Digest about ordinary peaceful dissidents and resisters (29 September)

OVD-Info (29.09.2023) – Not all Russians are pro-Putin or zombified by his propaganda. OVD-Info publishes a weekly newsletter in English about ordinary people who resist and oppose Putin’s propaganda. Many pay a high price for following their conscience: heavy fines, arrests, torture, arbitrary imprisonment and sometimes death in detention.

OVD-Info is an independent human rights defence and media group. Its journalists focus on the rights to freedom of assembly and expression. They work on the ground in Russia and globally aim at putting an end to political persecution. For this purpose, they collect data and produce content about political repression in Russia, coordinate legal aid for unjustly persecuted dissidents and work towards a systemic change in the human rights field.

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In pretrial detention for burning a letter Z

The letter Z has become a symbol of the Kremlin’s invasion as the Russian army uses it to mark its equipment. A person named Ilya Ch (we did not publish his full surname at his lawyer’s request to the media) has been accused of vandalism for allegedly setting a letter Z display on fire. His petition for house arrest was refused, and moreover, he reports being tortured. He says that on 19 September, plainclothes men put a bag over his head and drove him to a forest. There, Ilya says they beat him, and tortured him with a taser and a blowtorch, threatening to burn or cut off his legs. A court decided to keep Ilya in pre-trial detention for two months. Read his story HERE. 

Tearing off pro-war posters: fined and fired

Vladimir Kiselyov is from Nizhny Novgorod, an old city in western Russia. He worked at the local Sokol aircraft plant, traveled the world, and occasionally attended rallies. Then coworkers reported Vladimir for tearing off the walls posters calling for donations to the Russian military.

Read his story HERE. 

Tearing a Z poster: 300 USD fine

In Krasnodar, a man tore a Z poster off an elevator and was apprehended after the video surfaced online. He was fined 30 000 rubles (US$ 300) for discrediting the Russian military. Similar cases have happened elsewhere: in Lipetsk, Voronezh and more. It’s important to remember that the pro-war propaganda in Russia (ever popular as headline pictures in Western media) is enforced through repression. These posters and monuments do not represent Russia’s society, whose activists are tearing pro-war symbols down, even at the risk of torture and fines.

Read his story HERE.

A retired police lieutenant fined 10,500 USD

Viktor Lavrentiev, a retired police lieutenant colonel and long-time activist, posted anti-war texts on his social media every day after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine began. Interestingly, he was denounced by a local ghost hunter (!) Viktor Fefelov said he tracked Lavrentiev’s social media and even called him to ask him to cease posting. But the lieutenant colonel told the “poltergeist researcher” to “go to the devil.

An appeal court in the Siberian city of Tomsk upheld his punishment — a fine of 1 million roubles (10,500 US$).

In court, his final statement was: 

“Everyone involved in my prosecution is significantly younger than me. I sincerely wish them good health so that they live to see that moment in history when we change places in the courtroom. Even if I don’t make it myself.”

Read his story HERE.

Elderly man detained and fined for posting an image of Putin in a Nazi uniform

On June 15th, the Kemerovo Regional Court fined pensioner and trade union activist Oleg Tyryshkin 10,000 rubles (USD 112), more than his monthly pension. He was charged with inciting hatred due to his comments about FSB employees. During his arrest, he was beaten. In the past three months, he has been fined twice for posting an image of Vladimir Putin in a Nazi uniform. In May, Tyryshkin became a suspect in a criminal case under an article on justifying terrorism.

Read his story HERE.

Photo credits: OVD-Info