In Nizhny Novgorod, after more than a year, a criminal case is initiated based on the police battery of the two citizens of Vetluga. Previously, the investigators of the Urensky Interdistrict Investigative Department passed several illegal refusals to initiate criminal proceedings, tracing no element of crime in the actions of the police officers. The criminal case was initiated only after repeated complaints of the lawyers with the Committee Against Torture, addressed to the superiors of the regional Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee.
(Pavel Yakushev, one of the victims)
In May 2017, Pavel Yakushev and Ivan Belov from Vetluga applied to the Committee Against Torture for legal assistance. According to them, on 25 April of last year, an acquaintance of theirs asked them to move a large-sized part of the tractor from the territory of the local sawmill (as it turned out later, this acquaintance of theirs intended to steal this tractor part).
Leaving the sawmill, the young men heard shouts addressed to them. In fear, Pavel and Ivan started to run.
“A man in civil clothes knocked me down and immediately started to hit and kick me”, – Ivan Belov described.
According to Ivan, he recognized the local criminal investigation officer: “He was beating me up for more than a minute, and then he raised me on my knees by the head and ears and forced me to go like that. At the same time he continued to hold me by the hair. On the way he found a thick wooden stick somewhere and hit me several times against my back”.
Then, according to Belov, the police officer, keeping holding him by the hair, forced him to go to the vehicle on his feet, after that he was forced to lie in the car trunk. This way he was transported to the Vetluga police department, where he was questioned concerning the fact of the car part theft, and then he was released.
Meanwhile, the other participant of the event, Pavel Yakushev, was also caught by one of the police officers. Seizing Pavel, the police officer called the assistance over the phone and several minutes later two more men in civil clothes came up to him. According to Pavel, they beat him up.
Then the detained was brought into GAZelle police vehicle and also taken to the police department. In the criminal investigation office the police officers started to force Pavel to tell about all the participants of the march for the tractor part and all the details of this event that he was aware of.
According to Pavel, this questioning was accompanied by the battery with the use of the expedient means: “One of the police officers took the writing desk drawer’s panel and shouted: “Your night just started!” He started to hit me with this panel against the head. Then he took one small plastic heater, and, having propelled it by its cord, hit me with it against my head”.
In the morning the man was released from the police department.
According to the expert’s conclusion, numerous bodily injuries were registered on Yakushev: two injuries in the parieto-occipital region on the left and in parietal region, a bruise and an extravasation of suprascapular area on the left, extravasations of the iliac region on the left, injury of the third finger of the left hand, injury of the right hand, abrasion of the left knee joint, hemorrhaging under the nail bed and into the soft tissues of the nail bone of the first finger of the right hand.
Ivan Belov was registered with a hematoma and a swell of the soft tissues in the eyelid area, a hematoma in the region of the earflap, a hematoma and a bruise in the area of the back. In addition, according to Ivan, after the police officer hit his face he developed problems with his eyesight. Ophthalmologist diagnosed him with rhegmatogenous detachment of the retina and epiretinal fibrosis.
The investigation and the court did not establish Yakushev and Belov’s involvement in the theft. They both participated in the court hearing in the capacity of witnesses. Only the initiator of the night march to the sawmill – he was declared guilty of an attempted theft and sentenced to two hundred and fifty hours of compulsory community service.
On 27 April 2017, the Urensky Investigative Department started pre-investigative check based on the complaint of the citizens from Vetluga against the unlawful actions of the police officers. Different investigators conducted some activities, however, they were obviously insufficient to establish whether the actions of the police officers contained element of crime. With regard to this, the refusals to initiate criminal proceedings issued by the police officers were repeatedly quashed.
The red tape with the complaint of the citizens from Vetluga led to the fact Ivan Belov was questioned by the investigator from Uren only seven months after the check commenced, in December 2017. And it happened only after the application of the lawyers with the Committee Against Torture addressed to Deputy Head of the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Nizhny Novgorod region Dmitry Kanonerov.
After activation of the investigation, the police officers whom the applicants accuse of the battery, manifested themselves. According to Ivan Belov, on 30 January of this year the police officers came to his work and started to talk him into changing his complaints against the law-enforcement officers. Ivan did not agree, claiming that he developed eyesight problems after the actions of the police officer. On the same evening Belov was apprehended near his house and taken to the police department, where he was told that he was suspected of storing drugs and conducted the search. Certainly, no drugs were found at Belov’s place, however, according to him, he was warned that it was only the “rehearsal”.
When Ivan left the police department he informed the lawyers with the Committee Against Torture about what happened, and on the next day he left the town. He perceived what happened to him as a threat by the police officers.
Taking into account the situation, human rights defenders applied to head of the regional investigative department Andrey Vinogradov. He listened to the applicant attentively and ordered to hand over the material of the check to the proceedings of the first department for major cases investigation of the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Nizhny Novgorod region.
The first department investigator, unlike his colleagues from Uren, very quickly detected the grounds for initiating the criminal proceedings in the material, and on 3 March 2018 the criminal case under item “a” Part 3 of Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“abuse of office with the use of violence”) was opened.