20 years under Putin: a timeline

A number of political persecutions in October targeted the non-systemic opposition—a trend that Memorial Human Rights Center links to the Kremlin’s pressure on potential candidates in the 2021 State Duma elections. In Moscow, a trial has begun in the criminal case against municipal deputy Yulia Galyamina. In Nizhny Novgorod, oppositionist Mikhail Iosilevich was charged with collaborating with an “undesirable organization.” Additionally, in the Ulyanovsk region, Yan Sidorov, a defendant in the politically motivated “Rostov case,” was denied parole.


Upper row: Yulia Galyamina, Mikhail Iosilevich. Lower row: Vladislav Mordasov (left), Yan Sidorov. 


Persecution of Yulia Galyamina: a criminal case against an oppositionist

  • In October, the case of Yulia Galyamina, municipal deputy and member of the Russian opposition, went to trial. Galyamina is accused of repeatedly violating the procedure for holding public events (article 212.1 of the Criminal Code) and faces up to five years in prison.
  • A criminal case against Galyamina was opened in late July. The specific charges against her include calls (made on social media) for protests against the authorities’ refusal to register opposition candidates (including herself) to run in the Moscow City Duma elections last summer; participation in three such protests last July; and organizing a Moscow rally on July 15, 2020, against amendments to the Constitution.
  • “In the light of recent events, I do not exclude a real prison term,” Galyamina wrote on Telegram. “I consider my case to be politically motivated, and its only goal is to ban my political and professional activities.”
  • In spring 2020, Russian authorities expanded the restrictions on electoral participation: now former convicts, including those prosecuted under article 212.1, will not be allowed to run for public office for five years following the expiry of their sentence.
  • “The political motive in Galyamina’s persecution can be seen in the way the consequences of the actions she is accused of are interpreted—the organization of peaceful public events that are opposed to the current government and participation in such event,” the Memorial Human Rights Center said in a statement. “There is every reason to believe that the criminal case against Galyamina is part of the campaign launched [by Russian authorities] to pressure opposition candidates ahead of the 2021 State Duma elections.”
  • At a closed preliminary hearing on October 14, Galamina’s defense filed a motion to terminate the criminal prosecution due to the absence of corpus delicti. The court refused to dismiss the case and upheld the preventive measure—recognizance not to leave town.
  • Galyamina’s lawyers also referred the prosecutors to the ruling of the Russian Constitutional Court, which had determined that criminal liability under article 212.1 may occur following a number of administrative offenses committed within 180 days. At the same time, the acts imputed to Galyamina were committed within the course of a year.
  • The first hearing on the merits was supposed to take place on October 21, but the court granted the defense’s motion and postponed it to November 3 due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Moscow.
  • Yulia Galyamina is the eighth Russian citizen persecuted under the article 212.1. The article was added to the Russian Criminal Code in 2014 as part of the Kremlin’s reaction to Euromaidan in Ukraine and Russian protests against the “Bolotnaya case.” It is often nicknamed “Dadin’s article” after the activist Ildar Dadin, who was sentenced under it in 2015 to three years in prison. The unjust verdict caused a great stir, and in 2017 Russia’s Supreme Court overturned it. Dadin was released, cleared of all charges, and received compensation of two million rubles.
  • Human rights activists call article 212.1 illegal and unconstitutional, since it essentially implies double responsibility for the same acts—first administrative and then criminal. The article was harshly criticized by Memorial Human Rights Center, Amnesty International, the head of the Presidential Council for Human Rights, and Russia’s Ombudsman for Human Rights.

→ help Yulia Galyamina: via Memorial Human Rights Center, Union for Solidarity with Political Prisoners, or PayPal – helppoliticalprisoners@gmail.com.


The case of Mikhail Iosilevich: an attack on the opposition in the regions

  • The Kremlin’s pressure on the opposition ahead of the 2021 elections is growing not only in the Russian capital, but also in the regions.
  • On October 8, Nizhny Novgorod businessman and oppositionist Mikhail Iosilevich was charged with participation in “activities of an undesirable organization” (article 284.1 of the Criminal Code, which envisions a maximum punishment of up to six years in prison). He is currently under recognizance not to leave town.
  • Iosilevich is suspected of collaborating with Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s Open Russia organization, which in April 2017 was recognized as “undesirable” by the Russian Ministry of Justice.
  • According to the investigation, in early September Iosilevich provided space to hold training events for observers in the upcoming elections to the Nizhny Novgorod City Duma. His goal was allegedly “to encroach on the foundations of the constitutional order and security of the state,” while the event was allegedly organized by the United Democrats movement and Open Russia. However, in reality, the trainings were organized by the GOLOS election monitoring group, and Open Russia had nothing to do with them.
  • On October 1, security officials searched Iosilevich’s apartment and took him into custody for interrogation. On the same day, searches were carried out at the homes of six other Nizhny Novgorod oppositionists: deputy chairman of the regional branch of the Yabloko party Alexei Sadomovsky, coordinator of Alexey Navalny’s local office Roman Tregubov, former office coordinator and journalist of MBK-Media Dmitry Silivonchik, activists Yuri Shaposhnikov and Mikhail Borodov, and online publication KozaPress editor-in-chief Irina Slavina. The following day, Slavina committed suicide through self-immolation in front of the local branch of the Interior Ministry.
  • According to a Kommersant source, these searches can be regarded as “a kind of preemptive strike against the Nizhny Novgorod opposition ahead of the upcoming elections to the local legislature and the State Duma in 2021.”
  • Previously, Iosilevich faced two administrative cases against him in relation to “activities of an undesirable organization” (both times due to alleged association with Open Russia). In February 2019, the Free People Forum was held at a space he had provided. In December 2019, another event was held there—a lecture by opposition politician and former chairman of the Open Russia movement Alexander Solovyov.
  • Memorial recognized the prosecution of Mikhail Iosilevich to be politically motivated and illegal, describing it as “part of a large-scale campaign organized by the Russian authorities against critics associated with [Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s] Open Russia and the political opposition in general.”

→ help Mikhail Iosilevich: via Memorial Human Rights Center, Union for Solidarity with Political Prisoners, or PayPal – helppoliticalprisoners@gmail.com.


The “Rostov case”: refusal of parole

  • On October 22, an Ulyanovsk regional court denied parole to Yan Sidorov, 21, one of the defendants in the so-called “Rostov case.” Referring to the penal colony administration’s testimony, the court concluded that Sidorov “did not mend his ways.”
  • Yan Sidorov and Vladislav Mordasov, 24, the other defendant in the case, have been in custody for three years. On November 5, 2017, they were going to hold a picket demanding the resignation of the Rostov regional government and thus express their solidarity with the victims of the fire that occurred in Rostov-on-Don earlier that year. They were detained before their planned picket. According to the prosecution, the young people intended to organize riots involving followers of their Telegram chat.
  • A few days before the picket, anonymous messages appeared in the chat, calling for said riots, armed resistance to the police, and the storming of the regional government building. The defense does not exclude that it was a provocation by the local FSB’s Center for Countering Extremism. According to Sidorov himself, he planned a peaceful protest, not a violent overthrow of the government.
  • In December 2019, Sidorov was sentenced to 6 years and 6 months in a strict regime colony, and Mordasov to 6 years and 7 months on charges of attempted organization and participation in mass riots (part 3, article 30; parts 1 and 2, article 212 of the Criminal Code).
  • In July of this year, Russia’s Supreme Court reconsidered the charge of “preparation for organizing mass riots” (part 1, article 212; part 1, article 30) and commuted the sentence of both defendants to 4 years in prison. This fall, Sidorov and Mordasov were able to apply for parole.
  • The investigation connects the “Rostov case” with the so-called “revolution” proclaimed by Vyacheslav Maltsev, the leader of the Artpodgotovka (“Artillery preparation fire”) movement, which has been banned in Russia. The “revolution” was supposed to take place on November 5, 2017, to mark the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. On this day, more than 400 people were detained at rallies against the current government held across Russia. Several dozen criminal cases were subsequently initiated against them.
  • Memorial recognizes Yan Sidorov as a political prisoner. “The investigation gives no explanation why, if Sidorov and Mordasov were charged not with “preparation” but “attempted organization,” there had been no signs of upcoming mass riots,,” the human rights center said in a statement.
  • Another defendant in the case, Vyacheslav Shashmin, received a three-year suspended sentence for “attempted participation in riots” (part 3, article 30; part 2, article 212 of the Criminal Code).

→ help Yan Sidorov and Vladislav Mordasov: via Memorial Human Rights Center, Union for Solidarity with Political Prisoners, or PayPal – helppoliticalprisoners@gmail.com.