March 15, 2021

On March 3, 2021 the Nizhnii Novgorod Regional Court, in Central Russia, upheld the decision to detain activist Mikhail Iosilevich. He is accused of cooperation with an “undesirable” organization, Open Russia, a “crime” punishable by up to six years in prison. Mikhail Iosilevich is being targeted for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of expression and association. Charges against him must be dropped and he must be immediately released.



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Airat Saetovich Akhmedshin
Head of the Investigative Directorate
Investigative Committee, Nizhnii Novgorod Region
Ul.Marshala Voronkova, 22a
Nizhnii Novgorod 603950
Russian Federation
Twitter: @sledcom_rf
Online form (Russian only): https://nnovgorod.sledcom.ru/references
Ambassador Anatoly Antonov
Embassy of the Russian Federation
2650 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington DC 20007
Phone: 202 298 5700 I Fax: 202 298 5735
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @RusEmbUSA
Facebook: @RusEmbUSA
Instagram: @RusEmbUSA
Salutation: Dear Ambassador


Dear Head of the Investigative Directorate,

I am writing to express my deep concern about the ongoing criminal prosecution and detention of civil society activist Mikhail Iosilevich.

On October 8, 2020, Mikhail Iosilevich was charged under Article 284.1 of the Russian Criminal Code for alleged cooperation with an “undesirable organization”. The investigators accused him of having provided the premises for a training conducted by an “undesirable” organisation, Open Russia. While this is a “crime” only under Russian legislation, which itself contravenes Russia’s international human rights obligations and must be repealed, the prosecution of Mikhail Iosilevich is also based on false grounds. He insists that the training had been conducted by another organization, Golos, a Russian movement of election monitors, and that there is no evidence of his involvement with Open Russia.

On January 30, 2021, a district court ruled that Mikhail Iosilevich must be detained on remand for allegedly making a threatening phone call to a “witness” in his case. An expert examination of the audio recording of the alleged call concluded that it was not Mikhail Iosilevich’ voice. Nevertheless, the Nizhnii Novgorod Regional Court rejected Mikhail Iosilevich’s appeal and ruled on 3 March that he must remain in detention until 28 March. Mikhail Iosilevich has committed no internationally recognisable criminal offence. He is being targeted for his peaceful activism and for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression and association.

I urge you to ensure Mikhail Iosilevich’ immediate release and an end to his unfounded criminal prosecution.