Foundation Inostrannyi Agent – Human Rights Initiative for the former USSR

List of political prisoners of Russia December 2016


The New Chronicle of Current Events ( and the Initiative for Human Rights in the former USSR have published a new List of persons repressed for political reasons, as of December 1, 2016.

This List contains the names of 320 people, which is a new record number of the repressed, and represents an increase of 16 percent over the past six months.

The dynamics of the List reflects the continuous process of ongoing repression in the Russian Federation. Over the last six months, 64 new criminal cases were initiated, or about 10 cases every month.

At the same time, the average term of imprisonment in sentences has increased. If two years ago, the average term was 4 years and 6 months, now it has already reached 7 years.

In 2016, there has been a disproportionately rapid increase in the number of Crimean Tatars repressed for belonging to their ethnic group, regardless of the charges against them.

An increase in the number of persons who became victims of repression because of their religious or atheistic views, represents another new trend. Criminal prosecution of atheists for the acts of desacralization of religious symbols in general is a fundamentally new phenomenon since the times of the Russian Empire.

There has been a significant increase in the number of Muslims accused of membership in the party "Hizb ut Tahrir", and of followers of the Islamic theologian al-Nursi. In total, they account for over 40 percent of all repressed.

Among the new cases, the arrests of bloggers are the most striking ones. Alexei Kungurov, a blogger from Tomsk, was arrested for his post criticizing the Russian military intervention in Syria. Kungurov is currently in a pre-trial detention center and is accused of "public justification of terrorism" that can result in up to 7 years imprisonment.

Ruslan Sokolovsky, a blogger form Yekaterinburg, is arrested for publishing a video in which he played the game Pokemon Go in the church. Sokolovsky faces a sentence from two to five years imprisonment.

Of particular concern is the increasingly frequent use of torture during the investigation, especially in Crimea. Stanislav Klikh, convicted to 20 years imprisonment, was tortured and became mentally ill; only recently it became known that torture was also used on Eugeny Panov, a Ukrainian chauffeur, in order to obtain his confession of intent "to conduct acts of sabotage" in Crimea.

Altogether, this indicates the systematic nature of repression. Despite the apparent randomness, repressions are carried out according to the centrally coordinated plan. For example, courts in different regions began simultaneously to apply a more severe punishment against "extremists" and religious dissidents.

The constant growth in the number of the repressed points to the fact that the state increasingly relies on repression as one of the main methods of governance. The adoption of new repressive laws implies that in the following year prior to the presidential elections, the number of political prisoners can increase dramatically.

The December 2016 list in English can be downloaded here

The December 2016 list in Russian can be downloaded here



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