Posted 7 апреля 2023,, 11:51

Published 7 апреля 2023,, 11:51

Modified 7 апреля 2023,, 12:25

Updated 7 апреля 2023,, 12:25

15 cases per day: how the wave of repression against dissenters is growing

15 cases per day: how the wave of repression against dissenters is growing

7 апреля 2023, 11:51
The number of sentences with real terms of imprisonment in Russia increased significantly at the beginning of 2023, as did the terms in these sentences.

The intensity of repression against dissenters increased sharply in late 2022 — early 2023, analysts of the online publication Re-Russia note. In the nine months of 2022, the courts handed down 69 sentences under "anti—fake" articles, and the defendants were sentenced to real terms in 20 cases, while 65 sentences were already handed down in the four months from December to March, 27 of them with real terms. Prison terms themselves also increased. In total, more than 800 people were subjected to various forms of repression in March, and this figure, in addition to those involved in criminal cases, includes victims of administrative cases and persons subjected to various forms of extrajudicial persecution and pressure.

Only in March, criminal cases were initiated against 37 people under "anti-fake" articles, in total, by the end of March, the number of such criminal cases had grown to 487, according to another monitoring made by experts. In recent months, the repressive standard has been about one new criminal case per day. In addition to the already familiar articles about the "dissemination of deliberately false information" (Article 207.3 of the Criminal Code) and "discrediting" (Article 280.3 of the Criminal Code), which account for more than 40% of all initiated cases, in March there was a law enforcement innovation: in Khabarovsk, an activist of the movement "I/We Furgal" opened a case under the article on "incitement to treason" (Article 275 of the Criminal Code of the Criminal Code).

The change in the repressive dynamics in recent months has most clearly manifested itself in the number of sentences handed down and the number of sentences with real terms of imprisonment. So, if for nine months, from March to November, the courts, pursuing opponents of the SVO in Ukraine, handed down 59 sentences, 20 of which featured real terms of imprisonment (and not suspended sentences or fines), then over the past four months, from December to March, the number of such sentences was 65, and the real the dates appear in 27 of them. Thus, the intensity of repression on this key indicator has doubled, and the share of real terms in sentences has approached 40%. At the same time, sentences with long terms are becoming more and more frequent. So, in March, the most resonant sentences were to blogger Ivanov for posts in the protest channel (8.5 years in prison), a couple from the Tver region for inscriptions against their own (6.5 and 7 years) and a Russian for trying to set fire to the military enlistment office (13 years).

Thus, the trend was not only an increase in the total number of sentences, which could be explained by the inertia of the judicial machine, which finally gained momentum, but also an increase in the proportion of sentences with real terms and an increase in these terms themselves, which definitely indicates a tightening of repressive policies.

In March 2023, about 450 administrative cases of "discrediting" were opened (about 15 cases per day); in total, 6296 "anti-fake" cases have been initiated since the introduction of the corresponding article in the Administrative Code. Also, one of the key instruments of repression in the hands of the authorities remains extrajudicial pressure on people with oppositional views. Monitoring records 328 such cases during March (strictly speaking, from February 24 to March 23); 130 of them are harassment at work, 42 are cancellations of events, 31 are threats. Thus, in general, during the month, more than 800 people became victims of repression and pressure in connection with the position against SVO.

Cases of "pressure through children" had a special resonance in March. In two cases, children whose parents became involved in such cases were sent to an orphanage. So, in the Tula region, 13-year-old Masha Moskaleva was kept in a boarding school for more than three weeks, and her father is being deprived of parental rights. In Buryatia, a similar story happened with activist Natalia Filonova — her 15-year-old adopted son was sent to an orphanage, and she herself has been in jail since November last year. However, extra-judicial pressure can take a variety of forms. For example, on March 19, the presentation of books by artist Sasha Skochilenko, who is accused of spreading fakes about the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, was disrupted in the Open Space civic club.

In addition to the 33 repressive laws adopted after the start of the SVO, amendments to articles 207.3 and 280.3 of the Criminal Code came into force in March, according to which it is now possible to bring to justice for "discrediting" volunteers participating in the war in Ukraine. The maximum sentence under these articles was increased from three to five years, which allows the accused to be taken into custody immediately; the statute of limitations on them increases to six years.

13 people and organizations were added to the register of foreign agents in March (23 in February). If earlier one or two organizations received the status of "undesirable" per month, then in March four got on this list at once. In total, since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, 27 organizations have received the status of "undesirability".

At the same time, state repression, in addition to the "anti-fake" vector, has an "anti-extremist" one. Thus, according to analysts, for "aggressive public statements", Russian courts handed down 48 sentences against 53 people in three months of 2023, including 21 sentences against 22 people in March. The reasons were calls in social networks to attack government officials and overthrow the regime, the publication of photographs of Hitler, the rehabilitation of Nazism and the demonstration of Nazi symbols. The most popular articles of the Criminal Code were 280 — on "calls for extremist activity" (13 accused) and 205.2 — on "calls for terrorist attacks" (3 accused). In addition, in March it became known about four people convicted of "participation in extremist communities and organizations" (a total of 17 people have been charged with such a charge since the beginning of 2023).

Among the administrative articles, the most popular are 20.29 — on "production and distribution of extremist materials" (21 cases), 20.3 — on "propaganda and demonstration of prohibited symbols" (53 cases) and 20.3.1 — on "incitement of hatred" (26 cases). In addition, the lists of extremist materials and terrorist organizations are being updated.