On 14 March 2013 the Supreme Court of the Republic of Bashkortostan delivered an unexpected appellate decision which dismissed claims for compensation submitted by Tatiana Ivanova, the widow of Albert Mukhametzakirov, a teacher of Russian and Literature murdered by a drunk policeman, Vladimir Simukhin. The bench of Supreme Court judges must have wished to save money for the State, and concluded that the State bears no responsibility for murder committed by a law enforcement officer armed with a service pistol.
(Photo: Vladislav Simukhin, taken from http://ufa1.ru)
At the beginning of May 2010 a woman leaving in Ufa, Tatiana Ivanova, applied to the INGO «Committee Against Torture» complaining that her husband had been killed, allegedly by police officer Vladislav Simukhin.
Human rights defenders in the course of their public investigation made the following findings. On 1 May 2010 Vladislav Simukhin was in a state of alcoholic inebriation. He received a service pistol and, instead of starting his shift, drank some more vodka and went to Ufa having the service pistol and his police uniform with him. There he continued «having fun» together with some acquaintances of his. The next day at about 1:40 pm the police officer, being considerably drunk, came over to a car with Albert Mukhametzakirov behind the wheel. The men agreed that Albert would take the policeman to Demskiy district of Ufa city.
On the way there occurred an argument between the driver and the passenger (alcohol must have done its part) which resulted in a tragedy – the law enforcement agent shot the teacher in the head, and fled the scene. Mr Mukhametzakirov died from the wound.
Albert Mukhamedzakirov lived with his wife and son, worked at school as a teacher of the Russian language and Literature. His salary was poor, so he had to take a side job as a taxi driver. Who would have known that it was going to be the last trip of his…
On 7 May 2010 Vladislav Simukhin surrendered and gave a confession statement. On 14 May 2010 he was charged with this crime, and the case was referred to the Kirovskiy District Court of Ufa city. Before court the policeman maintained that he had committed the crime by negligence, but the court took the victims’ side and held that Vladislav Simukhin is guilty of the crime under Article 105 (1) of Russian Criminal Code (intentional causing the death to another person) and sentenced him to 10 years of imprisonment to be served in a maximum security penal colony.
On 1 October 2012 the Leninskiy District Court of Ufa city delivered judgment awarding Tatiana Ivanova compensation of moral damage in the amount of 800 thousand rubles.
Anton Fadeev, a lawyer working with the INGO «Committee Against Torture», comments on the Supreme Court’s decision: «We initially claimed for 2 million rubles compensation. Then court partially sustained our request, and held that the State had to pay Tatiana Ivanova 800 thousand rubles. However, the Ministry of Finance appealed against this decision. The officials must have regarded the compensation too big for a human life.
We were sure that the Supreme Court would either increase the compensation or, in the worst case scenario, uphold the first instance decision. One should think so, how could there be any different outcome? A duty officer issued him a service pistol without examining his state. Superior officers did not bother to look for him when he hadn’t started his shift. After the incident a number of staff members of the Department of the Interior were fired. One would think, it confirmed the responsibility of the Ministry of the Interior and, therefore, of the State.
However, it took the bench of Bashkirian Supreme Court judges less than a minute in a retiring room to pass the decision dismissing Tatiana Ivanova’s claim for just compensation and to recognize the Ministry as improper respondent. In turns out that if the State issues a gun to a policeman, and this policeman shoots someone dead with this gun, the State bears no responsibility for that. We were astonished at the Prosecutor’s office viewpoint. Initially, it endorsed Tatiana Ivanova’s position, but now the Office has changed it’s opinion, asking the court to dismiss the applicant’s complaint.
We will appeal against the Supreme Court of the Bashkortostan Republic decision before the Court of Cassation».