In the framework of the criminal case on tortures of Nikita Danishkin in the Nizhny Novgorod Anti-Extremism Center (AEC) in 2010, the Investigative Committee investigators interrogated five former officers of this center, including Aleksey Trifonov, who at that moment was its head. Even at this early stage, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture, representing the interests of the victim, express reasonable doubts concerning the objectiveness and effectiveness of the investigation.
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 submitted the crime report about battery to 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.
Since over one and a half years after the ruling of the European Court the criminal case with regard to these events was never opened, on 21 January 2019, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture applied to the Committee of the Ministers of the Council of Europe asking to pose questions to the representatives of the Ministry of the Foreign Affairs of Russia related to the execution of the ruling of the European Court with regard to Nikita Danishkin’s complaint.
However, on 9 February, investigator Busarov issued the tenth refusal, which was appealed against by human rights defenders during the personal appointment with Deputy Head of the Regional Investigative Department Dmitry Kanonerov.
On 7 November 2019 a criminal case was initiated based on the fact of Danishkin’s tortures under item a Part 3 of Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the RF (“abuse of office using violence”).
During December and January investigators Svetlana Samarina and Roman Kovalev conducted interrogations of five former officers of the Nizhny Novgorod Anti-Extremism Center, as well as face-to-face confrontations between them and the victim. All the interrogated so far are regarded by the investigation as witnesses, there are no suspects or defendants in the case yet.
“Even at this early stage we already have serious doubts concerning the objectivity and effectiveness of the investigation: instead of interrogating the law-enforcement officers at the scene of crime and check the version of events they come up with, the investigator once again requested that Nikita undergo psychophysiological examination with the use of a polygraph. Despite the fact that polygraphologists’ conclusions are not accepted as evidence according to the legal philosophy of the Supreme Court and the Prosecutor’s Office, Nikita is made to pass this examination for the third time, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Yulya Balandina comments. – At the same time, none of the law-enforcement officers was sent by the investigative authorities to undergo this test. The investigator is persistently ignoring the controversies in the words of the questioned witnesses, who predictably tell they don’t remember the details of that day because it was a long time ago. Unfortunately, the Investigative Committee representatives did not try very hard that their memory came back to them during the investigative activities”.
That is how victim Nikita Danishkin comments on the conducted face-to-face confrontations: “Former AEC officers treat these investigative activities as an entertainment, being totally confident of their impunity, and the investigative authorities does not give them the reasons to doubt that they are right. Judging by the behavior of the investigator who is conducting conversations with former AEC officers before each face-to-face confrontation, and by the questions he poses, they will try to sweep this case under the carpet. We would not like this to end this way, taking into account that due to the coming expiry of the period of limitations for bringing to criminal responsibility the people who tortured me would be able to escape from punishment”.