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Russia Seeks Arrest of Exiled Prisoners’ Rights Activist Osechkin

Vladimir Osechkin. AP/TASS

A Moscow court on Thursday ordered the arrest in absentia of Vladimir Osechkin, the exiled founder of the Russian prisoners’ rights NGO

Osechkin is accused of justifying terrorism and calling for terrorist attacks online, a crime punishable by up to seven years in prison, according to a ruling published by Moscow’s Meshchansky District Court.

No other details surrounding the case are known, according to the independent news website Mediazona. 

Osechkin’s associate Sergei Savelyev accused the court of failing to inform him or his representatives about the case and not inviting his lawyers to Thursday’s session. 

This is at least a third set of criminal charges against Osechkin.

In July 2020, Osechkin was reportedly arrested in absentia for fraud on accusations of distributing fake insurance policies to prisoners' relatives. 

After Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, he was charged under Russia’s wartime censorship laws for spreading “fake news” about the Russian army.

Russia’s Justice Ministry in January last year labeled Osechkin, who has lived in France since 2015 and is known for publishing video evidence of torture in Russia’s prisons, as a “foreign agent.”

The activist’s reputation took a hit after the investigative outlet Proekt in September accused him of profiting from helping Russians seek asylum abroad and maintaining ties with high-ranking Russian security officials.

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