Not only the public is protesting: the Russian Ombudsman for human rights is as well" />

18-year-old Muscovite faces jail for membership in co-opted activist group

Not only the public is protesting: the Russian Ombudsman for human rights is as well

Eighteen-year-old Anna Pavlikova and ten other young adults have been in a Russian prison since March 2018 (she was 17 at the time) on allegations of ‘organising an extremist group’, which is accompanied by a hefty prison sentence.

The Russian publication Novaya Gazeta wrote that at the end of 2017, the teenagers created a group called ‘New Greatness’ [Rus. Novoe velichie]. They discussed their aims at meetings held in a McDonalds, and came out for the voters’ strikes which were organised last winter by opposition and anti-Putin leader Aleksey Navalny. They also participated in demonstrations such as ‘Muscovites for trolleybuses’ and the ‘March in memory of Nemtsov’.

• Video: how voters went on strike in Russia

A criminal case was launched against the teenagers alleging that New Greatness was an extremist group. The case was launched based on the testimony of individuals who had been planted in their group. One of them recalled the organisation’s charter, in which experts later found ‘signs of ideology propagating violence’.

The investigation claimed that New Greatness members intended to seize power, create a temporary government and pass a new constitution – at least that is what was written in its charter.

The movement existed and met around McDonald’s tables for only three months.

The arrest of Anna Pavlikova

Pavlikova’s mother told OVD-info that her daughter was arrested at dawn, right from their Moscow apartment.

“Somewhere towards 5:30 in the morning they started banging on the door. They were loudly knocking and yelling. We all got up and didn’t understand what was going on. At some point a stranger told us through the door that we had flooded his apartment. We didn’t recognise him as a neighbour, but we still looked quickly around the apartment and saw that everything was dry. He yelled at us to open the door. Then we called the police and said that some bandits were trying to get into our house – help us! They checked something and answered – no, they’re not bandits, it’s actually the police, let them in.”

Their house was searched for several hours, and their computers, tablets and phones were confiscated. Anna was taken in for interrogation.

Arrest

Anna Pavlikova started experiencing health issues in prison. Despite this, the court refused to have her placed under house arrest.

Pavlikova ‘attended’ her court hearing on 26 July via by video link.

“Her face was swollen and pale and her thick hair was in two braids. She never lowered her hands, and was anxiously fidgeting and rubbing her fingers. At several points she couldn’t hold it in anymore and broke down crying,” said a correspondent for Novaya Gazeta.

“I will not run away, I will not put pressure on anyone,” Anna told the judge, breaking down in tears on several occasions, “I would really like to see my mother and resolve my health issues. I ask you to change the arrest measure to anything else, just not prison.”

Public reaction

The court’s decision was unaffected by the statements of public figures, scientists and human rights advocates in support of Anna.

The Ombudsman for human rights in Russia, Tatyana Moskalkova, also believes that Pavlikova’s detention is unnecessary.

Several individuals have planned to organise a ‘March of mothers’ in Moscow in support of Anna Pavlikova and her family, demanding that Pavlikova be freed from imprisonment.

The march will take place later today in downtown Moscow.


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