On the 29th of May, in Moscow, activists Lyudmila Annenkova and Natalia Perova took a photo in white dresses smeared with red blood-like paint in front of the building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Both were arrested for seven days on charges of alleged disobedience to the police and fined under the articles on «discrediting» the Russian army and violating regulations for mass events. Here is Lyudmila’s account of the events.
My friend and I carried out a performance in Moscow. We went out in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building in blood-stained dresses. We took the photo at 4 a.m., no one detained us, we were not planning this as a mass protest.
The photo was widely shared in the media. The very next day BOLO was put out on us. Natalia was the first to be detained, she was pulled out of the traffic, and as far as I understand, they tracked her through her plates. And I decided to go myself to the «Maryina Roshcha» police department where she was being held. I took some food and water for her but I also decided to «surrender» because I understood that I would get arrested any day anyway.
At the police department where I, basically, came to «turn myself in», they wouldn’t let me in. I spent about 30 minutes at the checkpoint. They were saying: «Go away, girl.» They were too lazy to process me. Eventually, I got in there together with my human rights lawyer. A report had already been drawn up on Natalia under Article 20.3.3 [of the Code of Administrative Offences, the article about discrediting the Russian army — OVD-Info], and they grudgingly began to draw one up on me as well.
Yet, there was no article that could result in an arrest to be found for us — they could only draft either discrediting [of the Russian army] or unsanctioned [unauthorized] mass events. [The report under part 5 of Article 20.2 of the Code of Administrative Offences] supposed a fine anyway because our previous [report for the same offense] was being appealed. We had both been fined under part 5 of Article 20.2 [of the Code of Administrative Offences], and we had appealed this decision. So we expected [to get by with a fine].
Natalia spent about five hours in there, while she was being processed, and left. I stayed there. The Administrative Code inspector Vysochinskaia started to get calls — I could hear them on speaker — telling her while yelling and swearing that she must draft an article supposing an arrest. Vysochinskaya answered that she was not going to tamper with the report.
Later I was told that an officer would come and take me to another police department. A policeman from the «Khamovniky» police department came, and he introduced himself as Dmitriy Mikhailovich Morozov. He took me to his police department explaining that «there was another little interview to be done». I asked: «For what reason? Am I arrested?» He said I was not.
At the «Khamovniki» police department I spent about three or four hours too, simply sitting in the hallway. At the «Khamovniki» police department some people in plain clothes — I suppose they are Centre E [the Center for Countering Extremism] or Criminal Investigation Department officers — were in charge of the situation. They spent a long time conferring in the hallway, there was some terrible yelling. They decided there was nothing else to do but to impute Article 19.3 [of the Code of Administrative Offences]. They could not come up with any other way of arresting me for our «mass protest».
They left district police officer Ostroukhov Yurii Vladimirovich to draw the report up. There was a big scandal because they would not let the lawyer in for several hours. When he was admitted, he demanded that the report be issued correctly, and at this point, I was taken to another office, the barred door was closed behind me, and the lawyer was being kicked out.
It was a defender from OVD-info Sergey Telnov. We were only done at night, fighting our way through. Amusingly, Ostriuhov suggested that I should write an explanatory note before the report was drawn up, so he didn’t even know under which article it should be drawn up. He was running between the room where we were and the room where the decisions were made.
I was shocked: what resistance to the police are they talking about when I, myself, came forward with a confession and they didn’t even want to bother taking me in? I was kept there for a night and then for another night. Because the judge didn’t want to take my case. The report was written very poorly: it said that I resisted, screamed, was flailing and fighting off with my legs.
It was unclear what was happening in court. As the defenders said, the judge ripped apart the first report shortly before the hearing, they made a new one right in the corridor. Later, the judges didn’t proceed with the hearing for two days, saying that they were preoccupied. Then they could not find Sergey Telnov’s signature in the documents, who was with me when the report on discreditation was drafted. After 48 hours I could have just left, so they quickly found some judge for my hearing.
I was sentenced to 7 days of arrest. Two of them I’ve spent in the police department, five — in the special detention center. Natalya was sentenced to the same 7 days. She had spent another two days out, then was arrested and had the same report drawn up [under Article 19.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses].
We both got the same three articles: discreditation, violation of the rules of conduct of public events, and resisting the police. Natalya was charged under all three articles at the same time. As for me, when I was walking out of the special detention center, I got arrested again, at the exit. I was put in the police car and sent to the «Khamovniki» police department, and there I was charged for violation of the rules of conduct of public events — I only got a fine.
It was very unpleasant to go to the police department again after being in the special detention center. At first, the defender was denied entry, then they changed their minds and there was a scandal. They said to me: «You won’t sign it without a defender? Then you are refusing to sign». I said: «I’m not refusing to sign it, I demand my right to the defender’s presence». They led inside two witnesses, they were filming me, saying that I am refusing to sign as I screamed into the camera that I’m not refusing.
I tried to get a hold of the report, but they were ripping it out of my hands as I was about to sign it. Nearly tore it apart, poor thing… Later there was something strange going on: they wouldn’t let me go, wouldn’t let the defender in, but the policemen didn’t speak to me, they were on their phones. Probably they were trying to figure out what to do next, as they got confused.
In the end, I managed to get out of the police department, but it was all such a horror and insanity. We only took a picture with a peaceful, anti-war meaning in support of innocent victims. And for that, we are being dragged through police departments and special detention centers as if we were dangerous criminals. The system is drenched with laziness, nepotism, bureaucratic chaos, and indifference towards people. Ultimately, they dragged us through all this to try to scare us or other activists, but in reality, we only got braver and more fierce. We got a very useful social experience, it will be something to remember.