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RUSSIA: A “normal” weekend in Russia, 13-15 January, monitored by OVD-Info

A “normal” weekend in Russia, 13-15 January, monitored by OVD-Info

OVD-Info (16.01.2023) – Since 24 February 2022, OVD-Info has filed 19,478 cases of Russians arrested for actions against the war and the mobilization. Every day, OVD-Info files cases of repression against civil society in Russia (Use the automatic translation deepl.com).


Sunday 15 January



All Russia

Roskomnadzor blocked the website of the Perm LGBTQ group “Rainbow World”




Tomsk journalist in the case of the telegram channel “What to Do!” transferred to another pre-trial detention center



Kirov region

A Kirov resident persecuted because of his posts began to be transferred to Yekaterinburg



All Russia

A number of Ukrainian Internet publications and services have been blocked in Russia



Not Russia

Ekaterinburger, who was previously fined under the article on “discrediting the army”, left Russia




The defendant in the “anti-war case” is not allowed to marry in a pre-trial detention center. Relatives are not allowed to visit him



Saturday 14 January



St. Petersburg

The defendant in the case of failed arson of the military registration and enlistment office was sent for a psychiatric examination



All Russia

The Military Prosecutor’s Office demanded to block the UN website



Penza region

In Penza, the police detained a local resident who calls himself a “Soviet man”



Friday 13 January 



All Russia

Actor, music critic and lawyer: The Ministry of Justice has replenished the register of “foreign agents”



Ivanovo region

Shuya blogger Sergei Veselov was forcibly taken for questioning



St. Petersburg

The prosecution witness spoke on the side of documentary filmmaker Vsevolod Korolev – a defendant in the “fake” case.



Moscow region

A Rosterresva journalist went on hunger strike after a police attack




A resident of Petrozavodsk was toughened by the accusation in the case of “fakes” about the army




The defendant in the case of the telegram channel “What to Do!” Igor Nagibin was transferred to another pre-trial detention center



Not Russia

The ECHR awarded compensation to 19 Yekaterinburg residents for detentions in actions against the construction of the temple



Tomsk region

The assistant to the Tomsk deputy was sent under house arrest in the case of damage to military banners




The Supreme Court of Chuvashia decided to liquidate the regional branch of the PARNAS party




Mikhail Khodorkovsky was fined 30 thousand rubles due to the lack of “foreign” marking



St. Petersburg

A bartender from St. Petersburg, convicted in the case of violence against a security officer at an anti-war action, was released



Chelyabinsk region

The court in Chelyabinsk sent the case of the 71-year-old Jehovah’s Witness for reconsideration



Vladimir region

Navalny continues not to be given medicines in the colony. His condition remains the same



All Russia

The site of the literary queer-zin “On yourself” was blocked under the law on “LGBTK-propaganda”

Photo credits: shutterstock


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RUSSIA: No to Russian fake news and censorship: a new publication in Russian for Russian citizens by a Brussels-based NGO

RUSSIA: No to Russian fake news and censorship: a new publication in Russian by a Brussels-based NGO

Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF), a Brussels-based NGO, is officially launching a project to fight fake news, disinformation and censorship Russian citizens are constantly and forcefully fed with by Putin’s regime.

In the last few months, HRWF has progressively put in place and tested a weekly newsletter in Russian, especially for Russian citizens about a number of issues that are unreported, biasedly covered or censored by their media.

Russian online media outlets and journalists operating in exile from the European Union and Ukraine as well as Russian-speaking people, press correspondents, researchers, analysts and political decision-makers in the West are receiving this newsletter for free and are encouraged to share it through their channels with people living in Russia. The news are also distributed through social media and on HRWF’s website, including in a specific online database.

The topics covered during the test period were:

RUSSIA: Soldiers refusing to be cannon fodder on the Ukrainian frontline  

UKRAINE: “I want to live” – Russian soldiers surrender through Telegram channel to save their lives

RUSSIA: No political will to repatriate dead bodies of their soldiers

RUSSIA: ‘Cannon fodder’: Why elite Russian soldiers serving in Ukraine are angry

RUSSIA: Shooting down of MH17 flight: Three life sentences and Russia should be on trial
RUSSIA: 70 women travelling from Belgorod to Luhansk to find husbands
RUSSIA: Despite Kremlin crackdown, new independent media outlets appearing outside of Moscow
RUSSIAN FAKE NEWS CORNER: Jehovah’s Witnesses prepare an anti-Putin coup, says Russian lawyer Alexander Korelov
RUSSIA: Sexual violence and rapes as abuses of power in Russia’s war on Ukraine
RUSSIA: Rapper commits suicide, refusing to go to war
RUSSIA: Kremlin spokesman’s son refuses to join Russian army in prank call
RUSSIA: Who overpowered Russian forces in Kharkiv Oblast? NATO, according to Moscow
RUSSIA: Conflicting values and conflicting narratives: the case of Russia’s war on Ukraine
RUSSIA: Criminal trial against six Muslims following Turkish theologian Said Nursi
UKRAINE: NATO membership, human rights and peace

A partnership has been concluded with The European Times in Brussels to republish the news on its Telegram channel in Russian. The European Times, an internationally rising news outlet, has a specialized section on Human Rights on its multilingual platform and channel.


ANNEX: English version “RUSSIA: No political will to repatriate dead bodies of their soldiers”

HRWF (12.12.2022) – Dozens of thousands of Russian soldiers have been killed while many of them have been abandoned on the battlefields of Ukraine and there is only little hope that their families will get back their dead bodies.

If they are only considered “missing”, no financial compensation will be paid to the families. Moreover, the fewer public funerals there will be the better, as the Russian population will continue to be kept in the dark about the magnitude of the human losses in Ukraine and will be less likely to protest against the war.

Ukraine’s Permanent Representative complained at the UN

In early March, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations, Serhiy Kyslytsia, called at a meeting of the UN Security Council on the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to assist Ukraine in removing the thousands of bodies of dead Russian soldiers decomposing on the battle fields of Ukraine.

“Given that the Russian leadership is trying to hide the real losses and strongly denies any talk of ways to repatriate the bodies of their soldiers, Ukraine faces an additional threat of a health crisis. We are talking about many thousands of bodies decomposing in the fields of Ukraine – the bodies of Russian soldiers,” he said.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine Iryna Vereshchuk then then stated that the Russian leadership flatly refused to remove its fallen soldiers from Ukraine.

Russian dead bodies are piling up, Ukrainian officials say

An article published by NPR Agency on 14 June revealed some concrete aspects of the issue:

“Ukrainian officials wouldn’t specify how many Russian corpses sit unclaimed in overcrowded morgues and refrigerated railway cars. Ukraine and Russia have exchanged the remains of only about 200 troops from each side in recent weeks, according to Ukraine’s government.

Ukrainian authorities insist that the bodies of Russian soldiers are piling up because the Kremlin refuses to acknowledge them.

Liamzin, head of Ukraine’s civil-military cooperation, repeatedly declined to answer NPR’s questions about how exchanges of soldiers’ remains are conducted but he told reporters last month that the Ukrainian side is “ready to return [the bodies] even today or tomorrow.”

In Russia, meanwhile, trying to retrieve the body of a soldier killed in Ukraine is challenging because ‘everything is kept secret’ by Russian authorities, says Valentina Melnikova, executive secretary of the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, a Russian nonprofit group that advocates for military families.

Melnikova says there is no official list of the Russian soldiers who have died or gone missing in Ukraine, ‘and so the entire story falls on the relatives to write and call everywhere’ in search of information.

She adds that even when photos of deceased soldiers with metal ID tags appear online or in social media forums, Russian officials push back that they could be fakes.

Ukrainian Railways providing refrigerated cars

“Ukrzaliznytsia, the state-owned Ukrainian Railways, said in a statement on its website that it had provided Ukraine’s armed forces with 20 refrigerated cars for the removal of dead Russian soldiers from several areas, including Odessa. Just 72 hours later, Ukrzaliznytsia’s chairman posted a message on his personal Telegram channel saying that Russia never came to load them. ‘For the sake of ‘victorious’ propaganda, they are ready to deprive mothers of even the opportunity to bury the bodies,’ Oleksandr Kamyshin wrote.

Ukraine’s government said it is still waiting to receive a request from Russian authorities for the repatriation of the bodies of those killed. The Ukrainian deputy prime minister said the issue of collecting and identifying the bodies had been discussed in a meeting between Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, on Thursday. But the ICRC has not confirmed whether it is assisting Ukraine in the return of Russian remains to their home country, which is provided for under international law.

Hints at the scale of Russia’s troop losses have begun to emerge in videos and reports. On March 18, the Belarus service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a US-funded media organization, published images of Russian ambulance convoys appearing to arrive at field hospitals in southern Belarus, near Ukraine’s border, and reported that morgues in the area were overflowing. A March 21 report by English-language Ukrainian media outlet The Kyiv Independent followed a Ukrainian emergency response unit digging up Russian soldiers buried in unmarked communal graves in Rusaniv, a village east of the capital — left in a heap without identification documents or IDs. (Source: CNN, 23 March).

Red Cross: “We are not a funeral home”

This is what Gérard Pontrandolfi, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) representative in Kyiv said in an interview with Ukrainska Pravda – Zhyttia (4 April).

“The authorities are trying to make the ICRC responsible for this. We are not a funeral home. But we can provide everything they need,” Pontrandolfi said.

According to him, the ICRC also needs information about the victims in order to inform their families.

“And, to be honest, I don’t care what family it is – from Ukraine or Russia. I want to make sure that every parent, every mother has the opportunity to know where her dead child is. And we are ready to support the government in this.  But this is the authorities’ duty to return the bodies”, said the representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Kyiv.

Dead or alive? About the lies of the Russian military

On 14 July, the BBC published the testimony of a Russian mother who, under cover of anonymity, told how the army had lied to her about the situation of her son:

“At the beginning of March, a sergeant telephoned me from my son’s base. He probably called all the parents,” she says.

“He told me the lads are fine, that they’re in contact with them every day. We kept in touch throughout March and he kept saying that they were fine.

“Then a man claiming to be a friend of my son sent me a message. I didn’t know him. He found me on social media. He told me my son’s leg had been blown off and that he was dead. I made lots of calls and tried to meet officials. But no one could tell me anything. 

“Eventually the sergeant I’d been talking with said to me: ‘Your son last made contact on 23 February.’

“‘So why have you been calling [to say everything is fine]? Just to calm us down?’

“‘Sorry, I’m only a sergeant,’ he’d said.”

The mother wrote twice to the military district office and the Defence Ministry to know where, when and how her son had ‘disappeared’ but she did not get any answer. All she was told is that he was taking part in the ‘special military operation’ and that he was missing.”

No change since the beginning of the war

On 4 November, the New York Times said in an article titled “Frustrating and Often Fruitless: The Search for Missing Russian Soldiers.” Russian families searching for loved ones say the system for finding missing soldiers has been disorganized and marked by dysfunction from the beginning.

All experts analyzing Russia’s war on Ukraine agree that President Putin does not care about his soldiers whose lives are just cannon fodder. So, how could he feel concerned about their dead bodies.

Moreover, remembering the politically destabilizing role the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers played during Russia’s war in Afghanistan, it is part of his strategy to keep silent or to lie about the number of human losses.

Propaganda about generous compensation to be paid to families having lost a son or a father is just a smoke screen and a mirage. There will be an inflation of “missing” soldiers in the official discourse because they are not considered dead soldiers. When the Moskva was sunk by the Ukrainian army in the Black Sea, the seamen whose bodies were not found were considered “missing”.

Russian citizens should keep in mind that in Moscow, there is no political will to repatriate the dead bodies of Russian soldiers.


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RUSSIAN FAKE NEWS CORNER, a message to Russian citizens & Russian-speaking people


Who overpowered Russian forces in Kharkiv Oblast? NATO, according to Moscow

A message (also in Russian here) to Russian citizens and Russian-speaking people

by Aaron Rhodes & Willy Fautré

EU TODAY (19.09.2022) – https://bit.ly/3QWg4QE – For the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, government officials have acknowledged defeat on the battlefield. The Russian Ministry of Defense has thus embraced a new information (or more precisely “propaganda”) strategy in openly admitting to the Ukrainian military’s dramatic success in almost completely re-claiming Kharkiv Oblast. 

This change in the Kremlin’s information strategy has, in turn, opened new questions for Russian citizens to ponder:  What are the reasons for this serious setback?  Who is to blame? 

Of course, blame cannot be placed on President Putin, the architect of Russia’s illegal, ill-conceived and miserably executed invasion. His adventure has killed or wounded as many as 70,000-80,000 Russian soldiers, according to Western intelligence services at mid-August, not to mention 5827 Ukrainian civilians as of 11 September, according to the UN,  and 9000 Ukrainian soldiers killed defending their country. 

Putin is now subtly being recast as among these victims of the war, misled by incompetent intelligence officials, and badly served by the military leaders he entrusted with the task of “liberating” Ukraine, ridding it of “Nazis,” and allowing its people to rejoin Mother Russia. 

We have seen supplicant state apologists on “Russia 1” television searching for excuses and explanations; some, risking their own careers and safety, have begun to openly question Putin’s war, while steering clear of the taboo subject of Putin’s command responsibility.

Others have suggested that not the Ukrainian army, but undercover foreign soldiers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) opened the way to drive Russian military units from Kharkiv Oblast.  

Indeed, the admission that Russia suffered defeat in Kharkiv by Ukrainian forces would contradict a central pillar of official Russian doctrine:  The Ukrainians are an inferior people; Ukraine is not a state or a nation at all, and certainly not one capable of defeating Russia militarily.   

According to commentaries heard on Russia 1, the official state TV channel, “The army of this small corrupt Ukrainian country would not have been able to achieve such a success in such a short time against the Russian army. It is the work of foreign fighters and NATO units. Russia has to face the 30 member states of the NATO.”  Some commentators, either out of ignorance or seeking to amplify the disproportion between NATO and Russia, claimed Russia was fighting “a coalition of 53 countries.”

NATO has been consistently blamed by Moscow for provoking Russia’s war against Ukraine, and is now being blamed for Russia’s defeats. Both arguments are completely false.  It is perhaps useful to review some basic facts about NATO.

What is NATO?

NATO is a defensive – not offensive – military instrument formed by an alliance of 30 democratic member states to preserve peace, and to guarantee their security, their defence, their sovereignty and their common political principles. Decisions to run and activate NATO are taken by the democratically elected political leaders of the member states.

The purpose of NATO, as set forth in the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949, is collective defence.  The preamble to the Treaty states that its signatories

“are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. They seek to promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area. They are resolved to unite their efforts for collective defence and for the preservation of peace and security.”

Article 3 of the Treaty clarifies that its purpose is to maintain and develop” NATO members’ “individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack.” 

The key article in the Treaty is Article 5, in which:

“The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked….”

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of communist regimes in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, numerous new democracies have sought to join the NATO alliance.  Members of those societies have seen in NATO membership not only a source of security from military assault, but internal security as well.  Seeking integration in the alliance was their choice, not the result of NATO proselytism. By joining the alliance, members agree to place their military forces under civilian and democratic control. 

According to its official language, NATO membership is open to any “European state in a position to further the principles of the [North Atlantic Treaty] and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area.”  Fourteen (14) formerly communist states have applied and been admitted since the dramatic changes that began in 1989, but NATO has not “expanded,” as alleged by official Russian claims.  NATO has accepted qualifying states whose citizens and leaders have requested membership for their own reasons.  Indeed, Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine has moved Sweden and Finland to seek membership in the alliance, and their accession has been approved.

What NATO has and has not done

NATO has no direct involvement in the conflict in Ukraine, nor does any member of NATO have any direct involvement.  NATO, as an organization, has strongly denounced Russia’s invasion; the NATO website affirms that “NATO stands with the people of Ukraine and its legitimate, democratically elected president, parliament and government. The Alliance will always maintain its full support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders.”

In response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine beginning in 2014 in the Donbas and Crimea, NATO has taken a number of steps.  Working together, NATO members have bolstered defenses, particularly those of the Baltic states, Poland and Romania, with allies placing thousands of additional troops under direct NATO command in Europe.  Russia’s war has resulted in the United States now having more than 100,000 troops stationed in Europe.  Other members, most notably Germany, have agreed to strengthen their military capacities. 

NATO has assisted Ukraine with military capacity building, and “is helping to coordinate Ukraine’s requests for assistance and is supporting Allies in the delivery of humanitarian and non-lethal aid.” 

Indeed, some (not all) NATO members have contributed billions of EUR in humanitarian, economic and military assistance to Ukraine as the government and society resist Russia’s assault, which has indiscriminately destroyed much of the country’s civilian infrastructure. 

Make no mistake, it was the Ukrainian soldiers, not NATO or American troops, who, with their “Blitzkrieg” strategy, drove the Russian army out of Kharkiv Oblast. In doing so, they used some arms paid for by the people of numerous free societies, members of NATO, whose governments donated those weapons on the basis of legitimate democratic processes.   And those Ukrainian troops were acting on orders from their own elected government, not from NATO, as they fought for their land, the freedom and sovereignty of their country, and the future of their children.

Aaron Rhodes is President of the Forum for Religious Freedom-Europe (FOREF/ Vienna – https://foref-europe.org).  He was Executive Director of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights 1993-2007.

Willy Fautré, director of Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF/ Brussels – https://hrwf.eu) and  former ‘chargé de mission’ at the Cabinet of the Belgian Ministry of Education and at the Belgian Parliament.

The authors urge the Russian-speaking readers of this article to republish it on their own websites or blogs and through their social media or to share it otherwise with Russian citizens

They can be contacted at the following email address: international.secretariat.brussels@hrwf.org 

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