Today, on 16 September 2020, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture submitted an application to the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of Klavdiya Kushnikova from the Krasnodar Territory. She claims that in January 2019, the police officers hurt her arm, having illegally resorted to arms. No criminal case was initiated against the police officers, and Kushnikova and two of her relatives were convicted for threatening the police officers.
On 4 September 2019, Klavdiya Kushnikova from the Tikhoretsk District of the Krasnodar Territory applied for legal assistance. According to her, on 14 January 2019, at about midnight, some unknown persons came to her house and asked questions about her daughter and her partner, who at that time were inside the house. Soon she heard her daughter shouting that she went blind. When she entered the corridor to see what had happened she received a jet of tear gas in her face. After that, several shots were fired.
“I thought these were some bandits. I was shocked by what was going on. There was an axe on the floor in the corridor, I use it to split firewood. I took it in the right hand, I wanted to scare them off, so that they go away from the door and could not inject gas inside the house, and the children would not be hurt. I took the axe in my right hand and saw that my hand was in blood. The blood was literally bubbling in the internal side of the wrist joint. I immediately threw the axe away. I thought this was a gun wound”, – Kushnikova described.
When she attempted to open the entrance door to air the house from tear gas, shots from the outside followed. Subsequently, it turned out that the unknown persons were the police officers who came to apprehend Kushnikova’s daughter and her partner.
According to the results of the medical forensic examination, Klavdiya Kushnikova received the following bodily injuries: “Gunshot lacerate wound of the right wrist joint. This injury possibly was caused by an impact of solid blunt object, which could be a bullet, and it could have happened as a result of a gunshot”.
A criminal case was opened with regard to Klavdiya Kushnikova, her daughter and her daughter’s partner under part 1, Article 318 of the Criminal Code of the RF (“threatening an authority representative with violence”). According to the investigative authorities, on 14 January 2019, the daughter and her partner severely stabbed the attackers in the neighboring village and after this conflict came at Kushnikova’s place. The police officers who arrived there, demanded that the daughter came with them to the police department for providing explanations. In response to that, Kushnikova, her daughter and the daughter’s partner started to threaten them with an axe, handing it over to each other. As a result of these threats, one of the police officers was forced to apply a tear gas and a traumatic gun. The court agreed to this theory and sentenced Kladviya Kushnikova to fine of thirty-five thousand rubles, and her daughter and the daughter’s partner – to 2 years’ prison term.
Investigator with the Investigative Department for the Tikhorestsky District of the Investigative Committee of the RF for the Krasnodar Territory Vladimir Novikov, who previously conducted a check with regard to Kushnikova’s injury, refused to open a criminal case, having considered that both tear gas and a traumatic gun were applied lawfully. Later on, courts of two instances declared this ruling to be legal.
“We conducted our own investigation and came to conclusion that the police officers applied tear gas and a gun illegally, and the investigative authorities’ and court’s conclusions are based only on the police officers’ evidence, – lawyer with the Krasnodar branch of the Committee Against Torture Roman Veretennikov comments. – The Investigative Committee and the court did not study the incident closely enough, did not do any effective actions aimed at establishing the facts of importance”.
In the course of the public investigation, human rights defenders applied to the specialists in the field of medical forensic science, ballistics and chemistry. For example, the results of the analysis of the blood drops on the axe confirmed Kushnikova’s story about what happened at her place in January 2019 and disproved the evidence of the police officers. The results of the other analysis showed that two shots were made in the window of Kushnikova’s house, which was covered with a polyethylene film. This disproves the theory of the police officers who claim that they were attacked with an axe at the entrance to the house which forced them to apply a gun and tear gas.
Due to the fact that at the national level no effective investigation of Kladviya Kushnikova’s injury was conducted, today, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture applied to the European Court of Human Rights on her behalf. According to human rights defenders, Article 3 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, that prohibits torture, inhumane and degrading treatment and guarantees the right to effective investigation.
“The evidence that we collected in the course of the public investigation, allow us to legitimately claim that the official version of events that happened in Kushnikova’s house is non-credible, – expert on international law with the Committee Against Torture Mariya Zadorozhnaya comments. – We hope that the European Court will give its evaluation of all the circumstances of these events and pass a just ruling”.