Open appeal of the Chairman of the Committee Against Torture to the Minister of the Interior Affairs of the Russian Federation

Событие | Пресс центр

15 November 2015

To Minister of the Interior Affairs of the Russian Federation Mr. V.A.Kolokoltsev

Open appeal

Dear Vladimir Aleksandrovich!

Yesterday, on 14 July 2015, on the website of the Civil Society Institutions and Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation there was published the answer of Deputy Minister of the Interior Affairs of the Russian Federation Mr. Aleksandr Savenkov related to the results of check of the police officers’ actions during the response to the attack on the office of the Committee Against Torture in Chechnya. Among other things, your Deputy answered to the Adviser to the President of Russia Mikhail Fedotov: «In relation to the information reported in your application on the delayed reaction to the crime report an agency check has been performed, based on its results no violations in the actions of the officers of the Ministry of the Interior for the Chechen Republic have been established». When reading this answer an involuntarily conclusion comes to mind. Either the information reported in Mr Savenkov’s letter shall be treated as absurd, since it contradicts to obvious facts, which we are going to mention below. Or with such an answer the management of the Ministry of the Interior of the Russian Federation is trying to convince the Council under the President of Russia that the bashing of accommodation and office premises in the broad daylight that lasted for two hours without any reaction of the police officers is something quite common and normal in our country.

We do not think it is normal, that’s why we shall take the liberty of reminding of the circumstances of our office’s bashing and total permissiveness by the law-enforcement agencies. On 3 June 2015 at 10 a.m. in the yard of house № 19 of Roza Luxemburg Street in Grozny, where INGO «The Committee Against Torture» is stationed, a several-thousand strong protest rally took place. It is worth noting that there were no police officers noticed at the time of the event.

At a certain moment a group of young people with faces covered with masks appeared in the gathered crowd. These people started to hit at the glass and the car body of the vehicle parked near the house which belonged to the Committee Against Torture, using bars and sledgehammers.

Then, upon entering the communal entrance hallway, the same people started to break into apartment №18 entrance door where the lawyers of the Committee Against Torture were located. When the human rights defenders, afraid for their safety, escaped from the office through the apartment’s window, the bandits who entered apartment № 18 started to destroy the organization’s equipment and other property that was there.

Later on these people started to break into the entrance door and the door to apartment 17, which was also rented by the Committee Against Torture and where the organization’s members were residing. The door breaking was performed with the use of bars, sledgehammers as well as with angle drive grinder. Having entered into the accommodation premises the unidentified persons started to destroy the equipment and furniture as well as perform damage to human defenders’ belongings.

Practically right after the unidentified persons started their unlawful actions members of the Committee Against Torture who were located in Nizhny Novgorod, called the police dispatch centers of the Departments of Interior for the Chechen Republic and the city of Grozny and reported about the crime in progress.

Itemization of calls from the Nizhny Novgorod office of the Committee Against Torture

After about two hours, when no police officers arrived to the scene of crime, the member of the Committee Against Torture from Nizhny Novgorod once again got through to the Department of Interior for the city of Grozny and reported that unidentified persons who broke inside the apartment are destroying the property belonging to the Committee Against Torture. However, the police squad did not arrive after that and the actions of unidentified persons were not stopped.

The statement of the Deputy Minister of the Interior for the Chechen Republic Apti Alaudinov that the police squad went to the scene of the incident right after the information on the commotion near the office of the Committee Against Torture in Grozny was received, and that in 45 minutes after the signal was received there were some persons detained, does not stand up to scrutiny.

According to Apti Alaudinov, it turns out that the police officers were at the scene of the incident at 11.35 and were detaining the pogrom-makers. However, numerous witnesses, and, which is the most important thing, the unbiased data of the video surveillance cameras tell that it was only 11.43 when apartment № 17 door was filed away with angle drive grinder, after that the burglars were crushing everything inside for a long
time.

The described events (unlawful actions of masked men) started around half past eleven in the morning and lasted for about one and a half – two hours. We would like point out that during this time, despite the official reports on the crime being committed in the center of the Chechen capital, the police officers did not perform any measures to stop the criminal activity, did not detain the persons who committed the crime, although they had all the possibilities for that.

Notably, the described events received wide response in the media and attracted public attention. The information about the incident, including a large number of photo and video materials with registered criminal activity of unidentified persons, is available on the Internet. The situation with the bashing of the human rights defenders office was discussed during the special session of the Council under Russia’s President on Civil Society Institutions and Human Rights.

The RF Ministry of Interior representative Vadim Gaydov was present at the session, who confirmed that the telephone message about the incident was received and registered by the police officers at 10.50. Based on the results of session the Council submitted an appeal at your address asking you to provide objective evaluation of inaction of the Chechen police officers.
 
And so yesterday, 14 July 2015, the Council under the President of Russia issued an answer signed by your deputy A.V.Savenkov, according to which «no violations in actions of the Ministry of the Interior for the Chechen Republic have been revealed».

It has to be emphasized that in the framework of the agency check the members of the Committee Against Torture, who witnessed the events, were not questioned. No documents or photo or video materials were requested from our organization.

Due to this fact we cannot consider the check performed by the Ministry of the Interior of the Russian Federation to be comprehensive and objective, and its conclusions – well-grounded.

In view of the above we strongly urge you to institute an additional agency check, which would comprehensively and objectively evaluate the police officers’ actions and establish the reasons and motives for such behavior.

In the framework of the new inquiry we ask you to examine and evaluate the facts and circumstances, listed in the information sheet and attachments to it which are attached to this appeal.

Chairman of INGO «The Committee Against Torture»
I.A.Kalyapin

Similar appeals asking to conduct a check of the police officers actions during the response to the attack on the office of the Committee Against Torture in Grozny on 3 June 2015 will be sent to Chairman of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation Aleksandr Bastrykin, General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation Yury Chayka and Human-rights Ombudsman of Russia Ella Pamfilova.