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What human rights activism is still possible in Russia?
Formal treason charges and denied bail for journalist Evan Gershkovich, a rejected appeal from opposition politician Ilya Yashin (who’s serving an eight-and-a-half-year prison sentence for spreading supposed “disinformation” about Russian war atrocities in Ukraine), reportedly new felony charges against jailed anti-corruption icon Alexey Navalny, and 25 years behind bars for Vladimir Kara-Murza, the anti-Kremlin politician who helped lobby into existence the Magnitsky Act, which authorizes the American government to sanction foreign government officials around the world (especially in Russia) that are human rights offenders, freezing their assets and banning them from entering the U.S.
These courtroom news headlines are all from just the past few days.
And this doesn’t even touch on the thousands of cases against less prominent, sometimes nearly invisible activists and even apolitical types who find themselves caught in the teeth of Russia’s increasingly brutal prosecution of political disloyalty.
As political persecution in Russia escalates to something resembling moments from the Stalinist period, supporting the legal system’s victims and simply understanding its intricacies become matters of life and death. And that is at the center of work by the journalists, lawyers, and activists who make up a project called OVD-Info. To explain the organization’s operations, The Naked Pravda spoke to journalist and activist Dan Storyev, who serves as the managing editor of OVD-Info’s English-language edition and the author of The Dissident Digest, a weekly newsletter summarizing and explaining major events in Russia’s domestic political repressions.
Timestamps for this episode:
- (4:57) What is OVD-Info?
- (8:32) Who qualifies for assistance from OVD-Info?
- (9:59) What assistance can OVD-Info offer to victims of political repression?
- (14:19) What factors determine whom the Putin regime actually prosecutes?
- (17:02) What legal statutes are most common in political prosecutions?
- (20:43) The ruling against Vladimir Kara-Murza
- (23:39) Prison life in Russia today
The OVD-Info team is collecting letters of support for Russian opposition politician Vladimir Kara-Murza, who was recently sentenced to 25 years in prison. Find out more about how to write to him here.
Production, sound editing, and mixing by Kevin Rothrock
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