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Memorial Human Rights Centre says Artpodgotovka supporters Oleg Dmitriev, Oleg Ivanov and Sergei Ozerov, convicted of preparing an act of terrorism in the centre of Moscow on 5 November 2017, are political prisoners


It is highly likely that the criminal case was completely fabricated and the defendants have been victims of a provocation by the law enforcement agencies

Oleg Dmitriev, Oleg Ivanov and Sergei Ozerov, who arrived in Moscow from different regions to take part in the so-called ‘Revolution 5.11.17’, have been convicted on charges of committing a crime under Article 30, Section 1a and Article 205, Section 2, of the Russian Criminal Code (‘Preparations to commit an act of terrorism by a group by prior agreement’) and sentenced to 8, 7 and 8 years in a strict-regime prison colony respectively, with a further one year’s control order after release. All three assert they are wholly innocent of the charges and have been victims of provocations by the security services. They have been held on remand since 2 November 2017.

According to the investigators, the alleged act of terrorism should have taken place ‘on 5 November 2017 in the city of Moscow during a rally that did not have official permission […] by means of arson against government agencies of the Russian Federation and key infrastructure of the Russian Federation, and also law enforcement officers performing their duties to protect public order and ensure public safety.’ The weapons used to commit this crime were to be 13 bottles filled with petrol and two bottles containing a brand of white spirit.

Memorial Human Rights Centre has concluded, on the basis of an analysis of the materials of the criminal case, that the charges are completely unsound and the case was probably fabricated. Neither the investigation nor the trial were able to specify exactly which facilities the defendants were allegedly planning to set on fire, while the description of the actions they allegedly were to have committed does not correspond with what in common discourse and in the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation is described as ‘terrorism.’

It is highly likely that the criminal case was completely fabricated and the defendants have been victims of a provocation by the law enforcement agencies. Two letters by Oleg Dmitriev (Ivanov and Ozerov co-authored the second letter) that have been published on the OVD-Info website set out the defendants’ version. In these letters the defendants assert that they did not prepare and did not store bottles with an incendiary mixture, did not intend to use them for any kind of attacks, and have been victims of a provocation. This is confirmed, in particular, by the fact that there were no fingerprints on 12 of the 15 bottles.

According to the defendants, Vadim Maiorov (who lived with them in a rented apartment and apparently fled from law enforcement at the time of the arrests) and Nadezhda

Petrova (also known as Belova, a close associate of Maltsev who arranged for them to stay in the apartment) were from the very beginning security service informants who, unbeknownst to the defendants, placed these bottles in the apartment balcony. All three defendants maintained this version of events during their trial.

At the trial itself Memorial Human Rights Centre staff member Darya Kostromina witnessed a crude fabrication during the questioning of secret witness ‘Maksim Maksimov’ who, under questioning, repeated answers suggested to him by a prompter. The testimony of this very ‘witness’ was practically the only evidence presented to the court that the defendants intended to commit arson. But this testimony did not contain an exact list of facilities the defendants allegedly planned to set on fire. This is extraordinary, given that the accused were allegedly serious about preparing an act of terrorism.

From the time the defendants were first detained, their rights were crudely violated. In particular, Dmitriev claims that after his arrest he was subjected to torture by electric shocks. All three have been unlawfully restricted in their right to correspondence. Letters have not been delivered and money transfers from relatives, friends and likeminded people have been refused. These are unlawful means of influencing the defendants.

On the basis of the above, Memorial Human Rights Centre considers Oleg Dmitriev, Oleg Ivanov and Sergei Ozerov to be political prisoners and demands their immediate release. We also demand an investigation into violations of human rights committed on 5 November 2017 and during the preceding period, and that the law enforcement personnel responsible be brought to justice.

Memorial Human Rights Centre continues to monitor the campaign of prosecutions conducted against those accused of preparing the ‘Revolution 5.11.17.’ This campaign began in the autumn of 2017 and has seen dozens of criminal investigations, including for terrorism and preparation of civil unrest. On the basis of the materials of the criminal cases available to us, we have concluded that a significant number of those prosecuted are innocent or have no relationship whatsoever to Maltsev or to the Artpodgotovka group that is banned in Russia.

We have previously recognised five individuals who have been victims of this campaign as political prisoners because of their innocence and the evident fabrication of their criminal prosecutions. These are three residents of Rostov-on-Don, Yan Sidorov, Vladislav Mordasov and Vyacheslav Shashmin, prosecuted on the fantastical charge of attempting to organise civil unrest by means of a peaceful picket, Krasnoyarsk resident Roman Maryan, who allegedly made preparations to take part in civil unrest, and Vyacheslav Shatrovsky, convicted on a charge of using violence against a police officer during his arrest on Moscow’s Pushkin Square. These different prosecutions all share a number of features: the clear political engagement of the investigators, nonsensical charges, violations of the rights of defendants and persons convicted, and also the intention to present the events of 5 November 2017 not as a peaceful protest but as an attempt to carry out an armed uprising.

Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner, or of a prosecution as politically motivated, does not imply that Memorial Human Rights Centre shares or approves the individual’s views, statements or actions. 

More information about this case can be read here.

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