Three small businessmen have helped organize protests against a landfill outside Moscow. Now two of them are behind bars and police have raided their offices.
Artem Lyubimov, a businessman in Volokolamsk, was one of the people organizing the city’s protests against the “Yadrovo” landfill, until he was arrested for 15 days on April 3 for resisting the police. Lyubimov’s lawyer, Denis Kunaev, told Meduza that officers simply stopped his client’s car and delivered him to the local police station, where he was later tried and convicted. Lyubimov has declared a hunger strike.
After the arrest, Kunaev says law enforcement officers also raided Lyubimov’s business partners. The lawyer refused to disclose his client’s line of work or the name of the business partners, but the United State Register of Legal Entities reveals that Lyubimov works in consulting and doesn’t own his own business.
On April 1, the police detained another local businessman who’s helped organize protests against the Yadrovo landfill. Andrey Zhdanov was later sentenced to 14 days in jail for interfering with public transportation and amenities. (He participated in a motor rally protest outside the garbage dump.)
Zhdanov’s wife, Elena, told Meduza that her husband is a self-employed entrepreneur who owns a small chain of cosmetics stores called “Rome.” On April 3, armed police officers raided their store in downtown Volokolamsk and ordered the cashier to surrender all receipts. Police also seized the store’s accounting records. Afterwards, local prosecutors came by and confiscated seven bottles of perfume in a counterfeit check. Elena Zhdanova says the officers provided no warrant or official forms documenting the seizure of the store’s property. “It’s obvious what prompted this sudden inspection. My husband and I have managed this business for more than a decade, and I can’t remember once in all that time being subjected to such sweeping inspections, let alone the seizure of our goods,” she said, adding that her husband isn’t a member of Russia's political opposition. He only started organizing protests against the landfill, she says, when the whole town started mobilizing.
Moscow’s regional police department refused to comment on its actions against Lyubimov, Zhdanov, and their businesses.
The car washer
On April 4, police raided the business of another protest leader in Volokolamsk: Ramazan Bairamov, who owns a local car wash. According to the human rights project OVD-Info, criminal investigators from the Interior Ministry’s Economic Crimes Unit and federal migration officers showed up at Bairamov’s establishment on Wednesday, searching the premises and seizing “all his documents” and his personal computer. Officers also detained one of his employees (an Uzbekistani citizen) for residing illegally in Russia. After the inspection, the car wash reportedly closed. Eye witnesses say the front doors were locked shut, and Bairamov’s phone was turned off all day.