Kristina Morozova, photo: Mikhail Solunin / Mediazona
Today, on 7 June 2021, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture applied to the European Court on behalf of Kristina Morozova from Nizhny Novgorod with an application concerning violence applied against her in autumn 2016 and absence of effective investigation of this fact at the national level. As we have previously reported, Kristina Morozova herself claims that the police officers applied brutal force against her during the examination when she refused to take off her underwear in the presence of men. Subsequently Kristina was diagnosed with closed craniocerebral injury, mild brain contusion, fissured fracture of yoke-bone, fracture of the alisphenoid bone from the left. At the national level, the Investigative Committee investigators dismissed the criminal case with regard to the police officers four times.
Kristina Morozova from Kstovo applied to human rights defenders for legal assistance on 25 October 2016. She reported that in the evening of 9 September she was detained in the street when walking her badger-dog and taken together with the dog to the local police department. According to Morozova, one of the female police officers commenced her examination and attempted to remove her bra in the presence of the other detained, of male gender. When Kristina expressed her indignation with this fact, physical force was applied against her, and her bra was cut with scissors. Then the police officer pressed Kristina against the floor and stepped on her head with her knee in such a way that Kristina felt sharp pain and crackle in her facial bone. After that one of the police officers sprayed tear gas in the face of the dog, and then – in the face of Kristina.
The criminal case on the crime under item “a” part 3 of Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“exceeding the official authority”) against the police officers was initiated only on 11 January 2017, after two refusals to initiate criminal proceedings were issued. As the ruling goes, the case was initiated against “unidentified officers of the Department of Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs for the Kstovo District”.
On the other hand, the criminal case against the victim herself under Article 319 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“Insult of representative of authority”) was initiated. The investigation into the case was performed promptly, and soon the Kstovo City Court of the Nizhny Novgorod region declared Kristina guilty of committing this crime. However, on 10 November 2017 the court of appeal dismissed the criminal case against Kristina and acknowledged her right to rehabilitation.
Later on, on 15 January 2019, judge of the Kstovsky City Court of the Nizhny Novgorod region Konstantin Tyugin only partially satisfied Kristina Morozova claims under the lawsuit, having awarded her five thousand rubles as a compensation of moral damage inflicted to her for illegal criminal prosecution.
On 24 November 2018, Deputy Head of the Investigative Department for Kstovo with the Investigative Committee of the RF for the Nizhny Novgorod region Vladimir Pogosov issued the fourth dismissal of the claim to open a criminal case with regard to abuse of office using violence.
Due to the fact that the dismissed criminal case was constantly circulating between the Prosecutor’s Office and the Investigative Department, and human rights defenders could not familiarize themselves with it in full scope, only on 21 July 2020 the lawyers with the Committee Against Torture appealed to court against investigator Pogosov’s dismissal of the case.
On 15 October 2020, lawyer with the Kstovsky City Court of the Nizhny Novgorod region Valentina Baklanova declared the ruling to be legal, having concluded that the investigative authorities performed a full-fledged investigation.
On 14 December 2020, judge of the Nizhegorodsky Regional Court Irina Mityagina upheld this ruling.
Having exhausted all domestic remedies, the lawyers with the Committee Against Torture applied today on behalf of Kristina Morozova to the European Court of Human Rights. In the opinion of human rights defenders, the state violated articles of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, guarantying freedom from torture and the right to effective investigation.
“A completely humiliating story, where the purpose of applying violence against a woman aimed at solely breaking her will and showing who was in charge. Even of no facial trauma which seriously impacted her health, was inflicted on Kristina, the mere fact of public cutting the underwear in the presence of strangers, and in general, the mere fact of its cutting, already amounts to a violation of Article 3 of the Convention, – head of the International Legal Defense Department with the Committee Against Torture Olga Sadovskaya points out. – It is appalling that the police officers, trying to conceal the fact of applying violence, even do not attempt to deny the fact of abuse of the applicant and present it as a completely normal procedure”.