Open Russia Human Rights Team Secures Freedom for Political Activist

October 31, 2018

Yesterday in Moscow, democracy activist Olga Shalina was released from Sklifosovsky psychiatric hospital after a successful campaign from the Open Russia Human Rights team. On 25th October Olga organised her own demonstrations at a military technology conference in Moscow. The conference Interpolitekh had been organised by the Federal Penal Service (FSIN), which is responsible for running prisons throughout Russia.

During her demonstration, Shalina distributed leaflets saying ‘FSIN is hell’. She also slit her own wrists in protest of the abhorrent practices of the Federal Penal Service. To quote Shalina, she was protesting against “violations of human rights of those in prison, the use of torture and other violent methods by FSIN employees.” As a result of this demonstration, authorities locked Olga up in the Skifosovsky psychiatric hospital. This tactic is often used in Putin’s Russia as a means to silence political opponents without any trial. In such institutions, victims of the regime are tortured on the premise of needing ‘medical’ treatment.

Four days after her arrival at the hospital, authorities opened a criminal case against Shalina, calling upon the vague ‘hooliganism’ laws. Under such laws, individuals who target or attack specific ‘social groups’ may be subject to criminal prosecution. In this instance, FSIN employees were deemed to be a social group – a claim that would falter in any real judicial system.

At this point Open Russia Human Rights lawyer Sergey Badamshin was able to intervene, representing Olga in court. Often political activists are represented by government lawyers who serve only incriminate their defendant. Open Russia lawyers operate independently and thus can completely undermine cases such as Olga’s, where vague legal interpretations are used to silence political activists.

Thanks to the support of Sergey and the Open Russia Human Rights, the North Moscow Prosecutor dropped the case against Olga. This is proof that Putin’s courts fear independent lawyers, who are motivated and qualified to undermine the ridiculous laws that seek to suppress civil society and political activists.

The work of Open Russia Human Rights lawyers like Sergey is funded solely through the generation contributions of our supporters. Putin and associates of his regime victimise political and democracy activists on a regular basis. The Open Russia Human Rights team strives to support as many of these people as possible. If you would like to find out more about our Human Rights team, or consider a making a contribution, please click here.