picket-3
“Frame-up, Sadism, Banditism (FSB). Free the antifascists!”

picket-4
“Antifascists are tortured in the country that defeated fascism. Rupression.com.”

picket-5
“Give me back my 1937. Antifascists are tortured in the country that defeated fascism. So who won? Rupression.com”

All photos by Jenya Kulakova

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Petersburg Anarchist Black Cross
Facebook
May 11, 2018

Nikolai Boyarshinov, father of Yuli Boyarshinov, a suspect in The Network Case, carried out a solo picket on Nevsky Prospect this evening. He held up a placard that read, “My father, Nikolai S. Boyarshinov, fought against the fascists. My son, Yuli N. Boyarshinov, an antifascist, has been arrested by the FSB. Did we defeat the fascists? Or have we been infected by fascism?”

picket 6

Nikolai Boyarshinov was joined by ten or so activists in a series of solo pickets. They also stood on Nevsky, holding up placards with slogans that read, “Antifascists are tortured in the country that defeated fascism,” “Stop torture at the FSB,” and “Free the antifascists.” They leafleted passersby. They also collected signatures on a group letter to the warden of Remand Prison No. 6 in Gorelovo, demanding Yuli Boyarshinov be housed in humane conditions.

The passersby included people who asked how to help, who thanked and shook the hands of the picketers, and who voiced their support to Nikolai Boyarshinov. There were also people who said it was not possible that antifascists were tortured in Russia, people who heatedly argued with the picketers.

Police offers warned the protesters a distance of fifty meters must be maintained between solo pickets. They checked the papers of the picketers. Standing next to Nikolai Boyarshinov, they waited an hour and a half for him to roll up his placard and leave Nevsky Prospect.

Thanks to everyone who came out today to voice their solidarity. Write letters to the arrested antifascists, support their parents, and strengthen the networks of solidarity.

Translated by the Russian Reader

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What you can do to support the Penza and Petersburg antifascists and anarchists tortured and imprisoned by the FSB

  • Donate money to the Anarchist Black Cross via PayPal (abc-msk@riseup.net) and make sure to specify that your donation is earmarked for “Rupression.”
  • Spread the word about The Network Case aka the Penza-Petersburg “Terrorism Case.” You can find more information about the case and in=depth articles translated into English on this website (see below), rupression.com, and openDemocracyRussia.
  • Organize solidarity events where you live to raise money and drawn attention to the plight of the tortured Penza and Petersburg antifascists. Go to the website It’s Going Down to find downloadable, printable posters and flyers. You can also read more about the case there.
  • If you have the time and means to design, produce, and sell solidarity merch, please write to rupression@protonmail.com.
  • Write letters and postcards to the prisoners. Letters and postcards must be written in Russian or translated into Russian. You will find the addresses of the prisoners here.
  • Design a solidarity postcard that can be printed out and used by others to send messages of support to the prisoners. Send your ideas to rupression@protonmail.com.
  • Write letters of support to the prisoners’ loved ones via rupression@protonmail.com.
  • Translate the articles and information at rupression.com and this website into languages other than Russian and English, and publish your translations on social media and your own websites and blogs.
  • If you know someone famous, ask them to record a solidarity video, write an op-ed piece for a mainstream newspaper or write letters to the prisoners.
  • If you know someone who is a print, internet, TV or radio journalist, encourage them to write an article or broadcast a report about the case. Write to rupression@protonmail.com or the email listed on this website, and we will be happy to arrange interviews and provide additional information. It is extremely important this case break into the mainstream media both in Russia and abroad. Despite their apparent brashness, the FSB and their ilk do not like publicity. The more publicity the case gets, the safer our comrades will be in remand prison from violence at the hands of prison stooges and more torture at the hands of the FSB, and the more likely the Russian authorities will be likely to drop the case altogether or release the defendants for time served if the case ever does go to trial. Why? Because the case is a complete frame-up, based on testimony obtained under torture. When the complaints filed by the accused reach the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and are ultimately ajudicated, the Russian government will be forced to pay heavy fines for its cruel mockery of justice.

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If you have not been following the Penza-Petersburg “terrorism” case and other cases involving frame-ups, torture, and violent intimidation by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and other parts of the Russian police state, read and repost the recent articles the Russian Reader has translated and published on these subjects.

Varya Mikhaylova: Legal Nihilism

varya-morningDawn outside the October District Court, on Pochtamskaya Street in Petersburg’s Admiralty District. The Central Post Office is visible in the background. Photo by Varya Mikhaylova

Varya Mikhaylova
Facebook
May 7, 2018

I greeted the morning of the day Vladimir Putin started his new term as president in a way that was more than symbolic. At five in the morning, as the first rays of the sun were peaking over the horizon, I left the October District Court, where for the past thirteen hours I had defended people detained during the He’s No Tsar to Us protest rally in Petersburg.

I was afraid to go to court, because what happened in March could easily have happened again. The police had then tried to detain the activists who had come to support their friends right in the courtroom. But by Sunday afternoon this excuse seemed utter rubbish, and I rushed to the October District Court.

Friends of the detainees stood outside the courthouse with bags of food and things. They were not allowed into the courthouse, and the bailiffs refused to take their care packages and give them to the detainees. It was a miracle that me and another human rights activist, Maria Malysheva, were let into the courthouse. By current standards, that was a cause for joy.

There were five detainees in the courthouse. Some of them had been consciously involved in the protest rally and made no bones about it, while the others had come along for the ride, had come to gawk or had just been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

One of my future defendants was an amazing mathematics teacher who, at that point, had not eaten or drunk water for twenty-six hours. After we arrived, we tearfully persuaded the bailiffs to at least send in the food and water brought by the people waiting outside.

A policeman in the courthouse refused to give one young woman her telephone. He sat next to her holding the phone in a cellophane packet and was very proud of his perserverance. After I called the police HQ hotline, however, he handed over the phone to the detainee while looking down at the floor.

After four hours of waiting, we went into the first hearing at 7:15 p.m., while the final hearing commenced at four in the morning. We made around fourteen motions total during the hearings, and all of them were rejected except motions to admit a social defender to the hearings and view a video. Our motions to summon a prosecutor, witnesses, and public officials, request access to a video, enter evidence into the record, and transfer a hearing to another jurisdiction were all turned down. The last motion led to a particularly funny exchange with the judge.

“Defender, why do you think the case should be transferred to another jurisdiction?”

“Your honor, the alleged violation came to light in the area covered by the 78th Police Precinct, and the case should be heard by the Kuibyshev District Court.”

“Why do you say that? It came to light in the 1st Police Precinct.”

(In other cases, it would be the 77th Police Precinct, the 34th Police Precinct, and so on.)

“So, it turns out my defendant was detained and delivered to police custody, but only subsequently, at the police station, did the violation come to light?”

“It turns out that was what happened.”

Neither the judge nor her female clerk concealed their contempt for the protest rally in the slightest.

“You, an educated person, a professor, what induced you to go there?”

“If I had been in your shoes, I would have left as soon as I saw what was happening.”

“Schoolchildren with time on their hands.”

“You should have thought about the possibility of jail time, your job, and your pupils when you were going to the protest, not now, when you ask me not to pass this sentence.”

And so on, and so forth.

The video that was introduced into evidence in every case deserves special attention. It was very long (over an hour), but it contained no footage either of the rally’s beginning, in the Alexander Garden, or its finale, when the police detained protesters. Two of my defendants, who insisted they had not taken part in the march, were not in the video. Another of my defendants was in the video, and the video corroborated exactly what he said during the hearing: that he was involved in the march, but he had not chanted any slogans and was not carrying a placard. So, the video was on our side in absolutely every case, but this did not ruffle the court at all, because the principal mantra that all judges repeat in such cases is, “There are no grounds for not trusting the testimony of the police officers.”

The police are a separate conversation. They have learned to do a better job of compiling the case files than in 2012, but they still make a royal mess of it. Therefore, in the case files of the people I defended, there was no mention of a single witness to the alleged administrative violations or a single official attesting search witness [i.e., a “poniatoi,” as required under Russian law], although all of them had their personal effects confiscated. But the most enchanting episode had to with my defendant Yulya, whose case was heard last, from 3:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. I will write a separate post about it now.

The outcomes of the court hearings in which I served as a social defender were as follows. My defendant who was in the march, but did not chant any slogans, was sentenced to a fine of 15,000 rubles [approx. 200 euros] and three days in jail. The two random bystanders were each sentenced to a fine of 10,000 rubles and three days in jail. In the courtroom next door, a female protester who was heavily involved in the rally was sentenced to four days in jail and fine of 10,000 rubles, while another innocent bystander was slapped with two days in jail and a fine of 10,000 rubles.

We plan to appeal all the verdicts, of course.

I gather that the point of these court hearings against people who are involved in protest rallies is not to intimidate everyone, but to inculcate total legal nihilism in each and every one of us. People who deliberately go to a rally, waving flags and bearing placards, are sentenced to four days in jail and 10,000-ruble fines, while random passersby receive the same sentences or worse. Human right defenders who attempt to give detainees blank court appeal forms are slapped with fines of 170,000 rubles [approx. 2,250 euros] and fifteen days in jail.

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Recently, I was asked how activists could establish links with human right defenders who would stand for them at hearings. My reply was that life in 2018 is such that activists and human rights defenders are quite often one and the same people.

These were the first hearings in which I defended detainees on my own, so feel free to congratulate me.

Translated by the Russian Reader

Varya Mikhaylova: Yulya’s Hearing

Varya Mikhaylova
Facebook
May 7, 2018

Now I want to write separately about Yulya’s hearing, which was the last.

Here is how it was.

At three in the morning, the judge said, “Let’s recess until morning, because, as it is, no one can think straight anymore.”

This was a good suggestion for the judge and me, whose warm beds awaited us at home, but not for Yulya, who would have been shipped backed till morning to a police station where she had not been issued any sleeping gear, and where there was a terrible stench and bedbugs.

So, we begged the judge, if she wanted to postpone the hearing, to do it lawfully and humanely: by releasing Yulya on her own recognizance and letting her go home. Because this was what should have happened to all the detainees, who despite all the regulations and common sense were tried on the weekend in emergency court hearings that were closed to the public.

It was such an emotional conversation, I cried as I appealed to the judge to give my defendant the chance at least to take a shower, get her wits about her, and prepare a normal defense.

But there was a snag, you see. If Yulya had gone home and later failed to appear in court, it would have been impossible to slap her with a jail sentence, which cannot be handed down in absentia. All the court could have given her in absentia was a 1,000-ruble fine. So, the judge told us almost in no uncertain terms that was why Yulya would not go home under any circumstances.

Then we pleaded with the judge to hear Yulya’s case right away. As it was, I could not make it to court in the morning, Yulya would not be able to find another social defender, and she would be shipped immediately back to the stinky police department. Whereas, after the judge made her decision, Yulya would be sent to the temporary detention facility on Zakharyevskaya Street, where she would at least have linens and blankets.

The judge could also have exonerated her and sent her home.

That whole conversation was also quite funny, because the judge did nothing at all to conceal the fact the verdict could only be guilty, although we had not even begun to hear the case, and the judge knew nothing about Yulya whatsoever.

The judge ultimately relented, and the hearing kicked off. Usually, people are initially tried for violating Article 20.2 of the Administrative Offenses Code (violating the regulations for holding public events), and only then for violating Article 19.3 (failure to obey a police officer’s lawful requests). During each previous hearing, I had argued to the judge that if the defendant had already been convicted under Article 20.2, and the aggravating circumstances were failure to obey a policeman’s orders, it would be wrong to try the individual separately for failure to obey a policeman’s orders, since this would violate the basic principle of double jeopardly, something the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office had addressed.

Apparently, the judge was heartily tired of my speech, so she decided first to try Yulya for violation of Article 19.3. She found Yulya guilty and sentenced her to three days in jail.

Then the second hearing, on the charge Yulya had violated Article 20.2, commenced. It was four in the morning.

The case file on this charge had been compiled worst of all. It was such a mess the report confirming Yulya had been delivered to a police station was not signed at all. There was no name and no policeman’s signature. It was just a piece of paper.

We pointed this out to the judge, of course, and that was our big mistake. Because the whole point of these hearings was for the defendants and defenders to take home the message that the more you showed off, the worse it would be for you. Having noted the mistakes in the case file, the judge postponed the hearing until 11:15 a.m. on Monday.

So, Yulya was tried at four in the morning and was sentenced to jail, but she was taken from the courthouse back to the stinky police station anyway.

The police station where Yulya was taken did not have even a chair for her to sit on, and so she was taken to another precinct, where she slept for an hour and a half sitting on a chair. By eleven o’clock, she had been taken back to the October District Court, where her hearing resumed.

She was found guilty of violating Article 20.2 and fined 10,000 rubles [approx. 130 euros]. The police officer whose signature had missing from the delivery report simply put his signature on the report, already bound and filed in the case file.

These photos of Yulya and me were taken at four in the morning when we were waiting for the judge to deliver her verdict in the first case.

Image may contain: 2 people, including Варя Михайлова, selfie and closeup

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, selfie and closeup

Translated by the Russian Reader

Their Day in Court

photo_2017-06-13_18-21-56
Detained protesters at a police precinct in Petersburg. Photo copyright Andrey Kalikh and courtesy of the Aid to Detainees Group in Petersburg and Fontanka.ru

This is not the first time (nor probably the last time) that activist Varya Mikkhaylova has been featured on this website.  Below, she and Andrey Kalikh describe their experiences in police custody and court after being detained by riot police along with 656 other protesters during an anti-corruption rally held on the Field of Mars in Petersburg on June 12, Russia Day. TRR

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Varya Mikhaylova
Facebook
June 14, 2017

Almost everyone in our precinct has had their court hearing and been convicted. Nearly everyone who tried to file appeals and not plead guilty was given the maximum sentence: up to fourteen days in jail + fines of 10,000 rubles and greater. Those who plead guilty and make no attempt to defend themselves get off easier: one of them got three days in jail. The only person in our precinct who got off without a jail term was the husband of a pregnant woman.

In this regard, everyone’s mood is dominated by legal nihilism. They have been chewing out the human rights activists, who they say have only made things worse. Apparently, that is the real objective of all these hearings.

By the by, there are truly random people among the detainees in our precinct, but they are more aggressive towards people like me than to the authorities. They give the protesters and human rights activists hell, and ask why we’re dissatisfied. (After thirty hours in police custody, there in other word for this than Stockholm syndrome.) [One person who commented on the original post, in Russian, suggested that these “random people” were, in fact, police provocateurs and spies. Planting them in the cells of political prisoners and dissidents had been a common practice under the Soviets—TRR.]

One of these random detainees is a lawyer. He came down on everyone harder than anyone else, saying we should withdraw our appeals and refuse legal assistance. What irony: he has a master’s degree in law.

Before they are sent to the detention center, the police forcibly take everyone’s fingerprints, although this is against the law.

We are in a decent precinct. The conditions are terribly unsanitary and crowded, but the staff treat us like human beings. They let us charge our telephones, let us have smoke breakes, and sometimes even take us to the can, where there is an actual toilet, not a stinky hole in the floor. On the other hand, among themselves they talk about how everyone who protested on the Field of Mars did it because they had been promised 5,000 rubles.

Yesterday, we spent the night in the cells. There were sixteen bodies and six beds, but we had mattresses, pillows, and bed linens even. Today, non-political prisoners were brought to the cells. (When one of them refused to remove his crucifix, four officers threw him on the floor, cuffed him, and forcibly removed the crucifix. Another of these prisoners is obviously in a bad way. He beats the walls, scratches the window until he bleeds, and screams. He wet himself in his cell, but no one has any intention of taking him to hospital.) So we spend the night sitting in the corridor.

Me and one other young man have still not been taken to court for our hearings.

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Andrey Kalikh
Facebook
Saint Petersburg, Russia
June 14, 2017

St. Petersburg’s Frunzensky District Court is the apotheosis of evil. The hearings began at eleven p.m. One, apparently very angry judge is handling the cases. Everyone is being sentenced to ten to fifteen days in jail, plus they are fined ten thousand to fifteen thousand rubles. We fearfully await the sentence he will give our friend the father with four children.

People are kept on the bus before the hearings. They are exhausted, the conditions are tortuous, and something has to be done about this court. It is monstrous.

UPDATE. Our dad with four children emerged from the courthouse at two in the morning. He had been fined 10,700 rubles [approx. 167 euros]. He said that of the 106 people who had been sentenced at that point, only six had got off with fines. Everyone else had been sentenced to five to fifteen days in jail, plus had been fined ten thousand to fifteen thousand rubles.

Translated by the Russian Reader. Thanks to Comrade SK and Andrey Kalikh for the heads-up

A Rainbow May Day in Petersburg vs. The Dead in Chechnya

Varya Mikhaylova
Facebook
May 1, 2017

I don’t know what else to on May 1 when LGBT people in Chechnya are facing flagrant genocide, so today this was how it went down. Now we have been detained and taken to the 43rd police precinct. A man who came out bearing a placard that read, “Putin, go away. Putin is evil” was detained with us. It’s forbidden to say that now, too.

Chechen Mothers Mourned Their Bloodied Children on Nevsky

On May 1, 2017, activists staged a performed on Nevsky Prospect, the city’s main boulevard, during which Chechen mothers mourned and sprinkled their children with earth. Prone on the ground, the bodies of the LGBT people were covered with rainbow and Chechen flags. The performance was meant to express solidarity with the people of the Republic of Chechnya as well as draw attention to the horrifying events occurring there now.

Since the beginning of the year in Chechnya, which is part of Russia, there have been numerous illegal detentions, torture, and executions of homosexual men, including men deemed homosexual. We know of hundred of victims, dozens of them murdered. Even as they deny the occurrence of genocide, local officials have publicly justified these atrocities by citing medieval “ethnic traditions” and “Muslim values.”

The persecution of LGBT people in Chechnya and the North Caucasus is nothing new. The region has long been plagued by rampant corruption, violence, and murder, affecting everyone who lives there. However, targeted mass killings are a new phenomenon. Both local and federal authorities are to blame for the state terror. On the one hand, they have vigorously popularized “traditional religious values.” On the other, they have proved incapable of opposing the spread of radical Islam and ensuring the enforcement of the Russian Constitution and human rights. Impunity on the ground encourages terrorism and radicalization, leading to the deaths of civilians not only in Chechnya but outside it. Consequently, terrorists  exploded a bomb in the St. Petersburg subway for the first time in the city’s history.*

“Cruelty is a severe infection that is prone to pandemic. It is not a one-off event. They started with the people of Chechnya and, although many imagined that would be the end  of it, they continued with ‘their own kind,’ as is now the ‘patriotic’ expression,” wrote Anna Politkovskaya.

The escalation of terror is a vivid example of how the violation of human rights and violence against a particular group can quickly balloon into violence against everyone.

We demand the strict observance of Russian federal laws in Chechnya and preservation of the Russian state’s secular nature. We demand that religious fanatics who are calling for violence be punished according to the law. We demand an investigation of allegations of widespread torture and executions of gays in Chechnya and severe punishment for the guilty parties, including government officials.

#MayDay #Chechnya #MayDayLGBT  #RainbowMayday #LGBT

Photographs by David Frenkel, Alexandra Polukeyeva, and Fontanka.ru. Translated by the Russian Reader

* NB. I have translated and posted the above out of a sense of solidarity and friendship with the people who staged this action during today’s May Day marches on the Nevsky in Petersburg.

However, I would be remiss not to note the striking Alexei Navalny-like anti-Caucasus/anti-Muslim rhetoric in the protesters’ communique, which, of course, is not unique to the otherwise admirable anti-corruption fighter, but is a commonplace in the non-thinking of many “ethnic” Russians. As thoroughly deplorable and despicable as the persecution of gay men in Chechnya and anywhere else is (what, are gay men not persecuted in “Russia proper”?), the activists quote the slain journalist and human rights activist Anna Politkovskaya while seemingly forgetting why she was assassinated: because she wrote truthfully about what Russian federal armed forces and police were doing in Chechnya. Moscow’s successive bloody invasions of Chechnya in the 1990s and the 2000s, involving the torture and rape of non-combatants, the wholesale slaughter of civilians, and mass displacement of the local population might seem to be more appropriately qualified by the word “genocide” than what has been happening recently to the republic’s gay men, however horrifying. Not to put too fine a point on it, “Russians proper,” with the notable exception of Politkovskaya and a brave but tiny minority of others, have never been able to assign the responsibility for what happened in Chechnya where it belongs, and they have been aided and abetted by the other “world powers” (i.e., the “former” colonial and imperial powers), who were only too happy to turn a blind eye to what first Yeltsin and then Putin were up to in their own backyard, so to speak. If Chechnya is now an out-of-control autocracy, run by an “Islamist” strongman-cum-madman, Russians have only to look in the mirror to find out who is to blame for this deplorable state of affairs.

Nor, finally, is it a given that the recent bombing in the Petersburg subway (which wasn’t even the first such bombing, in fact) was the work of “radicalized Islamists.” Of course, that is one possibility. But there are other possibilities, as any “Russian proper” who hasn’t had his or her memory erased would realize.

When the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly passed its infamous homophobic law several years ago, there was no popular outcry against the law on the part of Petersburgers, the vast majority of whom are not Muslim and thus cannot be suspected of adhering to “medieval Muslim values.” Nobody but a handful of people “rioted” in the streets, and as far as I can tell, Petersburgers still, inexplicably, regard themselves proudly as “Europeans,” although they have this disgusting “medieval” law on the books, and many of the same local Petersburg riot cops (OMON) who wearily drag them into paddy wagons and kettle them when they occasionally want to exercise their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and assembly were, as is well known, on active combat duty in Chechnya during the First and Second Chechen Wars and are, possibly, guilty of God knows what war crimes against the “uncivilized” Chechens, whose tiny, beautiful corner of the world has been ravaged at least three times in living memory by their Great Russian rulers. TRR

It Was a Good Week in the Supah Powah, or, The Return of the Green Lanterns (OVD Info)

‘In 2016, Donald Trump rode a wave of popular discontent to the White House on the promise that he would “make America great again.” As Russia’s presidential election, scheduled for March 2018, draws nearer, President Vladimir Putin may try a similar tactic — by contending that he has already restored Russia’s greatness.’

Blogger Norwegian Forester

The authorities have been using every trick in the book to counteract the plans of Alexei Navalny’s supporters to hold events against corruption on March 26 in scores of cities. Authorities have been refusing to authorize the protests under different pretexts. Rally organizers in different regions have been arrested on trumped-up changes, summoned to the police, fined for inviting people to rallies on the social networks, and written up for holding meetings with activists. Volunteers have been detained for handing out stickers.

More Navalny

At the same time as he has been getting ready for the anti-corruption protests, Navalny has been opening election campaign headquarters in different cities. These events have also been subject violent attacks. In Barnaul, Navalny was doused with Brilliant Green antiseptic (zelyonka). In Petersburg, the door of his headquarters was set on fire. In Volgograd, Navalny was dragged by his feet and nearly beaten.

Alexei Navalny

In Bryansk Region, a schoolboy was sent to the police for setting up Navalny support groups on the social networks: the police demanded he delete the accounts. In Krasnoyarsk University, a lecturer was fired for showing Navalny’s exposé of PM Dmitry Medvedev, Don’t Call Him Dimon. In Orenburg, a coordinator of the Spring youth movement was summoned to the rector, who asked him questions about Navalny. In Moscow, famous blogger Norwegian Forester was detained for going onto Red Square, his face painted green, in support of Navalny.

Not Only Navalny: Crackdowns on Freedom of Assembly

Long-haul truckers have planned a nationwide strike for March 27. Around twelve people were detained during a meeting of truckers in Vladivostok. Police claimed they had received intelligence on a meeting of mafia leaders. In Krasnodar Territory, an activist got three days of arrest in jail for handing out leaflets about the upcoming strike.

Krasnodar farmers have planned a tractor convoy for March 28. However, organizer Alexei Volchenko was arrested for twelve days for, allegedly, not making alimony payments. Another tractor convoy participant, Oleg Petrov, had his internal passport confiscated by police.

Judge Vladimir Vasyukov

In Petersburg, Dzherzhinsky District Court Judge Vladimir Vasyukov during the past week imposed fines of 10,000 rubles [approx. 160 euros] each on three women, involved in a feminist protest on International Women’s Day, March 8, 10,000 rubles [approx. 160 euros], elderly activist Igor “Stepanych” Andreyev, accused of walking along a building during a solo picket, and activist Varvara Mikhaylova for picketing outside the Segezha Men’s Penal Colony in Russian Karelia in support of civic activist Ildar Dadin, who was recently released.

Varvara Mikhaylova. Photo courtesy of David Frenkel

In Murmansk, the authorities refused to authorize three marches against inflated utilities rates, food prices, and public transportation costs, while Moscow authorities refused to authorize a protest rally against the planned massive demolition of five-storey Soviet-era apartment buildings. In addition, Moscow police demanded a party at Teatr.doc be cancelled.

Moscow City Court ruled that meetings of lawmakers with their constituents should be regarded as the equivalent of protest rallies.

The Constitutional Court ruled the police can detain a solo picketer only if it is impossible to ensure security. The very next day, two solo picketers bearing placards on which Vyacheslav Makarov, speaker of the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly, was depicted as a demon were detained by police.

Criminal Prosecutions and Other Forms of Coercion

Sergei Mokhnatkin, whose spine was broken in prison, was sentenced to two years in a maximum security penal colony for, allegedly, striking a Federal Penitentiary Service officer.

Sergei Mokhnatkin

As for talk of a new Thaw, two Ufa residents, accused of involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir, had their suspended sentences changed to four years in a penal colony.

In Stavropol, Kirill Bobro, head of the local branch of Youth Yabloko, was jailed for two months, accused of narcotics possession. Bobro himself claims police planted the drugs on him.

Kirill Bobro

A graduate student at Moscow State University was detained and beaten for flying a Ukrainian flag from the window of his dormitory. In addition, he was forced to sign a paper stating he agreed to be an FSB informant. Ukrainian journalist Roman Tsymbalyuk was detained while trying to interview the graduate student.

What to Read

LGBT activist Dmitry Samoilenko describes how he has been persecuted in Kamchatka for a brochure about the history of gender identity in the Far North. Activist Rafis Kashapov, an activist with the Tatar Social Center, who was convicted for posts on the social networks, sent us a letter about life in a prison hospital.

Rafis Kashapov

The Week Ahead (March 26—April 1)

Closing arguments are scheduled for March 27 in the trial of Bolotnaya Square defendant Maxim Panfilov, who has been declared mentally incompetent. Prosecutors will apparently ask the judge to sentence him to compulsory hospitalization.

On March 29, an appeals court is expected to hear the appeal against the verdict of Alexander Belov (Potkin), co-chair of the Russians Ethnopolitical Movement.

Thanks for Your Attention

We continue to raise money for our monitoring group, which collects information on political persecution and takes calls about detentions at protest rallies. Thanks to all of you who have already supported us. You can now make monthly donations to OVD Info here.

Translated by the Russian Reader

The People versus the Package

"I think therefore I'm a terrorist." Solo picket on Nevsky Prospect, Petersburg, July 22, 2016
“I think therefore I’m a terrorist.” Solo picket on Nevsky Prospect, Petersburg, July 22, 2016

Varya Mikhaylova
Facebook
July 23, 2016

It doesn’t matter whether you come to the people’s assembly against the so-called Yarovaya package at 7 p.m. on July 26 in front of the arch of the General Staff Building on Bolshaya Morskaya or not. There is already enough evidence to put you away.

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On July 7, 2016, President Putin signed the so-called Yarovaya package, a series of flagrantly repressive amendments to the Russian Federal Criminal Code. The official objective of the amendments is to combat terrorism.

IF YOU DON’T INFORM YOU’LL GO TO JAIL
An article on non-informing has been added to the Criminal Code. “Failure to report a crime” will entail a sentence of up to one year in prison. This law applies to such crimes as terrorism, seizure of power, and attempts on the life of a public official.

ALL YOUR COMMUNICATIONS WILL BE SAVED AND READ
Monitoring of correspondence has been toughened. Records of all your telephone calls, SMS messages, and emails will be saved for six months, and the security forces will be provided with the means to decode encrypted communications.

"Words don't make me a criminal." Solo picket on Nevsky Prospect, Petersburg, July 22, 2016
“Words don’t make me a criminal.” Solo picket on Nevsky Prospect, Petersburg, July 22, 2016

YOUR PACKAGES WILL BE VETTED
Postal workers will now be obliged to search vigorously for prohibited items in our packages: money, narcotics, weapons, explosives, and “other devices that pose a threat to human life and health.”

YOU INVITED A FRIEND TO A PROTEST RALLY, YOU GO TO JAIL
The Criminal Code will now include an article on “inducing, recruiting or otherwise involving” someone in organizing a “riot.” The law stipulates a penalty of 300,000 to 700,000 rubles or a prison sentence of five to ten years.

YOU REPOST THE “WRONG” THING, YOU GO TO JAIL
The punishments for “extremist” entries, reposts, and comments on the web have been toughened. Despite the fact that freedom of speech is guaranteed by the Russian Constitution, you can now be fined from 300,000 to 500,000 rubles or sent to prison for two to five years for making certain statements. By the way, 369 people were convicted of “enciting hatred by means of the Internet” in 2015.

YOU’RE STILL A KID? YOU’RE GOING TO JAIL ANYWAY
14-year-olds will now be tried as adults not only for serious crimes but also for involvement in riots and non-informing.

At 7 p.m. on July 26, a people’s assembly on behalf of liberty and against the Yarovaya package will be held on Bolshaya Morskaya in the pedestrian area near the arch of the General Staff Building. The people’s assembly format does not permit the use of political symbols and placards. But no one can forbid us from going outside, talking about the Yarovaya package, and hoping the voice of peaceful protest will be heard.

More on the Yarovaya Package:

"Inform on me and maybe  you won't go to jail." Solo picket on Nevsky Prospect, Petersburg,  July 22, 2016
“Inform on me and maybe you won’t go to jail.” Solo picket on Nevsky Prospect, Petersburg, July 22, 2016