After eight years, the investigator performed a check using polygraph, and once again refused to initiate criminal proceedings with regard to a torture case


25 February 2019
Extract from a report by Vasily Belov, M.D.

The Investigative Committee once again issued a refusal with regard to a complaint by Nikita Danishkin from Nizhny Novgorod against torture at the Nizhny Novgorod Counter-Extremism Center. This time the results of psychophysiological study of Danishkin using polygraph, which were performed eight years after the described events, prompted to refuse to open a criminal case. However, according to the experts, such a delayed polygraph check is not effective and its results are misleading.

As we have previously reported, on 1 February 2011, Nikita Danishkin applied to Nizhny Novgorod office of interregional nongovernmental organization «The Committee Against Torture» for legal assistance. In his application Nikita claimed that on 25 December 2010, he was detained in his rented flat by officers of the Anti-Extremism Centre (AEC) who took him to AEC headquarters. There these officers beat and tortured his him (they made Nikita sit with crossed legs, tied his legs up with the towing-cable and flung him on the floor) in order to make him confess of preparation of a terrorist attack and dissemination of information smearing the honor and dignity of AEC staff. Nikita emphasized that the head of AEC took part in his tortures.

According to Mr Danishkin, the police officers failed to obtain the confession from him and they brought him to the Temporary Isolation Cell, however, when the duty officer there saw Nikita’s numerous injuries he sent him to hospital No.40 for an examination. As a result, Mr Danishkin was diagnosed with bruises, including on his face.

On December 27, 2010 Danishkin was admitted to remand prison, where he had the following injuries documented: a red-brown bruise on the right side of the abdominal area, a yellowish-green bruise in the axillary region on the left, multiple purple bruises on the face and neck.

Danishkin complained about ill-treatment to the head of the Investigative Committee. However, no criminal case was initiated, and the pre-investigation check, in the course of which investigator Novikov five times illegally passed refusals to initiate criminal proceedings and which lasted for over one year and a half, ended in the Nizhny Novgorod regional court on 5 August 2013 where the sixth refusal was declared legal in the end.

On 15 June 2011 the Avtozavodsky District Court of Nizhny Novgorod declared Nikita Danishkin to be guilty of committing the crime under part 1 of Article 222 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“illegal storage, transportation of explosives and explosive devices”) and sentenced him to three years prison term in a standard regime penal colony.

Having exhausted all domestic remedy, on 5 February 2014 lawyers with the Committee for the Prevention of Torture submitted a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights. On 7 April 2015 it was communicated. After communication the pre-investigation check based on Danishkin’s complaint was resumed and the material was handed over to investigator of the first department for major cases investigation of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Nizhny Novgorod region Aleksandr Busarov. However, the criminal case was never opened.

On 2 May 2017, the European Court of Human Rights passed a ruling with regard to the complaint submitted in the interests of Danishkin. The Strasbourg judges unanimously established the following:

– Article 3 of the Convention was violated in its material part (the applicant was subjected to torture);

– Article 3 of the Convention was violated due to absence of efficient investigation of the applicant’s claims about having been tortured by the police officers.

Due to that Nikita Danishkin was awarded twenty thousand euro as a compensation for moral damage.

On 21 November 2018, the Presidium of the Supreme Arbitration Court of the Russian Federation passed a ruling to resume the proceedings based on Nikita Danishkin’s complaint against torture. Thus, the investigators were obliged to resume the work and perform an effective investigation based on Danishkin’s complaint. However, the check on this case continues to be performed only formally, and the investigator keeps issuing regular “refusal” rulings which are subsequently declared illegal.

On Friday, 22 February 2019, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture received a copy of the latest, the tenth in succession, ruling refusing to initiate criminal proceedings with regard to Danishkin’s complaint. In his ruling dated 9 February, investigator Aleksandr Busarov provides the results of new psychophysiological study of Danishkin using polygraph as the only new evidence that Nikita’s arguments claiming he was tortured did not find any confirmation.

At the same time, specialist of Center of Independent Expert Examination “Aspekt” Vasily Belov, M.D., having performed a study at the request of human rights defenders, in his report indicated the misleading character of the results of psychophysiological study of Danishkin, which was conducted eight years after the incident, confirming that they cannot have an evidentiary value: “Using polygraph may give some information only if it is applied during the first few hours after the events and up to several days (up to 6 days), due to peculiarities of memory functioning”.

“Based on this refusal of Busarov, a conclusion can be made, that he did not event make an attempt to establish the objective picture of the event and resolve numerous controversies, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Anastasia Nikitina, representing the interests of Nikita Danishkin, comments. – The fact that the superiors of the investigator allow to perform such completely useless actions as polygraph check and issue refusals one after another, only confirm our certainty that local investigators are not going to work effectively on this case. With regard to this, we applied to Chairman of the Investigative Committee of Russia Aleksandr Bastrykin with a request to hand over the materials of the check based on Danishkin’s complaint, to the special unit for investigating crimes committed by law-enforcement officers”.

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