Polina is a consultant in the Rosshtraf project and one of its founders.

What does the project do and who is involved in it?

"Rosshtraf" is a crowdfunding project that helps to raise money directly for Russians who have been fined under politically motivated articles. Our team has a coordinator, who collects applications for help, authors who run social media accounts, consultants, a lawyer and an illustrator. For everyone, the work in the project is volunteering, as everybody has a main job. In addition to direct assistance in paying fines, the project provides legal assistance: counseling, preparing complaints to challenge fines.

How did the project come about?

In 2019, the court fined political scientist Fyodor Krasheninnikov 30,000 rubles for insulting the authorities. In a short time, his readers in social media collected him more money than it was required. It was decided to give the extra money to the human rights organization "Agora" to pay fines to other people. This is how the idea of creating a platform to help Russians persecuted for political reasons was born.

How is your project working?

People contact us via Telegram-bot, which link is available on the websites of many Russian human rights communities. After a short conversation in a private chat with the applicant, a project volunteer receives photos of court documents and bank card details from the respondent, and then enrolls the victim in the queue. We post appeals for help with a description of the persecution case on our Telegram and Instagram accounts, usually on a first-come, first-served basis. At one time, money is raised for only one person who has received a fine. The contributors are other Russians who transfer small amounts out of a sense of solidarity with the victim of prosecution.

We control the process of gathering money so that there is no overcollection of funds. If more money is sent, which is often the case, we have an agreement with the persecuted that we send the excess money to the next person fined. For many fines we manage to collect the money in just one or two days, but sometimes, if the fine is very large, the collection can take weeks, but in all cases we bring it to the end.

Which political articles do Russians most often receive fines under?

Now the most common articles are discrediting the army, insulting the authorities, violating the law on public events, and justifying terrorism. The majority of court decisions are issued for publications and comments in social networks. Another part of fines is caused by participation of people who disagree with the authorities in protest mass actions and solitary pickets.

Why is it important to pay fines on time?

Non-payment of the fine or late payment can lead to detrimental consequences. Most of those fined are retired people with minimal incomes. Recently, we were approached by a woman who could not pay a fine and was sentenced to compulsory labor. For health reasons she could not do it, and she was arrested for that. And the law enforcement officers came to her son's workplace and handed her a payment slip. So, she will still have to pay the fine, and it is not clear how the management's attitude towards her son at work will change.

What results has the project achieved?

Over the past seven months, we have helped 44 people, collecting more than two million rubles for them. Most of these people were fined for expressing their position against Russian aggression in Ukraine. The project does not take any interest from the fees for fines. Any help, including legal assistance, is provided by volunteers absolutely free of charge. Those who wish to support the project can do so, we have details for donations. This helps us to pay for the promotion of the project and encourage volunteers.

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Our stand on the Russian invasion to Ukraine

Russia started the war against Ukraine. This war is happening from 2014. It has only intensified on February 24th 2022. Milions of Ukrainians are suffering. The perpetrators of this must be brought to justice for their crimes.

Russian regime tries to silence its liberal voices. Russian people against the war exist - and the Russian regime tries its best to silence them. We want to prevent that and make their voices heard.

Connection is crucial. The Russian liberal initiatives are hard to read for European public at times. The legal, social and historical context of Russia is not always clear. We want to share information, build bridges and connect the liberal Russia with The West.

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