Today, in the Yoshkar-Ola prosecutor’s office, there was a joint press-conference of the Interregional Committee Against Torture and Yoshkar-Ola prosecutor devoted to the situation with the complaint of Mariy El resident Boris Rzhavin about police abuse which is being examined by the European Court.
Photo: Boris Rzhavin signing the friendly settlement agreement with the Russian Federation on 25 November 2010.
You may remember that late at night on 17 December 2001 the elderly man was forced to go to the police-station in Yoshkar-Ola to give some explanations. He was taken outside barefoot and dressed in skivvies in December. He had to take a taxi to get back home. The pensioner was never indicted.
Mr. Rzhavin applied to Regional NGO “Man and Law” (Mariy El) and later – to the Mariy El representation of the Interregional Committee Against Torture asking for help. Besides, he filed an application to the Prosecutor’s Office. However the Yoshkar-Ola Prosecutor’s Office appeared incapable of protecting the pensioner’s rights. The investigation authorities issued several unlawful refusals to initiate a criminal case that were cancelled by Mariy El courts. But that did not help. The prosecutorial checks lasted for 6 years and finally the investigation came to a dead-end.
Thus, Mr. Rzhavin had nothing else to do but apply to the European Court of Human Rights. In 2007 the ICAT filed an application to the Strasbourg Court. In spring the court started examining the merits of the application and asked the Russian Government a series of questions.
Having received the document, the Committee was agreeably surprised by the fact that Russia had acknowledged breaches of Articles 3 and 13 of the Convention and proposed a friendly settlement to the applicant for the sum of 12 000 euro. This information was contained in the Memorandum of Russian Human Rights Commissioner in the European Court of Human Rights, deputy Russian Minister of Justice G.O. Matyuhkin. It should be noted that Russia has on the international level acknowledged that Mr. Rzhavin was subject to inhuman treatment, unlawfully deprived of liberty, and the investigation authorities under the prosecutor’s office did not carry out an adequate investigation.
Today, during the press-conference, Yoshkar-Ola prosecutor Sergey Skvortsov confirmed that for several years the investigation authorities had been blatantly delaying the investigation under the case. Besides, Mr. Skvortsov stated that he had already sent official apologies to Mr. Rzhavin on behalf of the city prosecutor’s office. The document was presented to mass media.
We would like to stress that the Republican Ministry of the Interior has ignored the official address with a proposal to apologize to Mr. Rzhavin sent by the Committee Against Torture a months ago. The Mariy El Prosecutor’s Office has also decided that the issue of apologies is beyond their jurisdiction.
During the press-conference Mr. Rzhavin’s official representative in the European Court, international protection expert of the Interregional Committee Against Torture Anton Ryzhov stated that the victim and his representatives were, nevertheless, if favour of the friendly settlement proposed by the Russian Government. Taking into account the position of the city prosecutor, the ICAT will not insist on an ECtHR judgment disgracing the Mariy El authorities and will accept the friendly settlement terms proposed by Russia. A corresponding agreement signed by the deputy Russian Minister of Justice and Boris F. Rzhavin has been sent to Strasbourg today. Meanwhile, it must be emphasized that the Committee Against Torture will no go for such a modest friendly settlement under other cases of the Mariy El representation of the ICAT and will press both for an ECtHR judgment on the merits and punishment of perpetrators.