Oleg Kozlovsky’s English Weblog

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Archive for the ‘arrests’ Category

People Protest Despite More Police Brutality

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This was another rally at Triumfalnaya Square in a campaign for freedom of assembly (the campaign is called Strategy 31 after the paragraph 31 of the Russian Constitution that guarantees this right). Although the organizers fulfilled all legal procedures needed for arranging a demonstration, the Moscow government banned it for the seventh consecutive time. The pretext for the ban was a spoiler event organized by United Russia’s Youth Guard.

According to the media, 1000 to 2000 people came to Triumfalnaya Square despite the ban, which is more than at any of the previous rallies of this campaign. 140 to 170 of them were arrested. The protest was completely nonviolent; however the police actions were quite brutal. Most people including myself were arrested without a warning and dragged into special police buses (autozaks) by force. A lot of them were beaten and verbally insulted by the police at the time of arrest. Men and women were treated alike (at least we’ve got some equality). When I and other people at my autozak protested against our illegal arrest and cruel treatment, police officers beat us with batons and fists and strangled. I was lucky not to get only bruises and scratches; another detainee, Gazeta.ru reporter Alexander Artemyev, had his arm broken by the police at the custody. After we were already arrested, police used tear gas to disperse the crowd that remained on the square.

I was held at the autozak and then the police station for 9 hours (the law only allows for 3 hours of detention). I was charged with “participation in an illegal public event” and “disobedience to a police officer’s lawful orders.” The proofs were forged: police officers wrote false reports (their texts had been prepared by the Moscow police HQ and were similar for all the arrested) on my alleged offence; the reports were signed not by the officers who had arrested me. The penalty can be a fine and/or detention for up to 15 days.

Written by Oleg Kozlovsky

June 2, 2010 at 01:56

Posted in arrests, events

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Belarus, a Russia’s Small Copy

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I visited Belarus a few days ago with a group of Oborona activists. We were meeting with local opposition organizations and leaders, observing municipal elections and participating in an annual march dedicated to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster–Chernobylsky Shlyakh.

Belarussian elections are largely similar to Russian in their predefined outcome, persisting abuse of power by the authorities and even methods of fraud. Like in Russia, they use preliminary voting as a means to both increase turnout and falsify the results (since the bulletins are kept at administration offices till the election day). As much as 30% of Belarussian electorate voted preliminary, according to official data. This unbelievable figure is more than even some of the most scandalous elections in Sochi a year ago (when the Kremlin was ready to do what it takes to prevent opposition leader Boris Nemtsov from becoming the mayor). Most opposition candidates were denied registration, so they couldn’t even get on the lists–the same we see in Russia. In the end, in many district it looks like the electoral commissions didn’t count the votes at all: they simply wrote the target figures. No suprise, not even a dozen seats were won by the opposition out of 20,000+.

The rally was attended by some 1,000 to 1,500 participants including several activists of Oborona. The Chernobyl disaster caused incredible damage to Ukraine, Belarus and Russia and its consequences are still there. The march in Minsk has become a tradition since 1988; its demands concern environmental, social and political issues.

Alas, I didn’t make it to the march. I and two other Coordinators of Oborona, Maria and Alexey Kazakovs, were arrested an hour before the rally begun as we were leaving headquarters of an opposition party Belarussian People’s Front. A van stopped next to us, half a dozen spetsnaz (SWAT) troops put us into the van and left. Our friends and other eyewitnesses say that it looked more like a kidnapping than an arrest.

We were taken to the Sovetsky district police HQ and interrogated. The police were asking us, who we had met with, what was the purpose of the travel, what organization we were at, etc. etc. They threated to take us into custody if we refused to answer, but gave up after several hours. Then the infamous BT, Belarus state TV, tried to “interview” us right in the police, but were ignored. After 5-hour long interrogation police took our fingerprints, photographed us and even took DNA samples and let us go without any charges. A small crowd of Russian and Belarus activists greeted us at the police HQ doorstep.

Written by Oleg Kozlovsky

April 29, 2010 at 00:02

OMON Riot Police Beats Protesters in Vladivostok

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Yesterday citizens of Vladivostok organized an action against Putin’s decision to raise customs duty for used imported cars as well as against the government’s social policy in general. The action was peaceful to say the least: participants formed a ring around the Christmas tree at the central square, danced and chanted “Happy New Year!” Suddenly, they were attacked by several OMON units. Policemen beat people randomly, dragged them into autozaks and “cleansed” the square. When the cleansing was over and everybody was either arrested or escaped, the policemen didn’t stop and captured the remaining journalists including those who worked for the state propaganda media.

This is how it was happening:

By the way, it’s been said that Vladivostok police refused to disperse the action. So they had to bring OMON all the way from Moscow, which is 9300 km far from Vladivostok.

Written by Oleg Kozlovsky

December 22, 2008 at 11:09

Posted in arrests

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My Interview on New Times

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I’ve given an interview to Oleg Dusayev of the New Times internet portal. Watch it and read the Russian transcript here.  Here is a rough translation, corrections welcome.

OLEG DUSAYEV:  Greetings. You are watching the New Times portal, I’m Oleg Dusayev. A criminal investigation has been opened against Dmitry Solovyev, an activist with the Oborona organization. He’s threatened with prison. I’m here with Oborona coordinator Oleg Kozlovsky to discuss the matter. Hello, Oleg.

OLEG KOZLOVSKY: Hello.

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Written by olegkozlovsky

August 23, 2008 at 19:25

Me and the KGB

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oborona.JPGThe following account, my essay about my surveillance by the Russian KGB, was originally published by Grigori Pasko on Robert Amsterdam’s blog a few months ago:

On 24 November 2007 in Moscow, there took place “March of Those Who Disagree” – the largest action of the democratic opposition. I was one of its official organizers, and during the time of this March was detained by employees of the police upon the instructions of an UBOP [Administration for the Struggle with Organized Crime] operative. The court, which tried me in express mode without a lawyer and witnesses, issued a verdict – 5 days of arrest. Soon after leaving the special intake centre of the GUVD [City Administration for Internal Affairs] of Moscow, I noticed that outdoor surveillance of me had been established. The first time I uncovered it in the metro on the next day after release and two days before the elections – on 30 November. A tall man in a coat and with a bag on the shoulder was following me along the road from my home to the home of Garry Kasparov, with whom I was supposed to meet then.

On the next day, 1 December, a meeting of activists was taking place in the headquarters of «Oborona», dedicated to observing at the elections and to the actions planned for the next few days. Yulia Malysheva noticed a VAZ-2111 automobile of dark-green color with tinted windows (license plate P548PB97), in which two men were sitting. The car stood the entire evening adjacent to the entrance to the building where the headquarters of Oborona was found, while the men observed everyone entering and exiting from the door. After the close of the meeting, we decided to discuss certain questions in another place, inasmuch as the space of the headquarters, perhaps, is being bugged. Part of the people went there on foot, while I, Yulia, and another three of our activists rode there in Yulia’s car. A suspicious «Lada» drove off after us. In order to check if this was indeed surveillance, we did several circles and loops, in so doing the car did not stop following us. Any last doubts dissipated when we and they were standing at a traffic light, the light turned green, and Yulia decided to slow down. All the surrounding cars drove off ahead, while the car suspected by us stayed to wait for our maneuver.

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Written by olegkozlovsky

July 16, 2008 at 21:00

Posted in arrests, Oborona

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I’ve been Released!

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Here I am shortly after being released from Russian prison yesterday after serving a 13-day sentence for the prohibited act of walking peacefully down a Moscow street. I look a little worse for wear because I refused to eat while in prison as a way of protesting against the obviously illegal nature of my arrest and trial.

My colleagues at Oborona rushed me to a restaurant to have my first meal and toast my freedom.

Unfortunately, while I was in prison I was unable to attend the formative meeting of the new National Assembly shadow parliament protest organization that I played key role in conceiving. I suspect that the length of my sentence, several times longer than that given to other protesters, was designed in part to achieve this result.

Look for more details about my arrest, trial and time in prison as well as about the National Assembly and the continuation of my protest activity in coming days.

Written by olegkozlovsky

May 20, 2008 at 14:05

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Justice Denied to Oborona Activists in Russian Courts

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As several prior posts describe, I’ve been arrested and sentenced to two weeks in prison in a preemptive strike designed to stop me from leading protest actions against the sham presidential election results and from helping to form a new shadow parliament organization. I’m far from the only opposition activist who has been treated in this way. The following is a translation of a May 15 post from the Oborona website:

On May 14 the Basman Court of Moscow levied a fine of 1000 rubles against the Oborona activist Ivan Simochkin for walking along Chistoprudniy Boulevard on May 6.

The court reached its verdict despite the testimony of six eyewitnesses for the defense, who testified that unknown individuals dressed in civilian clothes and showing no identification detained Mr. Simochkin without warning. The ruling of the court indicated that the testimony of the witnesses was not taken into account, because “the witnesses were called only to mitigate the punishment of the accused.”

Following is the speech which Ivan Simochkin read in court.

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Written by olegkozlovsky

May 18, 2008 at 13:57

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My Colleagues Rally to my Aid

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Someone not familiar with Russian law might think that the solitary picketer shown at above, holding a sign that reads “FREE OLEG KOZLOVSKY” and standing in front of the office of the prosecutor that interned me on May 7th (see further information in the posts below), indicates that not many people support me.

In fact, that’s not the case. Under Russian law, if more than one person wants to carry out a picket protest, then the state must issue a permit in advance or all are subject to instant arrest.  As you can well imagine, a Kremlin that wouldn’t hesitate to have me arrested on baseless charges wouldn’t hesitate to deny such a permit, or claim it had been violated once issued.  However, the law does not apply to a single protester. Therefore, Oborona is often forced to place lone members in harm’s way if we want to carry out a protest action over any length of time.

Of course, you can well imagine what sort of harassment a single protester might face, and if you can’t imagine then you can watch what happened next in this YouTube video.

Oborona reports that the pickets began on May 14 and the picketer, Sergei Eroshkin, was confronted by OMON stormtroopers with in ten minutes. Sergei explained his right to be present and cited the appropriate legal provision, but as you can see the OMON ignored this information and pursued the cameraman who was filming the protest as well. In a new twist, Oborona reports that when Sergei refused to submit to the OMON’s orders, there soon appeared a police plant agent holding a sign that also called for my freedom, and he attempted to take up a position near Sergei. Realizing that the police were attempting to create artificial means to justify his arrest as an illegal “mass protester,” Sergei left the scene.

Soon after Sergei left a second Oborona activist, Suren Edigarov, appeared waving an Oborona flag, but the OMON pounced on him almost immediately, shoving him to the ground and then throwing him into a police bus. He was charged with mass picketing.

Oborona plans to continue the picketing effort until I am released. I am being denied legal representation (read my lawyer’s statement here) and visitation and being held in solitary confinement.

By the way, if you are wondering how I’m able to speak to you while being held in a Russian prison on illegal charges . . . you can bet the Kremlin is also wondering. So let’s let them continue to wonder, shall we?

Written by olegkozlovsky

May 14, 2008 at 18:17

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Happy Mother’s Day!

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oborona.JPGThe Oborona website reports that, in an apparent effort to wish my mother a “happy Mother’s Day” (actually, this holiday isn’t celebrated in Russia), I’ve been made to disappear.

As indicated in a prior post, I’ve been arrested on clearly fraudulent charges of civil disobedience in order to block his participation in the formation of a new shadow parliament organization. As Garry Kasparov wrote in the Los Angeles Times over the weekend:

Oleg Kozlovsky, a member of the Other Russia opposition coalition leadership, was given 13 days in prison. Arrest reports for him came from two officers, each giving a different time and place of arrest. According to the judge, this curious fact “was not related to the case.”

When my mother and attorney tried to meet with me over the weekend, as Oborona relates, they were denied access and not only that — the authorities refused even to confirm my whereabouts. The authorities were already denying me family visitation, according to Oborona.

On May 12th at 4:30 pm I was scheduled to appear in court to pursue an appeal of my conviction.

Try as they will, my foes cannot silence the voice of freedom. It will be heard. The Kremlin can make me disappear, but it can’t silence my blog or my compatriots at Oborona or my friends and supporters around the world.

Grigori Pasko blogs about my arrest over at Robert Amsterdam’s place. Other Russia also has a post about the arrest in English.

Links to reports on the arrests on the Russian Internet can be found here.

UPDATE: Oborona now reports that the appellate court reviewed my sentence and confirmed it. Numerous photographs of me at the time of my arrest were shown proving that I was not engaged in civil disobedience but merely walking on a public street (though, granted, on the day a major protest action was scheduled to occur); the judge disregarded them, calling them “biased.” He refused to issue a subpoena for the testimony of the arresting officers. When the decision was announced the Oborona members assembled to view the proceedings chanted: “Shame! Shame! Shame!” A picket campaign is now being organized on a daily basis outside my prison.

Click the jump to view photos of me at my court appearance.

(By the way, if you’re wondering how I can continue to post to my blog even though I’m in prison and in fact my whereabouts are currently unknown, you can bet the Kremlin is wondering too. Let’s let them wonder, shall we?)

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Written by olegkozlovsky

May 12, 2008 at 16:14

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I’ve been Arrested (again)

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oborona.JPGHere is a translation of a report from the Russian website Grani.ru:

A Basman court in Moscow on May 7th sentenced Oborona Coordinator Oleg Kozlovsky to 13 days of administrative arrest. As reported by the press service of the Other Russia coalition, Kozlovsky, who considers the decision illegal, has declared a hunger strike. According to Other Russia, Kozlovsky’s trial was fraught with procedural irregularities: Court documents appeared to allege that Kozlovsky had been in two different places at the same time and had been detained by two different police officers. The trial judge, however, stated that “it has nothing to do with the case.” All the defense witnesses were removed from the courtroom.

Kozlovsky is to regain his freedom the day after the conclusion of the first meeting of the opposition coalition’s National Assembly, a shadow parliament organization. Kozlovsky was one of the organizers of the Assembly, so his colleagues do not doubt that his arrest and sentencing have been calculated to prevent Kozlovsky participation in the Assembly.

Another Oborona member, Ivan Afonin, who was arrested with Kozlovsky and received a six-day sentence, also announced a hunger strike. Earlier the court had handed out similar sentences to journalist Alexander Weinstein, journalist and activist Maxim Polyakov and Oborona member Vladimir Akimenkov.

May 8th was my birthday! A jolly gift I received from the Kremlin! If you click here, you will see a photograph taken of the outside of my prison, where my comrades gathered to celebrate the occasion, unfortunately in my absence. They decorated it with orange balloons — the color of revolution in Eastern Europe — and spray-painted the message “here Oleg Kozlovsky completed his 24th year of life” on the wall. Then they drank a toast to my health.

The Oborona blog explains that I was preemptively arrested by plainclothes police on May 6th while not engaged in any form of protest activity. When I was removed from court after the sentencing, my comrades, surrounded by OMON officers, chanted: “FREE OLEG KOZLOVSKY.” This is not the first time the chant has been heard in Moscow’s streets and elsewhere. Likely, it will not be the last.

Try as they will, my foes cannot silence the voice of freedom. It will be heard.

Written by olegkozlovsky

May 9, 2008 at 00:54

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