“Exactly around 20.00 being 24, at Gorokhovetskaya St. Openly stole the handbag. Written by own hand”. A curious dog let its owner down and he was accused of the robbery which the police investigators tried to prove with the help of an electric shocker.
(The sign of electric shocker on Aleksey Nikitin’s neck. The photo is provided by the Committee for the Prevention of Torture)
Exactly a year ago when Russia was celebrating the 4th of Novermber, 27-year old loader Aleksey Nikitin was walking his black French bulldog Jolie in the school yard in Gorokhovetskaya Street at the outskirts of Nizhny Novgorod. It was already dark. The dog was sniffing some object under the tree. When Nikitin approached closer, he could see the finding. It was a ladies’ handbag.
He brought the handbag home. That evening there was a small group of friends visiting him at his apartment — his girl-friend Tatyana Yakovleva and their friends Oleg Ratmanov and Natalia Zenova; they were celebrating the holiday; while the flat owner went to walk out the dog, the guests kept on drinking. Inside the handbag they found the passport of 79-year old Valentina Maksimycheva, Nokia mobile phone, Orbit Bio watch, glasses, medicine and a magnifying glass; according to Nikitin’s friends who saw the handbag there was no money, or a purse inside it.
“Tatyana said that they had to give the handbag back”, — remembers Nikitin. He looked through the pad with phone numbers and dialed the number indicated as “the grandson” but the subscriber was not available. Then Nikitin started to dial other numbers of Maksimycheva’s relatives; her son-on-law picked up the phone and said that his mother-in-law had been robbed. «He asked if we could give the handbag tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. We replied that we could do that today. And we went to give it back, the meeting was appointed near the school” — said Aleksey.
They went to give the handbag back to the owner in the evening; near school No. 168 the daughter and the granddaughter of the victim were waiting for them. When they came up to them, Tatyana Yakovleva gave the handbag to the women and, according to her, asked if they had brought a bone for the dog who found it. At that moment the policemen appeared near the school. They asked immediately who had found the bag. Aleksey with the dog went to show the place of the finding.
The policemen demanded that one of the young men sat in their car and went to the police department; there was an argument. “First they wanted to take one of them, there was a man with us, Oleg, and when I asked on what ground they were going to do this, they said: “It seems that you know the law, have you been to the prison?” – “Well, I was.” And they took me instead of him”, — says Nikitin. He was charged with a criminal offence twice: in 2006 a Nizhny Novgorod citizen was sentenced for eight years for the robbery, and in 2012 he got a year and a half for storing drugs.
The report of the robbery was received around ten o’clock in the evening at the police department. The pensioner called from the neighbors and said that around 21:30 near 24, Gorokhovetskaya Street a young man with a dog whipped off the handbag from her and ran away. According to the policemen, Nikitin matched the description provided by the victim.
The police vehicle where Aleksey had been pushed in stopped near another patrol duty team; the victim was sitting in the second car. The young man was shown to her. Maksimycheva did not recognize the offender; the robber had been wearing different clothes. However, Nikitin was taken away further, to police department No. 2 in Sortirovochny settlement.
(Nikitin in the record of the surveillance camera in “Red and White” shop. The record was provided by the Committee for the Prevention of Torture)
At the same time police detector dog specialist Tsareva and detective dog Pilat were following the tracks from the site where the handbag had been found. Pilat brought Tsareva to the apartment in building 36 in Gorokhovetskaya Street. At the interrogations Tsareva said that a young man opened the door and a dog ran outside, “a mix of black Rottweiler”. The young man was unshaven and acned – remembers police detector dog specialist Tsareva, and when the pensioner was taken to the entrance she said that “this is not him as this young man is not handsome”. At that time only the passenger compartment in the car was lit, and there were no lights in the dark street.
The victim was taken to the police department where Aleksey was already sitting. There Maksimycheva did not recognize him either, but finally, agreed that this was Nikitin who had taken her handbag. According to him, the pensioner changed her mind when one of the policemen told her that that young man “had been in prison several times for the similar crimes”.
“Then I was taken to (police department МЗ) on Ivana Romanova Street. The next morning I was taken to the third floor and then they started to beat me with electric shocker all over my body. They said that it could be no one but me, as only the man who took the bag would go to give it back. There is no one but you. That’s all”, — says Nikitin matter-of-factly.
He says that in the room they made him sit on the chair and handcuffed his hands behind the chair back. After that the investigating officer beat him three times with electric shocker into his groin through the jeans. Nikitin started to scream. First the investigating officer beat him with electric shocker under his ribs and then from behind on his neck. Then the policeman went away, typed several lines on the computer and left the room. Two other investigating officers (Aleksandr and Aleksey) stayed with the arrested man.
Nikitin told them that he was ready to acknowledge his guilt.
The investigating officer was dictating to the arrested man who can barely write, and he wrote his full confession. According to the document received by investigating officer Repnin, Nikitin reports on the crime that he had committed. The following text was written in printed letters by Nikitin himself (the spelling is preserved):
“Eksactly on 04.11.15 around 20.00 being 24, at Gorokhovetskaya St. Openly stole the handbag where there was money (illegible), a mobile phone and a watch. Written by own hand”.
The materials of Nikitin’s case say that “the evidence were not read to him, he could barely write and could not read, only spell”. According to the words of the young man, after he wrote the confession and was interrogated on this case, a lawyer came to him who “did not ask any questions, signed the interrogation protocol and left”. The young man was accused of the robbery (Part 1 Article 161 of the Criminal Code).
On 6 November battered Aleksey who had been released on pledge not to leave the city came back home; together with Tatyana he submitted a complaint to the Prosecutor’s Office and applied to the human rights defenders from the Committee for the Prevention of Torture for assistance. Forensic scientists who examined him on 9 and 17 November registered that the victim had bruises under his left eye, scratch marks in the area of his neck and collarbone, chest, right shoulder and forearm, left forearm, in the area under his shoulder blade, his groin on the right side, his right thigh, scrotum, and right shank. Besides, the reports made by other doctors stated that Nikitin had traumas caused by electric shocker.
Together with human rights defenders Nikitin applied to the Investigation Committee asking to initiate a criminal case against the policemen who had performed tortures. They tried to get the records from the cameras from “Red and White” shop where Aleksey Nikitin came for a beer around 20:00 — shortly before he found the unfortunate handbag and was arrested. The records prove that the young man had no injuries at that time.
The criminal case on stealing the handbag was not developing since that time. On 4 February 2016 senior investigating officer of police department No. 2 Е.А.Rogacheva passed a resolution on closing the criminal proceedings against Nikitin. The case was closed due to the fact that “it was impossible to prove the involvement”.
“All the opportunities to collect evidence ran out, it was not possible to determine the witnesses of the crime. Besides, in the first place V.T.Maksimycheva could not say for sure that it was A.A.Nikitin who had committed the crime against her which is proved by the evidence of the witnesses”, — the resolution of the investigating officer says.
Aleksey Nikitin was granted the right for rehabilitation and compensation for the damage inflicted by the illegal criminal proceedings. The lawsuit for compensation has not been filed yet.
Since then the human rights defenders received two refusals to open the criminal case against the investigating officers who had been torturing the citizen of Nizhny Novgorod. In the beginning of December 2015 investigator Nikitina M.A. from Kanavinsky district of Nizhny Novgorod refused to open the case saying that “no objective data proving that A.A.Nikitin had signs of injuries caused by electric shocker had been found during the forensic medical examination.” The lawyers of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture appealed against the refusal, on 15 June 2016 it was cancelled due to the violations of investigator Nikitina.
“They cancelled it, but there were so many mistakes there: in particular, there was an order to attach the verdict in respect of Nikitin to the materials of checking. It means even the investigation administration took the case as formality, they did not ask about what had happened to this criminal case”, — lawyer Sergey Romanov from the Committee for the Prevention of Torture says. He reminds us that the criminal proceedings against Aleksey Nikitin were closed back in February.
As early as on 20 July investigator S.A.Samarina announced a second refusal which virtually repeated the first one. According to Romanov, the investigator made several inquiries, but she made a refusal without waiting for the reply.
“The investigator virtually ignored the instructions of her senior management”, — the lawyer points out.
In the beginning of October this refusal was also cancelled, and now the case on the tortures with the use of electric shocker which was opened due to the curiosity of bulldog Jolie, will be returned again back to the investigator from Kanavinsky district.