On 1 September 2015 Vitaliy Popov from Orenburg was transported from Police Department No.1 to the Municipal Clinical Hospital named after Pirogov in a critical condition. Doctors diagnosed Mr Popov with a craniocerebral injury, severe brain contusion, multiple skull and facial bones fractures, as well as fracture of an arm. The man was lucky to survive, having emerged from coma five days after his hospitalization. On 14 September Victor’s wife Lidiya Popova applied to the Committee for Prevention of Torture for legal assistance. Human rights defenders initiated a public investigation based on her application.
(Photo: Vitaliy Popov)
As it has been revealed, on the night of 1 September 2015 Vitaliy Popov, having paid a visit to his mother, was going home, where his wife and a son were waiting for him. In the street Patrol-Guard Service officers stopped him to check his ID. Vitaliy reported his ID data, the police officers transmitted the information via walky-talky and received an order to take the man to the police department since he was in the federal wanted list with regard to failure to perform the verdict of the Gatchinskiy Municipal Court of the Leningrad region. In fact, previously Vitaliy used to live in Gatchina with his first wife, their family relationships went wrong, and his wife filed for divorce and alimony. In 2007 the Gatchinsky City Court sentenced Vitaliy to one year of correctional labor for non-support. Vitaliy admits that by that moment he had a new family and carelessly forgot about the verdict, and in 2008 he and his family moved to Orenburg, his small motherland. In 2010 Vitaliy fulfilled all the alimony obligations and thought this issue was resolved.
However, on 1 September 2015 after he was taken to the police department Vitaliy learned that in 2008 the Gatchinskiy City Court changed his punishment from correctional labor to 4 months of prison term in a penal colony settlement.
According to Vitaliy, he spent about an hour in the police department. When he saw other detained go in the courtyard for a smoke he asked the police officer if he could also go out to have a cigarette. That is how Vitaliy recalls his last minutes of being conscious: «In the courtyard I walked back and forth and had a smoke. I was haunted by the thoughts on what would happen when I get back home. When I finished smoking, I threw the cigarette butt in the trash bin and remained outside, standing with my back to the entrance door, 2-3 m from it. I heard steps near the entrance door, then I felt buzzing in my ears and my vision darkened».
Vitaliy recovered his senses later at hospital.
After Vitaliy’s wife Liliya applied to the Committee for Prevention of Torture for legal assistance human rights defenders helped her to draw up a crime report, which was sent to the Investigative Committee.
«For two months investigator of the investigative department for Southern Administrative District of Orenburg of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Orenburg region merely gave appearance of work. Due to prolonged inaction of the Investigative Committee’s official we had to submit a court complaint, – lawyer of the Committee for Prevention of Torture, representing the interests of Vitaliy Popov, Albina Mudarisova comments. – Having satisfied our complaint, the court compelled the investigative authorities to rectify the violation, and a special ruling was issued with regard to head of the regional Investigative Committee Sertgey Kolotov – «for taking appropriate measures to prevent such violations in future».
After that the investigative body performed verification activities (including forensic medical and situational examinations, which human rights defenders insisted upon). As a result on 15 February 2016 a criminal case was opened against an identified person under item «а» part 3 Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation («Abuse of office using violence»).
On 1 April 2016 Vitaliy Popov was declared a victim in this criminal case and questioned by the investigator about the circumstances of what happened to him in the police department.
Albina Mudarisova: «In fact the case is rather difficult for investigation – the victim does not remember what happened to him at the police department. The police officers, in their turn, claim that Vitaliy attempted to flee, climbed up the wall and, having failed to take hold, fell down. However, this theory was overcome by the results of the situational expert examination, conducted after the testimony of one of the police officers, who, allegedly, witnessed Vitaliy Popov’s fall. Thus, the conclusions of the expert who conducted the situational expert examination, describe several injurious exposures, which excludes the theory that the victim got his injuries as a result from falling from an altitude exceeding his body height. We are also concerned about the fact that out of all the cameras installed in the police department the one showing the courtyard failed on that day».