Sudden death in a Nizhny Novgorod colony


25 September 2008

The Investigation Committee intends to stop investigating the outrageous crime committed by law enforcement agents.The investigation into the murder of a 26-year old man from the closed city of Sarov (

Nizhny Novgorod region) has lasted two years already.

    On 19 April 2007 Ms. Vera Tsarapkina from Sarov (Nizhny Novgorod region) applied to the Committee against Torture. She reported that her son Mr. Oleg Tsarapkin who had been serving his sentence in colony 14 (Sukhobezvodnoye, Nizhny Novgorod region) had died of acute meningitis. Among her son’s personal belongings she found a notice addressed to the regional prosecutor in which Oleg claimed that he had been tortured in course of the preliminary investigation. Ms. Tsarapkina thinks that her son died through violence.  
At first, the Sukhobezvodninsk Prosecutor’s office for supervision of law compliance in penal institutions conducted a series of checks.  In 2007 this prosecutor’s office issued several refusals to start criminal proceedings because the reason of Mr. Tsarapkin’s death had been acute meningitis. However, the medical examination showed that Mr. Tsarapkin’s meningitis had resulted from an injury. In other words, some one hit Oleg on the head, the blow provoked the disease and further death. Besides, multiple injuries (bruises on his neck and penis) were found on Oleg’s body. It should be mentioned that Oleg was kept in a single cell and there were no other inmates. Only the colony staff could get access to him. Oleg’s lawyer saw him on January 5, 2007, that is two days before the death. He felt good and did not complain of the detention conditions. So, what could be the reason of Mr. Tsarapkin’s death who was very healthy and had hardly ever fallen ill? Flash-like meningitis or an injury that caused the disease?
To answer these question deputy regional prosecutor Tkachyov instigated a criminal case under art. 105 of the RF Criminal Code (murder) on May 3, 2007.  In summer 2007 Vera Tsarapkina insisted on exhumation of her son’s body and sent it for an additional examination to the 111th Senior State Forensic and Criminalistic Examination Centre to Moscow. That examination confirmed that meningitis had resulted from a brain injury. But nevertheless, the investigation failed to find the perpetrators.   
After the law enforcement system reform in September 2007 the criminal case was submitted to the Semyonovsk interdistrict investigation department of the investigation administration under the RF Prosecutor’s Office for Nizhny Novgorod region.
There, the investigator decided to carry out the third complex examination in order to determine the cause of Tsarapkin’s death.  However, he was not in a hurry to prolong the preliminary investigation period and preferred to suspend it, he also did not acknowledge Ms. Vera Tsarapkina victim under the case.  This was made only in August 2008, that is, a year and a half after the criminal proceedings were initiated. The examination lasted 8 (eight!!!) months and was unlawful because it was not carried out in the framework of the preliminary investigation. It refutes the results of two previous examinations and witnesses that Mr. Tsarapkin’s death was not violent and the meningitis developed by itself. Now the investigation is resumed, but the investigator plans to stop the proceedings referring to the results of the third examination.
At present specialists of the Committee against torture are preparing a petition to the Semyonovsk interdistrict investigation department for it to declare the third examination unlawful, and a claim to the head of the Investigation administration under the RF Prosecutor’s Office for Nizhny Novgorod region in connection with the fact that the investigator did not maintain the preliminary investigation term and conducted investigation activity (examination) in breach of the Criminal Procedure Code when the proceedings were suspended.   

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