Today, on 15 June 2020, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture submitted applications in the interests of five participants of the protest rallies that took place in Moscow in summer 2019 to the European Court of Human Rights. All the applicants complained about illegal use of physical force against them by police officers and Russian National Guard, as well as about the fact that the Investigative Committee refused even to check these complaints. In addition, human rights defenders think that articles of the European Convention, guaranteeing the right to freedom and personal integrity, the right to fair court examination and the right to freedom of gathering were violated with regard to the applicants.
Аs we have previously reported, five citizens applied to the Committee Against Torture reporting illegal violence by law-enforcement officers during the public events in Moscow in summer 2019. Aleksandr Glushak reported that on 27 July a Rosgvardiya officer hit him with electric shocker and a truncheon in Kamergersky Pereulok. Nikolay Andreichev reported that on the same day the police officers beat him up at Strastnoy Bulevard breaking his arm. Three more citizens reported illegal police violence on 3 August: Mikhail Fayto informed that he was beaten up by the police officers during his transportation to the Department of the Interior for the Pechatniki District of Moscow, Aleksandr Svidersky informed that he was beaten up by the police officers during apprehension at the Trubnaya Square, and later on – in the police van, as well, and Petr Khromov told about his illegal apprehension and the fact that the police officers applied submission holds against him at the Trubnaya Square, as well.
On 21 August 2019, the crime reports were submitted to the Investigative Committee of Russia based on all the five complaints. However, pre-investigative checks were not performed on any of these reports. Despite the requirements of the law and departmental instructions, the officers of the Investigative Committee central office registered all the crime reports as the citizens’ applications (for which no pre-investigative check is required) and submitted them to the inferior authority – Chief Investigative Directorate for Moscow. From there they were forwarded to other agencies: to the Chief Directorate of the Ministry of the Interior of Russia for Moscow and to the Department of Internal Security of Rosgvardiya for Moscow, i.e., to the same agencies, the officers of which were accused by the applicants of committing crimes. The applicants received notifications that superiors of these agencies do not detect any violations in the actions of the officers of the Ministry of the Interior and Rosgvardiya.
“Only the Investigative Committee can draw a conclusion whether the officers of the Ministry of the Interior and Rosgvardiya exceeded their authority or not. In Russia, only this agency has a right to conduct a check on abuse of office and initiate criminal proceedings based on these cases, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Anastasia Garina explains. – Any conclusions from the side of the Ministry of the Interior or Rosgvardiya about the absence of such violations in the actions of the law-enforcement officers have about same amount of value as conclusions about this by Rospotrebnadzor or the Ministry of Culture: naturally, no one prohibits them from expressing themselves on the subject, but they cannot investigate applications on illegal use of physical violence by law-enforcement officers and issue their verdict whether this really happened or not”.
At the national level, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture have repeatedly tried to appeal against the reluctance of the Investigative Committee to perform the check with regard to applications of the rally participants. On 4 October 2019, human rights defenders submitted five applications to the Presnensky District Court of Moscow against the illegal redirection of crime reports from the Investigative Committee to police and Rosgvardiya. On 9 October 2019, the court refused to accept the complaints for proceedings, having deemed that the applicants are trying to appeal against the ruling of the executive the authority of which is not related to execution of criminal prosecution. These court rulings were appealed against at the appellate instance, however, on 16 December 2019, the Moscow City Court dismissed the applications.
The request regarding bringing to criminal responsibility the executive whose authority, as it was established by the court, were not related to execution of criminal prosecution, and which, nevertheless, took the decision regarding the crime report, was also dismissed. For some reason, the Investigative Committee did not consider it necessary to investigate the report on abuse of office. This ruling will also be appealed against shortly.
In addition, in 2019 the actions of the Investigative Committee Central Office officer were appealed against. From the very start she registered the reports on crime committed with regard to the five applicants as standard applications from citizens which do not require a check. The court refused to examine these applications, either, and the appellate instance upheld this conclusion.
In February 2020, the following applications were submitted – this time, against the inaction of the Investigative Committee in the part of failure to conduct a check. The first instance did not agree to the human defenders’ arguments, either. Now they have submitted appellate complaints, which are not yet examined.
“We think that all the legal remedies existing at the national level, have been exhausted, – Anastasia Garina emphasizes. – Today we submitted five complaints to the European Court of Human Rights, in which we reported not only about the violation of rights of our applicants under Article 3 of the European Convention “Prohibition of torture”, but also of rights under Articles 5, 6, 11 and 13. They involve the right to freedom and personal integrity, right to fair court examination, right to freedom of gathering, right to effective legal remedy, accordingly. Apart from the fact that the applicants complain about illegal violence, they also mention illegal apprehensions at rallies, and about trials to bring them to administrative responsibility which involved serious violations of the international law requirements”.