‘I ask you not to believe’ After reporting threats to his lawyer, Navalny’s jailed campaign coordinator in Nizhny Novgorod appears in a strange confession video
In a strange video that started circulating on Russian social media on Saturday, January 30, Roman Tregubov, Alexey Navalny’s jailed regional coordinator in Nizhny Novgorod, announces his resignation from the movement and urges people not to attend protests planned for Sunday, when activists will gather in cities nationwide to demand the release of Navalny and his other jailed associates.
According to the newspaper Novaya Gazeta, the footage first appeared on Siloviki (which loosely translates to “Security Enforcers”), a Telegram channel with reported ties to Russia’s law enforcement agencies. The state news agency RIA Novosti then shared the video, as well.
Tregubov’s lawyer, Alexander Karavayev, later explained in a Facebook post that his client had received threats before the video was recorded. “In the morning, while in his jail cell, Roman got a visit from two anti-extremism unit officers, one person who introduced himself as an FSB agent, and someone else from the regional police department’s press service. They scared him with a whole mess of felony charges and described the horrors they would visit upon his future,” wrote Karavayev.
The attorney also shared a photo of a letter written by Tregubov, addressed to the local district attorney and the head of Nizhny Novgorod’s regional court, where he said that any “statements, testimonies, or appeals” coming from him without his lawyer present ought to be considered “obtained under torture, pressure, or some other outside compulsion.” “I ask you not to believe them, insofar as I currently fear for my life and safety in the face of threats from law enforcement agencies,” Tregubov said in the letter.
Police arrested Roman Tregubov on January 28. His colleagues and attorney say they were unable to reach him for the first several hours he spent in police custody. The next day, Tregubov was convicted of promoting an unpermitted rally and sentenced to five days in jail. Alexander Karavayev says the case was launched in response to mobilizing efforts for protests planned on Sunday, January 31.
Confessions recorded under apparent duress are not a new phenomenon in Russia. Earlier this week, the Federal Investigative Committee published several videos featuring apologies and acts of contrition from protesters who allegedly attacked state officials on January 23. In one video, for example, a TikTok user named Konstantin Lakeyev (kievskyyy) looks into the camera and vows never again to raise a hand against the police.