Who we are

OVD-Info is an independent human rights defense and media group. We help those who are unjustly persecuted and our final goal is the complete end of political persecution in Russia.

Politically motivated detentions, dismissals from work, interrogations, house searches and arrests take place in Russia almost daily, especially now, as with the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin intensified its war on our civil society. In today's Russia anyone can face persecution: anti-war protesters, eco-activist, truckers, defrauded shareholders, corruption fighters, electors, politicians, priests, civic activists… anyone. Our goal is to protect them.

For this purpose, we collect and publish data about political repressions in Russia; we coordinate legal aid to the unjustly persecuted and we work on systematic transformations in the human rights sphere. We focus on the freedoms of assembly and expression but our work extends further.

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.

Research and analytics

We study emerging problems from various angles: this helps both with working out present-day tactical solutions and laying the strategic foundation for the future systemic change. The results of our analyses get published as reports, data sets, or special projects.

News and media

TThe authorities that violate human rights prefer to avoid publicity. But as 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.


A call to OVD-Info hotline or a message to our Telegram bot are the easiest ways to report persecution and get a free consultation. Specialists will advise you on how your situation may develop, and instruct you about your next steps.

IT development

We are developing services that help activists to get a head start in their struggle against persecution. So far we have made a Telegram bot with built-in legal instructions and a program that facilitates preparation and submission of legal documents: a generator of court petitions and complaints to the ECHR.

Volunteer coordination

The support from our 7000 volunteers is vital. They hold the same values we do, and they are the absolute best. 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 try our best to involve them in our work as much as possible.

Campaigns and advocacy

For us, legal actions aimed at changes in this area are equally important, in particular, the accountability of authorities and their compliance with laws and regulations. In order to do so, we initiate lawsuits, petitions, complaints, statements and appeals for illegal actions or inactivity of the officials when they violate the right for freedom of assembly or laws in the context of public events; we also promote a more active protection of this right for all Russians. In the past we have launched the largest petition on Russian, successfully lobbied for the creation of the UN mandate for the Special Rapporteur to monitor human rights in Russia and much more.

Geographic reach

We cover political persecution in all regions of Russia, spanning 11 time zones and an extraordinary diverse population. Legal advice hotline and a Telegram bot are available to everyone, throughout the country, every day, 24/7. Since 2019 we have been actively searching for lawyers and attorneys for the detainees outside of just Moscow and St Petersburg: we have been going on business trips, making acquaintance with human rights communities on the ground. Nowadays we can find and provide a lawyer in nearly every region of Russia or find a friendly organization that can help.


OVD-Info in numbers

77 000+


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


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

214 000+


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.


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.


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.


active volunteers

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


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


The pandemic and freedom of assembly

The lawyers and attorneys of OVD-Info are already based in 12 Russian cities, spread over Russia’s vast distances. largest country on the planet. The list of top-5 regions from where we receive the calls to our hotline, stably contains the Far Eastern region of Khabarovsk Krai – the rallies due to the politically motivated arrest of Governor Sergey Furgal have been going there for more than half a year. The pandemic imposes its limitations to the freedom of assemblies – the imposed bans on mass events will include street rallies up until 2022. As a consequence, the number of detainees at the individual demonstrations in Moscow and St Petersburg only during the first half of 2020 beats the record of the last 5 years. In order to draw attention to this problem, OVD-Info is launching an information campaign that includes all sorts of tactics: from petitions with the requirements to remove the ban to complaints to regional commissioners for human rights.


Mass protests

Throughout 2021 in general, more than 23,5 thousand people have been detained at various rallies. The year began with the return to Russia and the subsequent arrest of Alexei Navalny in January of 2021. This led to mass protests across the whole country. The arrests were accompanied by mass non-admissions of lawyers to police departments and an unprecedented police brutality. The response to brutality of the law enforcement officers reveals itself in the form of a wave of social support: a huge number of people, communities, civil initiatives and media gets involved in the campaigns launched by OVD-Info and sets off their own solidarity actions. By the end of 2021 more than 250 lawyers, defenders and attorneys constantly assisted the project, approximately 3500 people contributed as volunteers, 22000 donors regularly supported OVD-Info. The year was marked by pressure on independent media, political and civil projects, which also affected OVD-Info: in September, the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation forcibly included the project in a “foreign agents” list. In December, our key partner, the Nobel-Prize-winning Memorial Human Rights Center was liquidated by the Russian state. The same month, Russian censors restricted access to the website in Russia.


The anti-war movement

Ever since Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the persecution of human rights projects and of independent media has become a mass phenomenon – because of the en-masse websites blocking and the establishment of war censorship, many media projects were forced to stop or to suspend their activity. After February the 24th, OVD-Info started getting lots of help requests because of the persecution for expressing an anti-war position, social media posts, public statements, etc, etc. In response to this, the project expands the mandate to legal aid and begins assisting in court cases involving violations of the right to freedom of expression, and also regularly publishes reports on the repression of anti-war activists in three languages — Russian, English and Ukrainian.

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.