28.10.22 Repressions Review

Monitoring of Repressions: decline in anti-mobilisation protests, increase of criminal prosecutions and "foreign agents" punishment

More than a thousand people were detained in Russia in October for expressing an anti-war position, while the total number of arrests made since February 24 is close to 20 thousand cases. The number of people involved in repressive criminal cases exceeded 350 by the end of October, according to OVD-Info's monthly monitoring of repressions intensity. Over the last two months, this number has been increasing by 25% each month. Since March 6, courts have heard around 4,800 administrative cases related to anti-war protests and have imposed fines of 87 million rubles. In October, 30 people and two organizations were given the "foreign agents" status — a quarter of all the "foreign agents" listed in the Ministry of Justice registers since the beginning of the war. The authorities clearly intend to maximize this tool's use while tightening its enforcement norms. They also blocked more than 20 thousand Internet links in October, and Duma deputies began to prepare for the approval of six new repressive initiatives.

In October (from September 24 to October 24), 1,051 people were detained in Russia for expressing an anti-war position; this is slightly less than in September but much more than in summer months, according to OVD-Info's regular monthly monitoring of repressions. This wave was provoked by the "partial mobilisation" announced on September 21, and the arrests mostly took place during the following ten-day period. OVD-Info reports that, in total, 19,347 people have been detained in Russia since February 24.

By the end of October, 355 people became defendants in criminal cases under various repressive articles. September's OVD-Info report noted 282 cases, which means a 25% increase; in September, the growth was the same as in August. In total, the number of criminal cases opened during the two months of autumn was 60% higher than in August. This dynamic clearly shows the strengthening of repressions. In October, a criminal case under a new article on confidential cooperation with foreigners (Article 275.1 of the Criminal Code), adopted in July, was opened for the first time, as well as a new case under the "Dada" article — on repeated violation of holding public events policy (Article 212.1 of the Criminal Code), in which Ivanovo activist Olga Nazarenko became a defendant. 

According to Justice State Information System, since the beginning of March, Russian courts have registered about 4,800 cases under an article on discrediting the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation ( Art. 20.3.3 of the Code of Administrative Offences of the Russian Federation). As follows from the analysis of these statistics by RBC, Moscow is leading in the number of cases (632), followed by St. Petersburg (247), Krasnodar Region (164), Crimea (140), Kaliningrad Region (123) and Perm Region (82). The least number of cases was registered in Omsk Region (8), Tyva (4), and the Karachay-Cherkessia Republic (1). Of 3,406 cases in courts of the first instance, 2,538 were fined, 138 were dismissed, and 305 were returned to the Ministry of Internal Affairs due to violations in the execution of protocols. Most often, courts imposed fines from 30 to 100 thousand rubles; the total amount of fines for March-June alone reached 85,7 million rubles. The application profile of the article on defamation has also changed: while previously fines were imposed for public acts (solitary protests, for example), recently, the penalties were introduced for posts on social media as well. 

Six new repressive initiatives were submitted to the State Duma in October, including amendments that expand the use of administrative and criminal punishment for "unauthorized entry into protected facilities," amendments to allow the mobilisation of citizens with an outstanding conviction for a serious crime, and amendments that tighten responsibility for "materials that promote non-traditional sexual relationships and/or preferences".

In addition, during the reporting month (from September 24 to October 24), the Ministry of Justice added 30 people and two organizations (the "Vesna" movement and the "LGBT Resource Center") to the registers of "foreign agents", which is a quarter of all those who have been given "foreign agent" status since the beginning of the war. In other words, we are seeing an increase in the use of this tool; at the same time, the Duma has approved more amendments to the laws on "foreign agents," expanding the scope of their application. Another organization, the German NGO Dekabristen e.V., which was supporting civil society in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Caucasus, was given the status of an undesirable organization in October. Altogether, 16 organizations have received this status since the end of February. In addition, Rosfinmonitoring's so-called list of terrorists and extremists was expanded, particularly due to the same "Vesna" movement.

"Since the beginning of the war, we know of 30 students who were expelled due to their anti-war stance. Among them are 17 students at the Islamic University in Chechnya who refused to participate in a rally in support of 'referendums' on annexing Ukrainian territories to Russia," RBC writes.

The authorities continue to block access to independent resources at a Stakhanov pace. About 20,000 links were blocked in October alone. Among the blocked websites, there are also media outlets ("Spektr", "News-26" and Fjournal), analytical centers ("Vox-Ukraine"), and even podcasts on "Yandex.Music" ("What Happened", "Signal", "Text of the Week"). 

Total number of prosecutions for anti-war stance, June-October 2022