Political Prisoners (May 2017)

Recognised by the Memorial Human Rights Centre

<< No. 27 (259) 5 July 2017 >>

We regard as political prisoners those individuals who are serving a term of imprisonment — either in a corrective labour colony or a prison – or being held in custody or under house arrest as a form of pre-trial detention.

The full criteria for considering persons to be political prisoners are published on our website. (LINK)


Fifty-one individuals are named in our latest list. The names of a further 66 individuals who have been convicted or charged with criminal offences mainly for attempting to assert their right to freedom of religion can be found in List Two.

(List 2: those detained and imprisoned because they attempted to exercise
their Right to Freedom of Religion)

Neither list can be considered complete. They include only those individuals and cases for which we have managed to collect and analyse sufficient information to draw a convincing conclusion about the politically-motivated and illegal nature of a criminal prosecution.

At present, the list does not contain the names of many people who have been deprived of their liberty, and whose prosecution contains indications of illegality or political motivation, but for whose cases we have yet to receive the necessary information, or subject it to a full analysis.

A year ago, a list based on the same criteria as List One contained twelve fewer names.


The political prisoners represent a wide range of groups that have fallen victim to the repressive policies of the Russian State.

The Ukrainian connection

The “Ukrainian connection” can be clearly traced in the following cases, grouped by ethnicity and citizenship:

— The Crimean Tatars Akhtem Chiygoz, Ali Asanov and Mustafa Degermendzhy;

— the Ukrainian citizens Stanislav Klykh, Andrei Kolomiyets, Alexander Kostenko, Oleg Sentsov, Alexander Kolchenko and Sergei Litvinov; and

— the Russian citizens Andrei Bubeyev, Darya Polyudova, Rafis Kashapov and Natalya Sharina whose cases have been linked to the anti-Ukrainian campaign of the Russian authorities.

Freedom of Assembly

As before, one of the most important goals of politically-motivated incarceration remains restriction of the right of assembly.

Three Bolotnaya Square (June 2012) defendants have been released, and their place taken by two new defendants — Dmitry Buchenkov and Maxim Panfilov. Ivan Nepomnyashchikh, Dmitry Ishevsky, and Sergey Udaltsov remain imprisoned.

Darya Polyudova from Krasnodar has also been deprived of her liberty based on charges of taking part in public events.

Vitaly Shishkin was sentenced for calling on people to take part in mass protests; Dmitry Bogatov was taken into custody after the mass protests of 26 March 2017 under false allegations of making calls to participate in such protests. They can also be added to this group.

Freedom of Expression

The attack on freedom of expression and the dissemination of information has further intensified, especially using the Internet.

Among those convicted for trying to exercise this right are — Andrei Bubeyev, Darya Polyudova, Airat Dilmukhametov, Robert Zagreyev, Igor Stenin, Vadim Tyumentsev, Alexei Moroshkin (released//), Natalya Sharina and Ruslan Sokolovsky.

The means of unlawful repression

The means of unlawful repression provide an instrument for suppressing any kinds of civic activity that are displeasing to the authorities.

Among such victims are Ivan Barylyak who defended housing rights, and Sergei Nikiforov who sought to protect environmental rights.

High treason

Cases of high treason serve the objectives of propaganda by representing Russia as a country encircled by enemies.

The list of their victims includes the names of Svyatoslav Bobyshev, Gennady Kravtsov and Pyotr Parpulov, to which were added, since May 2016, three women — Inga Tutisani, Anik Kesyan and Marina Dzhandzgava.


Many different articles of the Russian Criminal Code were wielded as instruments of political repression.

Over the past year the investigation and prosecution of citizens whom Memorial considers to be political prisoners has been based on 41 different Articles of the Russian Criminal Code. The most widely used laws are those concerning Extremism, Terrorism and the holding of Public Gatherings.


Incitement of hatred and enmity (282), public appeals for extremist activity (??205), organization of the activities of an extremist organization (282.2). A total of 20 cases involving one or more individuals.


Terrorist acts (205), complicity in terrorist activity and justification of such an activity (205), organization of a terrorist group (205). A total of 16 cases involving one or more individuals.

Public Gatherings

Mass riots (212), multiple violations of the established procedure for organising gatherings (//), use of force against a representative of the authority (318). A total of 32 cases involving one or more individuals .


In addition to the reasons given for recognising specific individuals as political prisoners we can also see in each of the cases a political motivation for their detention and prosecution.

Since October 2016, the Memorial HRC has divided its list of political prisoners or prisoners of conscience in two.

Those detained for exercising their right
to Freedom of Assembly, Expression, etc.

List One

Those detained for exercising
their right to Freedom of Religion

List Two


RELEASED in 2016/7

List One

List Two