On April 16, 2012 we learnt about resumption of proceedings in connection with incitement of underage Artem Kislitsin, Sergey Bogdanov and Vladimir Romanov to suicide after seven years of suspension. The case file was submitted to the Sernur Interdistrict Investigative Department of the Investigative Administration of the Russian Investigative Committee for the Republic of Mariy El for additional investigation.
We would like to recall the details of those tragic events when three teens committed collective suicide. On March 3, 2005 they were detained by police agents of the Sernur District Department of Internal Affairs in connection with theft of rabbits committed the day before in one of Sernur households. The police agents later stated in the framework of a prosecutorial check that “they had simply talked to the teenagers without putting any moral or physical pressure on them, while the teens had repented and shown where they had hidden the stolen rabbits”.
However, the teens told their relatives that the confessions had been forced out of them. After that, instead of going for another interrogation, at night on March 9, 2005 they committed collective suicide. What could have happened during the interrogation 6 days before, if the boys chose painful death instead of another talk with law enforcers? It must be noted that the interrogation had been conducted with apparent violations – neither relatives, teachers, nor legal representatives had been invited to the police department to participate in it.
One of the teens’ mothers, Elvira Kislitsina, complained about police abuse to the Prosecutor’s Office, however, criminal proceedings were not instigated. When another refusal to instigate criminal proceedings against the police was quashed by the Sernur district court and the Mariy El Supreme Court upheld the first instance court judgment, CAT lawyers representing Ms. Kislitsina’s interests applied to the ECtHR.
In 2011 the Russian Federation acknowledged European Convention violations in Elvira Kislitsina v. Russia and signed a friendly settlement agreement undertaking to pay the mother compensation of moral damage resulting from her son’s death.
With regard to acknowledgement of violations by the Russian Federation, on November 22, 2011 CAT lawyers applied to the Sernur District Prosecutor’s Office for resumption of the pre-trial investigation terminated seven years before. Although there were several refusals and a series of appellate proceedings initiated both by the CAT and prosecutorial bodies, the supervisory instance had to agree with the reasoning of human rights defenders and re-open the case.
Head of the Mariy El representation of INGO “Committee Against Torture” Dmitry Yegoshin has commented on the news as follows: “We are glad that the proceedings have been finally resumed, now there is some hope that police agents in charge of the crime will be held responsible. They have breach the law of criminal procedure and were acting not as required by law, but as they were used to (they said “we were acting in the framework of the established practice”). By the way, these people are still state agents, now in the reformed police”.