Nizhny Novgorod: joint press-conference of the Committee Against Torture and Agora “Persecution of civil activists. Role of the Anti-Extremism Centre and Prosecutor’s Office”


03 April 2012

On March 15 in the Interfax-Povolzhye press-centre there was a press-conference entitled “Persecution of civil activists. Role of the Anti-Extremism Centre and Prosecutor’s Office”, organized by the Interregional Committee Against Torture and Interregional Human Rights Organization “Agora”. Besides heads of these human rights NGOs – Igor Kalyapin and Pavel Chikov – among the participants there were representatives of Nizhny Novgorod anti-fascists, lawyer Dmitry Dinze (St.-Petersburg), lawyer Svetlana Loktionova (Nizhny Novgorod), Artem Sokolov detained on March 10 during a civil procession in Nizhny Novgorod, and victim Oleg Silvestrov abused during that action (telcon from hospital).

Despite the problems at issue, human rights defenders could not refrain from discussing the facts of the notorious case about cruel tortures exercised by the Kazan police in respect of detainee Sergey Nazarov and leading to his death. Pavel Chikov opened the conference by commenting on this high-profile case, as his organization is conducting a public investigation of this fact.

In reply to journalists’ question why tortures take place and what can be done about it, Agora head said the following: “Unfortunately, when a young man gets a job at a law enforcement agency, especially as an operative investigator, he immediately finds himself in an environment where he cannot but use force against detainees. Every operative investigator has several superiors who have been working in that structure since the 90-s and know very well how everything should be arranged, so they just summon the newcomer and tell him: “Should I teach you how to deal with detainees?” Thus, an environment encouraging ill-treatment is created.

Having narrated about the tacit strategy of the Investigative Committee which can be summarized in one phrase “no body – no case”, Pavel Chikov expressed his assurance that if Sergey Nazarov had not died, there would have been no such coverage, and gave several concrete examples: “Following the incident in Dalny we received 8 applications, all containing similar stories with the participation of the same operative investigators: beatings, threats of putting a bottle into the anus. Seven (!) out of eight victims had applied to the Investigative Committee, moreover, some of them had also applied to the Internal Security Directorate, called the trust line, written to the prosecutor! ” This prompt a question: “What the hell, what’s going on? Problems with the Interior Ministry are obvious, but there is another team which is committing an equal amount of violations! If the Investigative Committee had instigated at least one criminal case last year (those events took place in recent 12 months), Sergey Nazarov would have probably been alive.”

During the press-conference participants of the March 10 civil procession in Nizhny Novgorod Artem Sokolov and Oleg Silvestrov, who joined the discussion by phone from hospital, spoke about their detention, lawyer of one of the victims of unlawful detention Svetlana Loktionova  also gave her assessment of law enforcers’ actions and court findings.  Lawyer Dmitry Dinze spoke about anti-fascists’ persecution and ill-treatment by the police. 

Committee Against Torture Chairman Igor Kalyapin gave his assessment of the legality of law enforcers’ actions (according to him, they found themselves compelled to enforce the ban imposed by the city administration) aimed at suppressing the unauthorized public action of March 10, and pointed out: “You just listened to Oleg Silvestrov over the phone, he has a number of injuries, including concussion, and is still in hospital. You have heard that an OMON officer hit Silvestrov several times in the head to punish  him for creeping under the bus – surely, you just can’t avoid pasting one in the head after such audacity…

Despite huge experience of lawful suppression of similar actions, the Nizhny Novgorod police has suddenly forgotten that detention records must be prepared within 3 hours, it has suddenly forgotten that detainees should be kept in special places envisaged by law, it has forgotten that it should allow detainees to contact their lawyers. Thus, in police department no.5 lawyers were prevented from seeing their clients, and in police department no.7 representatives of the Public Monitoring Commission were denied the right to exercise their powers, i.e. enter the police department and check detention conditions there.

What happened in the morning, when people were placed and kept in a bus, in my opinion, can be qualified as a crime, since the detention records of the majority of those people stated that they had been released in the evening on March 10, nevertheless, in the morning on March 11 in Rozhdestvenskaya Street I personally saw a bus with detainees who had spent the night in police department no. 7. I demanded that they should let me inside the bus, I heard people in the bus asking the police to let them out to go to the toilette. In reply to that a Special-Purpose Battalion captain who was a senior there said: “Have you tried weeping?” I mean that was his only reaction.”

Igor Kalyapin underlined that the police did not have any legal grounds to detain those people. He also said that in breach of Federal Law no.76-FZ representatives of the PMC were not allowed to visit detainees in police departments, moreover, Sovietsky district Prosecutor Filatov was present when head of police department no. 7 colonel Kornilov refused to let public monitors in, after a long pause he said that the police had lawfully detained rally participants, but he failed to explain why public monitors were prevented from talking to them.

At the end of his speech the CAT head summarized that the biggest problem lay in the lack of adequate reaction to such violations from any state body, and also wondered why there were no cases instigated against the police and respective police department heads, why no proceedings were initiated upon the fact of Oleg Silvestrov’s beatings, why justice was one-sided only and the law was not a deterrent for officials. 

Regarding the Anti-Extremism Centre under the Nizhny Novgorod Regional Directorate of the Interior Igor Kalyapin said the following: “I have no other definition for the activities of this operational unit in the recent two months, but “promotion of extremist acts”, because individuals who, in my opinion, are showing their quite legal civil position, who do not commit any violations, are nevertheless involved in  unexplainable procedures (they are detained, charged with faked up administrative offenses they have nothing to do with) by the E-Centre. ”

The speaker gave a number of examples of unlawful actions in respect of both civil activists and members of his organization, for instance, the E-Centre staff simply refused to execute judgments unfavourable for them, saying: “go and lodge another complaint about us, the more complaints there are, the more our superiors appreciate our work”.


Of the Interregional Committee against Torture

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