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.
According to a source in the investigation, Zaur Dadayev, the former Chechen policeman charged in the murder of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, has claimed his motive was Nemtsov’s statements on the Charlie Hebdo murders by Islamist terrorists.
– Alexey Navalny On the Murder of Boris Nemtsov
–Theories about Possible Perpetrators of the Murder of Boris Nemtsov
–Novaya Gazeta Releases Sensational Kremlin Memo: âIt is Seen as Correct to Initiate Annexation of Eastern Regions of Ukraine to Russiaâ
–Former Russian Intelligence Officers Behind Boisto âTrack IIâ Talks â and Now the Flawed Minsk Agreement.
See also our Russia This Week stories:
Remembering Boris Nemtsov, Insider and Outsider (1959-2015)
Ultranationalists Angry over âCapitulationâ of Minsk Agreement,
âAnti-Maidanâ Launched by Nationalists, Cossacks, Veterans, Bikers
The Guild War â How Should Journalists Treat Russian State Propagandists?
Please help The Interpreter to continue providing this valuable information service by making a donation towards our costsâ.
investigators are probing the background of Zaur Dadayev,reportedly the
main suspect in the Nemtsov murder case and its organizers as well as
its executer, says Gazeta.ru.
A source in law-enforcement said that most likely this is Zaur Dadayev, deputy commander of the Sever [North] commander.
The forensic analysis obtained by law-enforcement bodies give grounds to suppose that the person who shot Nemtsov was Dudayev.
He didn’t say what exactly this forensic analysis consisted of, and Gazeta.ru asks
whether or not it was gunpowder on the skin or clothing of Dudayev or
whether his description matches videotapes from surveillance cameras.
This sounds less certain than the statement made two days ago by Albert Barakhayev,
acting deputy secretary for the security council of Ingushetia, who
“confirmed” that this was the same Zaur Dadayev who was in the Sever
Battalion; Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov also said it was the same
man, that he knew him as a “patriot of Russia” and a “devout” Muslim
believer. And other investigators said that they had hair samples from
the getaway car that matched the suspect.
“This can be confirmed one hundred percent when the murder weapon is found,” a source told Gazeta.ru. Investigators are said to be searching the bottom of the Moscow River near the bridge where Nemtsov was killed.
The source also said that Dadayev confessed to the murder “although he was very reluctant to communicate with investigators.”
“From his scant testimony it follows that he was the organizer of the murder,” said the source.
that all of the sources on this story are anonymous and their stories
are starting to shift, it may be that the investigation is stuck on
proving that this particular Chechen is related to the shooting, even if
they can place him in a car they think is the getaway car.
notes, as deputy commander of the Sever battalion, Dadayev would have
answered to Col. Alimbek Delimkhanov, the brother of Duma deputy Adam
Delimkhanov, who became notorious for being caught with a golden gun in parliament.
Delimkhanovs are among the closest associates of Kadyrov as they are
his cousins. The Sever Battalion and also the Yug [South] Battalion were
created in 2006 under the patronage of Kadyrov himself. The consist of
former officers of the so-called Anti-Terrorist Center of Chechnya and
the presidential security service. Formally, these units are subordinate
to the command of the North Caucasus District troops of the Interior
Ministry of Russia.
Dadayev was said to serve for 10 years in a
special division of the Interior Troops which then became Sever. In
2010, he was awarded the Order of Courage. Recently, he was said to
resign from the service under circumstances that are not known.
Dadayev, along with Anzor and Shagid Gubashev, his third cousins, were all detained together in neighboring Ingushetia.
As we reported, after the name of the suspect became known, Kadyrov wrote about him on his Instagram:
I knew Zaur as a real patriot of Russia. From the very
first days of the creation of the regiment which was a part of the 46th
Separate Operations Brigade of the Internal Forces of the Interior
Ministry of the Russian Federation, he served in it. He had the rank of
“lieutenant.” He held the post of deputy commander of the battalion.
Zaur was one of the most fearless and courageous soldiers of the
regiment. He was particularly distinguished in battle near Benoy, when
there was a special operation against a large band of terrorists. He was
awarded the Order of Courage and medals “For Bravery,” “For Service to
the Chechen Republic” and a Letter of Gratitude from the head of the
Chechen Republic and so on.
The investigators now have a “foreign” angle in the case, says Gazeta.ru:
Law-enforcement agencies have established the foreign
contacts of the suspects in the murder of Nemtsov, therefore the theory
of the foreign footprint is also being actively developed, a
law-enforcement source told Interfax. He noted that according to one
theory, the motive for the murder of Nmetsov “could have become the
politician’s [Nemtsov’s] sharp expressions regarding Islam.”
No indication was given of which foreign countries were involved.
As we reported,
back on February 28, when the Investigative Committee first floated the
“Islamist” or “Charlie Hebdo” angle, Ramzan Kadyrov in fact didn’t pick
it up, and stuck to his script about “Western intelligence agencies”
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
The latest polling of Russian attitudes towards the United States may not surprise many readers — the U.S. is viewed highly unfavorably. What may surprise many readers, however, is that the U.S. is viewed more unfavorably than both Ukraine and the European Union.
Journalist Ian Bateson tweeted this today:
This poll was released a month ago, so we’ll start with a quote from our analysis published at the time which looked at some of the more overlooked aspects of the poll:
The flip side of the poll seems to be that Russians have a poor self-image for their country – and these may be related and self-reinforcing, although the Russian media hasn’t discussed this part of the poll.
When those surveyed were asked “How do most developed countries of the world regard Russia now?” in January 2007, there was a low percentage — 4% — which rose in 6% perhaps even due to the attitude of South Ossetia and Abkhazia to Russians – but which went to 2% this January. It has never gone above 6% in the last 7 years.
Meanwhile, only 21% believed other countries saw Russia “as a partner”; this was higher in January 2009 at 39%. The largest percent — 37% — believe Russia is seen as a competitor — which fuels the idea, as the article explains, that sanctions aren’t imposed to change aggressive behavior and deer it, but to compete out of jealousy. Respondents also said 27% believe Russia is perceived as an enemy, which is up from 16% in March 2014, and up from 7% in January 2007 and 8% in January 2013. That’s significant — that the belief that Russia is seen as an enemy has increased more than three-fold.
There’s even more surprises if you dig into the data. As recently as January 2014 the percentage of Russians who viewed the U.S. favorably was nearly the same as those who viewed it unfavorably, and throughout most of 2013 the U.S. was viewed generally positively. In January 2014 31% of respondents said that U.S./Russian relations were “normal/calm,” and 40% said relations were “cool.” Only 17% viewed relationships as either tense or hostile. By January 2015, 79% of respondents described U.S./Russian relationships as tense or hostile, with the latter category being the largest.
The European Union fared better, but similar trends are visible. In January 2014, the majority of respondents had a favorable impression of the EU. A year later those numbers had dropped to 20%.
Ukraine, a country which Russia is nominally at war with, is the most respected of the lot. In January 2014 6% had a very good impression of Ukraine while a whopping 60% of respondents had a mostly good impression of Russia’s neighbor. By January 2015, only 24% of Russians had a favorable impression of Ukraine while 36% had a mostly bad impression and 28% had a very bad impression.
What does all this mean? Russian propaganda is working. Russian propaganda outlets, particularly television and radio channels, have been busy demonizing the United States for more than a year. Independent outlets have been shrinking during the same period. The Kremlin is trying to blame the Ukraine crisis on the United State first, Europe second, in an attempt to recall Cold-War rhetoric in the hopes that it might catch on. It’s a strategy that’s working.
But there are other interesting data points here.
The most interesting question on the survey might be whether Russian should strengthen its relationship from the West or distance itself from the West. In March, 2014, after Russia had already started the annexation of Crimea, 61% of Russians thought they should strengthen relations with the West, while only 24% said they should distance the country from the West. By January 2015, those numbers were 40% and 36% respectfully, a near-even split. This could indicate that what Putin actually feared in Ukraine was the spread of “Euromaidan” to Moscow. The nearly-even split now also indicates that many Russians may have learned to distrust the West, they have not yet readily adopted a suitable alternative.
It’s also interesting to compare these numbers with Putin’s own approval rating. If more Russians want to strengthen ties with the West than distance the country from the West, and if 24% of Russians still have a favorable opinion of Ukraine, how is it possible that Putin has an approval rating of more than 85%? The answer is that the Levada numbers are likely far more accurate than Putin’s approval ratings which many have doubted.
— James Miller, Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
RFE/RL’s Yelena Rykovtseva has posted her impressions of how Russian state-controlled television networks covered the assassination of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. For starters, the article mentions that Nemtsov was basically ignored by Russian TV before his death, and in the initial coverage of the incident the Kremlin’s networks were busy pointing out that he was a washed-up politician.
Then the narrative changed, first to discredit theories that Nemtsov was killed by either the government or its supporters, and then to disparage the victim:
The praise of Nemtsov as a victim of nefarious Western powers couldn’t last for long. After the threat of Western-inspired Maidan receded following the peaceful mourning march, Russian national television quickly switched gears and began to rein in the pathos and darken the memory of the victim. How? Bastard children, multiple wives, dubious lovers, money, resorts, and so on.
NTV produced a singer named Natalya who breathlessly told audiences how Nemtsov took her virginity. Dressed in black leather pants and a leather jacket (mourning clothes, apparently), she told about her various trysts with Nemtsov in cities around the world, including — predictably — Washington, D.C. Viewers were on the edge of their seats as Natalya told how she asked Nemtsov to buy her some fancy sneakers so that she could use the spa at one resort.
“Did he buy them?” the curious host asked.
“He did!” Natalya enthused.
The same channel brought in a lawyer who, although he had no obvious connection to Nemtsov at all, detailed the various “trusts” the slain politician left to his four children.
— James Miller
In the largest-ever sale of Swiss military equipment to Russia, a Swiss company has sent 85 million euros worth of high-tech camouflage netting designed to thwart radar and infra-red detection.
France 24 reports:
The contract was signed in August 2014, before Bern decided to mirror EU sanctions against Russia, Swiss economic policy spokesman Fabian Maienfisch told the ATS news agency, confirming press reports.
Maienfisch declined to name either the civilian Russian buyer or the Swiss supplier.
That the purchaser is a civilian is interesting, especially if any of these nets show up outside of Russia, like in Ukraine or in the hands of Kremlin allies.
— James Miller
NATO and Russia continue to have dueling drills in parts of Eastern Europe. While the NATO drills were pre-scheduled and pre-announced, many of the Russians drills have been described by the Russian media as “surprise” exercises.
Russian ships and aircraft have reportedly tailed NATO ships drilling in the Black Sea. RFE/RL reports that this has been confirmed by a U.S. naval officer:
A U.S. naval officer says Russian military vessels and aircraft were spotted in the Black Sea near an area where NATO plans to hold a military exercise.
Rear Admiral Brad Williamson said the Russian Navy acted in line with international rules.
“They have their plans, we have ours,” Williamson said, without disclosing further details.
Meanwhile, more than 120 pieces of American equipment have been deployed in Latvia, including M1A2 Abrams tanks and M2A3 Bradley fighting vehicles. UA Today reports:
The military equipment has been supplied as part of the NATO Atlantic Resolve training programme. The 1st Brigage of the 3rd US Infantry Division arrived in Latvia on March 9 to replace the 2nd US Cavalry Regiment which had previously been stationed in Latvia. The infantry troops will stay in the country for another three months until the next rotation.
Meanwhile, Spain is the NATO country which has been rotated into the air patrolling mission over the Baltics. Yesterday Spanish Eurofighters flew over 15 Estonian towns (video) in what has been described as an “honorific flight,” making news in three countries: Estonia, Spain… and Russia.
— James Miller
Five men were brought to Basmanny Court in Moscow yesterday March 8 in the murder case of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. Two were charged and arraigned and put in pre-trial detention until April 28. Three others were declared suspects and put under arrest in jail pending investigation until May 7 and 8.
Gazeta.ru covered the hearing and has more information about the suspects.
Zaur Dadayev, who was charged in the murder, was confirmed as the deputy commander of a regiment of the Sever Battalion of the Interior Ministry of he Chechen Republic.
Albert Barakhayev, acting deputy secretary for the security council of Ingushetia made a statement to the media about his position in the Chechen Interior Ministry troops.
But at arraignment, Dadayev didn’t confirm this, even while pleading guilty. He said he lives in Ingushetia, does not have a permanent address or family and does not live at the address of his registration. “In conclusion, Dadayev asked for objectivity.” Translation by The Interpreter:
“I would like the court to study this case thoroughly and so that everything is by the law. I have nothing more to add.”
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov also acknowledged that Dadayev was in the Interior Ministry troops, and said he was a very devout believer. Yet he said that he had resigned from the police force. Kadyrov said he would investigate the conditions under which he left.
Anzor Gubashev did not plead guilty. He was born in Rostov Region, completed 9 grades of school and is registered in Ingushetia. “I am not guilty,” was the only thing he said.
Yet the investigation says that material evidence gathered and the testimonies of witnesses proves his involvement. The judge, after reviewing the material stated this as well.
Three suspects in the murder of Boris Nemtsov. Photo by Interfax.
Suspect in the murder of Boris Nemtsov. Photo by Interfax.
Shagid Gubashev said “I did not commit this crime.” He added that he suffered from health problems, ulcers and hemorrhoids.
Two others, Khamzad Bakhayev and Tamerland Eskherkhanov were detained in Odintsovsky District in Moscow Region. Bakhayev said he learned of the murder of Nemtsov on television while at home, and asked that he not be put in pre-trial detention because he is the father of six children.
Translation by The Interpreter:
“I have not taken part in any way in this, not in any movement, I did not even know about this crime.”
Tamerlan Eskherkhanov said he had an alibi, that he was at work “just as I am every day.”
“I have witnesses, and they can confirmed this,” said Eskherkhanov.
Relatives of the Gubashev brothers have been vigorously speaking out on their behalf in the media.
Tamara Dadayeva said in a statement videotaped by Gazeta.ru that her brother had “worked for 11 years in the ranks of our army.”
Translation by The Interpreter:
“He is defending the motherland, defending Russia. He works under difficult conditions, in the forest. He takes part in various operations. He is famed for his bravery and has numerous medals. Nurgaliev himself awarded him with the Order of Bravery; he has the Star of Kadyrov.”
The mother of the two brothers also categorically denied their guilt.
“I can only say one thing — that he could not commit this. I will never believe that he could, I could not believe it. Let them find the real murderer who did this.”
Beslan Shavanov, 30, blew himself up with a hand grenade when police came to his door to arrest.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
He claimed Nemtsov had “repeatedly” made negative statements about Musims and religion.
Says Rosbalt (translation by The Interpreter):
According to a RosBalt source in law-enforcement agencies, Dadayev statement that in January 2015, he learned that Boris Nemtsov had repeatedly admitted negative expressions aimed at Muslims living on the territory of Russia, the Prophet Muhammed and also the Islamic religion itself. As a person who was deeply religious, Zaur could not tolerate such things.
“Essentially, Dadayev admitted to organizing this crime,” said the Rosbalt source. “Therefore some sensational exposes or detentions within the framework of the investigation should not be expected.
Rosbalt included a poll after this article, asking if people believed Dadayev was the contractor of the murder. 77 person of 1,965 people who responded said “no,” and 22% said “yes”.
The claim seems contrived, as the issue of Islam was not one that was central
for Nemtsov, who was focused on Russian government corruption, such as in the Sochi Olympics, the economic crisis, the oil and gas industry, and the
war in Ukraine. At best it seems tenuously linked to a number of blog posts made by Nemtsov in January on his Facebook page after the murder of 12 Charlie Hebdo journalists in Paris by Islamist terrorists, and then a post on Ekho Moskvy.
Most of the posts concerned not Islam, but the right of a lone picketer to demonstration with a “Je Suis Charlie” sign near the Kremlin.
Did the Chechen murder suspect Dadayev read Facebook or Ekho Moskvy?
Did he make a special effort to follow what Nemtsov said nearly two
months before his murder, even though there were others far more visible
and controversial on this topic?
He or other suspects might have more
readily noticed Nemtsov’s post on Ekho Moskvy, but it was overshadowed by the more publicized action of Ekho’s publication of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons that
could be deemed offensive to Christians and Jews as well as Muslims.
(The page shows 529 comments and only 66 views, possibly because it was
reset. The Russian censor did not take any action against Ekho over the page of cartoons or Nemtsov’s post, both of which remain in view.)
the murderers were so offended by Nemtsov’s Facebook or Ekho posts in
early January, whey did they wait until February 27 to kill him?
On February 28, Caucasian Knot, a regional news web site, reported that the Investigative Committee considered that the murderer of Boris Nemtsov was “likely” over outrage over the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. We also included that theory in our list of hypotheses floated by official, semi-official and unofficial sources in the first days after the murder.
Caucasian Knot took the trouble to research what Nemtsov had actually said on this subject, and found four short blog posts, three on his Facebook page and one in a blog post on Ekho Moskvy.
The first Facebook post was on January 7, immediately after the murder of 12 journalists from Charlie Hebdo in Paris by Islamist terrorists.
(Translation by The Interpreter):
The tragedy of the murder of the 12 journalists from Charlie Hebdo has shaken all normal people. My condolences to the relatives and friends of the innocent murdered journalists. When the Council of Muftis of Russia call the activity of journalists of a publication a provocation and a sin, it is justifying terrorists.
The muftis of Russia in fact issued a statement condemning the terror attack.
But they added that the journalists were guilty of the “sin of provocation,” and that was what Nemtsov was responding to. They used the occasion to warn against offending Muslims.
The next day, January 8, Nemtsov wrote another post on Facebook, under a photo of the cover of Berlin Kurier depicting a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad in a blood bath:
Tolerance ends where violence arises. Many in Europe do not understand that. As a result, Marie le Pen wins.
Another Facebook post Nemtsov made was also on January 8, after Mikhail Khodorkovsky said that everyone should publish the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in solidarity with the journalists, Caucasian Knot reports.
Ramzan Kadyrov respond by calling Khodorkovsky then his “personal enemy.”
Kadyrov then threatened Ekho Moskvy editor-in-chief Aleksey Venediktov who decided to publish the cartoons in solidarity with the slain journalists.
Kadyrov then took this further by organizing a rally reported to be attended by a million people to condemn the cartoons.
Nemtsov commented on Kadyrov’s statement advising Khodorkovsky to get a body guard, “although this is not customary in Switzerland,” and that in recent years “quite a few personal enemies of Kadyrov have been killed” and listed them.
Then on January 9, Nemtsov made another short post on Islam and terrorism on the site of Ekho Moskvy, echoing the notion of “Islam as a young religion” that other Russian intellectuals have espoused (translation by The Interpreter):
From time immemorial, people have killed for religion. The Romans crucified Christ and persecuted the Christians and in the medieval ages, thousands of people were burned alive at the stakes of the Inquisition. Scientists were persecuted (Galileo) and priests (Giordano Bruno) and writers and poets.
The Inquisition raged in France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Germany for many centuries, starting from the 12th century going right up to the 19th. It flourished in the 16th and 17th centuries. It ended with the victor of the French Revolution and the creation of the European secular states.
Islam is a young religion. It emerged in the 7th century, that is, Islam is younger than Christianity approximately by 600 years. And if Christians live in the 21st century, Muslims live in the 14-15th. I will note that the 14-15th centuries were the heyday of the Inquisition, the trials of heretics and burning people alive at the stakes.
Now we are witnesses to a medieval Islamic inquisition. Centuries will pass, and Islam will mature, and terrorism will recede into the past. But it’s also not worth just sitting and do nothing.
The historians of the Inquisition have taught us a lot. First, for an end to religious terror, it is necessary to fight for a secular state, that is, separation of the mosque from government.
Second, the position of the muftis is extremely important. If they will unambiguously condemn terror and murder, and distinguish Islam from murderers, this will help to defeat terror.
Third, there should not be any justification of terror. When people write here that the cartoonists are guilty, that they mocked the Prophet Muhammed, they are justifying murder. Murder is a mortal sin, including in accordance with the Koran, and satire, even mocking, is not a sin. Comparison of a cartoonist with a murderer and fanatic only provokes terrorists. Murderers should not be compared to terrorists.
One thing is clear. Islam as a young religion is in the Middle Ages and it faces a long struggle in order to defeat the Islamic Inquisition.
Nothing will be done quickly.
The post had 2100 views and 441 comments.
At the time of the Charlie Hebdo attack, we published a round-up of comments by journalists and opposition figures that did not include Nemtsov’s post at the time because other figures stood out more; most independent papers opted not to publish the cartoons. Nemtsov himself did not publish the original cartoons that offended Muslims.
We found several more posts made by Nemtsov on his Facebook page on the Charlie Hebdo murders, in addition to those found by Caucasian Knot.
On January 7, he posted a picture of the demonstration in the park in Paris in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo’s journalists, saying “Enormous rally in support of Charlie Hebdo and free speech. We are Not Afraid! chant the demonstrators.
In this post on January 11, he posted a picture of another solidarity demonstration in Paris, and contrasting Paris with how Moscow dealt with responses to terrorist attacks, he said, “We had a completely different picture in our country after Beslan. And that’s our main problem…”
On January 8, he posted a photo of the Eiffel tower darkened in mourning for the journalists:
Nemtsov also wrote on January 10 about the Muslim man who hid a half dozen customers at the kosher deli in Paris in a walk-in refrigerator, an saved their lives — 4 others were killed by terrorists. He called him “the toughest guy on the planet” and “a hero!!!”
On January 11, Nemtsov posted about a solo picket by a man named
Vladimir Ionov who held up a sign saying “Je Suis Charlie” as the French
had been saying in solidarity with the Charlie Hebdo journalists.
Nemtsov wrote about the very “FSO Zone of Protection” in which he
himself was later believed to be killed. The man was standing in front
of the monument to Zhukov in front of the State Historical Museum,
beyond the north end of Red Square, not far from where Nemtsov was
(Translation by The Interpreter):
whole story with the detention of V. Ionov, who was holding the “I am
Charlie” banner, is significant. After all, if the police had simply
detained him, this could have been ascribed to the stupidity of the
police. They didn’t see the television about the terrorist attack i
nParis, they don’t know anything about it, they saw a man with a poster
in French, they suspected something was wrong and grabbed him just in
But that’s not how it was. Mark Galperin writes that
they sent a provocateur to Vladimir Ionov at first. He stood next to
him, and under Russian law this was not a solo picket now, but that mean
it had to get permission. There was no permission.
that basis the activists were detained. The detention occurred near the
Kremlin, near the statue of Zhukov. This territory is the zone of
responsibility for the FSO [Federal Protective Service], the special
service assigned to security of Putin and his residence, including the
Obviously, the decision on the provocation was
made not by rank-and-file police but their bosses and patrons. They
couldn’t help but know about the terrorist attack in Paris…
They also had likely heard about Lavrov’s trip to Paris, where thousands of people would come out with such posters.
they detained Ionov. This is totally being out of touch, total lack of
understanding of the world around. In principle, this insignificant
episode says a lot — that not only the FSO and the police are in this
state of being out of touch, but all of the Russian government.
15 years of insanity and endless lies have led to this result.
On January 15, Nemtsov made another post on the subject of Charlie Hebdo, regarding the way the government now believed its own lies:
(Translation by The Interpreter):
Putin’s favorite newspaper demonstrates to the whole world what an information hell the citizens of Russia live in.
And this has continued for several years.
Having unleashed the monstrous machine of lies, the Kremlin has begun to believe in it itself.This is one of the serious reasons for confrontation with the world.
What the World believes is an unprecedented lie, in Russia is perceived as the real thing.
The result is cold war and isolation.
And a profound economic crisis in the country. The lie destroys not only the brain, but the economi, because words are material.
The headline on Komsomolskaya Pravda says “Terrorist Act in Paris Organized by Americans?”
Nemtsov’s made another post on the subject of Charlie Hebdo was January 16:
What kind of cretins do you have to be to put in jail our colleague Mark Galperin for 38 days for a Je Suis Charlie picked and action in support of Navalny?
Of course, when Lavrov meets with delegations from Burundi and Tanzania, they will not ask him questions about Galperin. But in Europe they might ask, why are people arrested in Russia for a Je Suis Charlie action? Is that how you fight terrorist, Mr. Lavrov?
So then why did you take part in the action of solidarity in Paris?
His last post on the subject was made January 17, six weeks before his death.
Nemtsov mentioned Ionov again on his 75th birthday while he was still in jail, and explained that a new article in the Criminal Code (Art. 221.1) passed by the Duma last year made it possible to sentence repeat offenders.
Now they have decided to put a pensioner in jail. What if he suddenly organized a Maidan and overthrew Putin?? Let’s not risk it, and jail the old man.
This outrageous case must not be left without public attention. The more publicity and civic support for Vladimir, the more chances that he will remain free.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick