During the night from 20 to 21 of January at the Nizhny Novgorod train station lawyer Anton Ryzhov, member of the INGO “Committee Against Torture” Board, was detained upon leaving the train, he was returning from Chechnya where he had participated in the Joint Mobile Group of Russian human rights defenders.
Several Nizhny Novgorod traffic police officers were waiting for him near the carriage. Having checked his passport, they claimed that they needed to check his identity via their databases allegedly because he did not look like his passport photo. After that the police ordered Mr. Ryzhov to go to the police department located near the train station. There were five officers altogether. At the police department they also decided to check Ryzhov’s bags to find out whether or not he had “items prohibited in the RF” on him. As Ryzhov did not possess such objects, he voluntarily showed what he had in his bags in presence of attesting witnesses. Later he was told by the police that their Crime Reports Registration Log contained a report about him allegedly having information on terrorist activities recorded on digital devices. The police emphasized that the information was of terrorist nature, not of extremist one. In that context criminal operational investigator of the Russian Interior Ministry, major S.V. Tsvetkov prepared a protocol of seizure of Anton’s notebook and memory cards in presence of attesting witnesses. The withdrawn items were sealed. It must be noted that from the moment of Ryzhov’s de facto detention and until the detention protocol was prepared, the human rights defender was not allowed to call his relatives or colleagues under the pretext that under the law on police they had a time slot of three hours to allow him to exercise his right for a phone call, and it did not mean that the call would be permitted in the first minutes of detention. He was allowed to make a call only after the objects were seized. Besides, it is worth mentioning that the body search, inspection of belongings and seizure were recorded on a video camera, the police also took several pictures of Ryzhov allegedly “for putting in the database.” Despite Anton’s numerous requests, the police refused to provide him a copy of his explanations on the grounds that “it was not envisaged in the law”. At the same time, Ryzhov was questioned about his job, trips to Chechnya, whether he had enemies. Anton was released around 4 a.m. A check is being conducted in his respect.