Wartime repressions summary. Eight months of war

October 2022

Текст на русском

Eight months ago, Russia launched a full-scale war in the Ukrainian territory. In addition to repressions in another country, the Russian authorities started a new wave of political repressions inside their country. We have gathered all information on anti-war protests in Russia from September 24 to October 24, 2022.

Restriction of the right to freedom of assembly

We are aware of more than 19 thousand detentions in 226 cities in Russia and in the Crimea. In addition to detentions at anti-war rallies, we have information on 154 detentions for anti-war posts in social networks, 126 detentions for anti-war symbolics, and 229 detentions after anti-war protests. In the eight months, we know of just 18 days when the Russian police forces did not arrest anyone for their anti-war stance.

For detentions during holidays and days of mass rallies, the police use a facial recognition system. Mass «preventive» detentions of activists in the Moscow metro occurred during many public holidays in the past 6 months. We noted detentions on Victory Day, May 9, Russia Day, June 12, Flag Day, August 22. In these three public holidays, as well as on September 30, when the documents for annexation of the so-called DPR, LPR, and the occupied parts of the Zaporizhzhia Oblast and Kherson Oblast were signed in the Kremlin, we have registered 141 detentions of this type. More information in our report.

On September 30, the detained activitists spent several hours in local police departments. The policemen took explanatory notes or issued warnings and released the detained persons without making a record. The policemen refused to explain the reasons for detention or admitted they did not understand what triggered the facial recognition system.

In total, since the beginning of the war, the police did not admit advocates into local police departments 237 times, including 35 activations of the Fortress plan.

The new initiatives include broadening amendments to administrative and criminal articles on «Unauthorized penetration into an object guarded in the established procedure», amendments permitting mobilization of citizens with an outstanding conviction for a grave offence, prohibition of «materials promoting non-traditional sexual relations and/or preferences», and many more.

Since the beginning of the war, the lawmakers made 29 proposals for draft laws or amendments broadening the repressive apparatus. Laws passed since the beginning of the war are already being enforced — we know about the first criminal case based on the new article on confidential cooperation with foreign citizens (Article 275.1 of the Criminal Code), which was added to the Criminal Code on July 14.

Criminal Cases

The Investigative Committee for Makhachkala opened about 30 criminal cases concerning the protests against the proclamation of the «partial» mobilization. Each case may include several persons of interest. They are accused of non-dangerous or dangerous violence against police officers (Article 318, Parts 1 and 2 of the Criminal Code).

OVD-Info lawyers help 45 people who are being tried under anti-war criminal articles.

The «Dadin Clause» is back in business

In October a new case under the «Dadin clause» was revealed: multiple violations of the order of holding public events (Article 212.1 of the Criminal Code). The suspect was Ivanovo activist Olga Nazarenko. The reason was the solitary picket she held on September 10 in support of those persecuted for their anti-war stance. Previously she had been repeatedly detained and fined for anti-war actions and speeches. In addition, she is currently being prosecuted under another criminal case, also in connection with her anti-war activism: under an article on repeated discrediting of the Russian Army (part 1 Article 280.3 of the Criminal Code).

Criminal cases for human rights activism

Another criminal case, this time for treason (Article 275 of the Criminal Code), was brought against Vladimir Kara-Murza for his open public statements, in which he presented Russia «at the international level as a state in which human rights are systematically violated.

A criminal case under article 205.5 part 1 of the Criminal Code was brought against human rights activist Bakhrom Khamroev for «preparing complaints to the ECHR and providing legal defense in criminal cases related to Hizb ut-Tahrir, when not having the status of a lawyer and not being a person responsible for the defense of suspects or defendants».

Administrative cases

According to data for the first half of 2022 published by the Judicial Department, cases of discrediting the armed forces of the Russian Federation in Moscow and St. Petersburg account for 19% of all cases, the rest were considered by courts in other regions.

In addition to Article 20.3.3 of the Administrative Code on discrediting the Russian Armed Forces, law enforcement officers continue to use other articles: 20.2 of the Administrative Code (on violation of the law on gatherings) and 19.3 of the Administrative Code (on disobedience to a legal request of a police officer). On September 25, 2022 police detained seven participants in Mayakovsky Readings, who were reciting poems against mobilization. The next morning law enforcers burst into the apartment where three activists were: Alexander Menyukov, poet Artem Kamardin and his girlfriend Alexandra Popova. Popova said that she and Kamardin were tortured. The same day the doctors refused to hospitalize Kamardin and on the same day it became known that a criminal case on incitement of hatred or hostility with threat of violence was brought against Kamardin and two other participants of the «anti-mobilization» readings, Nikolai Dayneko and Yegor Shtovba (item «a» part 2, article 282 of the Criminal Code).

Out-of-court pressure

Since the beginning of the war, we know of 30 students who were expelled due to their anti-war stance. Among them are 17 students of the Islamic University in Chechnya, who refused to participate in a rally in support of «referendums» on the annexation of Ukrainian territories to Russia. The official reason for the expulsion was «violation of the internal regulations for students».

«Foreign agents» and «undesirable organizations»

This month (from September 24 till October 24) the Ministry of Justice recognized 30 individuals and organizations as «foreign agents». A total of 129 individuals and organizations have been assigned «foreign agent» status since the beginning of the war.

In addition to adding new names to the list, in October the Ministry of Justice removed two people from the «foreign agents» register: journalist Vladimir Voronov and Vitaly Kovin, coordinator of Golos in the Perm Region. On appeal, the Moscow City Court upheld the refusal to remove Valeria Vetoshkina’s lawyer from the registry of media outlets as «foreign agents». The Court of Cassation also upheld the decision to recognize OVD-Info as a «foreign agent,» while a court in Moscow affirmed the decision to fine Memorial Memorial a half-million dollars for not labeling the website of OVD-Info as a «foreign agent».

Dekabristen e.V. was assigned «undesirable organization» status. The Dekabristen nongovernmental organization provides assistance to civil society in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus. The organization opposes the war in Ukraine. As of February 24, 16 organizations have been recognized as «undesirable».

Censorship and website blocking

According to «RosKomSvoboda», over the past month alone Russian government agencies have blocked over 20,000 media resources. The General Prosecutor’s Office has blocked over ten links and websites, including «Spectr.Press» and «Novosti-26» media, ParkRun community of joggers, EuvsDisinfo (a European project that fights disinformation), Vox Ukraine analytical center, FJournal (a project that spun off from the closed media «TJ»), and other internet resources of various kinds.

Also the access to media resources containing a brochure produced by the «Coming Out» St. Petersburg LGBT Initiative Group together with the German Heinrich Böll Foundation (which was also assigned «undesirable organization» status) has been restricted.

Pressure on independent media

On the evening of September, 27 the Sovetsky district court of Makhachkala arrested Radio Liberty journalist Yulia Vishnevetskaya for five days. In October, three journalists were detained for reporting on mobilization in Belgorod and Tver.

Roskomnadzor blocked an article on the website of the Media Rights Protection Center. According to the organization, they removed the publication and sent a letter to Roskomnadzor with a demand to restore access to the website. The access was restored afterwards.

The Federal Financial Monitoring Service (Rosfinmonitoring) and the Ministry of Justice put Meta (which owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp) on their list of terrorists and extremists. A link to the «Ekho Moskvy» website has appeared in the register of banned information.

At the request of Roskomnadzor, Yandex.Music has blocked several podcasts: «What Happened,» «Text of the Week» and «Signal» by Meduza and the «Liberty Quotes» podcast by Radio Liberty. Roskomnadzor points out that the aforementioned podcasts spread information banned in the Russian Federation, and gives the request of the Prosecutor General’s Office (which is responsible for «military censorship») as the justification for blocking them.

Pressure on civil society

In early October members of the «Golos» (a movement that defends voter rights) from various regions of Russia were subjected to searches. The formal reason for these searches was the criminal case against Mikhail Gusev, an activist from Ivanovo. But «Golos» supporters are convinced that the real purpose of the searches was to obtain information about the movement itself. At least ten searches took place on October 6, including a search of «Golos» Moscow office, after which one of «Golos» coordinators, Vladimir Yegorov, was detained and beaten up.

The St. Petersburg Prosecutor’s Office demanded that the opposition movement «Vesna» be declared extremist. Later Rosfinmonitoring added «Vesna» to the list of terrorists and extremists.

A court in Moscow ruled that the transfer of the liquidated Memorial International’s office on Karetnyi Ryad to the Memorial Research and Education Center was illegal. This happened on the same day that Memorial was declared one of the Nobel Peace Prize laureates.

Links to other OVD-Info data and reports