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Team 29: An Informal Association of Lawyers and Journalists

The Team has picked up the baton from the Freedom of Information Foundation that had been defending the rights for information access for ten years before the Ministry for Justice of Russia marked it as a "foreign agent" NGO. The Foundation has now suspended its activities and the Team 29 has risen to defend the right to information.

29 is the number of the Russian Constitution article providing the right to freely look for, receive, transmit, produce and distribute information.

What you may need it for? For instance, to learn history of your country (up to now, many historical facts are still hidden in secret archives). Or to avoid unexpected criminal persecution for state secret disclosure. Or to avoid excessive payments for municipal utilities caused by incorrect data at your housing company's website.

We work to assist individuals, journalists, and organizations to defend in courts their rights provided by the Constitution, Article 29. For instance, our lawyers contested in the Supreme Court the Presidential Decree classifying information on military personnel losses. Also, they defend the historians' right to access to archives of Soviet security bodies, and fight for your right to know what your municipal unit spends money for.

If you have known us as the Freedom of Information Foundation, please stay in touch.
If you learn of us for the very first time, you are welcome.


Ivan Pavlov
JD, PhD, Legal Attorney, Team Lead
Daria Sukhikh
Senior Lawyer
Evgeniy Smirnov
Legal Attorney
Dariyana Gryaznova
Olga Dmitriyevskaya
Nikolay Ovchinnikov
Evgeniy Startsev
Volunteer Lawyer
Oleg Minchuk
Volunteer Lawyer
Anna Fomina
Ilya Savelyev
Volunteer Lawyer
Alyona Konopleva
Volunteer Lawyer
Egor Rostikhin
Volunteer Lawyer
Maksim Olenichev
Ekaterina Alalykina


more than 10
at 08.04.2016
The case against Nikolay Artemenko
at 04.03.2016
Petrin's case
at 10.11.2015
Classification of Military Personnel Losses in the Time of Peace
at 10.11.2015
Kravtsov's Case
at 18.03.2015
Minakov's Case
at 13.03.2015
Davydova's Case

The case against Nikolay Artemenko

The St. Petersburg University of the Humanities and Social Sciences sue Nikolay Artemenko, ex-chair of local department of the Russian Students' League, for having spoken of 150 students expelled from the University for their activities in social.

The University demands 100,000 rubles from Artemenko for his statements alleged to damage the University's business reputation. The first court hearing session took place on March 10, 2016, and the hearings were adjourned till April 8 since the Team 29 lawyers defending Artemenko's interests should study the opinion of the experts invited by the University who state that the activist's words damage the University's good name.

The University sues also the Bumaga ("Paper") online newspaper, demanding 1 million rubles for citation of Artemenko's statements. The Team 29 lawyers represent also the newspaper's interests, assisted by the Mass Media Defense Center.


Petrin's case

Evgeny Petrin, former employee of the Moscow Patriarchy department for external church relations, is arrested on charges of espionage in favor of the United States.

was arrested in June 2014. He states that he had been a FSB employee and had been under cover. His case is under investigation within the charges of espionage and high treason. The case details are under the secrecy seal.

For a long time, his attorney was Andrey Stebenev, the same legal attorney that had been assigned by state to defend Svetlana Davydova. Since April 2015, Ivan Pavlov and Evgeny Smirnov, legal attorneys from the Team 29, serve as Petrin's defending attorneys together with Dmitry Agranovsky. In October, the Moscow City Court prolonged the arrest of Petrin up to December 5. Later, his arrest was once more prolonged up to February 3, 2016.

The first court hearing session took place on March 4, 2016, and the court returned the case back to the public prosecution.



Classification of Military Personnel Losses in the Time of Peace

On May 28, 2015, President Vladimir Putin signed the Decree classifying information on personnel losses of Russian military forces in the time of peace as state secret. This can make serious obstacles for activities of journalists and human rights defenders; moreover, a Presidential Decree is not a law but a subordinate act and therefore may not introduce additional restrictions.

On June 16, a collective application against this act was filed to the Supreme Court of Russia. On August 14, the Court rejected the claim, and on November 10, let the decision stand.



Kravtsov's Case

On July 22, 2015, court hearings began on the case of Gennady Kravtsov accused of state secret disclosure for a resume he had sent to Sweden.

For 15 years, Kravtsov worked as a radio engineer in the Chief Intelligence Directorate and had access to secret information. After leaving the job, he had been seeking for a job in his professional field for some years. In 2010, he sent a resume to a Swedish organization. And in May 2014, he was arrested on charges of high treason.

On August 25, the court started examining the case on its merits. The proceedings were closed. Kravtsov has not admitted his guilt.

On September 15, Kravtsov was sentenced to 14 years of imprisonment.

On October 1, Kravtsov's defense team filed an appeal against the sentence.



Minakov's Case

On January 30, 2015, Sergey Minakov, an electrical officer of Koyda, a civil tanker of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, was detained in early morning and placed in the Lefortovo pretrial detention center in Moscow. According to Russian legislation, only a foreign citizen or a stateless person can be accused of espionage while Minakov, a resident of the Crimea, had a Russian passport. The investigation stated that he committed crime in 2008, being then a Ukrainian citizen. Any other details of the case are secret. The Team 29 attorneys were offered to defend the seaman as soon as information on the case appeared in press.

On March 18, 2015, the case was terminated due to absence of crime.



Davydova's Case

Svetlana Davydova, mother of many children from Vyazma, Smolensk Oblast, was accused of high treason. The Team 29 achieved closure of the case against her.

According to the investigation, in April 2014, Davydova notified the Embassy of Ukraine by phone that a military unit placed near her home had become empty and that some military serviceman in the bus had talked about deployment in plain clothes to Ukraine.

Davydova was detained in early morning, January 21, 2015. They brought her from Vyazma to Smolensk and then to Moscow where the Lefortovsky district court made a decision on her arrest. The court hearing session was closed since part of the case materials was secret.

Initially, Andrey Stebenev was assigned by state as Davydova's attorney at law. However, he did not try to contest her arrest and offered her to confess fully in order to reduce imprisonment terms, and she obeyed.

A bit later, her husband Anatoly Gorlov settled an agreement with three other attorneys, Ivan Pavlov, Evgeny Smirnov, and Sergey Badamshin. After that, Davydova  denounced her confession of crime and decided to file a complaint against Stebenev's work.

On February 2, Pavlov, Smirnov, and Badamshin  contested the arrest of Davydova. Next day, she was released from the pretrial detention facility in her own custody.

On February 16, the Moscow City Court declared her arrest unlawful.

On March 13, the case against Davydova was terminated. The expert study had proved that there had been no state secret in information she had provided to Ukrainians.


How to Get Information in the Field of Housing and Municipal Utilities

Our project improving public legal knowledge in the field of housing and municipal utilities. Would you like to understand why housing services are poor? Or to find ways for efficient control of your housing company's activities? Or to contest incorrectly calculated housing fees? If you want to know how to get information in the housing field and use it to protect your rights, answers can be found at the project website.

A knowledge base on ways to implement the right to information access. Step-by-step instructions, practical case stories, and legal advices. Formulate the problem you have met, ask your question through a special online form and our specialist will answer. 

A non-commercial service helping to submit requests for information on government bodies' activities. Fill a form describing what information is of interest for you. Then the project lawyers will make a legally sound request from your application and submit it on our behalf to a relevant government body. We will publish the response for free access and you will receive a notification referring to the response published.

Anyone may be searched, even not being a defendant or a witness in a criminal case. We have prepared a brief list of advices that can be useful is one is searched.

In March 2014, classification for the vast majority of Soviet security bodies' archive documents was prolonged up to 2044. In fact, this means that the VChK-NKVD-KGB archives will be closed for citizens for almost 30 years more. In May 2015, the Team 29 published a petition asking to cancel the decision of the Inter-Departmental Commission for State Secret Protection prolonging the archive data classification term, and to help to disseminate the petition further. As  for now, the petition has got more than 60,000 signatures.

The Team 29 explains what one can do being threatened online. Oleg Kashin, journalist, and Lena Klimova, founder of the «Deti-404» («Children-404») project, tell how it is to be a target for haters.