Our Man In The Paddy Wagon: Political arrests in Moscow

OVD-info annual report 2012

Executive Summary

OVD-Info is an independent human rights media project monitoring politically motivated arrests since December 2011. This report presents our statistical data on arrests, and analyzes the format of political activity, its themes, and organizers. A large part of the report is devoted to infringements that take place at the time of arrest, in police stations, and during court proceedings.

The report covers arrests in Moscow and several nearby cities between 4 December 2011, and 31 December 2012. It presents information on 5169 politically motivated arrests during 228 events, including 1312 arrests in December 2011, and 3857 in 2012.

All events monitored by OVDinfo were entirely peaceful, except for the (authorised) March of the Millions on 6 May 2012 (which ended in violent clashes with the police).

1079 people were detained at 20 events were authorised by local government. During 208 events that were either not authorised, or required no clearance, 4090 people were detained. The picket is the most common type of street activity; during 65 pickets we have registered 682 arrests. Rallies produced the greatest numbers of detainees. At 23 rallies, 1983 people were detained. The most frequent protest topic was solidarity with political prisoners (49 events resulting in 305 arrests). The most arrests were associated with general protest themes. During 44 events with anti-Putin slogans 1773 persons were detained. During 35 events against election fraud, the number of arrestees was 1750.

According to OVD-info’s data, the driving force behind protest is citizens and civic activists rather than particular organisations. Spontaneous events, as well as events organized by various groups of activists, form the majority of events registered by OVD-Info both in terms of their number and the number of arrestees: 137 events (60% of the total) either lack organizers, or are organized by independent activist groups; such events resulted in 2300 of detentions, or 44%.

Based on witness testimony by arrestees, we draw the following conclusions on rights violations during arrest.

  • Most arrests take place without prior warning from authorities that the detainee is in violation of the law;
  • Arresting officers fail to identify themselves or name the reason for arrest;
  • The police widely practice unreasonable and unpunished violence during detention and subsequently in police precincts;
  • Journalists present at the scene on assignment are frequently detained;
  • Authorities at police stations routinely violate both the detainees’ procedural rights, as well as substantive rights, such as the right to an attorney and to timely medical care.

Using concrete examples we show how opposition rallies are forcibly dispersed (5 March 2012, and 6 May 2012).

Magistrates courts show a prosecutorial bias in their decisions on administrative charges against protestors. The proceedings take place with multiple procedural violations, which allow judges to convict suspects without sufficient proof. Despite the extremely low quality of the courts’ work, in 94% of the cases appeal courts leave the lower court’s ruling unchanged.

Some activists got arrested more than once during the reporting period, therefore the number of arrests does not equal the number of individuals who went through the experience of arrests. It is impossible to verify the true number of individual arrestees. However, our analytical estimate is that there were at least 3256 individual arrestees (or 63% of all arrests).

The methodological introduction to the report presents our data sources and methodology, as well as detailed definitions of the terms used. Technical terms and references to laws are spelled out in the Glossary. The introductory chapter, Overview of arrests, summarises statistical information on political arrests gathered and analysed by OVD-info. Infographics and Maps are shown in a separate section of the report. Elsewhere the report is structured by section to reflect an activist’s experiences in the order in which they take place during a typical arrest. In the chapter entitled In the Course of Arrest we show the typical causes of arrests, and provide examples of infringements during arrest. The chapter Illegal Conduct at Police Stations illustrates the arrestees’ experiences in detention. The final chapter of the report covers Litigation. An attempt to quantify the relationship between the number of arrests and the number of individuals arrested is made in the Appendix (How many individuals went through arrests). The chapter on Criminal charges against detainees is also placed in the Appendix, because such occurrences are part of administrative arrests, although they have a direct effect on the behavior of activists and police officers during arrest and detention. The Raw Data on which the report is based are available in table format, or in csv file format.


“Citizens of the Russian Federation shall have the right to assemble peacefully, without weapons, hold rallies, meetings and demonstrations, marches and pickets.”

Constition of the Russian Federation, Article 31

In December 2011, more than a year ago, our society was shaken up by the new experience of mass political arrests. Just over three days in Moscow, more than 1000 people were detained. Some spent several days at police stations; dozens of people were jailed for two weeks. These events may not strike an observer of current Russian events as extraordinary, and ordinary things do not shock us. At the time, however, this was a new experience for most of those involved, a physical experience of captivity. This experience shook up the authors of this report as well. Since those events in December, we monitor all political arrests in Moscow on a daily basis.

OVD-info is an independent human rights media project set up to monitor political arrests. Our project is apolitical in the sense that we are not part of the protest movement, nor do we favour a particular political force in our work. Still, we have ideological benchmarks, so to speak: first and foremost, the law, and specifically Article 31 of the Russian constitution, which guarantees the freedom of assembly. Secondly, we follow the Soviet dissident experience, especially The Chronicle of Current Events, a Samizdat bulletin which reported on human rights abuses in the USSR between 1968 and 1983. Finally, we are inspired by the French philosopher Michel Foucault, who created the Prison Information Group in 1971 on the basis that discussion of prison should be framed by the accounts of prisoners, not of jailers.

“Nul de nous n’est sûr d’échapper à la prison. Aujourd’hui moins que jamais. Sur notre vie de tous les jours, le quadrillage policier se resserre”

Manifeste du GIP

“None of us is sure of escaping prison. Less so today than ever. On our everyday life, police control tightens…”

Prison Information Group manifesto

The subject of our interest is less terrifying than Russian prisons in general. But lack of freedom is always a lack of freedom. Detention in a police station is not meaningfully different from any other modes of captivity. It is important that we can learn much about this particular type from detainees themselves.

Everything we learn is immediately published on our website. This information is used by hundreds of media organizations, alleviating the most dangerous element of the lack of freedom: the lack of voice, the information vacuum. Today, after more than a year of observation, we are bringing together and analyzing these data and this knowledge. Why?

The Chronicle tries as much as it can to keep to a calm and restrained tone. Unfortunately, the materials in the Chronicle elicit emotions, which sometimes unwillingly shows through the text. The Chronicle will make every effort possible to maintain a maximally rigorous informative style, but cannot guarantee this will be successful.

Chronicle of Current Events, June 30, 1969

We believe that information and knowledge can bring change. In fact, the description in detail of current practice, using concrete examples and testable statistics, is a change in itself. Before the system can change, we must change our perception of it. For starters, we must understand the system and understand the changes that are needed. On the basis of our report, legislators—in the future, if not presently—can see some of the weaknesses of our police and judicial system. This is important, because if the police practice vicious beatings and other violations against political detainees (who are aware of their rights and who are the target of attention by the media), then it is difficult to imagine the experience of the hundreds of thousands of ordinary detainees, who cannot count on the attention of the press, nor on the help of lawyers and human rights activists. We urge experts and politicians to take our report seriously, and to use our data in legislative and civic initiatives.

A side effect of gathering data on political detentions is a general picture of protest activity. However, we should caution readers who are not versed in social science against drawing direct conclusions from our data, since they only describe political detentions, and their use to research political activity in general is impossible without the context of a broader set of data. For this reason, we ourselves avoid drawing conclusions. That being said, we welcome any use of our data by journalists, social and political scientists in their publications and research. We believe in open access, and make our data available in a format that can be easily adapted to a variety of research needs.

We went through a lot emotionally while monitoring political detentions and working on this report. The knowledge and understanding that resulted from it have left their mark; we have changed. Even if we keep to a dry, fact-oriented language in our report, we hope that it will change you as well.

Nous nous proposons de faire savoir ce qu’est la prison: qui y va, comment et pourquoi on y va, ce qui s’y passe, ce qu’est la vie des prisonniers et celle, également, du personnel de surveillance, ce que sont les bâtiments, la nourriture, l’hygiène, comment fonctionnent le règlement intérieur, le contrôle médical, les ateliers; comment on en sort et ce que c’est, dans notre société, d’être l’un de ceux qui en sont sortis.

Manifeste du GIP

We propose to make known what is the prison: who goes there, how and why one goes there, what happens there, what is the life of prisoners and, equally, of the surveillance personnel, what are the buildings, the food, the hygiene, how do the internal rules function, medical; examinations, the workshops: how does one get out and what it is, in our society, to be one of those who has got out.

Prison Information Group manifesto

Our data and methodology

Both the qualitative and the quantitative data used in this report is based primarily on information that OVDinfo received directly from arrestees or their defence counsels, or from eyewitnesses. We collected our data using the OVDinfo hotlines which people rang while being arrested, as well as using an online form on our website. One exception to this is the data on arrests between 4 and 10 December 2011, which is based on reports in the media and other by other human rights organisations such as Solidarnost’ and Memorial. Our qualitative data consists of testimony by and interviews with arrestees published by OVDinfo, mass media, or by the arrestees themselves on social media.

OVDinfo monitors arrests which we consider both unlawful and politically motivated. By ‘unlawful’ we mean that police officers are in breach of regulations when arresting and/or charging a protestor. We exclude from our summary data the rare cases of lawful arrest, where activists themselves where in breach of Russian regulation, that is, in particular when they have used violence against the police or other citizens.
By ‘politically motivated’ we mean the circumstances of arrest, namely that the arrestee was at a political action or rally, or was putting up political posters or handing out flyers, or an entirely unmotivated arrest of a person who is known for their political activities. We define ‘politics’ in the wider sense of defending one’s rights and interests: this means we include actions dedicated to environmental issues, LGBTQ rights, in defence of public spaces and welfare provisions.

Our statistics on the number of arrests in Moscow for the period of December 2011 – December 2012 are practically exhaustive. However, it is possible that individual actions or arrests of particular activists have escaped our monitoring. Other data collected by OVDinfo is incomplete: e.g. we do not have statistics on all court decisions, and not every case of police violence towards arrestees was recorded during monitoring. Therefore our analysis of infringements during arrests and at police stations is qualitative rather than statistical.
Qualitative data included in this report is primarily based on OVDinfo’s materials and are provided as illustrations of violations of particular rights of arrestees and norms of Russian legislation, rather than providing a complete list of such infringements over the reporting period in Moscow.

Sources are indicated with a hyperlink in the online version of this report and with a footnote in the PDF version. Where the source of data is not indicated, the interviews were conducted specifically for this report. Raw data that forms the basis of summary statistics, infographics and maps, are presented in table.

In our data actions are classified according to their stated aims (by theme) and format (by type). Both these classifications are evidently subjective, so the groupings offered in this report can be revised depending on the research question.

In the map of arrests by police station, the overall number of arrests is smaller than in our summary statistics because we do not have complete data on arrests between 4 and 10 December 2011. Geographically the report concerns arrests taking place in Moscow and several nearby cities (Khimki, Zhukovsky, Zheleznodorozhny, Troitsk). We do not include data on arrests in other towns and cities because OVDinfo’s existing data on them is nowhere near complete. The appendix on criminal cases includes some cases from a wider time period and from outside the Moscow region.

Terms and pieces of legislation are explained at first use and fully listed in the Glossary.

Overview of arrests

From the start of mass political protest on 4 December 2011 and up to 31 December 2012 OVD-info tracked 5166 politically motivated arrests at 228 protest events in and around Moscow. 1312 of these arrests took place in December 2011, 3856 - in the year 2012.

Data visualization allows to see the general picture of the protests from the point of view of arrests (All Arrests slide), development of street activity over time (Arrests Timeline), a breakdown of protest events by organizer (Event Organizers) and types (Event Types), as well as the authorised or unauthorised status (Event Official Status). Colours represent event topics, circle sizes represent the number of people arrested. The raw data with information sources are available as a summary table (Initial Data).

Event Types

During the inquiry period OVD-Info tracked 228 events. In this report an “event” means an arrest of one or more persons, associated by the same geographical and thematic circumstances. It should be noted that this term implies not only street protests where arrests took place, but also a number of specific cases of politically motivated arrests that took place outside of protest actions.

The general distribution of events by type is presented in Figure 1. The Event Types slide (http) shows the same data combined with a thematic attribution of each event and the number of people arrested. Table 1 shows the correlation between the number of people arrested and the event type.

The goal of the classification of events by type in this report is to show which types of events draw the most arrests. The development of forms of street protest is a separate research topic which our data is insufficient to cover.

Specific Arrest Cases

OVD-Info recorded 78 arrests during 17 promotional activities – events of this type are marked as “Agitation” in the OVD-info database. 17 activists were arrested during 10 special police operations – these events are marked as “Activist”. 70 people were arrested during 15 unclassified events (“Other”).

“Agitation” in this context refers to distribution of political materials of general interest or promoting a specific political event. Examples include people arrested during for distributing the report “Putin. The Conclusions” produced by the Solidarity movement on 23 February 2012 and activists arrested on 2 May 2012 for distributing flyers about the 6 May March of the Millions.

Special police operations marked as “Activist” are arrests of activists that took place outside any public political action. For example, on 28 November 2012 several Other Russia activists party were arrested in the Moscow subway – which prevented them from marking the anniversary of Other Russia’s newspaper Limonka.

The “Other” category consists of arrests that took place under unusual circumstances. These include the arrest of Makulatura band musicians at a performance on August 5th 2012 and the arrest of passers-by with a poster reading “Happy Birthday” whom the police mistook for members of the protest camp #OccupyArbat.

Street Event Types

The most common type of street events during the reviewed period is picketing – OVD-info recorded 682 arrests at 65 pickets, which makes up 28% of all recorded events.

‘Picketing’ in Russian normally means a form of protest, authorised or non-authorised, with one or more people present, without a stage or sound amplification, marching or direct action. But in this report the defining criteria for picketing are also the following: a) having a specific cause; b) taking place in a pedestrian area and c) in close proximity to the institution that is the object of protest. Examples of events in this category are: regular picketing of the Investigative Committee in support of the people accused of rioting in the May 6th Bolotnaya square case; picketing of the State Duma against the new assembly legislation and the law against adoption of Russian children by US citizens; numerous events in support of Pussy Riot that took place outside the Moscow courts during the hearings of the band’s case. Despite the fact that they are not fully consistent with our definition of picketing, a number events organized by Other Russia near the Novokuznetskaya metro station are also included in the category – mainly because they were officially sanctioned as pickets and fall under the judicial definition of picketing.

Despite the fact that a one-person picket does not require a permit in Russia, in the course of the reviewed period 47 arrests during 15 one-person pickets were recorded. This contradiction is due to the fact that one of the common protest practices in Moscow are series of one-person pickets united by theme, time, and sometimes even space (in which case the participants usually keep a reasonable distance from one another). Besides, sometimes the police arrests two people during a one-person protest – for example, when one passes their poster to the other (see Authorised and non-authorised events for details).

During 38 direct actions and performances we recorded 433 arrests recorded by OVD-Info. Direct action is conventionally defined as action aiming to interfere with the target of the protest directly rather than symbolically. We have also included theatrical or performance actions in this category.

OVD-Info recorded 1978 arrests at 22 rallies. We define rallies as mass protests unified by the same theme and space regardless of the event’s official status. Rallies can be held with or without a stage and sound amplification. We distinguish a rally from a picket by the following criteria: a rally is not necessarily held in close proximity to the target of protest, it does not have a specific topic, and/or its site is not exclusively pedestrian. The fact that the most arrests were recorded at rallies is due to, firstly, mass arrests during some of the authorised rallies for fair elections, as well as the fact that we classify the series of non-authorised Strategy-31 protests on Triumfalnaya square as rallies.

484 arrests were recorded by OVD-info during 4 marches. A march in this report is an event with coordinated movement of the participants along a pre-defined route, regardless of the event’s official status.

There are certain difficulties in classifiying events that fall on the boundaries of event types. The line between a march and an organized walk (‘stroll’) is rather vague. It is even harder to distinguish organized walks from the series of events, extended in both time and space, that received the label ‘occupy’. (Translator’s note: these protests also were, for most of their participants, not affiliated with the transnational Occupy movement). Nonetheless, both ‘stroll’ and ‘occupy’ are firmly rooted in the language that defines street protests in Moscow in 2011-2012, notably in the self-designation by their organizers. This is the reason for adapting three terms in this report – ‘stroll’, ‘stroll/occupy’, and ‘occupy’, – and the attribution of an event depends not only on formal criteria, but on the self-definition as well.

In the course of 6 strolls, 72 arrests were recorded. As opposed to marches, events of this type do not imply receiving a formal permission from the authorities. They do not have a specific pre-defined route and the participants’ movements are not centrally coordinated (e.g. by someone with a loudspeaker), they do not form blocs and participate in the event individually.

In the course of 12 events we classify as stroll/Occupy, we recorded 1034 arrests. This category consists of two event types, that significantly differ from one another in format: one the one hand this is the series of ‘White Ribbon Walks’ on the Red Square, which in format and ideology were something in between the Strategy-31 actions and strolls. On the other hand it’s the ‘White City’ event of 7 May 2012. This action was planned as a stroll not attached to a particular geographic spot, but because of a rough dispersal by the police it turned into a series of short Occupy-style events, carrying on for three days, and covering the whole Moscow city center.

Finally, during Occupy events OVD-info recorded 17 instances of dispersals or arrests of individual protesters, with a total of 234 arrests. We define ‘occupy’ events using the following set of criteria: a) 24-hour presence of protesters; b) no set theme; c) lack of single organizer, self-organization of participants or competing groups of organizers. These criteria are met by the #OccupyAbai on Chistoprudnyi boulevard near the Abai Qunanbaiuli monument, the #OccupyArbat on Arbat Street near the Bulat Okudzhava monument, and #OccupyBarricades in the park on Kudrinskaya Square. Arrests of activists who were moving from one of these locations to the other are added to this category. Events that took place later and had the word “occupy” in their title like #OccupyMUR (Moscow criminal police), #OccupySK (Investigative Committee) in this report are considered to be picketing. The tent camp of several Pussy Riot supporters known as #OccupyCourt is attributed to “Other”.

OVD-info also monitored 7 incidents with a total of 40 arrests in eco-camps. 6 of the cases were recorded in the Tsagovskiy forest defenders’ camp in Zhukovskiy, and there was one case with 6 arrests in the Khimki forest defenders’ camp. By ‘eco-camps’ we mean environmental protest actions extended in time and occupying a space in a non-urban environment.

Picture 1: Distribution of events by their type

Формат мероприятий Количество мероприятий Количество задержанных

Table 1: The number of events and arrests in correlation with the type of events


The OVD-Info database contains 49 various activities dedicated to support of political prisoners or arrestees (marked as ‘political prisoners’).

The second and third most common protest topics are general. The topic of the electoral fraud and demand for fair elections were predominant before the presidential election on 4 March 2012 (35 events marked as ‘for fair elections’). After the elections, the agenda became less specific, but reflecting a more radical attitude towards the ruling elite – 44 events in the report are marked as ’anti-Putin’, as Vladimir Putin personifies the negative characteristics of the current political system for protestors. As Table 2 shows, approximately equal numbers of people were detained during the first general protest wave (’for fair elections’) and the second wave (‘anti-Putin’).

19 events were dedicated to solidarity with the detained members of the band Pussy Riot. It is worth mentioning here that the arrest of the band members themselves, which happened after a performance on Lobnoe Mesto on 20 January 2012 falls under the topic “Anti-Putin”.

The Moscow Occupy events are thematically attributed in this report as ‘occupy”, since one of our criteria for this type of event is its lack of single subject. In the opinion of the authors of this report, in the format of Occupy events, the form is more important than the contents, therefore the number of the events of this format (17 Occupy events) is the same as the number of the events with this subject (17 events).

“Strategy-31” rallies form their own category. These are protests with the demand to uphold the 31st Article of the Russian Constitution (the freedom of assembly), normally held on the 31st calendar day of any month on Triumfalnaya Square. The number of events we report with this subject in the reported period (10) is larger than the number of Strategy-31 rallies, since a number of Other Russia activists were detained twice near the Moscow Mayor’s office at actions demanding the Mayor to agree to clear a Strategy-31 event.

The categories of Environmental (9 events) and Social (6 events) topics contain actions with corresponding demands. Actions in defense of Khimki and Tsagovsky forests are tagged as environmental, while actions dedicated to education reform and the topic of infill construction are tagged as social topics.

5 events in the reported period targeted the toughening of the legislation on public events. This topic is tagged as “Against the law on rallies”. 3 events were dedicated ban on adoption by US citizens (subject line “Against the anti-Magnitsky Law”).

2 actions for the rights of LGBTQ people are tagged with the abbreviation LGBTQ; 2 anti-fascist actions are tagged as ‘antifa’.

‘Other’ topics - 27 events in the reporting period – include both events dedicated to a specific if rare topic (for instance, “Yabloko” party against military conscription, or picketing the US embassy due to the situation with Radio Liberty), as well as arrests of activists outside public events, and other exceptional cases of arrests.

Picture 2: Distribution of events by their topics

Тематика мероприятий Кол-во мероприятий Кол-во задержанных

Table 2: КThe number of events and arrests in correlation with the topic of events


The full list of protest organisers and the breakdown of numbers of arrests by organiser of protest are presented in Table 3 and the Organisers slide.

Picture 3 shows that there was no absolute organisational leader of street protests, since the largest proportion of events (99 out of 228) did not have an identifiable organiser. Such activities are tagged as ’spontaneous’. Our criterion for this classification is the lack of a formal institutional organizer (a political party or thematic or organisational committee) or of an easily identifiable non-institutional organising group of activists. The second criterion of a spontaneous event is its numerousness. As a rule, one or another group of activists unrelated to institutional actors is behind the less-numerous protests which occur without a formal organiser. Such events in this report fall into the ‘Other’ organiser category. This category is the second largest, with 38 events. It is worth mentioning that due to our inability to establish for certain the lack of a single organizer of non-authorised events, there may be a certain proportion of mistaken attribution to the ‘spontaneous’ and ‘other’ categories.

Overall, spontaneous events and those organized by various groups of activists (‘Other’) comprise the vast majority of the events documented by OVD-info, both by number and by arrest count: 137 events (60% of the total) have no identifiable organiser or were organised by independent activist groups. 2,300 arrests (44%) took place at these events.

The organisers of 40 events (17%, with 2,088 arrests, or 40%), were somehow formally related to the general protest movement (Protest Actions Organizing Committee, Coordination Council, The 23rd of August Organizing Committee, Solidarity Movement, The Left Front, The Protest Actions Workshop, Rosagit, The 6 May Committee).

Among the institutional actors taking part in the general protest movement, Solidarity is the leading organiser of autonomous events – 14 events (6%) and 485 arrests (9%).

Among the institutional actors outside of the general protest movement, the most events were organised by the non-registered party Other Russia: 23 events (10%) and 193 arrests (less than 4%).

It is worth mentioning that despite the common understanding that Other Russia organises the Strategy-31 rallies, they are in fact a coalition project of several political actors. Their organiser is the Strategy-31 committee. For 8 Strategy-31 rallies (3% of events) there were 429 arrests (8%).

Picture 3: Distribution of events by their organisers

Picture 4: The number of arrests in correlation with the events’ organisers

Организатор мероприятий Кол-во мероприятий Кол-во задержанных

Table 3: The number of events and arrest in correlation with the events’ organisers

Geography of Arrests

We have mapped arrests by the police stations the arrestees were taken to. It is worth noting that the number of arrests on the map is less than in the overall OVD-info statistical database, since we do not have the full information about the arrests between 4-10 December 2011. Over the reporting period, OVD-info documented 5,166 detentions, and the map by by police station considers 4,269 of them.

The overall number of police stations engaged in political arrests in the reporting period is 87. Out of them, 68 are local police stations of districts of Moscow (internal affairs departments, OVD in Russian), 16 are Line Internal Affairs Departments (police stations at train and metro stations), and 3 are police stations outside of the city.

The largest numbers of arrestees were brought to Basmannyi (372 arrestees), Tverskoy (365), and Presnenskiy (262) police stations.

Authorised and non-authorised protests

Politically motivated arrests take place at actions and rallies as well as during other political activities. Arrests occur at both authorised and unauthorised actions. By ‘authorised action’ we mean protests where the organisers have sought clearance from the relevant local authority, which is required by Russian law for any protest where more than one person is holding up placards or banners. During the period in question, we have registered 1079 arrests at authorised protests and 4087 at non-authorised ones. It has to be said that the non-authorised character of an event does not mean that it is not peaceful: all events monitored by OVDinfo were entirely peaceful, except for the (authorised) March of the Millions on 6 May 2012 (which ended in violent clashes with the police).

During the large authorised rallies (5 December 2011, 5 March 2012, 10 March 2012, 12 September 2012) arrests primarily begin after the end of the main event, if part of its participants decide to carry it on in another format.

On 5 December 2011 participants supported the call from the stage to “take a walk to Lubyanka metro station”, resulting in the arrest of about 300 people.

On 5 March 2012 Sergei Udaltsov suggested the protestors do not leave the site of the rally, and the protest continued in the form of a meeting with Duma deputy Ilya Ponomaryov. (Under current legislation, meetings with Duma deputies are one form or public event which requires no clearance from public authorities.) The meeting was violently shut down by riot police and about 200 people were detained.

Likewise, on 10 March and 12 September Sergey Udaltsov was detained alongside several others after Udaltsov made the suggestion of continuing the event in a different (still lawful) format. On 12 September Udaltsov was detained before the stated end of the authorised rally.

Also noteworthy are the arrests of Other Russia activists at a series of authorised pickets outside of Novokuznetskaya metro station in the summer of 2012. Every time, police officers used force to detain participants of these authorised protests, providing the reason that the activists’ placards were not consistent with the stated topic of the protest. For example, on 29 June 2012, “Detained at a authorised protest next to Novokuznetskaya metro station: activists of Other Russia Dmitry Kolesnikov, Evgeny Petrov, Georgiy Dorokhov, Vitaliy Krayev, Rostislav Barsukov, as well as journalist and blogger Shelkovenkov. According to one of the activists, those detained are the organisers of the protest as well as everybody who held on to a banner. The arrestees have been brought back to Zamoskvorechye police station”.

A special case is the shutdown of the authorised march on 6 May 2012, which turned into police violence, arrests and later criminal cases against participants of the march. In this report we are not ready to give an overall evaluation of the events on Bolotnaya square that day, however we can testify that the police used excessive force on the arrestees, and the arrests themselves took place illegally.

Arrests at actions which do not legally require to be authorised by a local authority (such as single person protest or collective strolling without chanting or placards) take place either without any legal basis, or are explained by formalistic reasons. In this way, on 27 October 2012 Sergey Udaltsov, Alexei Navalny, Sergey Parkhomenko, Maksim Sannikov, Ekaterina Mochalova and one other person were detained during their “stroll against repression and torture”. All of them were walking along the street without placards or chanting, or stood on their own outside a building (which is allowed as a single person picket).. On 24 November 2012 Sergey Sharov-Delone and Oleg Pykhtin were detained at the one-person picket “Tomorrow they will come for you!”: Sharov Delone was holding up a placard, Pykhtin approached him, and the two were immediately arrested..

On 24 March 2012 “two participants of a protest in memory of Sergey Magnitsky were detained by police outside the Ministry of the Interior on Kaluzhskaya Square … The two women were in breach of conditions of one-person picket: they displayed placards within only 10 metres of each other. The activists quickly fixed the error and removed one of the two placards, nevertheless the police detained both the placard holders”

Overall, despite the strictness of Russian laws on public actions, many of the forms of street action that OVD-info covered over the year are not regulated by law. We consider arrests during the ‘strolls’ and Occupy actions in May, as well as arrests during “white-ribbon strolls” or at one-person pickets, to be fundamentally illegal due to the absence of corresponding prohibitions in Russian legislation.

The overwhelming majority of arrests happen at non-authorised actions which the authorities deem to require clearance, such as the Strategy-31 demonstrations on Triumfalnaya Square (taking place every 31st day of any month), various performances and flash-mobs, or last-minute mass protests outside courts and other state institutions. The decision to shut down such actions clearly has a political, context-dependent character. Identical situations may lead to the decision to shut an event down, or not. In this way, people gathered outside a court to support the entrepreneur Alexey Kozlov were not detained (probably to avoid extra publicity), whereas every court hearing on the Pussy Riot case led to arrests.

In the course of arrest

An overwhelming majority of arrests take place without the arrestee being forewarned of their breach of the law. During arrest, police officers do not identify themselves or state the reason for arrest. Operatives of the Centre for Anti-Extremism are usually present at opposition actions and point out activists to be detained by police. Police officers regularly use excessive force.

Testimony by Daniil Faizov, detained on 18 March 2012 at the protest “against NTV’s vicious lies” at the television centre in Ostankino:

“After approximately 10 minutes I was nicked (I was not resisting and was acting politely). I did not chant, did not shout. Police officers did not identify themselves, [I] do not recognise their faces, to my reasonable question “What [are you arresting me] for?” they answered “They’ll tell you [when you get] there.”

On 22 April 2012 an activist was arrested on the Red Square for unravelling a banner reading “Russia without Chains”: “The arresting officer, a lieutenant colonel, declined to introduce himself, as he believes that the law on police does not demand this of him”. On 13 June 2012 journalists protesting against the threats to a colleague from the head of the Investigative Committee Bastrykin were arrested outside this government institution. “Olga Bychkova reports on Twitter that the arresting police officers declined to identify themselves.”. The refusals to identify and to name the reason for arrest are so systematic that they are routinely omitted from OVD-info reporting.

For every one arrestee, there is normally one to four arresting officers from a variety of agencies – these may be OMON (riot police), the 1st or 2nd operative regiments, or officers of Moscow police. Commonly arrests take a form that is demeaning and undermines the arrestee’s dignity: in multiple recorded cases arrestees are dragged from or to the paddy wagon along the tarmac, many get carried by the legs and arms.

On 7 October 2012, participants of a “freedom stroll” were detained in Aleksandrovsky Garden: “Police officers dragged Zinovkina, Sannikov, Drovetsky and Dergachev along the ground”. On 11 October 2012 “Vera Lavreshina was dragged out of Kitai Gorod police station along the wet tarmac”.

Testimony by an arrestee from 5 May 2012, Pushkinskaya Square:

“Two OMON officers grab my feet, now three of them are carrying me. The one who held [me] by the shoulders for some reason lets go, I hang upside down. In the sky below me I see dark outlines of journalists and camera lenses. Then the world turns upside down. Next to me some guys are being forcefully thrown against the wall of the paddy wagon. And I’m pushed inside.”

Depending on the action, arrests may be indiscriminate or may be targeted according to police command instructions. Arkadiy Babchenko, arrested on 6 December 2012 at Triumfalnaya Square, testifies:

“So I stood around for an hour or an hour and a half, then a major walks past with two [officers] and says “Take this one too””

Anti-extremism centre operatives are present during most of arrests. “While the police bus stood near Kitai Gorod police station, the well-known E centre operative Alexei Okopny came into the bus and took away Dmitry Smirnov, Pavel Shekhtman, Sergey Zaplavny and Dmitry Kolesnikov”.

Commonly the stated reason for arrest is the presence of opposition symbols such as white ribbons. Ilya Vorontsov, arrested on 7 May 2012 at Lubyanka:

“We had white ribbons tied to our clothes. We had not reached the event yet when two ‘astronauts’ [police in riot gear] emerged from an underpass, one of them saw my white ribbon and approached me with the words “Young man, let’s go!”

Arrests in cafes became a 2012 novelty.

Journalist Asya Chachko, arrested on 7 May 2012:

“Having smashed up [cafe] Jean-Jacques, the chain of OMON moved us and the customers of all the nearby cafes to Nikitsky Gates, and took away the writer Lev Rubinshteyn, Grani.Ru editor-in-chief Vladimir Korsunsky, two girls from Kommersant, Masha Shubina from the Yeltsin Foundation, and another ten or so people into paddy wagons.”

On 23 December 2011 police arrested two activists who were handing out promotional materials for the demonstration for fair elections to be held on 24 December, in a club in Moscow. “Anna Shabalkova and Alexey Shichkov were detained in a club in central Moscow with no explanation offered. The volunteers were sitting at a table, a stack of freshly printed leaflets was on the tabletop. The arrestees are being brought to Meshanskoye police station”. Similar situations repeated with Other Russia activists.

Types of arrests

The most common type of arrest is “delivery to police station with the aim of filing a protocol”. In most cases, the arrestees are charged with article 20.2 of the Administrative Offences Code of the Russian Federation (Violation of the established procedure for the organisation or carrying out of a meeting, demonstration, rally, march, or picket, punishable by a fine of up to 30 thousand roubles). Regularly arrestees are also charged with article 19.3 AOC RF (failure to obey a lawful order of a police officer, punishable by up to 15 days’ administrative detention).

Article 19.3 AOC RF is not often used by police station officers simultaneously with article 20.2 AOC RF, despite the fact that the refusal to comply with a lawful order of a police officer at a public event can only occur only if a law was being violated in the first place (such as article 20.2 AOC RF). In most cases article 19.3 AOC RF is used for a harsher sentence for the arrestee, for example if they asserted their rights, or were beaten up during arrest or at the police station.

On 30 October 2012 Other Russia activists intended to meet the mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin to demand that he remove fences from Triumfalnaya Square (the fences prevent Strategy-31 rallies from taking over the square). 8 activists were detained and then released from the police station without protocols, except Vasily Krayev who was charged with article 19.3 and kept under arrest overnight. During arrest, the police officers had hit Krayev’s head on a lamppost.

If the arrestee is charged with article 20.2 AOC RF, they must be released from the police station within three hours, whereas charged with article 19.3 a person can be kept in the police station awaiting trial for 48 hours. On 5 December 2011, 5 March 2012 and 6 May 2012 most of the arrestees were charged with article 19.3, and courts backdated their days of detention as punishment by administrative arrest.

The use of any other legislation is relatively rare, although sometimes activists receive article 20.1 AOC RF (petty hooliganism) or a range of articles of the Moscow Administrative Offences Code in relation to sticking up flyers or other printed materials.

On 14 March 2012 activists Nikolay Lyaskin, Roman Tkach, Pavel Shekhtman and Daniil Kogtev were detained in Bolshoi Kozikhinskiy alley at a protest against construction works there. Presnensky police station charged them with article 20.1 AOC RF (petty hooliganism).

On 30 August 2012 two people detained next to the Investigative Committee during a protest in solidarity with political prisoners were charged for sticking up flyers with article 8.13 of Moscow AOC: “unauthorised posting of information on objects”.

There are also “soft” arrests, which are not in any way regulated by Russian legislation and have no legal consequences for the arrestee. Their most common type is the “delivery to police station” for the purpose of writing “an explanatory note”, an ID check or a “cautionary conversation”.

On 27 April 2012, seven people were detained on Red Square for handing out political materials. They were taken to Kitai Gorod police staion and released without protocols having signed explanatory notes. On 3 May 2012 Aleksandr Myslenkov was detained at an authorised rally for handing out leaflets and “delivered to police station for an ID check” (http://ovdinfo.org/express-news/398) On 17 June 2012 people arrested at an Other Russia protest were released from Zamoskvorechye police station “following a cautionary conversation”.

After 6 May 2012 another kind of legally dubious arrest has appeared: “verification of involvement in riots on the 6th of May”. This was the formulation used for holding in police stations most of the people arrested during Moscow’s Occupy-style protests in May-June. In our opinion, these arrests explain the “thousands of witness accounts on the Bolotnaya case” referred to by the Investigative Committee. For example, on 19 August 2012 activist Maksim Vinyarsky was detained at an authorised meeting for wearing a balaclava. Later he was “released from Presnenskoye police station without charge. The reason for arrest was verification of involvement in the 6th of May riots”.

Organisers of authorised protests also get detained for exceeding the declared head count. On 19 January 2012 “following the end of the anti-fascist march in memory of Anastasiya Baburova and Stanislav Markelov, police officers detained Yuliya Bashinova, one of the declarants of the action.” She was brought to Tverskoye police station and “charged with violation of the authorised procedure for the action, in particular, exceeding the declared head count for the event (300 people), as per article 20.2 part 1 of AOC RF”.

Arrests of political activists outside of actions or protests sometimes are explained by a ‘wanted’ notice. On 26 June 2012 a Solidarity activist Pavel Yelizarov was detained “for a formal resemblance to a burglar” and “brought to Yakimanka police station for a search with witnesses”. Andrey Lukyanov was detained for two days in a police station because of his formal resemblance to Voina group activist Oleg Vorotnikov.

Arrests of accidental passers-by are not uncommon. On 24 May 2012 the police detained a group of birthday party goers on Arbat Street: “According to an eyewitness from the #occupyarbat camp, the party were detained because they had large greeting cards and they came close to the camp – at this point the police noticed and immediately detained”.

Two cases of politically motivated arrests in 2012 stand out from this overall typology. On 4 August 2012 surveyor Nikolai Pomeshenko, who led a project counting up attendees of protest demonstrations, and an Agora association barrister were arrested on Bolotnaya Square during a game of petanque. “The search and detention were motivated by suspicion of drug sales. The arrestees were brought to Yakimanka police station, and from there to a ‘narcological survey’”. On 5 August 2012 two musicians from the band Makulatura were detained in Baumansky garden during a performance “containing negative [remarks] towards Putin and the police”. Both musicians were charged with petty hooliganism (article 20.1 AOC RF) and fined.

Forced dispersal of protesters

The police practices dispersal of opposition actions by force, where violence is applied without reason. The best known case is the dispersal of the authorised “March of the millions” on 6 May 2012, but this is not the only case over the course of this year.

The events of the 6th of May received detailed attention of the media. Facts of beating and excessive use of force by the police are well documented with photo images and video (for example see OVD-info’s selection here).

Commissioner for Human Rights V. Lukin’s report:

“Arrests began. To start with, the OMON acted correctly and adequately in relation to the situation. However, soon the use of force became evidently excessive. Police officers beat up people who did not resist, hit protestors over the head with rubber baton. <…> Force was used towards passers-by.”

OVD-info records 650 arrestees on Bolotnaya Square and Tverskaya Street on 6 May. During our monitoring on 6 May, OVD-info registered complaints of injuries and beatings in practically every police station. Report by the Public Oversight Commission (POC) for Moscow provides some understanding of how arrests took place:

O.Tikhomirov, 27 years old, looked terrible, with a swollen and black eye, was kept behind bars in a van with other people detained on the square (there were seven of them at that point). Also behind bars were persons of no fixed abode. During the scramble, according to him, OMON officers picked him out of the crowd and injured his eye. POC members called an ambulance for Tikhomirov and he was hospitalised.

D.Ustinov reported that during arrest he was dragged by the hair and beaten with his head against the paddy wagon twice, hit with a foot in the crotch, with baton on the legs. He showed signs of the beating. During the beating he partly lost consciousness. As he talked to POC he felt sick, was nauseous.

D.Laikov showed [his] bruised face, right eyebrow, his face had been rubbed against the tarmac. His chest muscles were damaged (pulled) when his arms were twisted on the way to the paddy wagon

Overall 31 people were delivered to [Sokolniki] police station, police estimate 70% of them had injuries, some of them had ambulances called for them.

POC reaches the same conclusion as the Human Rights Commissioner:

“There is every sign of “excessive use of force” by the police during and after the rally on the 6th May. “Excessive” use of force means a) use of force that is disproportionate to the legal aim of the use of force, or b) response inadequate to a threat”

The response of the executive branch of government to the events on Bolotnaya Square on 6 May was voiced by Dmitry Peskov, press secretary for Vladimir Putin: “The OMON acted too soft”, they should have “smeared the protestors’ livers across the tarmac”.

The 5 of March 2012 rally for fair elections, following the results of the presidential election, also concluded with a forced dispersal of protestors. Following the end of the rally, a number of opposition leaders called the people present to continue their presence in the square as a meeting with the State Duma deputy Ilya Ponomaryov. The OMON dispersed unresisting protestors using non-lethal weapons and painful holds, many arrestees were beaten up.

An account by an arrestee at the 5 March 2012 Pushkinskaya Square protest:

«They handled it unceremoniously. Someone’s hand grabbed me by the face from behind and grabbed around for my mouth. Someone next to me shouted “Careful!” I turned my head but was grabbed … by the hat. Yes, here’s a painful hold by the police. The hat fell off, I turned to look for it but caught a blow in the jaw. I cannot respond! I make several stops forward, an [OMON] fighter tries to knock me off my feet. He grabs me by the clothes, wrenches away my camera. Camera flies under the feet of the crushed crowd, and I get a taser shot in the back of the knee. I fall from surprise.”

The use of non-lethal weapons such as tasers is also reflected in another eyewitness account: “Today they did not have shields, just batons and tasers. They begin to taser the people sitting in front on their legs”.

Activist Alyona Popova had her arm broken during arrest. Popova told Radio Liberty that she “saw a Georgian journalist from Rustavi, she sat next to the fountain with a camera, filming the events, and [police] kicked her in the face. Her whole face was bloodied”.

The recently elected President Vladimir Putin voiced his opinion of the police’s actions on Pushkinskaya Square: “Very professional work. No one was beaten up, no weapons were used”.

Physical violence and medical attention

While police forcibly disperse protesters only in exceptional circumstances, excessive and unpunished violence during arrest is widely practiced by police. On 31 January 2012 at the regular Strategy 31 protest, three protesters were beaten during their arrest:

Marat Salakhiev was arrested first. In the police bus, a policeman asked Salakhiev is he was alone, and got an affirmative response. According to Salakhiev, the policeman then hit him on the head. His passport was also confiscated. Mikhail Shchukin was likewise beaten by police in the police bus. He has a serious bruise on his right jaw. Arseny Meshcheryakov was struck in the groin, legs, and head, before being led into the police bus. He has a serious bruise on his left leg.

On May 8th, Georgiy Dorokhov was detained at Chistye Prudy. The beating he sustained during the detention cost him several teeth.

Valery Tsaturov was beaten on 31 May 2012 during his detention on Triumfalnaya square. He was later “diagnosed with a closed head injury. He was hospitalized in Moscow’s hospital no.14 with a concussion and a hypertensive crisis”.

The activist Igor Shchuka was injured on 13 July 2012 during the “Other Russia” picket near the Novokuznetskaya metro station.

According to a Facebook post by Sergey Fomchenkov, Igor Schuka’s “head was hit against the side of the police bus by the police. He then lost consciousness. Right now he’s unconscious on the asphalt, near the police bus”.

During the 11 October 2012 Red Square protest in support of political prisoners, nine people were detained, including Daria Gladskikh. During the arrest, her hand was pinched in a police car door. Her finger was broken and she lost a lot of blood as the police refused to let her go to hospital. She was later hospitalized at Moscow’s the hospital no.6.

Three “Other Russia” activists were beaten by the police on Oct. 24, 2012 during a picket of the Chinese embassy. One of the activists had his nose broken.

Six “Other Russia” members were detained near the Chinese embassy after a demonstration against Chinese expansion. Kurkin, Popov, and Avdyushenkov were beaten with clubs; Kurkin has a broken nose.

On 26 November 2012, during an action outside the Federal Prison Service in Moscow in support of the prisoners of the IK-6 facility in Kopeysk, 66-year-old arrestee Vera Cheremisova lost consciousness.

Cheremisova felt unwell during the arrest and fainted, according to eyewitnesses. However, police officers still carried the woman into the police bus and refused to wait for an ambulance. As other detainees informed OVD-Info, she felt unwell during the ride. She was finally allowed access to medical attention forty minutes after all of the detainees were brought to Yakimanka police station. Cheremisova is currently at hospital no.55.

Despite systematic beatings during arrests, members of the police force remain unpunishe (see the criminal cases section for more details). Furthermore, detained activists who are hospitalized are frequently not processed at the police station as having been arrested, and are thus excluded from official police statistics.

Detention of journalists

Journalists who are covering protest actions are frequently detained. In the majority of cases they are released from the police station after they show their press card, but at the time of arrest police officers often do not react to such documents. It is worth noting that the manner in which the arrests take place, as well as the number of police personnel available during an average arrest, should easily allow the police to check the status of the arrestee without transporting them to the police station. In reality, according to journalists themselves, police officers are often well aware that they are detaining members of the press.

On 5 March 2012, journalists from Kommersant and Moscow News were arrested along with protesters. Kommersant reporter Gleb Shchelkunov writes:

Most of the crowd consisted of journalists with cameras. We heard the order, “Clear them!” Riot police in helmets with visors appeared from somewhere and started to crudely push aside the journalists. I got a fairly strong shove in the chest. Then I forced my way out of the cordon. I approached a senior officer who was in charge of the operation, and politely pointed out that his subordinates’ actions toward journalists were inappropriate. In response I heard, “Get this one!” Four or five ‘astronauts’ ran up to me, grabbed me by the hands, and tried to tackle me to the ground.

Yeah, right. I weigh a hundred kilos, plus the equipment. Not that easy. No point in screaming that I’m a journalist. The people in the space suits were like androids under orders. I didn’t defend myself, so they wouldn’t have a reason to charge me with resisting arrest—and then I have all my equipment hanging on my side. It belongs to the company, but still, I want to protect it.

They brought us into the bus. There were two other detainees there. One of them, a young woman, was holding onto the bars, not letting them close the door. The police weren’t able to unclench her hands. I hear someone say, “Give me a lighter.” Click, and a little flame lights up in the twilight. They seem to want to burn her hand, but my camera stops them. I put a call through to the newspaper. Tell them what happened. I show my press card to the officers. They tell me to take it up with their bosses. I ask them to call the guy in charge. No reaction.

After presenting his press card at the police station, Shchelkunov was released.

The Moscow News correspondent Pavel Nikulin, also detained on March 5, told RIA Novosti that “four police officers grabbed him, carried him to the van, and threw him inside, hitting his head on the steps, even though he kept screaming that he’s a journalist”. Nikulin demanded that the officers be prosecuted, but instead was charged himself under article 20.2 AOC. He was later acquitted by the court.

At the same event, Ulyana Malashenko, a Kommersant FM journalist, was also beaten. She received a baton blow to the head, and ended up in hospital with a concussion.

Currently no information is available about any official investigation of these incidents.

The photoblogger Mikhail Sazonov was arrested on 3 October 2012 in the metro: “A protest action took place at the Ploshchad’ Revolyutsii station. Activists released white balloons in the station hall. All of the participants safely left in trains, but Mikhail Sazonov, who was photographing the event, was arrested”.. He was later released with an apology from the head of the police station.

Radio Liberty and grani.ru journalist Dmitry Zykov was detained on 1 July 2012 near the Ministry of Education after a Left Front demonstration. “Left Front activists left a coffin inscribed with the word ‘Education’ on the steps of the Ministry of Education, in response to a new federal law which drastically cuts the budget of educational institutions. Zykov, who remained on the scene to photograph the later fate of the coffin, was arrested as a protestor, despite his press card, and brought to police station Tverskoe. He was later released from the police station without charges”.

On 1 October 2012 the journalist Kirill Mikhailov was arrested near Preobrazhenskoe police station. He was “reporting live from an action in support of people detained earlier at a Pussy Riot solidarity action. Alongside eight others, he was charged under article 19.3 AOC (failure to obey a lawful order of a police officer, jail time up to 15 days), and kept overnight at Preobrazhenskoe police station. He was defended in court by Violetta Volkova. Despite witness testimony and his status as a journalist, Mikhailov was found guilty”.

The Paddy Wagon as a Form of Torture

Upon arrest, transportation in a police vehicle (most commonly a bus or coach, sometimes a specialised van) to the police station is the most dangerous part of the arrest. As a space insulated from external observation, the bus is used by police for threats and beatings.

As told by Jenny Kurpen, a journalist arrested on 6 May 2012 on Tverskaya street:

Babchenko, Dmitry Smirnov, and several other people I didn’t know were already inside the cage. Nadezhda Nizovkina, Tatiana Stetsura, and another person I don’t know were in the outer compartment. Two policemen were holding Nizovkina and Stetsura by the neck, wringing their hands back and not letting them move. Apart from the three arrestees and two OMON guys, there was one uniformed female police officer and another one in plain clothes. The plain-clothed one filmed everything with a professional camera.

Before the bus began moving, the officers who were holding Stetsura hit her head against the railing. I began filming. The policewoman with the camera yelled that I had no right to film inside the police bus, and demanded that I turn my camera off. I refused, saying that as a member of the press I have every right to record unlawful actions by the police and inform the public about them, and that in fact that is my professional responsibility. She then tried to get the camera out of my hands, but didn’t manage to do so. Then she simply broke the lens of my camera.

There was a commotion in the half-metre space in front of the cage. One of the police officers stopped it. The bus started moving. The trip took about an hour; we didn’t know until the last minute where we were going. During the whole trip to the police station the policewoman with the camera acted rudely toward the detainees, provoked aggressive replies and actions, and then filmed them. For example, she said to Arkady Babchenko, who was locked up in the cage: “you are a bum and a wino—you were booted out of work for boozing and so you got angry and went fucking around.” To another arrested man she said, “you can’t get laid, that’s why you’re fucked up in the head.” To Stetsura and Nizovkina: “the girls just wanted to fool around with guys, and went asking for trouble”; “you’re all yids here so you don’t want to work, so we have to work for you”; “you read books instead of working.” Later, she got a phone call from a colleague, and made a speech about being “fucking sick of all this,” that she wants “the work day to end as soon as possible,” that “these moochers are going all over the place screaming their face off about their rights instead of going to work.” I should add that the appearance of the woman was a perfect match to her principles, her speech, and her overall savagery: a yellowing fake blonde, about 30-35 years old, wearing bawdy makeup, a leopard mini-skirt, fishnet stockings, and high heels—a market peddler infused with class warfare.

When I calmly informed her that I will report her threats, insults, and the material damage (my broken camera) to the prosecutor’s office, she changed her tone from indifferently insulting to hysterical. She became nervous, and began screaming at me. She threatened me with a felony prosecution, saying that at the office there’s a ready report that I robbed her, and that I participated in the riot on Bolotnaya Square and inflicted knife wounds on a member of the OMON.

Threats and beatings in police buses are systematic.

On 5 March 2012, Tatyana Kadiyeva was arrested on Lubyanka Sq and beaten first in the paddy wagon and later on the street outside Zamoskvorechye police station. According to Kadiyeva, inside the paddy wagon several police officers covered her (blocking out her vision) with a jacket and then beat her. Coming out of the paddy wagon, she received a kick to the head. Kadiyeva spent a night in the police station. In the morning she was brought to court and on the way there forcefully hit with her head upon a police car. On March 7th she was hospitalised at Moscow hospital no.1 with “a multiple nose fracture, bruises on her arms, head and elsewhere, and a possible concussion”, see also interview with Tatyana Kadiyeva

Following arrests on Red Square on 1 April 2012, people were beaten in a police bus “by riot police officers, in response to a request to identify themselves. The beatings were filmed by the arrestees”.

While Mikhail Lukashev was alone in the police bus on 8 May 2012 near Khoroshevskoe police station, he was “visited by a police major, who threatened him with physical violence”.

No less widespread is the use of the police bus as a torture chamber. During cold weather the heat is turned off; officers may keep the doors open. During hot weather all windows are closed, and, in some reported cases, heating was turned on.

Amir Khairulin was dragged into a police bus on 31 July 2012; “windows were closed, and heat turned up with the words ‘breathe a bit’. Khairulin told OVD-Info that prior to locking him up in the bus, the police took away his water. The temperature on that day in Moscow was 30C.

Yuri Emelyanov was arrested on 2 Aug 2012 near Khamovniki Court, during an action in support of Pussy Riot. “Currently the detainee is inside the police bus. According to Emelyanov, the police closed all the windows and are “torturing him by lack of air”. The temperature that day was 25C.

On 26 November 2012, detainees at Yakimanka police station “spent more than an hour in a police bus with open doors, without heating. They were not being let into the police station”. Temperature on that day was –3C.

Filling the bus with exhaust fumes should also be regarded as a form of torture.

On 5 March 2012, eighteen Pushkin Square arrestees were held in the bus for more than one and a half hours after being transported to Lefortovo police station; “exhaust fumes were let into the bus”.

The reason for exhaust fumes inside the bus is that it remains stationary with the engine turned off. OVD-info has recorded cases where police officers intentionally revved up the engine of a stationary bus on purpose. This technique is well illustrated by an incident taking place before the reporting period. Marat Salakhiev, arrested on 15 November 2011 on Triumfalnaya Square at the protest against “elections without opposition”:

“…there were 19 people in the paddy wagon. [The officers]turned out the lights. We began to protest, we had enough energy for a few dozen chants. This didn’t stop at chanting: the bus began to rock from side to side. The cops’ reaction was immediate: the driver slammed the accelerator, then the breaks. Arrestees fell from the bars, some fell down. Curses flew towards the cops. The bus began to rock again and the driver immediately used his trick. This happened several times, and at one point I began to smell exhaust fumes and tar, others also felt that it was getting harder to breathe. The lights were not turned on except for the purpose of counting us. In the light of our phone screens and flashlights we could distinguish an acrid blue smoke…”

Because the time of administrative detention (legally limited to 3 hours in case of a light administrative offence) officially begins only when the arrestee is brought into a police station, there is a legal gap allowing police officers to hold detainees in the police bus for indefinite amounts of time. In most cases, police officers intentionally ignore the provision of the Administrative Offences Code that demands the arrestee to be brought to the nearest police station. This is well illustrated by the fact that the largest number of arrestees we monitored were brought to the Presnenskoye police station, despite the fact that very few of the events we monitored fall under its jurisdiction.

On 21 July 2012, arrestees spent almost an entire day in a police bus.

Seven activists, who had been brought to the Zamoskvoretsky court building at 12pm to process their administrative offence charges, are still in the police bus.

As OVD-info learned from activists near the court room, out of nine arrestees brought to the court building, only two were convicted in the last six hours (Anna Shchuka and Evgeny Popov). The rest of them are still in the police bus. Activists also claim that police officers are not allowing food to be handed to the arrestees, and that the latter have to fight their way out onto the street to go to the bathroom.

Illegal conduct in police stations

Police station officers commit many procedural breaches against arrestees (irregularities in arrestees’ paperwork, exceeding legally permitted detention times) as well as substantially more serious breaches concerning the right to legal defense and timely medical care, to name just a few. OVD-info recorded many cases of arrestees being beaten up by police station officers. Besides, in most cases the incarceration conditions in police stations do not follow existing legislation.

Time spent in detention

Depending on the offence, the maximum period of detention in police station can be up to three hours (in case when the incriminated article does not warrant an administrative arrest, like the most popular article in Moscow, 20.2 AOC RF) up to 48 hours (in case when the article warrants an administrative arrest, like article 19.3 AOC RF). Also, an arrestee can be detained in a police station up to 48 hours for identification, in case where they refuse to state their name to police officers.

In real life the three hours’ detention period legally allotted for police officers to charge an arrestee with the article 20.2 AOC RF and compile the relevant protocol, is regularly exceeded.

On 28 November 2012 Other Russia activists were arrested in the metro:
Maria Zinchenko has informed OVD-info that she was detained at noon alongside Vladimir Makarenko and Georgiy Dorohov. They were first held for more than three hours at the police office at the metro station Oktyabrskaya. There they were charged with article 20.2 AOC RF (violation of procedure for carrying out a protest), although according to Zinchenko they were not on a protest action. Later the arrestees were brought to Yakimanka police station, where they were held for another hour and a half, until it became clear that police officers of Yakimanka police station did not “require” the arrestees and that the activists were being brought back to the police station at the metro station Oktyabrskaya.

On 5 June 2012 at around 10 in the morning arrests took place at a protest against stricter legislation on protests. 13 people including them the leader of the party Yabloko Sergey Mitrokhin were brought to Tverskoye police station. At about 2pm everybody was released from Tverskoye police station except for Sergey Mitrokhin. The arrestees were detained for more than three hours and charged with article 20.2 AOC RF.

The detention period is often exceeded if the arrestees begin to assert their rights: their charge gets changed from article 20.2 of AOC RF to the more serious article 19.3 AOC RF, as the latter allows for a longer period of detention (up to 48 hours). On 28 May 2012 during the protest outside the Chief Directorate of Internal Affairs on Petrovka street, 38 a number of people were arrested, among them Alisa Obraztsova and Anastasiya Yuditskaya. They were brought to Tverskoye police station and since no charges were made against them during the first three hours of detention, they were detained for the night and after that charged with the article 19.3 AOC RF.

Procedural breaches during the registration of arrestees at police stations

Police station paperwork constitutes the ground for future court hearings. In the Russian court system, in practice the testimony of police officers found in detention reports and protocols of administrative law violation forms the evidentiary foundation and defines the court’s ruling. In course of writing the protocols and reports police officers commit a significant number of procedural breaches and in most cases these documents do not reflect the real course of events.

In order to comply with legal requirements on time limits on detention, officers at police stations often put the time of delivery of the arrestee to the police station at random. Sergey, who was detained on 5 December 2011 near Chistiye Prudy at a rally against election fraud told OVD-info:

“The protocols state that Vladislav Gordeev was brought to the police station at 21.20, Gleb Aminov at 21.50, although in fact they entered Meshanskoye police station one after another. Further, in the protocols there is same description of the activity prior to the arrest (“being among a group of approximately 1000 people, was shouting anti-government slogans, attempted to break through the chain of police officers”), even though all of the arrestees were in different places.”

Protocols for all arrestees brought to the same police station turn out to be identical in practically every case, they contain the same descriptions of events, the same slogans, and even the same grammatical mistakes. More recently, protocols are printed in such a way that their descriptive part, in which the police station officers are supposed to transcribe the words of arresting officers, is filled out identically in advance.

Arkadiy Babchenko, detained on 6 December 2012 on Triumfalnaya Square, told OVD-info:

“They took me to the interrogating officer, a woman, who called me a “stupid Tadjik” [racist slur], asked me some basic questions, and after that I was brought into the assembly hall where they started to fill out the protocol. They were all printed out, like carbon copies, charging with the article 19.3 part 1 (failure to obey a lawful order of a police officer and obstruction of road traffic). Protocols were filled out until 2 or 3 in the morning. All this time people still sat in the police bus and waited for their turn - the last one to be taken out was Nadya Tolokno, an artist from Voina group. I overheard one of the commanding officers say: “Take that one in the yellow jacket last, she’s a fucking pain in the ass (sorry, that is a quote).”

This particular sort of procedural breaches at police stations after arrests on 5 December 2011 is also noted in the 2011 yearly report by Commissioner for Human Rights V. Lukin:

“All arrestees without exception were charged with the article 19.3 AOC RF (failure to obey a lawful order of a police officer). Police officers’ reports on the events that allegedly took place were evidently copied one from another, using the same words and turns of phrase.”

The content of the protocols depends solely on imagination of police officers. For example, activists detained on 31 December 2011 on Triumfalnaya Square during an action in support of political prisoner Taisiya Osipova had been holding placards demanding “Freedom to Tasia!” According to their protocols, their placards said “Freedom to oligarchs!”

After the protocols are written, arrestees may but are not legally required to sign it. If the arrestee refuses to sign the protocol, police officers refuse to release them. On 27 May 2012, several dozen people were detained during the dispersal of a Gay Pride rally. “Only Elena Cherepanova is left at Tverskoye police station. She has already been charged with article 20.2 of AOC RF. However she is being held because she is refusing to sign her protocol. More than three hours have passed since she was brought to the police station.”

Sometimes in similar cases police officers employ attesting witnesses, which also leads to legislation breaches. On 31 October 2012 at Basmannoye police station police officers themselves acted as attesting witnesses: “Everybody who was detained on Triumfalnaya Square was released. The last one to be let out was Nadezhda Mityushkina, who refused to sign the papers, after the three hours designated by the law for filling out of the administrative case. Curiously enough, the attesting witnesses in her case were some police officers, and among them a district police officer, who partook in her arrest.”

Another common breach is the refusal to issue copies of protocols to arrestees. On 1 April 2012 “Lawyers finally succeeded in freeing Liudmila Liubomudrova, who was kept overnight at Presnesnkoye police station, at 3 in the morning. Her blood pressure was extremely high. After members of the Public Oversight Commission stepping in, Liubomirova was released, but no documents were issued. It is worth noting that Liubomudrova was detained at the police station for more than 7 hours without any legal grounds, and after that she waited for three hours to get copies of protocols, without success.”

Police station officers commit many other procedural breaches that cannot be discovered by interviewing arrestees, but that do manifest themselves to inspections of the Public Oversight Commission. On 6 May 2012 “although by the time POC arrived the arrestees were detained at police station for more than one hour, they were not registered in the logbook, which became known, after members of POC asked for the journal to take a look at the description of arrests.”

It needs to be pointed out that this particular procedural breach is systematic and makes it possible for police station officers to falsify the time of the delivery of arrestees, to change elements of the charge, as well as deny arrests altogether. “POC members’ questions on the reasons for arrest and status of the arrestees were left unanswered, because the police station superiors vigorously denied the arrestees were arrested.”

Refusal to admit lawyers

According to Russian legislation, an arrestee is entitled to legal defense from either a professional lawyer or a ‘public defense counsel’. In practice police station officers regularly refuse to let public defense counsels with the required powers of attourney in to see arrestees. In some cases, professional lawyers were also not admitted inside police stations.

Dmitriy Suhov, arrested on 5 March 2012 on Pushkinskaya Square:

“Trying to get a defense lawyer was a complete and utter circus. … The lawyer followed the police bus in his car. But he didn’t show up inside the police station. The police officers’ first explanation was “He simply doesn’t want to come in here!”. This lie was revealed on the spot, by making one call to the lawyer. Then they started to tell us that the lawyer will be here “any minute now”. But he did not appear. Then we called the POC. Only after they arrived, did the police let the lawyer in to see us.”

Defense counsel are sometimes admitted to work with arrestees after a period of time, or not admitted inside altogether. Yaroslav Nikitenko, an environmental activist, was detained on 25 December 2011 outside Tverskoy court and brought to Kitai Gorod police station. “Defense counsel Elizaveta Prikhodina was admitted to see Yaroslav Nikitenko only after midnight of 26 December. Earlier, the lawyer Andrey Margulyev was not admitted to him at all. Nikitenko was arrested at 21.05 on 25 December.”

On 10 December 2012 a number of activists were detained at an action in support of Taisiya Osipova and brought to Kitai Gorod police station. Neither public defense counsels nor lawyers were admitted inside to meet the arrestees. Defense counsel Elizaveta Prikhodina told OVD-info:

“At first they didn’t even open the door for me. After that I called to the officer on duty in the Central District, and he put my call through to the police officer on duty at Kitai Gorod police station, Gostev Dmitiy Anatolievich. That makes it a whole hour between my clients Mitiushkina and Pozdniakov being brought to the police station and me reaching the officer on duty there. Gostev declared that he would not let me inside, because my power of attourney is not executed correctly: i.e. it is not a lawyer warrant, but a public defense counsel’s letter. I asked him to state any law, that requires a lawyer’s warrant, but he ignored my claim. Of course, according the article 25.5 of AOC RF defence can be performed not only by a lawyer but also by a public defense counsel with a letter of authority. Noone even looked at the letter of authority I had with me. Right now D.A. Gordev is violating the rights of my clients and my rights as their defender.”

Later the lawyers Violetta Volkova and Nikolay Polozov arrived at Kitai Gorod police station, and were brutally forced out of there by police officers.

Downright deception of lawyers is in common practice as well. On 31 May 2012 “Mark Feygin, lawyer of Stanislav Pozdniakov, and POC members arrived to Tverskoe police station. Police station offices refused to confirm that they have Pozdniakov in their custody.”

Incarceration conditions

Usually arrestees from political rallies are kept in a so-called assembly hall in police stations: a plain room with desks and chairs, used for staff meetings. Arrestees can also be placed in an administrative detention cell (ADC, known colloquially as the “monkey house”). If arrestees are held overnight or for a period longer than three hours, they legally have to be kept in an ADC and provided with bed sheets and warm meals.

Pavel Shehtman, detained on 5 March 2012 on Lubianskaya Square told OVD-info:

“The ADC in Zamoskvorechye police station (as well as in Tverskoe and evidently in other old police stations) is of Soviet if not Stalin-era standard: some 10 square meters, no windows, no ventilation, no furniture except for the deck of wooden planks that covers most of the ward, like in old-fashioned loos, where one is supposed to sleep, and a light bulb above the door that burns 24 hours a day. <…> They say that those arrested for longer than 24 hours, are supposed to get bed sheets, warm food and so on, but that must be on some other planet. We slept on the bare floor, using our clothes as pillows.”

Arkadiy Babchenko, detained on 6 December 2011 on Triumfalnaya Square told OVD-info:

“From the assembly hall we were taken in groups of 3-4 people and placed inside administrative detention cell (ADC). The cell for pre-trial detention (CPD) was close by, there were plank-beds, but the ADC was stuffed with 20 people: 19 men and a young woman (Tolokno was left in the corridor on a bench). Our ward was 4 by 4 meters, no way one could lay down, there was not even enough seating space for everybody. By 4 o’clock in the morning we asked police officers for some plastic bags, we tore them and put them on the floor - because the floor was so filthy - and began to lay down to sleep. But even this way there was not enough space for everybody, and 3 or 4 people had to stay standing up all night, so we had a rota.”

Ilya Vorontsov, detained on 5 December 2011 on Chistiye Prudy, told the magazine Bolshoy Gorod:

“We spent the first night in the assembly hall on armchairs and on the floor, because the ADC was for 10 people and there were 28 of us brought there. Police officers don’t cook, there is no canteen there. We ate food brought to us by relatives and complete strangers. Someone passed us 5 gigantic pizzas, we could eat only two of them, and gave the three remaining ones to the police officers.”

The meal problem was noted in 2011 yearly report of Commissioner for Human Rights V. Lukin in connection with the arrests on 5 December 2011.

“The problem of providing food for arrestees has come up acutely. According to paragraph 4 of the ‘Statute on conditions for keeping arrestees for administrative offence under custody, norms of food supply and order of medical care, affirmed by Decree of Russian Federation Government on 15.10.2003 # 627’, those arrested for a period longer than three hours should be supplied according to the same food norms as suspects and defendants in committing a crime, who are situated in pretrial detention facilities. Meanwhile the arrestees on 5 December 2011 were not provided with any food.”

13 months of monitoring by OVD-info show that food is almost never supplied to arrestees. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for police station officers to refuse food and water parcels brought to arrestees by relatives and friends.

Beating in Police Stations

In the vast majority of cases, beating of the arrestees happens outside the police stations’ premises, but there are occasional exceptions.

On 31 March 2012, Solidarnost’ activist Denis Yudin was beaten up at the Basmannoye police station; he “reported that he was hit with his head against the wall; he was kicked in the groin; his arteries were constricted until he almost blacked out. Currently, Yudin is held in a pretrial detention cell”.

On 8 September 2012, eight people were arrested at the “Balaklaving” action, among them a Grani.ru correspondent, minor Andrey Novichkov and activist Vadim Dergachov. According to them, they were beaten up at the Tverskoe police station.

In the interview to the Novaya Gazeta Novichkov says:

“I was taken out of the hall, and he ordered his subordinates to grab me by the neck. He flicked me in the eyes so that I wouldn’t look at him”. According to Novichkov, the police officer who was assaulting him threatened him with issuing an army conscript card for him and demanded that Novichkov hand over the video recordings: “I am going to register you now as an adult and give you a draft notice – you will go [to the army] straight from the police station, we won’t even inform your parents!” He was furious, as if he was really at the end of his tether. You could see on his face that he was ready to shoot everyone. Then I was kicked once more in the stomach. He bent me over the railings and tried to pull the flash card out of the camera. But I managed to snatch it and I was holding it in my hand. Then Nikitin claimed that if I won’t give away the flash card, they would beat me up again. And he really kicked me in the legs.

Novichkov requested a criminal case to be initiated on this incident, but this was refused.

On the 11 October 2012, 9 people were arrested on the Red Square at an action in support of political prisoners. They were taken to the Kitay Gorod police station: “Yuriy Emelyanov tells OVD-Info upon his release that the well-known E centre operative Alexey Okopny came to the Kitai Gorod police station. After Stroganov was forcibly subjected to dactyloscopy (fingerprinting), he started to bleed, and his blood sample was also forcibly taken for a test. After that, Stroganov was hand-cuffed and taken away by Okopny to destination unknown. Emelyanov also informed us that he was beaten up by Alexey Okopny. He was punched in the solar plexus area, kicked with a knee in the thigh, and slapped in the face several times. According to Emelyanov, Okopny told him that he would find him again and “pin down like a dog.”

Denial of Medical Attention

OVD-Info regularly registers police station officers refusing to call in an ambulance for arrestees, as well as refusing them to be hospitalized if an ambulance does arrive.

On 5 December 2011, Valery Yurtsev who suffers from epilepsy was arrested at Chistiye Prudy and taken to Taganskoye police station. Other arrestees in the police station were trying for for a day and a half to call an ambulance for him, but the police officers did not let the doctors into the police station premises. Doctors were eventually allowed to see Yurtsev one day and a half after his arrest.

On 31 March 2012 the Meschanskoe police station kept “Vladimir Gladyshev, whose rib was apparently broken, but [the police] refused to call an ambulance for him.”

On 7 May 2012, at the Sokolinaya Gora police station, “a minor Xenia Donskaya, who was arrested at Chistye Prudy and physically hurt during the arrest, felt unwell; an ambulance was called in, the police is not letting the ambulance see to her.”

If an ambulance arrives to a police station, police officers insist that the arrestees are treated on the spot rather than taken to hospital.

POC concludes in its report on visiting Moscow police stations on 6-7 May 2012, when most of the arrestees from Bolotnaya Square had been beaten up:

“There is evidence of coercion on medical workers by security agencies in the interests of prosecution.”


Forceful fingerprinting (or dactyloscopy) has become one of the widespread regulation breaches at police stations. According to Russian legislation, dactyloscopy of people arrested on Administrative Code charges should only be carried out if the arrestees have been “subject to administrative arrest” (i.e., following a court decision) or “in case it is impossible to establish their identity otherwise”.

On 14 March 2012 at the Preobrazhenskoe police station, Taisiya Krugovyh was forced to give her fingerprints, although she was there to report an earlier assault on her by Orthodox activists:

“This morning, in course of a series of single-person protests in support of Pussy Riot, protestor Taisiya Krugovyh was attacked by several young men, who later introduced themselves as participants of the Russian Fellowships Congress. She got a medical note confirming an injury of soft tissues of the forehead, and went to report the assault at the Preobrazhenskoe police station together with her representative D.Shchedrin. However, it turned out that the attackers had applied to the police station with a counter-statement. Taisiya and her representative did not manage to have a look at that statement, but among other things it falsely claimed that the woman was in a state of inebriation. As a result, Krugovyh was held at the police station for several hours. At the initiative of an E centre operative, who arrived to the police station, her representative D.Shchedrin was ousted out of the police station. And Taisiya herself, despite her refusal, is being insistently forced to dactyloscopy.”

On 1 April 2012, arrestees from a Red Square protest were forced to give fingerprints at Taganskoye police station: “Half of the arrestees who were taken to the Taganskoye police station are still [kept] in the bus next to the police station. Those who were taken inside are being documented as charged with violation of the article 20.2 AOC RF. At the same time, police officers threaten them with forced dactyloscopy, which they legally do not have the right to exercise towards people arrested on administrative charges. One of the arestees, Pavel Yelizarov, who has refused to give his fingerprints, is being threatened with charges under article 19.3 AOC RF.”

On the night of 31 July 2012, fingerprints were forcibly taken from arrestees at Triumfalnaya Square: “Seven people were earlier arrested on the Triumfalnaya, including two underage young women, were moved from the Meshanskoe police station to the Krasnoselskoe police station for dactyloscopy. Activists report that these people are being forcibly put to dactyloscopy, and that Viktor Astahov is being beaten up by the police station officers for his denial to give fingerprints”.

Forced Psychiatric Hospitalization

An alarming innovation of the 2012 became forced hospitalization of the arrested people into psychiatric care.

On the 21 February 2012 “Police called in a psychiatric ambulance for Vera Lavreshina, who refused to produce her ID at the Basmannoye police station. She was taken to the P.B. Gannuskin psychiatric clinic №4 with her hands tied up.” The next morning Lavreshina was released from the clinic, having been found sane by the doctors. “Activists, who arrived to the clinic in the morning, report that Vera Lavreshina had been released. She spent the night in the 20th Department at the clinic. In the morning she was examined by a medical commission and they did not find grounds to keep the activist in the psychiatric clinic. Lavreshina herself suggested that the police officers acted in revenge for her asserting the rights of arrestees at the Basmannoye police station earlier. At the police station, she was originally locked up in a cell. Then a crew from the psychiatric clinic came. They searched Vera, tied her up and put her into their van. But at the clinic the doctors were unhappy with the police’s behaviour. “If they start bringing us the political [patients], we will not have enough time for the real ones.”

A few days later, on 26 February 2012, “an activist from the Buryatiya branch of the Solidarnost’ movement Nadezhda Nizovkina was arrested on the Red Square and sent to the P.B.Gannushkin psychiatric clinic №4. According to Vera Lavreshina, who had just been released from Kitai Gorod police station, a psychiatric ambulance was called in for Nizovkina after she refused to produce her ID at the police station and refused contact with representatives of the Moscow POC. She was taken to the P.B.Gannushkin psychiatric clinic №4”. Nizovkina was released from the clinic on 28 February.

On 17 March 2012 Meshanskoe police station officers attempted to subject a female activist to forced psychiatric hospitalization, but the doctors “refused to have her hospitalized on having spoken to her and done a checkup”.

On 1 June 2012, Presnenskoe police station officers were trying once again to hand over Vera Lavreshina to the P.B. Gannushkin psychiatric clinic №4. Lavreshina was “released after the clinic … refused to take her in.”

These cases are exceptional and they ceased following public attention and thanks to the sensible position of the doctors at the P.B.Gannushkin psychiatric clinic. Nevertheless, this practice was documented in four different police stations of Moscow, and this gives us grounds to suggest that similar sanctions towards arrestees may be used in other, less high-profile cases, and that they constitute a standard tool of the Moscow police.

Issue of army conscription notices

Issuing male arrestees of elegible age with an army draft notice is a relatively wide-spread practice. It should be noted that these cases are quite rare outside of mass or “planned” arrests. Over the reporting period, OVD-info has recorded the handing out of draft notices practically only to May 6th arrestees. In our opinion, the purpose of this tactic is mainly to convince young men of the danger of attending political events.

After the May 6th arrests this practice was recorded at Koptevo police station and Sokolinaya Gora police station. On 16 May 2012 an attempt to serve army draft notices took place at Presnenskoye police station.

Sometimes this practice turns somewhat absurd, as following the arrests at a Strategy-31 rally on 31 July 2012:

In the paddy wagon, Other Russia activist Igor Schuka was served with a draft notice for the Belorussian army. According to Twitter messages, Schuka was personally served this notice by the [Extremism prevention] centre operative Aleksey Okopny.


Prior to January 1, 2013, administrative offenses were processed by district sections of magistrate’s courts. The consideration of cases under Article 20.2 and 19.3 AOC against citizens detained during political actions in Moscow saw a marked prosecutorial bias in magistrates’ rulings, as well as numerous procedural violations allowing judges to deliver guilty verdicts without sufficient evidence.

In the words of defense counsel Elizaveta Prikhodina:

In court, if the police say something does not fall within the lines of the charges, such evidence is ignored. In such cases, data from [police] reports are written in the place of factual evidence, or the evidence is simply ignored by the judge – that is, the decision does not indicate the contradictions with the reports. In addition, judges ask police leading questions, suggest to them what they need to say. Judges also unreasonably divert defense counsel’s questions, and defense witness testimony is rejected because it contradicts the case file, or for some other equally flimsy pretext.

Speed of review of administrative offences

Judicial proceedings treating mass arrests can take place in a matter of minutes.

In the words on Arkady Babchenko, who was detained on 6 December 2011 at Triumfal’naya Square:

For me, the entire trial took about three minutes; this was at the Tverskoy district magistrate’s court. When I entered the hall, two police officers sat before the court. They were presented as witnesses, but to my mind they had nothing to do with the arrests. One of them had been with us in the paddy wagon, the second I was seeing for the first time – his face was not familiar. All of my arguments – that I didn’t shout slogans, that I didn’t participate in the demonstrations, that I didn’t stand in the road and didn’t disobey the police – were not taken. The judge paid no attention, and wrote that my guilt is proven by the arrest records, the report on the administrative violation and the testimony of the two witnesses.

Similar lengths of proceedings were recorded during trials of people detained on 5 December 2011, and 6 May 2012.

Closed courts

Trials closed without reason became a ubiquitous practice for people detained at political events. This practice often means people who come to support the defendants, not to mention journalists, are kept from attending the hearing.

On 25 December 2011, a hearing against Left Front leader Sergei Udaltsov, who faced charges under Article 19.3, was held at magistrate’s court No. 370 of Moscow’s Tverskoy district court. The court building’s entrance was closed to private citizens and to the press, and only after long negotiations with the court’s press service were journalists allowed into the building. Even so, they were refused entry to the hearing.

Hearings are regularly held behind closed doors not only when pertaining to leaders of the opposition movement, but also for ordinary citizens. Most commonly, this practice is applied in cases relating to mass arrests, such as those on 5 December 2011 and 6 May 2012. Regarding the trial of those detained on 6 May 2012, Prikhodina, the public defense counsel, said:

For all three days the bailiffs, citing a judge’s order, did not allow an audience into the hall. At the trial of Evgeny Frumkin I filed a motion for public admission to the hall and the judge refused, also refusing to put in writing the rejection of the application for an open hearing. After I pointed out this fact in the appeal and submitted it to the judicial district’s office, the judge allowed in an audience – but in limited numbers (no more than five people), citing a lack of space (in the rather spacious room, which had previously housed four rows of benches, of which only two were left – and one of these was covered with litigation paperwork).

Evidentiary base

In the course of court proceedings, judges regularly refused to accept various petitions from defendants and defense teams, particularly requests for the admission of photos and video recordings of the arrest and calls for defense witness testimony. In cases where defense testimony was reviewed, it was discounted if it ran contrary to police testimony.

According to Sergei Parkhomenko, who visited the trial of Denis Yudin, who was detained on 27 October 2012 at the Basmannoe police station:

  1. All the conclusions made by the court were “from the totality of evidence collected in the case, including witness testimony” – those being the two police officers who wrote the report on Denis Yudin’s detention. But in this case the “including” is simply a lie: the whole “totality” consists only of these two officers’ testimony; there is no other evidence for Yudin’s guilt. Absolutely none! No attempt is made to bring something in the way of confirmation: no photos, no video, no material evidence, no expert opinions, no verbal evidence from strangers… nothing…
  2. The judge initially declares that he believes evidence from the police, because it is “not contradictory.” What does it not contradict? It does not contradict itself – that is, the proof is from the single, exclusive pool composing the body of evidence.
  3. The judge, by contrast, is “critical” of other witness testimony, because it is “contrary to the case materials.” What materials, exactly? The testimony of the police, which refutes that of the witnesses called by the defense. That is, the testimony that was needed to refute a lie, is declared unreliable just because it refuted the lie, which is assumed to be true.
  4. A video is presented, showing the very moment described in the reports and testimony from the two police officers, appears to “not significantly refute the facts” which manifestly do not appear on the video. That is, the report and the testimony say: someone resisted us, the two police officers, and for that we detained him. In the video it’s clear: here is the person in question, and here are the two police officers – but there is no resistance. The judge concluded: so what, maybe he fought someone at some other time…
  5. That’s it. It’s ready. The charge is set. Signature, stamp. That, essentially, is all that’s needed to deprive a person of liberty for fifteen days of his life. They put him in a cage and keep him there for two weeks.

In the words of Mur Soboleva, a witness to the detention of Maksim Chayko at a picket in support of Pussy Riot on 17 August 2012:

On ‘their side’ were two unfamiliar plainclothes officers; on ‘our side,’ two girls found by way of a last call [for witnesses]. We asked permission to get acquainted with the case, and found that the reports were typed up beforehand. They should be handwritten on the results of the arrest, and it turns out that they were prepared in advance. The explanatory notes, which read, “written in my words and verified by me,” were also typewritten and identical for both police officers, to the letter – a striking case of parallel minds. The funniest part was that these officers were not the ones in all the photographs, but totally different. That is, they were giving false testimony. We politely pointed this fact out to them, and showed them pictures – to which they responded, “whatever, your pictures won’t be admissible, and anyway we have loads of pictures, but why should we show them to you?” … The fun really started during the final stage: the officers got confused in their testimony. One said that the group of detainees contained four people, while the other said it was seven. They claimed to have heard Maksim shout, “down with the police state!” and said that – and I quote – “he showed his true colors.”

“Are you certain that you led Maksim Aleksandrovich [Chayko] to the paddy wagon?” – asks the judge.
“And how do you comment on the fact that in the pictures he’s led by other people?”
“Well, uhh, it was a group we detained… it’s possible that… I don’t know… anything’s possible in life!” – summarized the officer in charge. He couldn’t provide the surname of a single officer in the arrestees’ witnesses’ photographs – “Some guys from our regiment.”

After two and a half hours the decision was announced, that “the court finds the testimonies of [police officers] E.B. Dubovikov and P.S. Domashev to be evidentiary in the case, as they are consistent, not contradictory and in agreement with the written words of the case” (those being the protocol, explanations and reports written as though by carbon copy). Meanwhile, to my testimony and that of two of our witnesses, “the court refers critically, and does not believe them, as the written materials of the case and the trial do not objectively confirm or establish the presence of said witnesses at the place of M.A. Chayko’s alleged offense. Additionally, the testimony of these witnesses is completely contradicted by the written records of the case and the statements by E.B. Dubovikov and P.S. Domashev, the credibility of whom the court is not in doubt.” But, “M.A. Chayko’s arguments that he was detained by other employees [of the Interior Ministry], as shown by its report in court photographs, the court finds untenable, as the pictures do not reflect the circumstances of M.A. Chayko’s detention.” The judge even added for some reason that during his arrest Maksim had shouted “down with the police state!” to a point of fantasy even the police had not reached. In short, Chayko’s sins might be fixed by a fine of 20,000 rubles.

Chayko attempted to file a complaint against the judgment with a higher court, but this was rejected.

Prosecutorial bias

OVD-Info does not have complete statistics on court decisions relating to administrative cases against detainees, but activist testimony shows that in the majority of cases, the court’s decisions are accusatory in nature. OVD-Info is aware of isolated instances of acquittals during the period under report.

The judicial system’s general position in such cases is well illustrated by a quote from a ruling in the case against one Sergei K., detained on 5 December 2011:

“The court does not trust Mr. K’s testimony about his innocence, and considers the defense’s position to have been chosen in order to avoid liability, as it contradicts the written materials of the case, as well as explanations in the court from police officers.”

In addition, it should be noted that court orders on sentencing vary in severity depending on the accused’s behavior during court hearings.

Regarding administrative cases against detainees from 6 May 2012, Prikhodina says:

Anyone who agrees with the protocol leaves the courtroom within three minutes, immediately to freedom (the judge gives them a day or two of administrative detention, which had already occurred at the police station). Anyone who tries in some way to defend themselves, the court “penalizes” with an additional day of detention. So it was, for example, with Nastya Rybachenko, who was slapped with an additional five days of administrative detention for her refusal to sign for her receipt of a not-yet-delivered ruling.

Appeals of court decisions

The database of Khamovnichesky, Tagansky, Presnensky, Meschansky, Zamoskvoretsky and Basmanny district courts for dates between 4 December 2011 to 31 December 2012 contains decisions on 176 appeals on articles 20.2 and 19.3 AOC RF, plus 18 ongoing appeals as of the time of this writing. Out of 176 appealed cases, only 4 were annulled as a result of the appeal, and another 3 had their punishment measure changed. That is, the percentage of successful appeals is less than 4%. 163 case decisions were upheld by the district courts, and 3 appeals were refused to be heard. The percentage of failed appeals was 94%. The rest of the cases were “delegated to specialist departments” (two cases) or the complaint did not concern the matter of the case (one case).

Picture 5: Decisions of district courts in Moscow on activists’ appeals

Considering the prosecutorial bias and the quality of the litigation process in district courts, this statistics explains why activists, arrested in most cases unlawfully, do not try to use the judiciary system to defend their rights.

Bailiff violence

Bailiffs often exhibit aggression towards activists. On 14 December 2012 activist Yuri Emelyanov had to be taken to hospital from Moscow’s Basmanny district court. According to an interview Emelyanov gave to Politvestnik (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NS4669IU_RA), a bailiff demanded that he remove a “for freedom” pin from his jacket. Emelyanov asked the officer to repeat this demand on camera, after which the camera was knocked out of his hand. At that moment, as Emelyanov bent to pick it up, his hands were forced behind his back and he was forcefully shoved to the exit. His chest and head hit the metal frame of a metal detector, and he lost consciousness. He was then dragged, semi-consciously, up a flight of stairs and left lying on a concrete floor in front of the courthouse until an ambulance arrived. At the hospital Emelyanov was diagnosed with a heart attack and found to have a broken arm. See also interview with Yuri Emelyanov.

How many individuals went through arrests?

Since there are civil activists who get arrested regularly, the tally number of arrests (5,169 arrests in this report, between the beginning of mass protest on 4 December 2011 and 31 December 2012) certainly does not equal the number of individuals who had the experience of being detained in the same period. In our estimate, the difference between the number of arrests and the number of individual arrestees amounts to around 37%. Thus, the number of individual arrestees may total up to 3,256 persons or 63% of the total number of arrests.

This estimate was obtained by evaluating data from the unified court database of Moscow magistrates courts in conjunction with OVD-info arrest statistics.

For the reporting period, the court database contains 2,341 cases on administrative charges under the Article 20.2 AOC RF. The number of cases under this article which are unrelated to politically motivated arrests documented by OVD-info, is statistically insignificant. The number of “repeat” cases, i.e. of repeating names of defendants, equals 858, or 37% of the total number of cases.

For the same period of time, the court database lists 1,610 cases on administrative charges under the Article 19.3 AOC RF, out of which a little over 300 cases were assessed as unrelated to politically motivated arrests documented by OVD-info. Out of the 1,300 remaining database entries, the amount of “repeat” cases amounted to 212, or 16% of the total number.

To have a better estimate of the number of “unique” arrestees, it was decided to combine the entries for articles 20.2 and 19.3 AOC RF, in order to take into account repetition of individuals charged under both articles. The share of repeat cases in this overall set of cases (1,332 out of 3,641 cases) totals 37%.

It should be made clear that the estimate obtained in this way is rather approximate.

First of all, as it is easy to see, while OVD-info documented 5,169 detentions, the court database only registers 3,641 administrative offence cases which OVD-info considers related to politically motivated arrests. This difference can be explained by the fact that by far not all arrests end with an administrative charge (see Types of Arrest), as well as the fact that the court database may be incomplete or not fully updated.

Furthermore, tallying up individuals whose arrests did not result in administrative prosecution could change the picture for the estimate. If we assume that the court database is complete and up to date, then the number of arrests without administrative charges amounts to approximately 30%. For instance, a large number of such arrests happened during Occupy events and ‘strolls’ in May (1,256 arrests overall). The set of attendees of these events may differ considerably from other protests.

Finally, the third limitation of our estimate is margins of error in analyzing court statistics and its combination with the OVD-Info data.

Taking into account the above limitations, the derived coefficient - 63% of the total number of arrests – can be used for assessing of the number of individual arrestees. In the future, OVD-info will correct this estimate with the help of a more detailed analysis of its own data.

Criminal Charges against Arrestees

In most cases, there are no repercussions for police officers who beat up activists during arrest and at police stations. On the contrary, those arrestees who complain about having been beaten are often charged with article 318 of the Criminal Code (“assault on a representative of the state”, punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment).

The threat of article 318 as a means of intimidation and punishment for political activists is institutional practice rather than a one-off. The best known example is the story of Sergey Mokhnatkin, who was arrested during the Strategy-31 rally on 31 December 2009. According to his testimony, Mokhnatkin was violently beaten after being arrested. Mokhnatkin was brought to the Tverskoe police station and later charged with the Article 318 of the Criminal Code. He was sentenced to two and a half years in prison. In April 2012 he was granted a pardon by President Medvedev and released. Analogous incidents happened on 1 April 2012 to the Solidarnost’ activist Stanislav Pozdnyakov, on the 13 July 2012 to the Other Russia activist Yevgeniy Popov, and on 17 August 2012 to (politician and ex- world chess champion) Garry Kasparov.

On 1 April 2012 Stanislav Pozdnyakov was brought to the Tverskoe police station alongside others arrested on the Manezhnaya Square during a stroll with white ribbons. According to eyewitnesses speaking to OVD-Info, at the end of the three hour period after formal delivery of the arrestees to the police station, they informed the police officers about the expiry of the official time limit for detention, and headed towards the exit. A verbal cross-fire started, and one of the police officers, having exhausted all his arguments, slapped Stanislav Pozdnyakov in the face, in front of everyone else. As a result a criminal case was initiated: not against the police officer in question, but against Pozdnyakov himself. Polyakov is being accused of an article 318 Criminal Code offence. The first court hearing was supposed to take place on 22 January 2012 and was rescheduled to 7 February 2013 due to the failure of the injured party (police officer) to appear in court.

On 13 July 2012, 10 people were arrested during the Other Rossiya protest outside Novokuznetskaya metro station. They were taken to the Zamoskvorechye police station. Two of them were beaten on being arrested. Yevgeniy Popov recounts:

“We used to be arrested during all the “Russia Without Putin” protests, yet that was done in a rather civil way. This time the arrests were very brutal. When they were throwing me into the police bus, one of the OMON officers said to me in a threatening way that they would handle me when inside. We had a verbal conflict inside the bus – I lost my temper and I told him to get lost, after that he hit me. Blood ran, the whole bus was covered with it, I still have a scar. They started to threaten me with article 318 already on the bus. When they delivered [me to the police station] they once again practically dragged me to the police station. Inside the police station they threatened me and forcibly searched me without attesting witnesses.”

All the arrested were let go later that day, but Popov was kept overnight in the police station under suspicion of having inflicted bodily harm on the OMON officer (again, article 318 Criminal Code). Popov wrote a witness statement about the beating. Officers of the Investigative Committee came to interrogated the OMON officers and Popov. The next day Popov was taken to the Prosecutor’s office for evidence giving, however he refused to testify in absence of a lawyer.

The incident with Garry Kasparov has received broader publicity. Kasparov allegedly bit a 2nd Police Operational Regimen officer upon being arrested outside the Khamovnichesky court during the Pussy Riot sentencing. As reported by Grani.ru, Kasparov’s case was handed over to the Investigative Committee, and he runs a risk of charges under the same Article 318 of the Criminal Code. The Investigative Committee refused to start a criminal case.

On 12 August 2011, during the regular action “Day of Wrath”, the Other Russia activist Igor Shchuka was arrested next to the exit of the metro station Ploshchad’ Revolutsii; he and the other arrestees were taken to the Tverskoe police station.

According to eyewitnesses, Shchuka repeatedly asked the policemen to take him out for a smoke, but his requests were ostentatiously ignored. When Shchuka got out a cigarette, he was taken out of the room where the rest of the arrestees were kept. When the arrestees heard noise behind the door, they managed to crack the door slightly open and they could see Shchuka lying on the floor, being kicked by police officers. The arrestees who were the most vocal in their disagreement were likewise beaten and held in the police station overnight. Shchuka recounted to OVD-Info that later on, police officers took him out into the street for a smoke and told him that he was free to file a report about beatings – if he wanted a criminal case to be instituted against him, under the article 318 of the Criminal Code. In court, Igor Shchuka and the eyewitnesses of the beatings were sentenced to administrative arrest (incarceration) for several days.

In July 2011, 56-year-old Tatiana Kadieva was arrested during an action in support of political prisoner Taisiya Osipova and taken to Kitai Gorod police station. After she made a statement that police station officers had beaten her up, she was threatened with a criminal case against her under article 318 of the Criminal Code.

In the summer 2007, an article 318 criminal case was initiated against Yuri Chervochkin, member of the now banned National Bolshevik party from Serpukhov. He had come to the local police station in order to inquire about activists arrested during the “March of the Dissenting”. According to his colleagues, he then was beaten by the police officers. According to the investigators, Chervochkin “broke into the police station, beat up four policemen and hit his own head against a concrete wall”. The criminal case fell apart before the court hearings started. In November Chervochkin was severely beaten, resulting in his death in hospital in December. Chervochkin’s comrades from Other Russia claim that he was regularly receiving threats from law enforcement officers, and that he was beaten up by them.

Another tragic ending: Communist and National-Bol from Krasnoyarsk, Rim Shaigalimov was sentenced in 2006 to a year and a half of penal colony settlement under article 318 of the Criminal Code (he allegedly burst into a police station precinct and beat up two policemen). In 2008, he was sentenced to another 5 ½ years over a conflict with the head of the police at a demonstration. Shaigalimov died in custody under unknown circumstances.

To date, several Other Russia activists are convicted under article 318 of the Criminal Code for participation in a riot on Manezhnaya Square on 11 December, 2010. The last sentences were pronounced in August, 2012. The same article is incriminated to the majority of the suspects of the “Bolotnaya case”. Notably, many of the arrestees of 6 May 2012 were beaten up by police, as evidenced among others by the Public Oversight Commission report. Criminal cases were initiated against the arrestees under article 318 Criminal Code; no criminal cases were opened against police officers.


Politically motivated arrest

By ‘politically motivated’ we mean the circumstances of arrest, namely that the arrestee was at a political action or rally, or was putting up political posters or handing out flyers, or an entirely unmotivated arrest of a person who is known for their political activities. We define ‘politics’ in the wider sense of defending one’s rights and interests: this means we include actions dedicated to environmental issues, LGBTQ rights, in defence of public spaces and welfare provisions.


In this report an “event” means an arrest of one or more persons, associated by the same geographical and thematic circumstances. It should be noted that this term implies not only street protests where arrests took place, but also a number of specific cases of politically motivated arrests that took place outside of protest actions.

Event format

This report distinguishes between the following event formats: picketing, direct action or performance, rally, Occupy, agitation, promotional activity, stroll, stroll/Occupy, activist, one-person picket, eco-camp, march, and ‘other’.

Agitation (event format)

In this report, “Agitation” refers to distribution of political materials of general interest or promoting a specific political event.

Activist (event format)

Special police operations marked as “Activist” are arrests of activists that took place outside any public political action.

Other (event format)

The “Other” category consists of arrests that took place under unusual circumstances.

Picket (event format)

‘Picketing’ in Russian normally means a form of protest, authorised or non-authorised, with one or more people present, without a stage or sound amplification, marching or direct action. But in this report the defining criteria for picketing are also the following: a) having a specific cause; b) taking place in a pedestrian area and c) in close proximity to the institution that is the object of protest.

One-person picket (event format)

A one-person picket involves the active participation (e.g. display of a placard or banner) by one person, and does not require clearance from authorities.

Direct action (event format)

Direct action is conventionally defined as action aiming to interfere with the target of the protest directly rather than symbolically. In this report, this category also includes theatrical or performance actions in this category.

Rally (event format)

We define rallies as mass protests unified by the same theme and space regardless of the event’s official status. Rallies can be held with or without a stage and sound amplification. We distinguish a rally from a picket by the following criteria: a rally is not necessarily held in close proximity to the target of protest, it does not have a specific topic, and/or its site is not exclusively pedestrian.

Stroll (event format)

As opposed to marches, events of this type do not imply receiving a formal permission from the authorities. They do not have a specific pre-defined route and the participants do not coordinate their movements, do not form blocs and participate in the event individually.

Stroll/Occupy (event format)

We used this category for events that could not be neatly classified between the stroll and Occupy categories.

Occupy (event format)

We define ‘occupy’ events using the following set of criteria: a) 24-hour presence of protesters; b) no set theme; c) lack of single organizer, self-organization of participants or competing groups of organizers.

Eco-camp (event format)

By ‘eco-camps’ we mean environmental protest actions extended in time and occupying a space in a non-urban environment.

March (event format)

A march in this report is an event with coordinated movement of the participants along a pre-defined route, regardless of the event’s official status.


A range of public events in Russia are legally required to be authorised by local government. By law, this is a procedure of notification: the organisers of an event must notify the authority, and the authority must authorise a site for the event, or offer an alternative in the course of negotiations. In practice, the authorisation procedure is opaque and is used a mechanism for curtailing the freedom of assembly. The ‘authorised’ category in this report include all events that received clearance, the ‘non-authorised’ category - both events that took place without authorisation, and events which do not legally require it.

Clearance - see Authorisation

Non-authorised event - see Authorisation


We classify events according to their stated aims or demands. The report uses the following categories: political prisoners, for fair elections, anti-Putin, Pussy Riot, Occupy, Strategy-31, environment, social, against the law on rallies, against the ‘anti-Magnitsky’ law, LGBTQ, antifa, other.

Political prisoners (event topic)

The events in this topic are dedicated to solidarity with arrestees as well as activists targeted in criminal cases. Events in support of Pussy Riot form a separate topic.

For fair elections (event topic)

‘For fair elections’ was the tagline of the first wave of protests after the State Duma (Parliament) elections from 4 December 2011. This topic in this report also includes all events dedicated to election fraud, regardless of organiser.

Anti-Putin (event topic)

After the presidential elections on 4 March 2012, the agenda became less specific, but reflecting a more radical attitude towards the ruling elite – 44 events in the report are marked as ’anti-Putin’, as Vladimir Putin personifies the negative characteristics of the current political system for protestors.

Other (event topic)

‘Other’ topics - 26 events in the reporting period – include both events dedicated to a specific if rare topic (for instance, “Yabloko” party against military conscription, or picketing the US embassy due to the situation with Radio Liberty), as well as arrests of activists outside public events, and other exceptional cases of arrests.

Pussy Riot (event topic)

This category of event includes actions in solidarity with the arrested band members of Pussy Riot. It is worth mentioning here that the arrest of the band members themselves, which happened after a performance on Lobnoe Mesto on 20 January 2012 falls under the topic “Anti-Putin”.

Occupy (event topic)

The Moscow Occupy events are thematically attributed in this report as ‘occupy”, since one of our criteria for this type of event is its lack of single subject. In the opinion of the authors of this report, in the format of Occupy events, the form is more important than the contents, therefore the number of the events of this format (18 Occupy events) is the same as the number of the events with this subject (18 events).

Strategy-31 (event topic)

These are protests with the demand to uphold the 31st Article of the Russian Constitution (the freedom of assembly), normally held on the 31st calendar day of any month on Triumfalnaya Square. The number of events we report with this subject in the reported period (10) is larger than the number of Strategy-31 rallies, since a number of Other Russia activists were detained twice near the Moscow Mayor’s office at actions demanding the Mayor to agree to clear a Strategy-31 event.

Environment (event topic)

All events dedicated to environmental issues.

Social (event topic)

All events dedicated to social or welfare issues.

Against the law on rallies (event topic)

Shortly after the forced dispersal of the march and rally on Bolotnaya Square on 6 May 2012, authorities announced plans to tighten the rules on public events. During May and June 2012, the State Duma (Parliament) adopted and President Vladimir Putin signed a federal law “On meetings, rallies, demonstrations, marches and picketing” and the Administrative Offences Code (AOC). They stipulate a manifold increase in the sizes of fines: for Article 20.2 AOC (see article) the fine for individuals went up from 500-1,000 roubles to 30,000 roubles.

Law on rallies - see Against the law on rallies (event topic)

Against the anti-Magnitsky law (event topic)

The recently adopted ‘Magnitsky Act’ in the US bans from entry into the country a number of individuals connected to the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky while on remand in a Russian prison. Soon after this US law was adopted, in December 2012 Russian legislators began discussing a law that would ban US citizens from adopting children from Russia. The MPs themselves call the law ‘Dima Yakovlev’s law’ (after an adopted Russian boy who died 4 months after being adopted by an American couple), opposition activists prefer to call it ‘Scoundrels’ law’. We prefer the label ‘anti-Magnitsky law’, as it contains a number of restrictions on the actions of US citizens and is a response to the adoption of the ‘Magnitsky Act’.

LGBTQ (event topic)

Events dedicated to rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer people.

Antifa (event topic)

Events dedicated to the struggle against racism, nationalism and xenophobia.

Police station (OVD or LOVD)

The most common name for a police station in Moscow is ‘Internal Affairs Department’, abbreviated to OVD in Russian. A ‘Line Internal Affairs Department’ (LOVD) is a police office at an underground or train station. For ease of reference, in the English translation we do not distinguish between different types of police stations, distinguishing them by the name of district or other placename instead.


Russian Federation Code for Administrative Offences

Article 20.2 AOC RF

The AOC RF article most often used against arrestees at political events.

Article 20.2. Violating the Established Procedure for Arranging or Conducting a Meeting, Rally, Demonstration, Procession or Picket

  1. Violating a procedure established for arranging a meeting, rally, demonstration, procession or picket, except for cases falling within parts 2-4 of this article - shall entail the imposition of an administrative fine on citizens in the amount of 10,000-20,000 roubles or compulsory labour of up to 40 hours; on an official - 15,000-30,000 roubles; on a legal entity - 50,000 to 100,000 roubles.
  2. Organisation or carrying out of a public event without serving as legally prescribed a notification on the carrying out of a public event, except for cases falling within part 7 of this article,- shall entail the imposition of an administrative fine on citizens in the amount of 20,000 to 30,000 roubles or compulsory labour of up to 50 hours; on an official - 20,000-40,000 roubles; on a legal entity - 70,000 to 200,000 roubles.
  3. Actions (or inaction), falling within parts 1 and 2 of this article, causing the creation of interruption to the movement of pedestrians or vehicles or the norms for the limit of occupancy of territory (or indoor space), - shall entail the imposition of an administrative fine on citizens in the amount of 30,000 to 50,000 roubles or compulsory labour of up to 100 hours; on an official - 50,000-100,000 roubles; on a legal entity - 250,000 to 500,000 roubles.
  4. Actions (or inaction), falling within parts 1 and 2 of this article, causing harm to human health or property, if these actions (or inaction) do not constitute a crime, - shall entail the imposition of an administrative fine on citizens in the amount of 100,000 to 300,000 roubles or compulsory labour of up to 200 hours; on an official - 200,000-600,000 roubles; on a legal entity - 400,000 to 1,000,000 roubles.
  5. Violation by a participant of a public event of the procedure established for conducting a meeting, rally, demonstration, procession or picket, except cases falling under part 6 of this article - shall entail the imposition of an administrative fine in the amount of 10,000 to 20,000 roubles or compulsory labour of up to 40 hours
  6. Actions (or inaction), falling within part 5 of this article, causing harm to human health or property, if these actions (or inaction) do not constitute a crime, - shall entail the imposition of an administrative fine in the amount of 150,000 to 300,000 roubles or compulsory labour of up to 200 hours
  7. Arranging or conducting an authorized meeting, rally, demonstration, procession or picket in the direct vicinity of a nuclear plant, of a source of radiation or of a place of storage of nuclear material or radioactive substances, as well as active participation in such actions, where it has complicated the discharge by the personnel of said objects of their official duties or has posed a threat to the safety of population and environment - shall entail the imposition of an administrative fine on citizens in the amount of 150,000 to 300,000 roubles or administrative arrest of up to 15 days; on an official - 200,000-600,000 roubles; on a legal entity - 500,000 to 1,000,000 roubles.

Article 19.3 AOC

Administrative Offences Code article used regularly against arrestees at political events.

Article 19.3. Failure to Follow a Lawfull Order of a Policeman, a Military Serviceman, an Officer of the Bodies for Control over the Traffic of Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances or an Officer of the Criminal Punishment System

  1. Failure to follow a lawfull order or demand of a policeman, a military servicemen or an official of the criminal punishment system in connection with discharge of their official duties related to maintenance of public order and security, as well as impeding the discharge by them of their official duties - shall entail the imposition of an administrative fine in the amount of from five to ten times the minimum wage or administrative arrest for a term of up to fifteen days.
  2. Failure of a citizen (except for convicts servicing their custodial sentences in penitentiary institutions and for persons suspected or accused of committing crimes and retained in custody at other institutions) to follow a lawfull order or demand of an officer of the criminal punishment system, of a military serviceman or of other person in the discharge of their official duties related to ensuring security and protection of these institutions, as well as to maintenance of the established regime, guarding and convoying convicts (suspects and accused persons) - shall entail the imposition of an administrative fine in the amount of from five to ten times the minimum wage or administrative arrest for a term of up to fifteen days.
  3. Failure to follow a lawful order or demand of an officer of the bodies for control over the traffic of narcotics and psychotropic substances in connection with his discharging official duties - shall entail the imposition of an administrative fine in the amount of from five to ten times the minimum wage or an administrative arrest for up to fifteen days.

Article 20.1 AOC RF

Administrative Offences Code article used occasionally against arrestees at political events.

Article 20.1. Petty Hooliganism

  1. Petty hooliganism, that is, violation of public order in the form of open disrespect of the public accompanied by foul language in public places, abusive pestering of the people or destruction or damage caused to other people’s property, - shall involve the imposition of an administrative fine in the amount of five to ten minimum wages or an administrative arrest for a period up to fifteen days.
  2. The same actions in combination with noncompliance with the lawful demand of the representative of the authorities or of another person performing the duties of maintaining public order or cutting short the violation of public order, - shall involve the imposition of an administrative fine in the amount of from ten to twenty-five minimum wages or an administrative arrest for a period of up to 15 days.

Centre for Extremism Prevention

Centre for Extremism Prevention, or “Centre E”, - is a structural division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The official task of the Centre E is “to organize and coordinate anti-terrorist activity inside the MIA”, however numerous testimony of political activists show that Centre E operatives are actively involved in political investigation.

E Centre - see Centre for Extremism Prevention

Public Oversight Commission (POC)

A public body, formed in accordance with the Federal Law of 10 June 2008 N 76-FZ “On Public Control over the observance of human rights in detention facilities, and assistance to detainees”. POC members have access to detention facilities, including police stations.

Wanted notice

Description of a person who is wanted by the police on suspicion of committing an offence.

Non-lethal weapons

Devices that form part of police equipment, from a list approved by the Cabinet of Ministers. They include batons, handcuffs and tasers.

Paddy wagon

Vehicle for transporting arrestees. There are some specially fitted vehicles used regularly by Moscow police to deliver arrestees to a police station. Also in use are ordinary buses or coaches. OVD-info uses ‘paddy wagon’ and ‘police bus’ interchangeably.

Police bus - see Paddy wagon

Article 318 Russian Federation Criminal Code

Article of the Criminal Code used commonly against participants in mass political events.

Article 318. Use of Violence Against a Representative of the Authority

  1. Use of violence that does not endanger human life or health, or threats to use violence against a representative of the authority, or his relatives, in connection with the discharge by his official duties, shall be punishable by a fine in the amount of 200 to 500 minimum wages, or in the amount of the wage or salary, or any other income of the convicted person for a period of two to five months, or by arrest for a term of three to six months, or by deprivation of liberty for a term of up to five years.
  2. The use of violence endangering the lives or health of the persons referred to in the first part of this Article shall be punishable by deprivation of liberty for a term of five to ten years. Note: A public officer of a law-enforcement or controlling body, and also other public officials vested in the statutory order with regulatory powers in respect of persons who are not dependent on them by virtue of employment, shall be deemed to be a representative of the authority in this and other Articles of the present code.


The process of taking fingerprints by branches of the police, which is strictly regulated by Russian law.

Explanatory note

A legally unfounded practice whereby a citizen who has not officially been arrested is compelled to give written or oral explanations of their actions to police officers.

Administrative case

Juridical term meaning a court or police case against someone who is charged with an administrative offence.

Report of arrest

Typical document compiled by a police officer explaining the motivations of the police officer’s actions and the circumstances surrounding an arrest.

Protocol of administrative offence

Main document describing the motivation behind charging someone with an administrative offence. Its contents, process of verification and persons authorised to compile it are regulated by articles 28.2, 28.3 and 28.5 AOC RF.

Logbook of arrestees

Document that logs arrestees delivered to a police station, containing: names and personal data exact time of delivery delivering officer offence that led to delivery place where the arrestee was delivered from any other prominent information, e.g. any injuries Logbooks are kept and filled in by duty officers at police stations.

Assembly hall

Hall for various events in a police station. Is commonly used for amassing or filtering arrestees.

Administrative Detention Cell (ADC)

Special room or part of a room with bars for keeping persons under administrative detention. Regulated by article 27.6 AOC RF and Ministry of Interior Affairs regulations.

Cell for Pre-Trial Detention

Room in police stations for keeping suspects in crimes. Their use is regulated by the Criminal Processual Code and the law “On detention of suspects and persons accused of crimes”. The restrictions placed on people in pre-trial detention are harsher than those for administrative arrestees. These cells are normally used by police stations for keeping detainees until their court hearing that will determine their remand or bail status.