Who we are

OVD-Info is an independent media project on human rights and political persecutions in Russia. Here, politically motivated detentions, dismissals, interrogations, and arrests are part of the everyday reality. This can afflict anybody: environmentalists, truck drivers, anti-corruption campaigners, defrauded homebuyers, civil activists, the voting public, and even random bystanders.

What we do

Legal aid

We provide and coordinate legal assistance in cases related to the restrictions of freedom of peaceful assembly or freedom of speech. Our attorneys visit the detained in the police departments, support the defendants in Russian administrative and criminal courts, and file complaints to the European Court of Human Rights (in collaboration with the Human Rights Center Memorial).

Research and analytics

We study the emerging problems from different angles: this helps both with working out present-day tactical solutions and laying the foundation for the future fundamental transformations of the system. The results of our analysis get published as reports, data sets, or special projects.

News and media

Those law-enforcement authorities that violate human rights prefer to avoid publicity. But they say, silence in the face of evil is itself evil. We believe that information protects, and that media and social attention can prevent violations and change the whole picture.

Hotline

A call to OVD-Info hotline or a message to our Telegram bot are the easiest ways to report the fact of persecution and get a free consultation. Specialists will tell you in what ways your situation can develop, and instruct you about what needs to be done, and what should never be done.

IT development

We are developing services that help the citizens to get a head start. So far we have made a Telegram bot with built-in legal instructions, another Telegram media bot with up-to-date information for the journalists, and a program that facilitates preparation and submission of legal documents: a generator of court petitions and complaints to the ECHR.

Volunteer coordination

Our volunteers support us immensely. They feel the same way we do, and they are the best team. We are actively expanding our community by inviting our volunteers to tackle the tasks that are both critical for the project and interesting to work on. We also try our best to involve them in our work and our everyday life.

background

OVD-Info in numbers

77 000+

calls

came in to our hotline in 2021, most of them from people facing civil rights violations.

4 000+

news items

about persecutions and violations of civil rights in all regions of Russia were published in 2021.

4,1 million

people

visited our website in 2021 to learn about the political persecutions in Russia.

214 000+

people

are connected to our legal support Telegram bot; they can message us at any time and get our help, or use our legal support instructions.

1,180+

complaints to the ECHR

were prepared and submitted in 2021 in cooperation with the Human Rights Center Memorial. Our ECHR complaint generator accelerated the process of complaint preparation and submission.

3,000+

cases handled by our lawyers

in administrative courts. We also helped 47 people in 39 criminal cases, and 3,656 detainees received the help of our lawyers in the police departments in 2021.

3,500+

active volunteers

are ready to help the project pro bono at any time.

6

laws were amended

after we revealed discrepancies and contradictions and filed complaints with the prosecutor’s office.

Our Story

Idea and creation

On December 5, 2011, a journalist Grigory Okhotin and a programmer Daniil Beilinson witnessed mass detentions in Moscow, at the rally against the falsifications and frauds that hadhave occurred during the parliamentary elections. At first, they were simply calling their friends to find out who had been detained, visiting the police stations to find out who had been placed where, and publishing the lists of the detainees on Facebook. Seeing the demand for their work, by December 10 — the day before the major rally on Bolotnaya Square took place — they launched the OVD-Info website and set up a telephone counseling hotline for the detainees. When OVD-Info was created, everyone participated on a voluntary basis. The friends and acquaintances were called upon to help.

Next

Source of information and full-fledged media

The OVD-files section appeared on our website in September 2012, on the eve of a big rally called March of Millions in Moscow. This section is a repository of photos and videos of protests, which could be used as evidence to protect the activists. Initially, we only covered arrests at public rallies. Then the range of topics expanded to include politically motivated criminal cases. The geography of our coverage also expanded outside of Moscow. Since 2013, we have been publishing articles on details on political cases and tools used by the Russian government for politically motivated persecutions, as well as historical pieces about persecutions in the post-Stalin USSR. We started publishing statistics on arrests made at protests in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. This work continues, we publish updated summaries on a regular basis

Next

The legal department

After the mass arrests in Moscow in February 2014, during the days when sentences were being passed on the subjects of the Bolotnaya Square case, OVD-Info united lawyers from several human rights organisations to help the defendants in courts and to prepare lawsuits for the European Court of Human Rights. At that moment, OVD-Info prepared the first legal guidelines for the detainees who were ready to defend themselves in court on their own. One year later, OVD-Info set up its own Legal Department.Our lawyers and attorneys help the people detained at protests: they visit the detainees in the police stations, represent them at courts, and prepare complaints to the European Court of Human Rights. In 2014, OVD-Info started publishing reports on politically motivated persecution in Russia. In 2015, we launched a crowdfunding program, asking people to support our work financially.By the end of 2016, there were 11 permanent members of the project team.

Next

Large public protests and project extension

In 2017, large-scale anti-corruption rallies took place across the country, and people from different cities requested legal assistance following detentions and other forms of persecution. In 2017, there were four times more calls to the hotline than in 2016. The new reality forced OVD-Info to expand significantly: the team almost doubled in size. During the days of protest actions and mass detentions, OVD-Info called for help from volunteers. In the same year, the project began to work with the volunteers on a regular basis. The legal service began to help not only in administrative but also in criminal cases (the best-known of those being the case of ‘New Greatness’ (Novoye Velichiye)). We developed and launched a Telegram bot that provides interactive instructions for the detainees and a fast means of communication with OVD-Info. At the end of 2018, there are 27 constant members of the project team. Many of them are former volunteers.

Next

New challenges and community support

In the summer of 2019, several large-scale protests took place in Moscow. The authorities reacted with unprecedented brutality, which resulted in a record number of detainees, criminal cases on a dozen different articles, and pressure on non-profit organizations. With the support of a huge number of volunteers, OVD-Info responded to the new challenge. For several weeks, dozens of people unceasingly answered the phone calls to the OVD-Info hotline and the messages in the Telegram bot, and protected people in the courts. In the autumn, OVD-Info responded to a huge number of initiated cases by starting an unprecedented campaign on submitting complaints to the ECHR. In 2019, the project gained more supporters than in all the previous seven years of its existence. During that year, the Human Rights Center Memorial and the OVD-Info sent complaints to regional prosecutors about the contradiction between a number of regional laws on freedom of assembly and the federal law. In some regions, these efforts lead to legislative changes.

Next

Today

OVD-info works on the strengthening of the civil society, trying to interact with different communities around itself. The project strives to expand the geography of its work, take new initiatives, and focus not only on personal support but also on systemic changes in the field of human rights and freedoms. At the beginning of 2020, 37 people have already been working on the project. About 90 lawyers, defenders, and attorneys regularly help the project, more than 600 people participate as volunteers.

Our reports

OVD-Info studies the problem of political persecution from different angles — this helps both to develop tactical solutions for today, and to lay the foundation for future changes in the system.