Misuse of Anti-Extremism in August 2021

Настоящий материал (информация) произведен и (или) распространен иностранным агентом РОО Центр «Сова» либо касается деятельности иностранного агента РОО Центр «Сова».
The following is our review of the primary and most representative events in the misuse of Russia's anti-extremist legislation in August 2021.

Sanctions for Oppositional Activities and Criticism of the Authorities

On August 4, 2021, the First General Jurisdiction Court of Appeal in Moscow upheld the decision of the Moscow City Court, which satisfied the administrative claim of the Moscow prosecutor and, on June 9, 2021, recognized the Anti-Corruption Foundation (Fond borby s korruptsiyey, FBK), the Citizens Rights Defense Fund (Fond Zaschity prav grazhdan, FZPG), and the Navalny Headquarters network as extremist organizations. Previously, FBK and FZPG were also recognized as organizations that “perform the functions of a foreign agent.” On August 6, all three organizations were added to the Federal List of Extremist Organizations published on the Ministry of Justice website. It is worth reminding that, in our opinion, there were no legal grounds for banning Alexei Navalny's organizations as extremist. More information about our position can be found here.

On August 10, the Investigative Committee announced the opening of a criminal case against Leonid Volkov and Ivan Zhdanov under Article 282.3 Part 1 of the Criminal Code (collection of funds intended to support the activities of an extremist organization). According to the Investigative Committee, the case was based on a video, in which Volkov, the former head of the Navalny Headquarters network, and Zhdanov, the former director of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, urged “an unlimited number of people to support “Navalny's Team” and fund it through donations via the link they specified.” The Investigative Committee was likely referring to the “We Continue and We Need Help” video posted on Navalny's YouTube channel on August 5.

On August 11, the Investigative Committee of Russia announced that Alexei Navalny was charged under Article 239 Part 2 of the Criminal Code ("creation of a public association whose activity is fraught with inducement of individuals to refuse to discharge their civil duties or to commit other unlawful deeds, and likewise operation of such an association"). It was reported on August 12 that the same charges were brought against his associates Ivan Zhdanov and Leonid Volkov. It is worth reminding that the corresponding criminal case was initiated on February 4. According to the investigation, the activities of the FBK, created by Navalny and led by Navalny, Zhdanov and Volkov, were associated with inducing citizens to commit illegal acts. In particular, Navalny, Zhdanov, Volkov and other persons organized, on their personal webpages and on the FBK webpages, the distribution of publications that contained calls for citizens of the Russian Federation to participate in non-permitted rallies in January 2021, even though the illegal nature of these events and the administrative liability for their participants was “reliably known in advance.”

The Armavir City Court of Krasnodar Krai fined local resident Sergei Solomakhin two and a half thousand rubles under Article 20.3 Part 2 of the Code of the Administrative Offenses (manufacture, marketing or acquisition for the purpose of sale of symbols or attributes of an extremist organization aimed at its propaganda). On August 11 Solomakhin “allowed himself an acquisition for the purpose of sale” of leaflets with information about Smart Voting, which, as noted by the court, was a project of the Anti-Corruption Foundation recognized in Russia as extremist. The court cites the expert opinion, according to which “the Smart Voting leaflet exhibits all the signs of extremist printed products, and is presented by a banned civic organization that calls for violating the electoral legislation.” In accordance with the federal law on countering extremist activities, materials are recognized as extremist in court and then included in the Federal List of Extremist Materials; after that, their mass distribution entails sanctions under Article 20.29 of the Code of the Administrative Offenses. However, Solomakhin was punished under a different article – the one that covers the acquisition of extremist paraphernalia or symbols for the purpose of marketing or propaganda. At the same time, the court decision never specifically mentions any attributes or symbols.

The Moscow Arbitration Court dismissed the lawsuit by Google LLC against Roskomnadzor on August 6; the American company had sought to recognize as illegal a number of Roskomnadzor's moves to impose extrajudicial access restrictions on YouTube materials. The lawsuit filed in April pertained to 12 hyperlinks to videos that called for participation in rallies held without permission in January 2021. Google argued that Roskomnadzor had no legal basis to block the YouTube links since the Deputy Prosecutor General request received by the agency did not include these links at all, only a link to a similar TikTok video. The court ruled that all actions committed by Roskomnadzor fell within the scope of its legislative powers since the department can take “preventive and suppressive measures,” and since the request of the Prosecutor General's Office mentioned information on “other Internet resources” that was also subject to blocking. In our opinion, the legislation restricting the dissemination of online information, currently in force in Russia, has systemic shortcomings. Its application often unreasonably and disproportionately restricts freedom of speech, and this is especially true for the rules on extrajudicial blocking.

In early August, the Arkhangelsk Regional Court overturned for lack of circumstantial evidence the ruling of the Kotlas City Court issued against activist Vladimir Kotov under Article 20.29 of the Code of the Administrative Offenses. In July, Kotov was fined two thousand rubles under Article 20.29 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (mass distribution of extremist materials) for posting on his VKontakte page an image “featuring the face of a man in a black mask (balaclava), [as well as] the caption “Citizens of Russia, be vigilant!” The approval numbers are falling – expect terrorist attacks.” This text, as featured on a meme, was banned and included in the Federal List of Extremist Materials in 2017. We view its prohibition as unfounded since the text contains no accusations or other allegations that could be considered extremist. Therefore, we have considered the administrative sanction against Kotov inappropriate.

In mid-August, the Industrial District Court of Perm sentenced Ivan Shilonosov to 50 hours of community service under Article 20.3.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (incitement to hatred). The charges were based on Shilonosov’s comment made under a post in a VKontakte community. An expert opinion concluded that the text of his comment contained “offensive naming” that was derogatory toward public servants (police officers). According to the prosecutor's office, the comment contained obscene language. We believe that law enforcement officers should not be considered a vulnerable social group protected by anti-extremist legislation. On the contrary, as the European Court of Human Rights has repeatedly pointed out, they should be extremely tolerant of criticism, unless it contains a real threat of violence.

Passive Suffrage Restrictions

In August, election commissions across the country continued to deny registration to candidates in any way connected with the activities of Alexei Navalny's organizations or to annul their nomination in elections at various levels. These actions were based on the law that came into force on June 4 and prohibits persons “involved” in the activities of organizations recognized as extremist and terrorist from running for office. As practice shows, these cases tend to use a very expansive definition of “involvement,” but this does not worry election commissions as well as courts that readily confirm their decisions. Not only former members of Navalny's organizations but also candidates who participated in rallies in his support or spoke out on social networks against his prosecution are being removed from the elections.

In late July, the Election Commission of the Tver Region certified the list of candidates for the regional legislative assembly nominated by the Yabloko party from single-member constituencies but excluded activist Artyom Vazhenkov due to the information about his “involvement” in the activities of an extremist organization received from the Ministry of Justice – specifically, the information that he had faced administrative responsibility for participating in rallies in support of Navalny. The Tver Regional Court rejected Vazhenkov's appeal against this decision on August 10.

In Berdsk of the Novosibirsk Region, the city election commission refused to register a total of 12 “Berdsk 2021” coalition candidates for the upcoming City Council elections due to their alleged “involvement” in the activities of Navalny's organizations. As we reported earlier, Kirill Levchenko was not registered in late July. Vyacheslav Yakimenko, Ilya Pukhovsky, Olga Nechayeva and Sergei Kosov were denied registration on August 2, and Olga Surnacheva and Daniil Markelov – on August 4. Next, similar decisions were made regarding Mikhail Ryazantsev, Irina Selishcheva, Ekaterina Alexandrova, Timofei Kazantsev and Timur Khanov. Among these, only Markelov served for some time as the coordinator of the Navalny Headquarters in Krasnoyarsk, and Levchenko was an employee of the Novosibirsk Headquarters; the remaining candidates were not members of Navalny's organizations. The court decisions on administrative responsibility for participating in pro- Navalny protests have entered into legal force only for Levchenko, Yakimenko and Khanov. In the other cases, the “involvement” was established only based on the data from the regional Ministry of Internal Affairs office – on participation in non-permitted actions, on the fact that a candidate had been warned about the impermissibility of violating the legislation on rallies, on distributing FBK publications via social networks and expressing support for the FBK, and even on consultations and legal assistance provided to those detained at the rallies. Attempts by the Berdsk candidates to challenge their removal from the race in the regional court in August yielded no results.

On August 3, the Election Commission of the Pskov Region withdrew Lev Shlosberg, the leader of the regional branch of the Yabloko party, and the branch council member Nikolai Kuzmin from the elections to the Pskov Regional Assembly. The decision was based on the fact of their participation in a rally organized by the FBK – Shlosberg was brought to administrative responsibility for organizing a rally on January 23, 2021 without a permit. However, on August 4, the electoral commission returned him to the list of candidates, since the court decision recognizing the FBK, the FZPG and the Navalny Headquarters network as extremist organizations only entered into force on August 4. Later, on August 25, Kuzmin was once again removed from the ballot by the decision of the Pskov Regional Court. On August 9, the Moscow City Court canceled Shlosberg’s registration as a Yabloko State Duma candidate from a single-member constituency in Moscow; this decision was later upheld by the First General Jurisdiction Court of Appeal. Schlosberg stated that he intended to appeal the decision in the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation. On August 26, after the decision of the Moscow City Court came into force, the Central Election Commission (CEC) expelled Schlosberg from Yabloko's federal list in the State Duma elections. CEC Chair Ella Pamfilova noted that she does not regard Schlosberg as having any connections to extremism, but follows the court's decision. On the same day, the Election Commission of the Pskov Region once again took him off the Pskov Regional Assembly ballot.

On August 4, an election commission in Murmansk, denied Violetta Grudina, the former coordinator of the local Navalny Headquarters, registration for the City Council election.

On August 5, 2021, the Chekmagushevsky District Court removed public activist Ruslan Nurtdinov from the district council elections. Nurtdinov was recognized as “involved” in the activities of two organizations recognized as extremist – the Navalny Headquarters and Bashqort. He explained to the court that he did, in fact, support Bashqort and the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) before they were recognized as extremist organizations, spoke out in support of Navalny and took part in rallies in January 2021. It is worth reminding that Bashqort, a Bashkir nationalist organization with aggressive rhetoric, was recognized as extremist in 2020.

On August 7, the Altai Regional Court canceled the registration of Yabloko candidate Viktor Rau for the State Duma elections; he repeatedly faced administrative responsibility for organizing actions in support of Navalny. The 5th General Court of Appeal upheld this decision in late August.

On August 8, the election commission for the Legislative Duma of the Tomsk Region refused registration to candidate Maxim Zabelin from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, because he had been fined for participating in a rally in support of Alexei Navalny.

On August 13, the Vakhitovsky District Court of Kazan satisfied the city prosecutor’s administrative claim to recognize SOTA Vision journalist and activist Elena Izotova, who had been running for the State Duma from Yabloko, as a person “involved” in the activities of extremist organizations because she collaborated with the Navalny Headquarters as an observer during the 2019 elections, demanded Navalny’s release and called for participation in pro-Navalny actions in January, greeted the head of the local Navalny Headquarters upon his release from a temporary detention facility and demanded that the case of lawyer Ivan Pavlov be discontinued.

On August 20, the same court in Kazan satisfied the district prosecutor’s claim and recognized Ruslan Zinatullin, head of the regional Yabloko branch and a State Duma candidate, as “involved” in the activities of the Navalny Headquarters.

On August 28, it became known that the Sovetsky District Prosecutor's Office in Kazan demanded that Yabloko member Gulnaz Ravilova be removed from the elections. Ravilova is in the Yabloko’s federal list regional group for the State Duma elections and participates in the by-elections of municipal deputies in the Zelenodolsky District of Tatarstan. According to Ravilova, the prosecutor's office declared her involved in the activities of Navalny's organizations on the grounds of her disagreement with the sanctions against the politician and the bans against his organizations, publicly expressed on social networks, and the fact that she had justified the activities of local activists Andrei Boyarshinov and Timur Tukhvatullin detained for their actions in support of Navalny.

On August 20, the Central Election Commission of Russia removed Nizhny Novgorod journalist Natalya Rezontova from Yabloko's list for the State Duma elections, since she collaborated with the local Navalny Headquarters in 2017 and has continued to support him.

On August 25 it became known that a court in Kaliningrad canceled the registration of Alexander Chernikov in the city council elections. The court referred to Chernikov’s explanatory statement about the resignation as the head of the Navalny Headquarters in Kaliningrad written for the Ministry of Internal Affairs Department for Combating Extremism in January 2021. The court also took into account his money transfers and some “documents from law enforcement agencies not on the regional scale but higher.”

On August 27, the Novgorod Regional Court canceled the registration of Maxim Nikitin and Roman Maximov as candidates for the Novgorod Regional Duma from Yabloko due to their participation in a pro-Navalny rally in January; both of them were subsequently detained and incurred administrative punishments for participating in a public event held without a permit.

Sanctions for Inciting Ethnic Hatred

In late August, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia announced that the presence of stand-up comedian Idrak Mirzalizade on the Russian territory was undesirable for life. Mirzalizade is a citizen of Belarus; he received a residence permit in Russia in March of this year. In early August, Mirzalizade was placed under administrative arrest for ten days under Article 20.3.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (incitement to ethnic hatred), and the Moscow City Court upheld this decision. The case against Mirzalizade was initiated in late July based on the statements he made on his YouTube show Razgony about the non-Slavs facing discrimination when looking for housing. We believe that the grounds for the case against Mirzalizade are insufficient. His speech, albeit somewhat provocative, was intended as critical of xenophobia faced by natives of the Caucasus, and the comedian directly emphasized his negative attitude towards any nationalism. We view a lifelong ban on entering the country for an administrative offense as an unreasonably harsh measure.

Sanctions for “Rehabilitation of Nazism” and Display of Nazi Symbols

In August, three sentences were issued under Article 354.1 Part 3 of the Criminal Code (public dissemination of information about the days of Russia’s military glory related to the defense of the Fatherland, expressing obvious disrespect for society) for uploading photographs of Nazis and their allies to the Memory Bank website to be publicly displayed in the Immortal Regiment Online project. The Irkutsk Regional Court sentenced Artyom Bulachev to 100 hours of community service with the confiscation of his smartphone. Bulachev uploaded a photograph of Andrei Vlasov to the Memory Bank. The Nizhny Novgorod Regional Court sentenced Maxim Dobrykh, a 20-year-old student from Sarov, to a fine of 120 thousand rubles to be paid in installments in the course of one year for uploading a photograph of Wehrmacht serviceman Hans Baindner to the Memory Bank next to veterans of the Great Patriotic War and indicating that it depicted Soviet soldier Yakub Mazur. The photo passed moderation. Dobrykh has admitted his guilt. The Primorsky Regional Court sentenced Vladivostok resident Roman Kostishin to a fine of 50 thousand rubles for his attempt to post a photograph of Joseph Goebbels on the Immortal Regiment website.

We do not doubt that the actions of Internet users who uploaded photographs of Nazis and their collaborators to the Immortal Regiment website deserve condemnation, but, in our opinion, they are qualified under Article 354.1 of the Criminal Code incorrectly. We believe that an action, such as uploading photos of Nazis to a website, even if done shortly before the Victory Day of May 9, does not constitute a public endorsement of Nazi crimes, or dissemination of any information about the days of Russia’s military glory and memorable dates – especially if the photographs are not accompanied by statements endorsing or denying Nazi crimes.

Meanwhile, a new similar case was initiated in the Ulyanovsk Region, against a resident of Dimitrovgrad who sent “questionnaires with identification data and photographs of Nazi criminals disguised as veterans of the Great Patriotic War” to the Immortal Regiment Project website. His actions were qualified under Article 354.1 Part 1 of the Criminal Code (public denial of the facts established by the verdict of the Nuremberg Tribunal, approval of the crimes established by this verdict, as well as the dissemination of knowingly false information about the activities of the USSR during the Second World War), although the photos he uploaded were evidently not accompanied by any statements, which could be interpreted as approving or denying acts of the Nazis.

We believe that sanctions under Article 20.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (public display of prohibited symbols) are appropriate only for the use of Nazi symbols or symbols of extremist organizations specifically to promote the corresponding ideology. Unfortunately, the exceptions note added to Article 20.3 of the Code of the Administrative Offense, saying  the article should not be applied in the cases when the use “forms a negative attitude” toward Nazism and contains “no signs of propaganda or justification” of Nazi ideology, does not prevent all cases of such inappropriate (in our opinion) use of it.

Thus, in mid-August, the Tverskoy District Court of Moscow placed Pussy Riot participant Rita Flores (Margarita Konovalova) under arrest for 15 days under Article 20.3 Part 1 of the Code of the Administrative Offenses, for posting, on June 8, a collage on Instagram Stories, on which the head of Tokio Hotel vocalist Bill Kaulitz was attached to a photo of a man wearing the SS uniform; the image was accompanied by the caption “Don't let the glamor take you over.” We believe that Flores did not intend this publication as propaganda of Nazism, therefore we consider her arrest inappropriate.

In late August, Sergei Sosov, a resident of Tula, was placed under arrest for 15 days for posting images featuring the swastika on Instagram. Earlier, in March, the court placed Sosov under arrest for 10 days under the same article, also for his Instagram posts; at that time he claimed, in particular, that he had posted a Buddhist symbol and not a Nazi one. When deciding on his arrest, the court specifically noted that Sosov had been warned about the impermissibility of extremist activity. We have studied the content of Sosov's accounts on social networks and believe that his intensive social network activity is not intended to promote Nazism. Among the numerous images he has published, one can find stills from Soviet and Russian movies with actors in Nazi uniforms (Seventeen Moments of Spring and others); a historical photo with nurses attending a Nazi demonstration used in an anti-vaccination post; various memes, including political, in which Nazi symbols were used as a means of political criticism.

In late August, journalist Dmitry Polushin, who ran for the Legislative Assembly of the Krasnoyarsk Krai from the Greens party, was fined 1,000 rubles in Krasnoyarsk. The charges were based on a Facebook post made by Polushin in February 2019. He published a Tina Kandelaki quote stating that the Russian president in his annual message changed the course “from militarization to National Socialism,” and attached a screenshot of the National Socialism definition, which included the swastika. Polushin did not advocate Nazism; instead, he explained its essence and ridiculed Kandelaki for misusing this term. Due to Polushin’s responsibility under Article 20.3 Administrative Code, he will not be able to run for the elected office for a year from the date when the fine is paid.

On the same days, a report on the public display of Nazi symbols was compiled against Vladislav Trifonenko, the first secretary of the Smolensk city LKSM committee, but the court returned the report to the police due to violations. The case was the Komsomol’s member VKontakte post featuring a comic strip from the Polandball series, which depicts international relations as the interaction of balls painted in the colors of national flags. The image posted by Trifonenko contained Nazi symbols, however, most likely, it was not aimed at propaganda of Nazism.

We also learned that a 22-year-old citizen of Tajikistan was fined a thousand rubles in Perm Krai for the publication of prohibited symbols. After that, taking into account the fact that he had no temporary or permanent residence permit, it was decided that it was undesirable for the Tajik citizen to stay (reside) in the Russian Federation for life. We have no information on specific symbols or the purpose of their publication, but, in and of itself, one-time administrative liability under Article 20.3 of the Code of the Administrative Offenses should not constitute a sufficient basis for applying such an extremely severe restrictive measure as a lifetime ban on entering the country.

Persecution against Religious Organizations and Believers

Jehovah's Witnesses

The mass prosecutions against Jehovah's Witnesses continued in August; they were charged with involvement in the activities of local religious organizations banned as extremist. We believe that these prohibitions had no legal basis, and, therefore, prosecutions against the believers are inappropriate.

According to our records, at least three verdicts were issued against Jehovah's Witnesses in August.

  • Leninsky District Court of Rostov-on-Don issued a four year suspended sentence with a year of restriction of freedom to Andrei Okhrimchuk under articles on participation in the activities of an extremist organization (Article 282.2 part 2 of the Criminal Code) and financing of extremism (Article 282.3 part 1 of the Criminal Code ).
  • The Abinsky District Court of Krasnodar Krai sentenced Vasily Meleshko from the village of Kholmskaya to three years in prison under Article 282.2 Part 2 of the Criminal Code.
  • The Birobidzhan District Court of the Jewish Autonomous Region issued a suspended sentence of two and a half years with a two-year probationary period and restriction of liberty for one year to Anastasia Guzeva under Article 282.2 Part 2 of the Criminal Code.


  • People also faced new criminal charges of involvement in the Jehovah's Witnesses activities. The following believers have become suspects or defendants in such cases:

  • Alexander Shutov, a 68-year-old Jehovah's Witnesses follower from the village of Kotikovo in Vyazemsky District of Khabarovsk Krai – under Article 282.2 Part 2 of the Criminal Code;
  • Maxim Morozov from the town of Taiga in the Kemerovo Region who was arrested in Togliatti – under Article 282.2 Part 1 of the Criminal Code (organizing the activities of an extremist organization);
  • Alexander Litvinyuk and Alexander Dubovenko in Crimea – under Article 282.2 Part 1 of the Criminal Code; both were placed under house arrest;
  • An unnamed believer from Yalta who was detained while trying to cross the Russian-Ukrainian border and then arrested by a court in Simferopol – under Article 282.2 Part 1 of the Criminal Code;
  • Danil Suvorov from Sochi – under Article 282.2 Part 1.1 of the Criminal Code (involvement of others in an extremist organization); he was taken into custody;
  • Eduard Sviridov, Alexander Rumyantsev and Guyanese citizen Sean Pike, who were detained and then arrested in Moscow after a series of searches and interrogations, – under Article 282.2 Part 1 of the Criminal Code.


  • We also note that, in late August, a court in Kurgan released Alexander Lubin and Anatoly Isakov arrested in July under Article 282.2 Part 1 of the Criminal Code from custody replacing their existing pre-trial restrictions with a ban on certain actions. This happened after the European Court of Human Rights demanded that Russia take interim measures in accordance with Rule 39 of the regulations and promptly release the arrestees due to a threat of irreparable harm to their life and health. Isakov, 56, suffers from blood cancer and multiple fractures of the spine and ribs; he had to interrupt the course of chemotherapy due to the arrest, did not receive the necessary medications in pre-trial detention and experienced severe pain. He also contracted COVID-19. 65-year-old Lubin suffers from vascular disease; in addition, he has hypertension and an autoimmune disease that requires treatment and oxygen. Before the intervention of the ECHR, the Kurgan City Court and the regional court refused to modify the believers’ pre-trial restrictions.

    А German citizen was fined one thousand rubles under Article 16.3 of the Code of the Administrative Offenses in Altai Krai in late August for failure to observe customs prohibitions and restrictions; Barnaul customs officers seized the banned Jehovah's Witnesses brochure Mankind’s Search for God. According to the woman, she bought the book in Germany and did not realize that it was banned in Russia.

    Muslims

    In early August, the Central District Military Court found Asgat Khafizov guilty under Article 205.5 Part 2 (participation in the activities of a terrorist organization) and Article 205.1 Part 1.1 (involvement of others in terrorist activities, including in the activities of a terrorist organization, as well as the financing of terrorism) of the Criminal Code. Earlier, in 2017, Khafizov, as part of an eight-person group from Tatarstan, was convicted under Article 205.5 Part 1 of the Criminal Code (organization of the activities of a terrorist organization) of organizing activities of Hizb ut-Tahrir, a radical Islamic party recognized as a terrorist organization in Russia, and sentenced to 19 years and two months in a maximum-security penal colony. A new criminal case against him was opened while he was serving time in the colony. Based on the aggregate of two sentences, the court sentenced Khafizov to 23 years of incarceration with mandatory three years to be served in prison.

    In mid-August, the Southern District Military Court sentenced four Crimea residents charged with organizing the Hizb ut-Tahrir activities. Lenur Khalilov and Ruslan Mesutov were found guilty of preparing a forcible seizure of power (Article 30 Part 1 and Article 278 of the Criminal Code) and Article 205.5 Part 1 of the Criminal Code; both were sentenced to 18 years behind bars and an additional punishment in the form of a year of restriction of freedom. Ruslan Nagaev received 13 years of imprisonment with a year of restriction of freedom, and Eldar Kantimirov – 12 years of imprisonment with a year of restriction of freedom under Article 30 Part 1, Article 278 and Article 205.5 Part 2 of the Criminal Code. All of them will spend the first two years in prison, and the rest of the time in a maximum-security penal colony.

    Five people – Raif Fevziev, Zavur Abdullaev, Dzhebbar Bekirov, Rustem Murasov and Rustem Tairov – were detained and then arrested in Crimea as defendants under Article 205.5 Parts 1 and 2 of the Criminal Code.

    Meanwhile, the Southern District Military Court returned the case of Crimea residents Alexander Sizikov, Seyran Khayredinov and Alim Sufyanov, charged with organizing the Hizb ut-Tahrir activities in 2020, to the prosecutor's office. According to the information on the court's website, all of them were charged under Article 205.5 Part 1 and Article 278 with the use of Article 30 Part 1 of the Criminal Code. The reason for returning the case to the prosecutor's office was that the indictment was not translated into Braille, violating the right of blind Alexander Sizikov to defense.

    In our opinion, Hizb ut-Tahrir was banned in Russia as a terrorist organization inappropriately, since it has never been implicated in violence. Thus, we consider prosecutions against Hizb ut-Tahrir members under the “terrorist” Criminal Code articles based solely on their party activities (holding meetings, reading literature, etc.) inappropriate as well.

    In the second half of August, the Proletarsky District Court of Saransk in the Republic of Mordovia found Ryais Tyshkin and Aisu Aizatullin guilty under Article 282.2 Part 1 and fined them 500 thousand rubles. Khafiz Aizatullin was found guilty under Article 282.2 Part 2 of the Criminal Code and fined 300 thousand rubles. They were charged with creation of and participation in the activities of the Tablighi Jamaat “cell” in 2019. Tablighi Jamaat, a religious movement recognized as extremist, was banned in Russia in 2009 – in our opinion, without proper justification. The movement was engaged in the propaganda of fundamentalist Islam, but was never implicated in any calls for violence, and, therefore, we view prosecutions against its supporters as inappropriate.

    In late August, the Volzhsky District Court of Saratov issued a two-year suspended sentence followed by six months of restriction of freedom to a Tablighi Jamaat follower from the Volgograd Region. He was found guilty under Article 282.2 Part 2 of the Criminal Code for disseminating the ideas of Tablighi Jamaat on the Internet in 2018.

    Also in late August, the Naberezhnye Chelny City Court issued a two-year suspended sentence to 63-year-old Nakia Sharifullina under Article 282.2 Part 1 of the Criminal Code. The prosecutor's office requested seven years in prison for her. According to the investigation, in 2015, Sharifullina, being an adherent of the banned international religious association Nurcular, created a cell of this association and, under the guise of conducting Quran study sessions and Turkish language classes, gathered citizens and introduced them to the works of the Turkish Muslim theologian Said Nursi from the Risale-i Nur compilation, including the banned ones. Sharifullina was also convicted under the same article back in 2014 and fined 100 thousand rubles. We regard the ban against Nurcular, which, in fact, never existed in Russia at all, as inappropriate, and we oppose prosecuting Muslims who study the books of Said Nursi for their alleged membership in an extremist organization.