Today, five residents of Saint-Petersburg applied to the Investigative Committee with a crime report – they accuse the police officers of illegal use of physical force and electric shockers against them during the protests rally which took place on 21 April of this year. The Investigative Committee refused to register these crime reports as such, having accepted them as common applications from citizens, which don’t require even a procedural check, let alone opening a criminal case. The victims’ interests are represented by the lawyers with the Committee Against Torture.
On 21 April, protest events took place in various cities of our country. In the majority of the cases there was no violence or mass apprehensions, however, this time St. Petersburg became the leader in terms of quantity of the citizens who were apprehended and who complained against the actions of the law-enforcement officers. In addition, many victims reported that electrical shockers were applied against them without any grounds.
Thanks to the prompt communication with the apprehended, non-governmental organization OVD-Info managed to gather information on cases of violence and, with consent of the victims, transfer it to human rights defenders with the Committee Against Torture. Now, lawyers of this organization are working with eight residents of St. Petersburg who became victims of violence.
Five of them applied today to the Investigative Department for the Admiralteyskiy District with the Chief Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the RF for Saint-Petersburg with a crime report. However, the Investigative Committee decided to treat these as citizens’ applications, for which no procedural check is required, let alone opening of a criminal case. Lawyers with the Committee Against Torture will be appealing against this ruling of the investigators.
Short stories of the people who applied today to the Investigative Committee.
Vadim Zabolotskikh explained that he was apprehended together with his 19-year old daughter. In addition, after law-enforcement officers seized Vadim, they started to apply electrical shocker against him. Even when the resident of St.Petersburg told the law-enforcement officers who apprehended him: “I am not offering any resistance, I’m going, don’t hit me with electrical shocker!”, the application of electrical charges against him continued. Subsequently, doctors diagnosed Vadim with bodily injuries, including “areas of point hyperaemia of the internal surface of the right thigh”, which normally are associated with application of electrical shocking devices.
Nikita Kompaneyets and Valeria Gurova told that while they were walking in the city center, without participating in any political event, at some moment they saw six law-enforcement officers who were running in pursuit of an unknown man. When they failed to catch up with him, then they paid attention to Nikita and Valeria and decided to apprehend them. Having seized the residents of St.Petersburg, the law-enforcement officers applied electrical shocker against both of them. Subsequently, based on the results of medical forensic examination, electrical marks were found on both the young men.
Nikita Ogrenich explained that he was seized when he was making a video record of the police vans. It was already after the police officers started to lead Nikita to the police van that the electrical shockers were applied against him. After that the young man felt bad – he has a heart condition and arrhythmia developed. Nikita’s electrical trauma was also subsequently registered by the doctor.
Mariya Kasyanenko said that after the law-enforcement officers seized her hands and started to apply electrical shocker against her, one of the law-enforcement officers said: “Do I look like a joker?!” and she replied: “No, more like a sadist”, after that she received another discharge. Based on the result of medical forensic examination, electric marks were found on Mariya which, in the expert’s opinion, could have developed after at least 4 cases of electrical shocker impact.
Previously, the Chief Directorate of the Ministry of the Interior of Russia for Saint-Petersburg evaluated the law-enforcement officers’ actions during the event as legal, but lawyers with the Committee Against Torture did not agree with the statement of the authority.
“The law indeed allows the police officers and the National Guard officers to apply physical force and special equipment in certain situations. However, all these situations are clearly described in Article 21 of the Law on police and in the corresponding article of the law on the national guard. Moreover, part 1 of Article 22 of the law on police explicitly prohibits applying special equipment during the suppression of non-violent events of illegal nature if they do not violate public order, do not disrupt public transport, communications and organizations’ work, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Vladimir Smirnov comments. – From the explanations of the residents of St.Petersburg it follows that the electrical shockers were applied against them already after they were apprehended, when all of their actions (even if they are regarded as a violation) had been already suppressed. In fact, the shockers were applied against them in retrospect.