On 19 March 2023, the Open Space project in Moscow hosted a presentation of comics created by Sasha Skochilenko, an artist who was charged with spreading fakes about the Russian army. During a psychologist’s lecture, some masked policemen entered the exhibition’s premises.
Sasha Skochilenko has been held in the pre-trial detention center for almost a year. In Moscow, her supporters organized an exhibition of comics about depression; the event was subsequently visited by 35-year-old Konstantin Novikov. The presentation began at 2:30 pm, and an hour and a half later, masked police officers intervened, forcing the organizers to stop the event. Konstantin recalls that there were about 15 policemen who ordered the male visitors to lie down on the floor, and the female visitors to stand against the wall. Then the officers began to check the visitors’ IDs and phones.
«I asked the policemen to introduce themself and to produce their badges, then I heard the answer: No one here will produce you anything,» – Konstantin says.
According to Mr. Novikov, he was taken to a small room near the stairs, hit in the back and then told to return to the main room and lie down on the floor along with the others. Konstantin’s ribs began to ache, so he demanded to call the ambulance; there was no reaction to his request at all. As Mr. Novikov underlines, his hands behind his head grew numb and were in pain. Konstantin tried to straighten the arms, but one of the officers forced him to take the previous position.
«When I clasped the hands behind my head, my palms were suddenly hit with a boot. The kick was sharp, so I hit the concrete floor with my temple that respectively started to bleed.»
A puddle of blood appeared on the floor shortly. As Konstantin recalls, one of the police officers took a rag and wiped the blood off. After complaining of pain and bleeding, Mr. Novikov was allowed to station himself on a chair near the wall.
«I sat holding the left side of my chest, and the right side of my face was stained with blood, which I was wiping with the sleeve. I could hardly breathe or speak.»
An ambulance team had never arrived. At about 8 pm, Konstantin was taken to the Basmanny district police department of Moscow, where the injured man spent another hour sitting on a chair in the corridor. Finally, an ambulance appeared, and the doctors decided to take him to the hospital. Konstantin underwent a chest X-ray and a computed tomography scan of the brain. However, the medics did not allow Konstantin to receive the relevant certificate and handed over all the documents to the police instead.
After the treatment, Konstantin was taken back to the police department, where he spent the whole night. The next day, the Basmanny District Court of Moscow found the man guilty of disobeying the lawful demands of a police officer (Art. 19.3 of the Code of Administrative Offences), punishing him with five days of administrative detention.
On 21 March, Mr. Novikov was put in the Detention center no. 2. As the pain in the ribs continued, an ambulance was called. The medics refused to take the man to the hospital, having given him an anesthetic injection.
On 24 March, having been released, Konstantin went to the first-aid center, where an X-ray recorded a rib fracture.
On 6 April, Konstantin lodged a crime report with the Basmanny investigative department of the Russian Investigative Committee. The applicant demands to inquire into the actions of the policemen who had allegedly excessed their authority. Meanwhile, the lawyers of the Crew Against Torture launched their own public investigation into Mr. Novikov’s allegations.