Three FSB officers plead guilty in robbery case

After seven employees of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) were arrested on robbery charges, three of them have submitted guilty pleas and one has pleaded guilty in part. Artur Vlasov, who works for the FSB’s K Division investigating financial crimes, pleaded guilty in full and said he would cooperate with investigators, as did FSB employee Khetag Margiyev and FSB captain Vladimir Urusov. Despite the plea deals, the Moscow District Military Court rejected Vlasov’s request to be transferred from pretrial detention to house arrest. Another suspect in the same robbery case, Roman Obolensky, submitted a partial guilty plea, his attorney said.

This man was killed in the Stalinist purges and never rehabilitated. His grandson is the first person ever to get access to his case files anyway.

On July 5, Russia’s Supreme Court ruled that the Moscow region’s police department must grant Georgy Shakhet, a Russian actor, access to archival files concerning the criminal case against his grandfather, Pavel Zabotin. In 1933, Zabotin was executed on the orders of one of the NKVD’s notorious extrajudicial sentencing panels, or “Troikas.” Shakhet has been fighting for access to his grandfather’s case since 2016, and since 2018, he has been demanding that his grandfather be legally rehabilitated. The rehabilitation process, which is intended to restore the reputation of those targeted in the Stalinist repressions, must often be conducted posthumously because so many victims of those repressions were killed or died in labor camps. However, like many before him, Georgy Shakhet has found that rehabilitation is impossible without access to the case materials of the individual in question. Those case materials, in turn, cannot be released unless the target of the case has been rehabilitated. Shakhet is the first person to have successfully argued in court that the resulting catch-22 only emerged because law enforcement agencies incorrectly interpreted Russian law.

Muscovites attend third straight day of protests for independent Moscow City Duma candidates despite downpour

On the evening of July 16, Moscow residents protested for the third day straight to demand that opposition candidates be permitted to register for September’s Moscow City Duma elections. The protest began with approximately 100 people standing in a steady downpour and reached about 1,000 participants at its peak. Multiple prominent opposition activists were told earlier in the day that their candidacy applications had been rejected, supposedly because too many of the signatures they collected from voters could not be verified. Several of those candidates, including Lyubov Sobol, Konstantin Jankauskas, and Ivan Zhdanov, gave speeches to the crowd. While police officers had made nearly 40 arrests on the first day of the protests, they did not interfere in the July 15 and July 16 demonstrations.

Moscow student climate protesters receive permission for small but unprecedented mass action on July 19

Around the globe, the school climate strike movement founded by Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg has inspired hundreds of thousands of children to take to the streets, skipping school on Fridays to demand action on the climate crisis. In Russia, however, the very principle of the movement seems nearly impossible to achieve: anyone in Russia who protests as part of a group without government permission risks arrest, and individuals under 18 may not legally protest without official approval at all. That means Russia’s branch of the global Fridays for Future movement has involved smaller numbers of older students. However, that reality is set to shift on July 19.

Yekaterinburg LGBTQ center that got homophobic Internet users fined receives threats of violence from hate group

Alla Chikinda, a representative of the LGBT Resource Center in Yekaterinburg, told Komsomolskaya Pravda that the center has received messages threatening to cause “something very unfortunate” to happen to its employees if the center does not close by August 1. The letter also demanded that the center and its employees donate all of their funds, including personal funds, to a well-known charity organization. The sender identified themselves as a member of Pila, which claims to be a nationwide movement against LGBTQ people. Pila has reportedly offered up to $5,000 to individuals willing to kidnap and torture gay residents of Russia.