Russian Government is to pay Aleksandr Novoselov from Nizhny Novgorod EUR 27,500 for an "operative drill"

Событие | Пресс центр

28 November 2013

On 28 November 2013 the European Court of Human Rights delivered judgment in the case of Aleksandr Novoselov, a man from Nizhny Novgorod who was in 2004 abducted by police officers, taken to the forest and under torture forced to confess to an attempted murder of a notorious businessman from Nizhny Novgorod, Oleg Sorokin. Later all the charges were dropped against Aleksandr, and what he had been subjected to was explained as some «operative drill» conducted by the police. However, the ECHR came to the conclusion that Mr Novoselov was tortured by representatives of state authorities, and the inquiry into his allegations of ill-treatment was «superficial and formalistic». The European Court held that Russia is to pay the applicant EUR 27,500.

(Photo: Aleksandr Novoselov)

Previously, in May 2005 Aleksandr Novoselov applied to the Committee Against Torture seeking legal assistance. According to the applicant, at about 10 a.m. on 27 April 2004, on one of central squares of the city, he was stopped by several men he was not acquainted with. The men dragged him into a car, beat up and drove to a forest in Balakhinskiy district of Nizhny Novgorod region. Shortly after, a white all-road car arrived there, and several men stepped out of it. One of them, as Mr Novoselov insists, looked very much like businessman Sorokin. The men were threatening Aleksandr with a gun and beating him, accusing him of an attempt to murder the businessman. Then a man in camouflage rammed a gun in the applicant’s mouth, making his lower lip bleed. Aleksandr once again denied any involvement in the attempt on the businessman’s life, and the men put a plastic bag over his head, cutting off the air supply. The man looking like Oleg Sorokin said: «Take an axe, let’s cut his leg off». Seeing an axe in one of the men’s hands, Aleksandr felt fear for his life and decided to sign the statements wanted from him. The men also made a video record of him giving confession statements.

The battery resulted in serious bodily injuries. Aleksandr was later diagnosed with contusion of the right kidney, a brain contusion, bruising of the soft tissue of the face and limbs, blood in the urine, a subarachnoid haemorrhage and a fracture of the right ninth rib and other injuries.
Mr Novoselov firstly filed complaint with the Prosecutor’s Office. The investigative body refused to initiate criminal proceedings against the police officers, assertedly basing this decision on the results of a pre-investigation inquiry. The reasoning was the following: Aleksandr Novoselov appeared to have been involved in an operative drill performed by the Directorate of the Interior for Nizhny Novgorod region servicemen, and one of them «was disguised as O.V. Sorokin».

The decision issued by the Prosecutor’s Office was upheld by the Nizhegorodskiy District Court on 24 June 2005.

Having failed to attain justice on the national level, on 24 December 2005 lawyers of the Committee Against Torture lodged the relevant application with the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of Aleksandr Novoselov.

Anton Ryzhov, the Committee Against Torture expert in international law, explains that the European Court judges «found a violation of the substantive aspect of Article 3 of the Convention, noting that the accumulation of acts of violence and threats inflicted on the applicant amounted to torture. The Court underlined that the police officers acted in a ruthless and violent manner and the operation was conducted with full knowledge and consent of their superiors in the Regional Department of the Interior. The Court considered that such actions on the part of the authorities have no place in a democratic society and are in itself in contravention of the States’ obligations under Article 3 of the Convention».

What is more, the Court held that the domestic investigation into the applicant’s torture complaint was ineffective, which as well comprises a violation of Article 3 of the Convention.
For these reasons, the Court held that Russia is to pay Aleksandr Novoselov EUR 27,500.

Head of Nizhny Novgorod Investigation Department of the Committee Against Torture Dmitry Utukin comments on the news: «This ECHR judgment is not the full stop in this situation. Now we are going to demand that criminal proceedings be initiated concerning the established fact of torture. Nevertheless, we don’t raise our hopes too high, for the statute of limitations under relevant article expires next year in April».