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‘A chronicle of repression’ Journalist Ilya Azar shares a timeline of last month’s crackdown across Russia

Source: Ilya Azar
Evgeny Feldman / Meduza

In a post on Facebook, journalist and municipal deputy Ilya Azar compiled last month’s headlines from Mediazona about pressure on activists and journalists across Russia, along with news of new prohibitions the authorities had introduced. “This is a chronicle of repression for just one month and it’s really impressive,” Azar wrote, commenting on what turned out to be a very long list. It included news about repressions from almost every day of the last month, with most days including more than one notable event. Meduza shares an edited translation of Azar’s timeline, expanded to include relevant context. You can read the original list of headlines in Russian here.

April 1

Moscow prosecutors began investigating Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (the FBK) for alleged extremism.

In Moscow, officials from child protective services paid a visit to the mother of two children, who was held in police custody for two days after being detained at a pro-Navalny rally on January 23.

In Birobidzhan (a town in the Russian Far East), a manicurist received a 2.5 year suspended sentence in a Jehovah’s Witness case (Russia outlawed the Jehovah’s Witnesses as an extremist group in 2017). 

April 2

Demonstrators involved in a spontaneous rally protesting the deportation of a human rights activist were arrested outside of the Tajik Embassy in Moscow.

A St. Petersburg court banned fourteen more Japanese anime serieses. 

April 4

Russia’s top documentary film festival, Artdocfest, cancelled a number of screenings in St. Petersburg after officials from Rospotrebnadzor (the federal consumer protection agency) sealed the movie theaters where they were supposed to take place on the festival’s opening day.

April 5

The frontman of the Russian rock band Elisium reported that the GlavClub, a venue in Moscow, prevented them from displaying a picture of Alexey Navalny during a set. 

Putin signed the law on regulating “educational activities.”

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Putin signed the legislation allowing himself to run for the presidency in two more elections after the end of his presidential term in 2024.

A Moscow court extended and tightened leftist activist Sergey Udaltsov’s parole. 

A Russian court handed down a suspended sentence to a protester from St. Petersburg, who pushed police officers during the pro-Navalny demonstrations on January 31. 

Artdocfest’s organizers reported receiving threats over the planned screening of a documentary about a young gay man who fled Russia’s Chechnya.

April 6

The Russian Civic Chamber removed human rights activist Marina Litvinovich from Moscow’s prisoners’ rights watchdog, the Public Monitoring Commission (ONK). 

VKontakte blocked a group of St. Petersburg municipal deputies for raising money for leaflets about a rally in support of Navalny.

A Moscow Court ordered opposition politician Lyubov Sobol to pay Kremlin-linked catering mogul Evgeny Prigozhin 500,000 rubles (about $6,675 by today’s exchange rate) in compensation over two “defamatory” tweets. 

A Moscow court fined TikTok 2.6 million rubles ($34,735) for failing to remove videos about the pro-Navalny protests in January.

A Russian court reversed the decision on granting parole to activist Yegor Lesnykh (a defendant in the “Moscow Case”). His lawyer said that he was written up for violations retroactively.

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April 7

A Rostov-on-Don court refused to release the 66-year-old father of opposition figure Ivan Zhdanov from pre-trial detention. 

Police came to Navalny’s campaign headquarters in St. Petersburg and confiscated stickers with the slogan “Russia will be happy.”

The total sum of the fines handed down to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) under Russia’s “foreign agents” law surpassed 71 million rubles (nearly $950,000). 

A Moscow taxi driver was sentenced to two years in a penal colony for allegedly throwing a metal barrier at a Russian National Guard officer during the pro-Navalny demonstrations on January 23.

An insurance lawyer from Rostov was arrested in connection with an investigation into graffiti that said “Putin is a thief.” The FSB accused the defendants in the case of belonging to an “extremist group.”

April 8

The Russian Investigative Committee began investigating “Socialist Alternative” activist Matvey Alexandrov on suspicion of violating “Dadin’s article.”

April 9

The coordinator of Navalny’s Murmansk campaign office reported leaflets being dropped in people’s mailboxes that described her as the head of a “gang of inhumans.”

In Moscow, film director Vitaly Mansky was attacked at an Artdocfest event.

A Russian court sentenced a protester to 3.5 years in a prison colony for pepper spraying a police officer during a pro-Navalny rally on January 31.  

Ilya Shakursky, who was convicted of terrorism in the so-called “Penza Network Case,” was sent to a punishment cell for ten days for changing his clothes while outside of the locker room. 

April 10

Security officers carried out a raid on the iStories newsroom. 

After his family received threatening phone calls, expert Vasily Vaysenberg from the election monitoring movement “Golos” moved to Nizhny Novgorod; a note echoing the previous threats was pasted to the door of his new apartment.

April 12

Maxim Ivankin, another defendant convicted in the “Penza Network” terrorism case, was sent to a punishment cell for an additional 12 days after a visit with his lawyer. 

A Moscow court ordered opposition politician Vladimir Milov to pay 350,000 rubles ($4,680) in damages to oligarch Evgeny Prigozhin for alleged defamation. 

Doctors’ Alliance director Anastasia Vasilieva was fined 180,000 rubles (about $2,400) over a rally outside of the prison where Alexey Navalny is being held. 

The executive director of the group Open Russia was charged with a misdemeanor over a social media post about collecting masks and protective suits to donate to paramedics.

Investigative journalist Roman Anin was interrogated in connection with a privacy case concerning Olga Rozhkova, the ex-wife of Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin. 

Two employees of Navalny’s new campaign office in Dagestan were reported missing the day after its opening. 

Local police sued the head of Navalny’s Penza campaign office for 883,000 rubles (about $11,785) in damages over the opposition demonstrations on January 23.

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April 13

State prosecutors challenged a court ruling throwing out the criminal case under “Dadin’s article” against Novosibirsk activist Yana Drobnokhod. 

Moscow police threaten to place Yulia Navalnaya (Alexey Navalny’s wife) under preventive supervision. 

Alexander Shestun — the former head of a district outside of Moscow, who is serving 15 years in prison for fraud, money laundering, and other crimes — reported that he is under investigation for allegedly threatening a judge.

Navalny’s Murmansk campaign office was vandalized with a swastika during a break-in. 

 Physicist Valery Golubkin was arrested in Moscow on suspicion of treason. 

A Yekaterinburg court fined an ER doctor 500,000 rubles ($6,675) over comments on social media.

April 14

Law enforcement officers in Moscow carried out searches at the apartments of four editors from the student journal Doxa. 

A Moscow court sentenced a local resident to two years in prison for beating up a policeman at a rally on January 23.

The head of Navalny’s St. Petersburg campaign office was jailed for 10 days over a video announcing the January 31 rally.

The leadership of Radio Svoboda and Current Time TV offered to help some of the editorial staff from their Moscow bureau leave Russia due to the impact of “foreign agent” legislation. 

A Moscow court fined the anti-domestic violence group Nasiliu.Net 300,000 rubles (nearly $4,000) for violating “foreign agent” legislation. 

The Doxa editors were placed under de facto house arrest (they were prohibited from leaving their homes between the hours of 12:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m.).

April 15

A Moscow court gave opposition politician Lyubov Sobol a one-year suspended sentence for trespassing at the apartment of one of the FSB agents allegedly involved in Navalny’s August 2020 poisoning. 

The deputy director of the Doctors’ Alliance was jailed for eight days over a video of the rally outside Navalny’s prison. 

The head of Navalny’s Krasnodar campaign office was detained in Gelendzhik.

A doctor carrying a poster that read “Transfer Navalny to a real hospital” was detained in Moscow. 

April 16

Pavel Zelensky, a cameraman for Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (the FBK), was sentenced to two years in prison over “extremist” tweets. 

Moscow prosecutors filed a lawsuit seeking to outlaw the FBK and Navalny’s political network as extremist organizations. 

Doxa editor-in-chief Armen Aramyan was ordered to report to the Investigative Committee every weekday from April 19 to May 24.

An activist from Navalny’s campaign office in Irkutsk was detained for handing out leaflets.

April 17

Russian rapper Morgenshtern was charged with a misdemeanor for “drug propaganda” because of two of his music videos. 

Seven Jehovah’s Witnesses were sent to remand prisons in Tula, Yaroslavl, and Izhevsk.

An iStories journalist was detained in the Vladimir region.

April 19

Jailed activist Yegor Lesnykh was forced to work in prison, despite having fallen ill.

Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service opened a case against Google for “abusing YouTube’s dominant position.”

A Moscow court fined rapper Antoha MC for taking part in a protest rally on January 23.

An unknown person broke into Navalny’s Kurgansk campaign office and broke a radiator, flooding one of the rooms. 

Three masked men attacked an environmental activist in Russia’s Bashkiria. 

April 20

St. Petersburg police searched the home of the head of the organization “Teachers’ Alliance,” who’s under suspicion of blocking roads during a protest rally. 

A court placed a resident of Naberezhnye Chelny (an industrial city in Russia’s Tatarstan) under restrictions for a six-month period over comments he wrote on VKontakte about the pro-Navalny rally on January 23.

The Russian State Duma approved in the second reading legislation outlining fines for the “misuse” of press credentials during public assemblies and failure to mention the status of “foreign agent media.”

A Khabarovsk resident was sentenced to a year in prison for spraying pepper spray in the direction of security officers during a rally in support of jailed ex-governor Sergey Furgal.

Plainclothes police officers in Kurgan arrested the head of Navalny’s local campaign office at a hospital. They twisted his arms behind his back and shoved him into a car.

April 21

A Team Navalny activist in Moscow was beaten up during a police raid; the officers demanded her cell phone passcode and then took her away for questioning in connection with the so-called “Sanitary Case.”

Navalny’s press secretary Kira Yarmysh was detained in Moscow.

Police officers pulled opposition figure Lyubov Sobol out of a taxi and took her into custody, her lawyer reported. 

Also on April 21

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April 22

Director Seva Galkin reported that the Moscow International Film Festival had cancelled a screening of his film about the murders of LGBTQ+ people in Russia’s Chechnya. 

Yekaterinburg-based artist Tima Radya was sentenced to community service for taking part in a pro-Navalny demonstration on January 23.

The editor-in-chief of a news outlet Dovod was jailed for nine days for attending the rally outside of Navalny’s prison.

The authorities in Bryansk launched a criminal case for blocking roads during a pro-Navalny rally on January 23.

A St. Petersburg resident was charged with a felony for allegedly inciting mass riots.

The Kurgan City Court handed a 30-day jail sentence to Alexey Shvarts, the coordinator of Navalny’s local campaign office.

April 23

The Russian Justice Ministry added Meduza and First Anti-Corruption Media project (PASMI) to its list of “foreign agent” media outlets.

A Moscow court found engineering professor Alexey Vorobyov (from the Moscow Aviation Institute) guilty of treason and sentenced him to 20 years in a maximum security prison. 

A criminal case was opened against a Krasnoyarsk resident for lighting a flare at a pro-Navalny rally on April 21. 

A Moscow court fined the coordinator of the educational project Otkrytki 150,000 rubles ($2,000) for “violating sanitary regulations” at a congress of municipal deputies.

April 24

Moscow police raided the home of libertarian activist Mikhail Svetov. 

The head of Navalny’s Vladivostok campaign office became a suspect in a criminal case for allegedly involving minors in illegally blocking roads.

Opposition figure Alexander Solovyov was detained in Moscow.

The authorities in Nizhny Novgorod accused businessman Mikhail Iosilevich of uttering death threats against a witness; Iosilevich is already being held in pre-trial detention on suspicion of involvement in an “undesirable organization.”

April 25

Opposition activist Pavel Krisevich was detained in St. Petersburg.

April 26

Opposition politician Lyubov Sobol was fined 300,000 rubles ($4,000) over statements she made in an interview with the radio station Ekho Moskvy ahead of the pro-Navalny demonstrations on April 21.

The police opened an administrative case on “drug propaganda” over a video by YouTuber Yury Dud.

A regional manager from Navalny’s political network was jailed for 10 days over a tweet.

Police summoned writer Dmitry Bykov to charge him with a misdemeanor for his involvement in a pro-Navalny rally on April 21. 

Libertarian activist Yaroslav Conway was detained in Moscow. 

The editor-in-chief of the Kuzbass edition of Novosti Kiselevsk left Russia following an attack and threats.

Libertarian activist Mikhail Svetov was jailed for nine days over a second violation of the rules on conducting public assemblies. 

A St. Petersburg court banned five more anime serieses.

State prosecutors suspended the activities of Navalny’s political network pending a ruling on the “extremism” lawsuit.

Four libertarian activists were detained in Moscow for hanging a banner in support of Mikhail Svetov from a bridge. 

April 27

A lawyer in Yekaterinburg was sentenced to 30 hours of community service for streaming a pro-Navalny rally on Facebook on January 31.

Komsomolskay Pravda’s Moscow correspondent was taken to a police station for covering the demonstration in support of Navalny on April 21.

Mikhail Svetov’s associate was fined 200,000 rubles ($2,670) for a rally in support of the jailed liberatarian activist. 

In Kaliningrad, a 74-year-old pensioner with diabetes was jailed for 15 days for attending a rally in support of Navalny. 

Board members from the Memorial human rights center were jailed for 10 days for retweeting a post about the pro-Navalny demonstrations on April 21. 

A Dozhd correspondent who covered the opposition demonstrations was taken to a police station.

A Russian court did not address two of Alexey Navalny’s lawsuits against the administration of the prison where he’s being held.

The Russian Supreme Court upheld the verdicts in the “Penza Network Case.” 

The Moscow City Court restricted the work of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation.

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April 28

A blogger in Tambov was jailed for 30 days for filming the pro-Navalny demonstrations on April 21.

OVD-Info reported that more than 100 people had been detained across Russia in the week after the rallies in support of Navalny. 

In Yekaterinburg, police officers carried out searches in connection with a mass rioting case opened after the opposition protests in January.

A Murmansk court fined the former coordinator of Navalny’s local campaign office 75,000 rubles ($1,000) over the rally on April 21.

A Moscow court arrested a man by the name of Alexey Valuyev on suspicion of treason (the case materials were classified).

Moscow police decided to press administrative charges against a Meduza correspondent who covered the pro-Navalny demonstrations on April 21. 

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A Navalny supporter from Murmansk shared a photo of bullet holes in the window of the opposition politician’s former campaign office. 

Police launched an investigation following reports of journalist Alexey Pivovarov having a fake firearms license. 

St. Petersburg police claimed they were “checking the documents” of an Ekho Moskvy correspondent who was beaten up during an opposition protest in January. 

In St. Petersburg, a graffiti mural featuring Alexey Navalny was painted over a few hours after it was first spotted. 

Moscow police arrested photographer Georgy Maltsev, who covered the pro-Navalny demonstrations on April 21.

A Moscow teacher was detained for attending the April 21 rally, after being tracked down via surveillance cameras.

An activist in the Siberian city of Barnaul was charged under “Dadin’s article.”

APril 29

A Russian court sentenced the former coordinator of Navalny’s Arkhangelsk campaign office to 2.5 years in prison for reposting a clip of a Rammstein video on social media.

A pensioner in Tambov was fined 510,000 rubles (about $6,810) for attending a pro-Navalny rally on January 23.

Prosecutors sought two years of restricted freedoms for activist Olga Misik in the vandalism case launched over a protest action outside of the Attorney General’s Office.

The administrator of the Telegram channel Protestny MGU was fined 250,000 rubles (about $3,335) for sharing a post about the opposition demonstrations on April 21.

The Investigative Committee launched a criminal case against Navalny and his top aides, Ivan Zhdanov and Leonid Volkov, for creating an organization that “infringes on the liberties and rights of Russian citizens.”

Islamic literature publisher Aslambek Ezhayev was arrested in Moscow on suspicion of financing terrorism.

Team Navalny reported shots fired at the opposition politician’s former headquarters in Saratov. 

A Russian court upheld the ruling against Navalny in the “war veteran defamation case.”

The FSB reported the arrest of 16 members of the Ukrainian radical youth group M.K.U. on suspicion of preparing terrorist attacks.

A Lipetsk resident was sentenced to a year in an open prison for using pepper spray at an opposition rally on January 23.

The former head of Navalny’s campaign office in Tver was charged with a misdemeanor for allegedly spreading fake news during an Instagram Live broadcast (he talked about “Putin’s palace” and the Russian president’s alleged involvement in Navalny’s poisoning).

State investigators launched an inquiry into the ex-president of the Doctor Liza Foundation, Ksenia Sokolova, on suspicion of “arbitrariness.”

The FSB launched a case against a Moscow resident over calls to “destroy” the police posted on Telegram.

Russian scientist Viktor Kudryavtsev, who was accused of treason, passed away at the age of 77. 

April 30

A Moscow court prolonged the arrest of former journalist Ivan Safronov, who was remanded in custody in July 2020 on suspicion of treason.

In Moscow, the FSB detained prominent human rights lawyer Ivan Pavlov. Meanwhile, in St. Petersburg, law enforcement officers raided the office of his legal organization, Team 29, as well as his wife’s apartment and the home of Team 29’s IT specialist. 

Chelyabinsk police opened a criminal case under “Dadin’s article” against an 18-year-old local resident.  

Russian politician Dmitry Gudkov was charged with a misdemeanor over a video from the pro-Navalny protests on January 23. 

Putin signed legislation on fines for failure to mention the status of “foreign agent media” and the “misuse” of press credentials at public assemblies. 

Russian singer Noize MC reported coming under pressure from the security forces to cancel a show in Orenburg.

A Pskov resident was sentenced to eight months in an open prison after being found guilty of attacking a security official, inciting mass riots, and illegal weapons possession. 

According to OVD-Info, at least 1,976 people were detained in connection with the pro-Navalny rally on April 21.

Russia’s state financial watchdog (Rosfinmonitoring) added Navalny’s political network to its list of extremist and terrorist organizations, without waiting for the upcoming court ruling. 

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Translated and edited by Eilish Hart

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