Journalists and CSOs face a clampdown

Journalists and CSOs face a clampdown


The Court extended the arrest of a former journalist who is accused of high treason

The Moscow City Court extended until October 7 the arrest of the former journalist of Kommersant and Vedomosti, Ivan Safronov, adviser to Roscosmos head. By that time, he will be under arrest for a whole year. The former war correspondent is suspected of high treason. All this time, he is deprived of the opportunity to meet with relatives and friends. A few hours earlier, the head of the human rights project Team 29, lawyer Ivan Pavlov, defending the arrested journalist and the FBK founded by Russian politician Alexei Navalny, was detained in Moscow.

Ivan Safronov was detained on July 7, 2020, and arrested on suspicion of high treason. According to the FSB of Russia, Safronov collected and transmitted to the Czech special services information about the military-technical cooperation, defence, and security of Russia, which constitutes a state secret favouring the United States. The journalist denies that he has committed a crime. In his opinion, the criminal case against him is related to journalistic activities. Ivan Safronov became an advisor to the head of Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin in May 2020. Before that, he worked for Kommersant and Vedomosti, specializing in the military-industrial complex and the space industry in Russia.

VTimes, recognised as a foreign media agent, ceased activities

The Russian publication VTimes, which was recognized as a foreign media agent, ceased operations on June 12. In a message on the publication's website, it is noted that VTimes decided this after receiving the status of a foreign agent. According to the press release published on their webpage, the journalists of VTimes considered seven scenarios for continuing work, but in the end, none of these was suitable. The reason is not only the risk of criminal prosecution. The journalists concluded that the authorities do not need independent media.

According to the new regulations, the status of a foreign agent does not allow a publication with the status" foreign agent" to cooperate with partners and advertisers. Also, according to their calculations, voluntary donations sent by readers are not enough for the existence of the editorial office. The label of" foreign agent" publication also prevents VTimes from receiving comments from officials, businessmen and analysts, as they are afraid to cooperate with a foreign agent. VTimes was founded in 2020 by former Vedomosti employees who quit due to editorial conflict. In mid-May, the administrator of the domain name, the Dutch company Stichting 2 Oktober, was recognized as a foreign agent. The VTimes webpage is no longer available for readers.

Russian activist detained for a post with Vladimir Putin in Nazi uniform

In the city of Voronezh, civil activist Pavel Sychev was detained because of a post on social networks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In the post, president Putin was portrayed in Nazi uniform. The post was posted on the Free People of Voronezh Telegram channel. After the arrest, the activist was taken to the police department. He is charged with demonstrating prohibited symbols (part 1 of article 20.3 of the Administrative Code). OVD-Info reported that Pavel Sychev suggested that the police decided to bring him to justice after the Yabloko party nominated him as a candidate for deputy in the 89th electoral district. If the activist is taken into custody, he will not be able to participate in the elections. In September 2021, in Russian Federation will take place parliamentary elections.


The organizations founded by the politician Alexei Navalny are declared "extremist organizations”

On June 10, 2021, the Moscow City Court recognized the organizations founded by the politician Alexei Navalny as "extremist organizations." This status was received by the Anti-Corruption Fund (FBK), the Citizens Rights Defense Fund and their regional headquarters. Now, the organizations are prohibited from disseminating information, performing financial transactions, and participating in elections and organizing actions. The Court decided to liquidate the organizations immediately. The property remaining after payments to creditors will be transferred to state ownership.

The representative of the human rights organization "Team 29" Ivan Pavlov, who participated in defence of the FBK and was investigated by the security forces, said that the Court's decision would be appealed in Russian instances and then, if necessary, in the European Court of Human Rights. A few minutes after the Court made his decision, Alexei Navalny's statement, detained since January 2021, was published on his Instagram. In this post, he stated that "When corruption is the basis of state power, fighters against corruption are extremists." At the same time, the politician also noted that he and his supporters would continue their work.

The employees of Navalny's structures and his supporters will no longer participate in the elections. On June 4, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law prohibiting people involved in an extremist declared organization's activities from running (known as the "anti-FBK law"). The document has a retroactive effect. That means that people who worked in the organization even before it was recognized as "extremist" will not participate in the elections. For managers, the ban is valid for five years from the date of the court decision; for ordinary employees and supporters - three years. The law was adopted in a short time. According to the Meduza publication, only a month passed from its introduction to the Duma to its signing by the President, Vladimir Putin. The law was harshly criticized not only by experts but also by several politicians.

Peaceful Assembly

Single pickets in support of Russian politicians continue in Russia

Protests in support of the politician Alexei Navalny continue in Russia. The Taiga Info portal reports that single demonstrations against corruption and in support of the politician Alexei Navalny were held in the Altai Territory and the Novosibirsk Region. Also, Taiga Info reports that residents of Novosibirsk went to the traditional Saturday pickets in support of the arrested ex-governor of the Khabarovsk Territory Sergei Furgal and spoke in support of the journalist Nikolai Salnikov, arrested on charges of fraud.

OVD-Info analysis: The consequences of January-February protests in Russia

OVD-Info published an analysis of the methods and consequences of the protests in support of Alexei Navalny. Alexei Navalny was arrested immediately after his return from Germany in January, where he was being treated for poisoning. After these events and the release of the investigation film "Palace for Putin", according to OVD-Info, one of the most massive protest mobilizations began in Russia. In more than a hundred cities across Russia, at the end of January and in February 2021, 17,600 protesters were detained. More than 130 people became involved in a series of criminal cases. According to data collected by OVD-Info for July 2021, a total of 134 people were prosecuted in the "palace case", of which 112 were men and 22 women. The authorities are using different methods of persecution against the participants. Now the mechanisms are even more aggressive than those used back in 2012 or 2019 when mass protests were organized in the Russian Federation's opposition. The authors noted spreading successful practices to the regions. The range of possible criminal legal sanctions was expanded. Currently, human rights defenders from OVD-Info are defending 29 people who were detained during the protests and accused of various reasons. Among the accusation: blocking access roads, involvement of minors in protest actions, violation of the rules imposed during the pandemic, violence against law enforcement officers. More details about the consequences of the protests can be found here.