The European Court of Human Rights is interested in the case of the death of a citizen from Orenburg


10 January 2017

The European Court of Human Rights communicated a complaint of lawyers of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture based on the fact of death of Vladimir Tkachuk in the Pre-Trial Detention Facility No.2 in the Orenburg region. The Strasburg judges posed a number of questions to the Russian Federation, including: whether Article 2 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms («Right to life») was violated with regard to Tkachuk, as well as whether the efficient investigation of his death was conducted at the domestic level. 

(Photo: Vladimir Tkachuk)

As we have previously reported, mother of convicted Vladimir Tkachuk Nadezhda Chertovskikh applied to interregional non-governmental organization «Committee for Prevention of Torture» for legal assistance in September 2013. She informed human rights defenders that on 5 September she received a call from an unknown person who told her that her son had been beaten to death by the officers of Pre-Trial Detention Facility No.2 in Orsk, Orenburg region, where Tkachuk was seconded from Penal-Colony No 11 to serve his sentence as a household worker.

Initially the investigation of Tkachuk’s death was conducted in a rather spiritless and drowsy manner: this was expressively showed by the fact that investigator of Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the RF for Orsk (Orenburg region) Anastasia Chichina issued six refusals to initiate criminal proceedings which were subsequently declared illegal and quashed.

For half a year the investigator was asserting that Tkachuk received his numerous injuries as a result of a wooden plank falling on him. By the way, the unknown person who telephoned Nadezhda Chertovskikh on 5 September 2013 told her that the detention facility staff were going to maintain the version with the falling plank.

In all likelihood, the investigator considered the following version of the incident to be credible: a plank 30 centimeters wide and 5 centimeters thick was standing at the wall – the convicts used such planks to cover floors in the room. For some reason the investigator did not define the length of the plank, specifying it at «about 2-3 meters». As a matter of fact, the investigator did not see the «killing plank» as such, but just took the words of the detention facility staff for it. And so this plank supposedly fell on Vladimir Tkachuk’s head. However, judging by the character of his injuries, the plank fell several times…

Later on the conclusion of the specialist of State-owned Federal State Institution «111 Head State Center of medico-legal criminalistic examinations» of the Ministry of Defense of Russia established that «the character of V.I.Tkachuk’s closed craniocerebral injury shows that it was made as a result of repeated blows with a blunt hard object or objects with predominant traumatizing surface in head’s frontal, sincipital and cervical zones».

– According to the version of Pre-Trial Detention Facility officers, Tkachuk received his injury at production on 2 September, and then he was taken to the Punishment Isolation Cell allegedly because he refused to get up after the wakeup order. According to the witnesses’ evidence, during all this time Tkachuk was asking for medical assistance, complained of headache and feeling bad, and in the course of several days before death he was already in the state of delirium, not realizing where he was. However, the doctors arrived to him only at 00.45 on 5 September when he was already in a coma. On 02.50 of the same day the doctors registered the death of the convict, – lawyers of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture Timur Rakhmatulin, representing the interests of the mother of the deceased, reported.
The criminal case with relation to this fact was initiated only in half a year, but even after that the investigators did not come closer to establishing the persons guilty of Tkachuk’s death: the case was dismissed five times, and each time human rights defenders appealed against such rulings of the investigators. At the present time the criminal case is dismissed once again.
At the same time, on 4 May 2016 lawyers of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture applied a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights, in which they provided not only the objective evidence, allowing to establish that mortal wounds of Tkachuk and other injuries of his were the result of violence, but also indicated that the state, represented by the Orsk Pre-Trial Detention Facility executives, as a minimum, failed to provide for appropriate measures to prevent the death of Vladimir Tkachuk, who could have been saved within three days. 

The complaint also lists numerous drawbacks of the official investigation, which fails to comply with any one the criteria of effective investigation, developed by the practice of the European Court. 

«We definitely are satisfied that the European Court communicated our complaint so quickly and posed a number of important questions to the Russian Federation concerning the death of Vladimir Tkachuk in the Orsk Pre-Trial Detention Facility, – Timur Rakhmatulin comments. – We would like to believe that our country will react to the questions of the Strasbourg judges by effective investigation of this criminal case”.

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