Russia Update: Prosecutors To Inspect TV Rain For Violations Of Extremism And Labour Laws

December 7, 2015

Welcome to our column, Russia Update, where we will be closely following day-to-day developments in Russia, including the Russian government’s foreign and domestic policies.

The previous issue is here.

Recent Translations:
The Non-Hybrid War
Kashin Explains His ‘Letter to Leaders’ on ‘Fontanka Office’
TV Rain Interviews Volunteer Fighter Back from Donbass
‘I Was on Active Duty’: Interview with Captured GRU Officer Aleksandrov


Video Shows Small Explosion At Moscow Bus Stop

A video posted on the website for the Moscow television outlet LifeNews, apparently security camera footage, shows a small-ish blast and a bystander who was not obviously injured by the explosions. According to the report, 4 people were injured in the incident which police are calling “hooliganism,” a catch-all term for anything, from protesting to criminal behavior, which is in defiance of the state:

Взрыв на остановке в Москве сняли камеры наблюдения

Сильный хлопок, который раздался на остановке в центре Москвы, попал на камеру видеонаблюдения.

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Dec 08, 2015 02:37 (GMT)

A screen capture:

2015-12-07 21:42:59

James Miller
Update: Russian State Press Says 3 Injured By Homemade Explosive Thrown At Bus Stop

Sputnik, another English-language Kremlin propaganda outlet, has further details on tonight’s explosion thrown at a bus stop in northeastern Moscow:

“An unknown explosive device was thrown into a group of people standing at a bus stop,” a Moscow police spokesman said, adding that the incident took place at near 19 Pokrovka Street.

“Moscow police are working to establish the circumstances and causes of the explosion. An investigative team is on the scene,” Moscow Internal Affairs Ministry representative Andrey Galiakberov said, according to RIA Novosti.

“According to preliminary data, the cause of the explosion at the bus stop loacted on Pokrovka street, could be a homemade firecracker, thrown from a passing car window or an apartment building.”
The victims were reportedly three women, injured by broken glass, two of whom were taken to a nearby hospital, though their injuries do not appear to be life-threatening.

They are also carrying one picture we have not seen yet of the scene:

Muriel POMPONNE on Twitter

Explosion près d un arrêt de bus a #moscou. Ambulances et police sur place @RFI

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Dec 08, 2015 02:09 (GMT)

James Miller
Moscow Police Quickly Brand Reported Bomb Attack An Act Of “Hooliganism”
The Russian state-controlled media is now carrying the story that Moscow police are calling tonight’s reported bomb attack at a bus stop on northeast Moscow a case of “hooliganism,” the broadly-defined term which has been used to describe both terrorists and anti-Putin protesters.
It’s unclear how the Russian authorities so quickly ascertained the details of this attack. Again, RT is also quoting Moscow police spokesperson Andrey Galiakberov that it was a home-made device which caused this explosion.

James Miller

Russian Press: Police Say ‘Home-Made Explosive’ Thrown At Bus Stop In Moscow
The Russian state-run propaganda outlet RT is running a story that a home-made bomb was thrown at a group of people near a bus stop in northeast Moscow, on Pokrovka street:

RT’s own website has different details:

An unknown home-made explosive device has gone off at a public transport stop injuring three people,” police sources told TASS.

Reports of the blast were confirmed by Moscow police spokesman Andrey Galiakberov who said authorities are now looking into the incident.

James Miller

First Pictures From Explosion At Bus Stop In Moscow
A Twitter user has uploaded several pictures of emergency crews responding to a reported explosion at a bus stop in Moscow.
He also shared this Periscope video. It’s hard to make out because it is very short.

Vladislav on Periscope: "На месте взрыва остановки"

Vladislav (@unkn0wnerror) on Periscope. Жизнь слишком коротка, чтобы смотреть в стол. @NewcasterTV CTO and Co-Founder, FuckRKN team, @alliance_mo. +7 (926) 174-45-40,

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Dec 08, 2015 01:22 (GMT)

So far all we know is what we have reported earlier, that according to LifeNews, a Moscow television outlet with suspiciously-close ties to the Russian security apparatus, three people have been injured at an explosion at a bus stop.

James Miller

US Russian Foundation for Economic Advancement and the Rule of Law Declared ‘Undesirable’; Director Barred from Russia
The US Russian Foundation for Economic Advancement and the Rule of Law (USRF) has been declared “undesirable” in Russia, Interfax reports.
The Prosecutor General of Russia said the fund was providing assistance to Russian NGOs that were serving as “foreign agents” and was involved in “political processes” in Russia.
Such a declaration entails refusal to process financial or real estate transactions, a ban on opening branch offices and other consequences.
The State Duma issued a “patriotic stop list” in July regarding 12 foreign non-profit organizations operating in Russia. Of these, the Soros Foundation have already been declared “undesirable” as we reported.
USRF issued a statement on its web site December 4 in which the earlier denial of entry to Russia for its director was noted:

The Board of Directors of the US Russia Foundation expresses its profound sorrow and alarm that some Russian authorities are escalating a misguided campaign to isolate Russian society and institutions from normal interactions with their counterparts abroad. 

USRF was established following a meeting of the American and Russian Presidents in 2006 in St. Petersburg, at which they agreed on its mission of promoting long-term economic development in Russia and strengthening ties between the United States and Russia. The Foundation has been legally registered with the Russian government since it began work in 2008. 

Despite the unwarranted action of Russian authorities to deny USRF CEO Mark Pomar entry into Russia earlier this year – for which we have requested but never received any explanation – Russian government officials repeatedly assured USRF that its programs, which have largely promoted the growth of entrepreneurship and partnerships between US and Russian universities, were welcome and enjoyed official support.

In its statement today adding USRF to the growing list of “undesirable organizations,” the Office of the Prosecutor General stated that the activities of USRF “pose a threat to the foundations of the constitutional system of the Russian Federation and the state’s security.”  Nothing could be further from the truth, as any serious examination of  USRF activities will make clear.

The foundation, created by the George W. Bush Administration in 2006, even before the “reset” with Russia by the Obama Administration in 2009, formed a consortium in 2010 with a number of groups with USAID funding: New Eurasia Foundation, the American Council of Teachers of Russia, the American Councils for International Education and the National Council for East European and Eurasian Resarch.

USAID itself was banned from Russia in 2012. At that time, the pro-Kremlin  Russia Beyond the Headlines, an English publication of the state-owned Rossiyskaya Gazeta, ran a story originally published by the pro-Kremlin Vzglyad about correspondence leaked from the USRF claiming that the fund hoped to pick up where USAID had left off ostensibly to foster “regime change” in Russia.

Pomar confirmed the authenticity of the hacked documents but said that his organization had no intention interfering in Russian policy.

Sergei Borisov, head of the board of trustees of a Russian organization Opora Rossii (Bulwark of Russia) and a member of USRF’s board of directors said USRF told Vzglyad that USRF “no influence on or connection with odious human rights organizations.” But Sergei Markov of the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics said the US had “a missionary complex” and Aleksei Zudin of the Center for Political Environment said the USRF “may perfectly well become an agent of influence.”
This latest measure follows a number of incidents in the last two years involving unexpected expulsion of professors or students or denial of visas of Americans taking part in educational exchange programs. In June, Scott Blacklin, American business consultant and former president of the US Chamber of Commerce in Russia was arrested and held for 2 weeks and then expelled after authorities found his activities — delivering a lecture at a university — were “incompatible” with his business visa.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

Kuban Activist Sentenced to 3.5 Years Labor Colony for “Calls to Separatism”
Krasnodar activist Darya Polyudova, charged with “calls for separatism” on the Internet for a “march for federalization in Kuban” which never took place, was sentenced to 3.5 years of labor colony, Andrei Sabin, her lawyer told Media Zone.
The Oktyabrsky District Court in Krasnodar reviewed Polyudova’s case today and honored the prosecutor’s request for 3.5 years of imprisonment in a settlement colony on two counts, “public calls for implementing actions aimed at violation the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation” under Art. 280.1, section 2 and Art. 280, sections 1 and 2, “public calls for extremist activism.”

Polyudova, a member of an unregistered communist group had also demonstrated on behalf of people arrested for the May 6, 2012 demonstration on Bolotnaya Square, and against the Sochi Olympics, Russkaya Planeta reported last year. On August 15, two days before the planned march, an unidentified man approached her and tried to start an incident, accusing her of “nationalism.” Police appeared immediately and detained her for “petty hooliganism” and sentenced her to 14 days of administration arrest. But after her term was finished, instead of being released she was informed of the case of “extremism” against her. The prosecutor also asked for web sites related to her case to be blocked but initially did not specify which ones.

2015-12-07 17:39:12

Polyudova with a sign saying “Freedom for May 6 Prisoners” in 2014. Photo via Facebook.

The march was originally planned for August 17, 2014 with the slogan “Enough Feeding Moscow!” to complain about the ways in which regions send revenue to Moscow but then do not get sufficient return in subsidies. The Union of Communist Youth applied to the Mayor’s office for a permit but were denied on a technicality — they had specified the place where they wished to hold the event as “Gorky Park” but it had been renamed “City Garden”. After this, the activists decided to hold a “gathering” without posters or microphones so as to stay under the radar of the law, planning to call for more fair allocations of resources between the federal center and regions and greater democracy in electing governors. 

Mention of this gathering on VKontakte and Facebook then led to blocking of those pages by Roskomnadzor, the state censor, at the request of the prosecutor, leading activists to assume hardly any protesters would participate in the action.

In the end, the march didn’t take place but only a few activists showed up in support of federalization. Others from Rossiya Molodaya (Young Russia) arrived to distribute St. George ribbons favored by those support nationalist movements and Russian-backed separatism in Ukraine. Several other patriotic activists from Sut’ Vremeni (Essence of Time) and Velikoye Otechestvo (Great Fatherland) tried to disperse the few pro-federalization activists, and Vyacheslav Martyunov, an anarchist carrying a Ukrainian flag was beaten by Aleksandr Manovitsky, a nationalist from Russkaya Obshchina (Russian Community) who also threatened him apparently with a pistol. As a result, both Martyunov and Manovitsky were arrested; Martyunov served 15 days for “petty hooliganism” and Manovitsky was released. 

Several other activists in other Russian cities also supporting the “march for federalization” were arrested or attacked. In Novosibirsk, Mikhail Pulin and his wife Marya were detained on suspicion of stealing a mobile phone and held more than 2 days then released without charge. Aleksei Baranov, whose last name means “sheep” in Russian, found a severed sheep’s head on his doorstep. Aleksandr Atabayev was handed a summons for the same time as the march was planned.

The movement in Kuban was trying to make the point that if Russia could call on Ukraine to “federalize” as it backed separatists in the Donbass, so could activists within Russia who sought greater autonomy for Russia’s regions.

But as Sergei Biyets, head of the central committee of the unregistered United Communist Party (separate from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation headed by Gennady Zyuganov in the Duma) explained, the “march for federalization” began as a joke and was meant more to call attention to the issue of the lack of regional autonomy than as any actual separatism. The originators did not expect it would lead to serious imprisonment. The activists thought since they already lived in a country called “the Russian Federation,” a call for federalization would not lead to any repercussions.

Authorities also seized Polyudova’s computer and cell phones, and did not allow a lawyer to be present either at the arrest or search. They also seized a poster that said “Long Live the Revolution!” and a book titled “The Orange Revolution. Polyudova’s mother said she had purchased the book for herself.

Polyudova’s case is part of a new trend of harsher political sentences as can be seen by the case of the Navalny brothers, Ildar Dadin and continued arrests in the Bolotnaya Case even three years later.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick 

Activist Ildar Dadin Sentenced to 3 Years of Labor Colony for Opposition Protest; Application of New Law on Repeat Offenders

An activist has been sentenced to three years for violating a new tougher law on rallies, Russian independent media has reported.

Judge Natalya Dudar sentenced Ildar Dadin to three years of standard-regimen labor camp, reported. The prosecutor had earlier asked for a stricter punishment of 3.5 years according to MediaZona.

Under the new law, repeat offenders of Art. 212, section 1, which regulates assemblies, rallies, demonstrations processions or pickets, who commit an offense again within a six-month period of serving the sentence for the previous offense, can now face up to five years of imprisonment and a fine of up to 600,000 rubles ($8,707), Yod reported.
As MediaZona reported, a scuffle broke out between activists and bailiffs after the sentence. Dadin was roughly put on the floor so he would not resist, and activists who came to assist him were forcibly removed from the courtroom. Bailiffs also forced two other activists to the floor.
A reader responded to Grani ru’s report from the courtroom with a cartoon that shows the Kremlin tower throwing the shadow of a labor camp tower.
Translation: 3 years
Dadin is the first such activist to face sentencing under the new law. Others to whom it will be applied as we reported include Vladimir Ionov, age 75, for whom the prosecutor has requested a 3-year suspended sentence, who will be sentenced tomorrow; a third is Mark Galperin and a fourth is Irina Kalmykova, who are awaiting trial.

Previously Dadin was detained for an unauthorized demonstration on January 15, 2015 on Manezh Square in defense of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his brother Oleg who were sentenced to 3.5 years suspended and actual terms, respectively, in a case believed to have been contrived by authorities in retaliation for Alexei’s anti-corruption work.

At that time, Dadin served 15 days of prison; he was already treated as a repeat offender then for violating the law on demonstrations in the previous year. Then he was detained January 30, and on February 3 placed under house arrest. 

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
Explosion Reported In Moscow – Three Reportedly Injured

LifeNews, a Moscow television outlet with suspiciously-close ties to the Russian security apparatus, reports that there has been an explosion at a bus stop on Pokrovka St in Moscow. According to the report, three people have been injured and ambulances and medical workers are on the scene.

More details when we have them…

 — James Miller

Prosecutors To Inspect TV Rain For Violations Of Extremism And Labour Laws

Natalya Sindeyeva, founder and director-general of TV Rain (Dozhd), Russia’s leading independent television channel, reported today that the station has been informed by prosecutors that they are being examined for possible promotion of ‘extremism’ and license and labour violations.

Translation: We’ve received a prosecutor’s inquiry

The letter says that the inquiry is being conducted on the request of the Prosecutor General Yury Chayka, who was recently the subject of a major investigation by anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny.

The aim of the investigation is to verify TV Rain’s compliance with laws on the promotion of extremism and terrorism, as well as labour codes and licensing.

The station must now allow prosecutors access to documents, including premises lease agreements, internal regulations, accounts and employee records.

According to a follow-up post on Sindeyeva’s Facebook page, the prosecutor’s inquiry was accompanied by another audit request, from the Ministry for Emergency Situations.

— Pierre Vaux