Once again the police from Nizhny Novgorod apologized to the victims only after human rights defenders applications


24 May 2017

Superiors of the Ministry of the Interior of Russia for Nizhny Novgorod offered official apologies to Nizami Gasanov and Elshan Zamanov, who were subjected to illegal physical violence by criminal investigation officers of the Avtozavodsky police department in March 2012.  Despite the duty of the police officers to offer apologies to the victims, which is stipulated by the law, the apologies could be obtained only after applications from human rights defenders to the Ministry of the Interior and attracting the attention of the regional ombudsman to this problem. 

(Photo: Nizami Gasanov and Elshan Zamanov)

As we have previously reported, on March 27, 2012 the Nizhny Novgorod office of the Committee Against Torture received applications from Nizami Gasanov and Elshan Zamanov alleging they were subjected to unlawful violence by the police officers of Police Department no. 1 of Nizhny Novgorod Department of Interior. It took the investigators of the Investigative Committee over two and a half years to take it to court. The court proceedings took one and a half year – over sixty court sessions took place, in the course of which the materials of forty four volumes of the criminal case were examined and over fifty witnesses were questioned.

On 19 April 2016 the court declared all the defendants of committing a crime under part 3 Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the RF «Abuse of office performed using violence». Former deputy head of Police Department No.1 of Nizhny Novgorod Vladimir Samsonov and former head of the criminal investigation unit Sergey Alimov were sentenced to 4 years and 6 months of conditional sentence, former head of the crimes against property unit Ivan Vechkanov – to 3 years and 8 months of conditional sentence, former investigating officer Sergey Nikolayev and former Deputy Head of Criminal Department Andrey Balandin – to 3 years and 6 months of conditional sentence; former investigating officer of the Department of Crimes Against Property Evgeny Telenkov – to 3 years and 3 months of conditional sentence.

On 8 November of last year judicial panel of three judges under the chairmanship of judge Ludmila Bakulina upheld the guilty verdict without introducing any significant changes,  decreasing the probation period for the convicts by half a year. The verdict entered into legal force.

During the trial the police officers behaved in a quite obnoxious way: openly demonstrated lack of respect to the victims and their representatives, made numerous groundless accusations of thefts and carjacks, tolerated discrimination on the ground of national origin, the victims often complained against pressure and threats from their side. As a result, not a single defendant confessed guilt, and did not think it necessary to offer apologies to the victim.

However, there is a law “On police” and departmental order, which oblige the head of the department which subordinate performed illegal actions, to offer apologies to the victim. At the same time the timeline should be the shortest possible one, and not exceeding one month from the day of the court verdict entered into legal force. 

But no apologies were offered to Nizami Gasanov and Elshan Zamanov in a month, or later. With regard to this, human rights defenders with the Committee for the Prevention of Torture, representing the interests of the victims, applied to the Ministry of the Interior with a demand to offer an apology. No apologies or any response followed.

In April of this year our lawyers applied to ombudsman for the Nizhny Novgorod region Nadezhda Otdelkina and voiced this problem, namely, the superiors of Nizhny Novgorod police refusing to offer apologies to the victims for crimes of their subordinates. Nadezhda Otdelkina promised her assistance in solving this problem.

Finally, on 22 May lawyers with the Committee for the Prevention of Torture received a reply from the Ministry of Interior that Nizami Gasanov and Elshan Zamanov were offered apologies “on behalf of superiors of the Department of the Ministry of Interior of Russia for Nizhny Novgorod”.

“The practice when the victims have to apply somewhere additionally, write complaints and knock on various doors in order to insist on apologies which they are entitled to according to the law is not acceptable, illegal and humiliating, – lawyer with the Committee for the Prevention of Torture Albert Kuznetsov says. – The police officers very often neglect their duty to offer apologies, inventing various excuses for that . It seems that not only the convicted police officers fail to feel the guilt for the committed crime but their superiors as well. However, I hope that we will be able to change this malpractice and the police representatives will be offering apologies to people who suffered from their actions without our reminders and applications”.

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