Four months after investigation started, investigator of the Investigative Committee Svetlana Kovalyshkina dismissed the criminal case on tortures of Nikita Danishkin in the Nizhny Novgorod Anti-Extremism Center (AEC) in 2010. Three investigators who worked on this case, having failed to perform numerous investigative activities, did not establish the fact of torture, which had been previously established by the European Court of Human Rights. Lawyers with the Committee Against Torture consider this ruling to be illegal and will be appealing against it.
As we have previously reported, on 1 February 2011, Nikita Danishkin applied to Nizhny Novgorod office of the Committee Against Torture for legal assistance. In his application Nikita claimed that on 25 December 2010, he was detained in his rented flat by officers of the Anti-Extremism Centre (AEC) who took him to AEC headquarters. There these officers beat and tortured his him (they made Nikita sit with crossed legs, tied his legs up with the towing-cable and flung him on the floor) in order to make him confess of preparation of a terrorist attack and dissemination of information smearing the honor and dignity of AEC staff. Nikita emphasized that the head of AEC took part in his tortures.
According to Mr Danishkin, the police officers failed to obtain the confession from him and they brought him to the Temporary Isolation Cell, however, when the duty officer there saw Nikita’s numerous injuries he sent him to hospital No.40 for an examination. As a result, Mr Danishkin was diagnosed with bruises, including on his face.
On December 27, 2010 Danishkin was admitted to remand prison, where he had the following injuries documented: a red-brown bruise on the right side of the abdominal area, a yellowish-green bruise in the axillary region on the left, multiple purple bruises on the face and neck.
Danishkin submitted the crime report about battery to the Investigative Committee. However, no criminal case was initiated, and the pre-investigation check, in the course of which investigator Novikov five times illegally passed refusals to initiate criminal proceedings and which lasted for over one year and a half, ended in the Nizhny Novgorod regional court on 5 August 2013 where the sixth refusal was declared legal in the end.
On 15 June 2011, the Avtozavodsky District Court of Nizhny Novgorod declared Nikita Danishkin to be guilty of committing the crime under part 1 of Article 222 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“illegal storage, transportation of explosives and explosive devices”) and sentenced him to three years’ prison term in a standard regime penal colony.
Having exhausted all domestic remedy, on 5 February 2014 lawyers with the Committee for the Prevention of Torture submitted a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights. On 7 April 2015 it was communicated. After communication the pre-investigation check based on Danishkin’s complaint was resumed and the material was handed over to investigator of the first department for major cases investigation of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Nizhny Novgorod region Aleksandr Busarov. However, the criminal case was never opened.
On 2 May 2017, the European Court of Human Rights passed a ruling with regard to the complaint submitted in the interests of Danishkin. The Strasbourg judges unanimously established the following:
– Article 3 of the Convention was violated in its material part (the applicant was subjected to torture);
– Article 3 of the Convention was violated due to absence of efficient investigation of the applicant’s claims about having been tortured by the police officers.
Due to that Nikita Danishkin was awarded twenty thousand euro as a compensation for moral damage.
On 21 November 2018, the Presidium of the Supreme Arbitration Court of the Russian Federation passed a ruling to resume the proceedings based on Nikita Danishkin’s complaint against torture. Thus, the investigators were obliged to resume the work and perform an effective investigation based on Danishkin’s complaint.
Since over one and a half years after the ruling of the European Court the criminal case with regard to these events was never opened, on 21 January 2019, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture applied to the Committee of the Ministers of the Council of Europe asking to pose questions to the representatives of the Ministry of the Foreign Affairs of Russia related to the execution of the ruling of the European Court with regard to Nikita Danishkin’s complaint.
However, on 9 February, investigator Busarov issued the tenth refusal, which was appealed against by human rights defenders during the personal appointment with Deputy Head of the Regional Investigative Department Dmitry Kanonerov.
On 7 November 2019 a criminal case was initiated based on the fact of Danishkin’s tortures under item a Part 3 of Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the RF (“abuse of office using violence”).
During three months of the investigation, investigators Svetlana Samarina and Roman Kovalev conducted interrogations of five former officers of the Nizhny Novgorod Anti-Extremism Center, as well as face-to-face confrontations between them and the victim. They also sent Nikita Danishkin for the third psycho-physiological examination with the use of a polygraph.
On 7 March 2020, investigator Svetlana Kovalyshkina dismissed the criminal case due to absence of the element of crime in the police officers’ actions. Today, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture received a copy of this ruling.
“Unfortunately, all the investigators’ actions show that they were not intending to investigate this case effectively. For example, our motions on examining the incident scene, checking the evidence on site, assigning situational medical forensic expert examination were not satisfied. Instead of that, the investigators for some reasons assigned the examination with polygraph, which actually cannot be considered an evidence in the case, even more so taking into account that it is conducted ten years after the incident. With regard to this, back on 2 March of this year we applied to Head of the Investigative Committee of Russia Aleksandr Bastrykin with a request to monitor the progress in this case personally, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Yuliya Blooalandina comments. – In general, opening a criminal case looks like an attempt of Russian authorities to avoid this case being examined by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe as a case for which the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights was not executed. We shall definitely appeal against the dismissal of the criminal case as illegal, as well as submit the appropriate information to the Committee of Ministers”.