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24.10.2015 | Halya Coynash

Pro-Putin ’activists’ attack 75-year-old Vladimir Ionov

   

The members of two pro-Kremlin organizations [NOD and SERB] who attacked an elderly pensioner holding a single-person picket outside the History Museum in Moscow on Oct 24 threatened to do the same to “all those who insult Putin, insult Russia”.

75-year-old Vladimir Ionov was standing alone with a placard reading “We have Putin, no need for a mind” when he was approached by Igor Beketov [who calls himself Gosha Tarasevich] from SERB who demanded to know why Ionov was insulting people who had voted for Russian President Vladimir Putin.  Tarasevich claimed also that the words on the placard fall under Article 319 of the Criminal Code (insulting a representative of the authorities). 

Seconds later Ionov was doused first in green paint, then with some kind of chemical cleaning substance which got into and burned his eye.  The assailants must have been aware they were attacking somebody old enough to be their grandfather. 

All of this was recorded on a video by Alexandra Ageeva.  You can see activist Maria Ryabikova leaping in to defend Ionov, and being pushed away.  They move away as the banner is grabbed and ripped to pieces, while others take photos with their phones. 

No police officers came even close.  It is quite likely, however, that they would have been there immediately had any other people tried to defend Ionov, since that would have provided an excuse to accuse Ionov and others of holding an ‘unauthorized gathering’. 

Ionov’s trial is currently underway on surreal and disturbing charges.  He is the first of four people so far to be tried under a new article of the Criminal Code which envisages up to 5-year sentences if a court has issued three rulings on administrative offences within 180 days.  It is quite standard in today’s Russia for police to detain people at entirely peaceful protests, with administrative protocols then drawn up and processed by the courts with no questions asked.   Three such unwarranted administrative penalties can now lead to criminal prosecution.

Ionov is accused of four episodes: a single-person picket on Jan 10 with a placard: “Je suis Charlie” [this was just after the massacre at Charlie Hebdo in Paris]; taking part in gatherings on Jan 15 and on March 21, as well as participation in a picket in support of Nadiya Savchenko on May 11 (the imprisoned Ukrainian MP’s birthday). 

On June 28 the authorities blocked Ionov’s pension card citing his non-payment of administrative fines as the reason.  He is now, therefore, effectively deprived even of his pension.

At the preliminary hearing back on Sept 17, the judge asked Ionov if he understood what he is accused of.  He replied that this was impossible to understand.

Four people are now facing criminal proceedings under Article 212.1 of the Russian Criminal Code: Ionov;  Mark Galperin; Ildar Dadin and Irina Kalmykova.

The Memorial HRC stated on Feb 4 that the new legislation destroys freedom of peaceful assembly in Russia (More details here: Russia criminalizes peaceful protest)

 

 

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