Summary of Russian wartime repression. Eleven months since the full-scale invasion

January 2023

Русская версия

Українська версія

The full-scale invasion of Ukraine has been going on for 11 months. During this time the Russian authorities have not ceased their repression against those who express their opposition to the war. Almost 20,000 have been detained with over 400 defendants in criminal cases, new «foreign agents» and much more — all featured in the January summary of wartime repression.

Restrictions on the right to freedom of association

Repression at a legislative level 

From 24 December 2022 to 24 January 2023 Russian legislators have not adopted a single repressive law.  Nonetheless in the preceding 10 months 33 such laws have been adopted.


Criminal cases

This month it became known about 28 new defendants in the “anti-war case”.

Some defendants have already served their sentences - so, in December Zakhar Tatuiko, sentenced in a case for use of violence against a figure of authority at an anti-war demonstration on 2nd March 2022, was released.

Employees of the law-enforcement agencies continue to use violence and threats. 

71 year old activist, Vladimir Atamanchuk, who is being investigated under an article of repeatedly discrediting the army, was hospitalized following a heart attack next to the police building in Sochi. A law-enforcement officer intimidated the pensioner's doctor and forced Atamanchuk to go for interrogation when he was on sick leave. Following a meeting at Timiryazev district court in Moscow the escort assaulted Dmitry Ivanov, author of the telegram channel “Protesting MSU” (*Moscow State University). The police struck the student on the head and ribs with numerous blows of his truncheon, attempted to force his head into a toilet basin and threatened him with sexual assault.

Administrative cases

A case under 20.3.3 of the criminal code continues to be applied against almost any public action connected to Ukraine. So, in Tula oblast an administrative case under an article for discrediting the Russian army was instigated against a DJ in a cafe for playing a song by the Ukrainian group Potap and Nastya, which he played during the New Year’s TV address from Vladimir Putin.

Extrajudicial pressure

Among the consequences this month, the main ones are dismissal. 

Therefore, national artist of the RF Dmitry Nazarov and his wife Olga Vasilyeva were fired from the Chekhov Moscow Arts Theatre - one of Russia’s most prestigious theaters. 

Likewise two teachers were fired from HRI HSE (*Higher Research Institute - the Higher School of Economics, a major Russian university) – Dinara Gagarina and Ilya Inishev, and the Moscow school teacher Tatyana Chervenko.

"Foreign agents" and "undesirable organizations"

The blogger and journalist Michael Nacke was added to the register of “foreign agents” for an interview with Ukrainian publications and for comparing Russia to Nazi Germany. 

This is indicated by a document from the Ministry of Justice, which was published by Nacke.

The authorities approved the regulation on state control of “foreign agents”: this requires checking documents, attending events and fixes the procedure for liquidating a “foreign agent” should any violations occur.

From 24 December to 24 January the Russian authorities recognised two organizations as “undesirable” - the “Russian Anti-War Committee in Sweden” and the “Andrei Sakharov Fund.” 24 organizations have been added to the list since February 24. 

Blocking and censorship

According to the independent project “Roskomsvoboda” almost 10,000 sites have been blocked as part of “war censorship.” A new domain of the tv channel Dozhd’ was blocked, 8 Ukrainian internet publications, the projects “Khochu Zhit’(I want to live)” and “Vam Pokhoronku (It’s your funeral)”, as well as the project advising how to avoid mobilization “24.02.2022.- Witnesses”.

Of the 306 pages blocked by the Russian censors since the beginning of December, 216  connected to LGBQT+ are on the website “Changing your gender and gay sex are cool”, that publishes satirical texts and anti-war comments. 

Moreover, the military prosecutor has requested the blocking of the United Nations Organization (UN) site in Russia. 

Pressure on independent media

Novaya Gazeta (a leading independent Russian newspaper) was fined the sum of 500,000 roubles (7,268 USD) for an article discrediting the Russian army. The court also fined the rap-artist Oxxxymiron (*listed as a foreign agent) 70,000 roubles (1,017 USD) because he called for the separation of St Petersburg from Russia in his song “Oyda”.

At the request of the censors Yandex Music deleted an issue of the podcast “Kolezev and Mikitas’”, where Dmitry Kolezev, the editor-in-chief of the Republic journal and journalist Olga Mikitas’ discussed the most recent news.

Employees of the telegram channel “Perm 36.6”, together with parents were summoned for questioning by the police who later requested that all videos were deleted and the project closed. Otherwise, as the law-enforcement agents advised, project participants were under threat of being subject to a criminal case for extremism.

Pressure on civil society 

Former candidate for the State Duma and his wife were rudely awakened by a search in their apartment around 6am when both were forced face-down to the floor. It was part of a series of searches conducted against the activists. Representatives of the law-enforcement agencies applied force - Mikhail was diagnosed with chest contusion and bruising. Later the court arrested Mikhail Lobanov for 15 days for disobedience to a police officer. 

Main photo: Ekaterina Kotsar with a poster “No War!” on Red Square, 22 January 2023. Photo: bystander