We have already told you about the Bashkirian police officer nicknamed SS and Gestapo – these are the names he is well-known under in law enforcement bodies of Ufa city. At least seven individuals who at various times applied to the Committee Against Torture complaining about his «means of interrogation» have the misfortune to know him under the same names. Despite their statements and all the evidence against him collected by human rights defenders, criminal proceedings against the torturer are repeatedly discontinued, and he has been successfully accepted back to the police to work as a district police officer.
At the beginning of November 2012 the Bashkortostan regional branch of the INGO «Committee Against Torture» received an application from Garnik Mkrtchan, who asked to carry out a public investigation into his situation. The man complained that he had been subjected to torture in the Organized Crime Unit of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Bashkortistan. The applicant knew the name of the officer who had tortured him – Sergey Sergeevich Kozhevnikov. According to Garnik, he was tortured with a tow rope, gas mask and electricity. The incident attracted a lot of public attention. On 13 November 2012 «The Fifth Channel» broadcast a report on it. The journalists informed public that there had appeared a police department in Bashkortostan that could become as notorious as the «Dalniy» department in Kazan.
Having compared the information from Mr Mkrtchan to the information gathered during the work on other applicants’ situations, the human rights defenders discovered an interesting fact. Complaints of at least six other applicants of the Committee contain evidence of one and the same public official being implicated in torture. Our examination of these materials provides grounds to believe that all the alleged torture cases have one and the same perpetrator. This conclusion is supported by the fact that all the victims describe the same methods of torture, means and tools, appearance and mention one and the same name – Sergey Sergeevich.
Nevertheless, investigative bodies of the Bashkortostan Republic have never been eager to conduct an effective investigation into the above mentioned circumstances. And it is no surprise, for the pre-investigation inquiries basing on applications from two of the victims, Mr Sidorenko and Mr Khamatkhanov, were carried out by investigators of the same department which they had allegedly been tortured in. Moreover, according to the applicants, they were subjected to torture in order to make them give confession statements to these very investigators.
Not seeing any prospects for an impartial investigation on this level, at the end of 2012 lawyers with the Committee Against Torture applied to the Chairman of the Investigative Committee of Russia Aleksandr Bastrykin asking him to join the proceedings concerning «Gestapo» into one case, to transfer it for further investigation to the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee for Volga Federal District or to the Central Office of the Investigative Committee of Russia, and to take the proceedings under his personal control.
However, they have never been in the habit of taking human rights defenders’ opinion into account in the Investigative Committee. In breach of relevant departmental rules and instructions they referred the request to the department which the complaint was filed against – Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee for the Republic of Bashkortostan. It goes without saying, the local Investigative Committee department failed to discover any violations.
Human rights defenders have to state that the proceedings under which Mr Mkrtchan is acknowledged victim are being hushed up. Necessary investigative activities are not performed. Lawyers with the Committee Against Torture have been trying to gain access to participation in the proceedings as the victim’s representatives, but their motions are always dismissed by courts and investigators for fictitious reasons. Pre-investigation inquiries into complaints of the others who have allegedly been tortured by «Gestapo» are all followed by refusals to open criminal proceedings. Human rights defenders subsequently appeal against all these decisions.
Considering that there has been no progress in any of the proceedings against the Bashkirian «gestapo man», and national broadcasters seem to be more interested in them than investigating authorities, human rights defenders have again applied to the Head of the Investigative Committee of Russia.
The second application sent to Aleksandr Bastrykin contains the same request to join the proceedings concerning «Gestapo» into one case, to transfer it for further investigation to the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee for Volga Federal District or to the Central Office of the Investigative Committee of Russia, and to take the proceedings under his personal control. Notifications of these facts have as well been sent to the Prosecutor General Yury Chayka, Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin, and to the Chairman of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights Mikhail Fedotov.
Meanwhile, nothing prevents Sergey Sergeevich Kozhevnikov, also known as «SS» and «Gestapo», from being employed as a district police officer in Alkino village of Chishminskiy district of the Bashkortostan Republic. «Closer to common people», says a lawyer of the Committee’s Bashkirian regional branch Dmitry Solodkiy with bitter irony, «Now, if he feels like turning back to his old methods, the police won’t even have to take the trouble to detain someone, for people often come to their district officer for help».