In the Nizhny Novgorod region, the investigation of the criminal case based on the fact of using violence against Kristina Morozova from Kstovo at the local police department is resumed. According to the applicant’s words, the policemen used brutal force against her during the search when she refused to take off her underwear in the presence of men. Subsequently Kristina was diagnosed with closed craniocerebral injury, mild brain contusion, fissured fracture of yoke-bone, fracture of the alisphenoid bone from the left.
(Kristina Morozova, photo: Mikhail Solunin/Mediazona)
As we have previously reported, Kristina Morozova applied to the Committee for the Prevention of Torture for legal assistance on 25 October 2016. She reported that in the evening of 9 September she was apprehended while walking her dog and taken to the local police department. According to Morozova, a policewoman commenced to perform a personal search on her and tried to take off her bra in the presence of other detained, who happened to be men. When Kristina expressed indignation with this fact, physical force was used against her and her bra was cut off with the help of scissors. Then the police officer pushed herself up on Kristina and violently pressed her head against the floor with her knee so that Kristina felt a sharp pain and heard a rustle in her facial bone.
After that, another police officer sprinkled tear gas from the gas spray can in the foreface of her dog and, after that, in her face, as well.
Criminal case based on the elements of crime under item “a” of part 3 Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“abuse of office using violence”) was initiated only on 11 January 2017 after two refusals were issued. According to the ruling, it was initiated against “unidentified authorities among the officers of the District of Interior for the Kstovo District”.
At the same time, the criminal case against the victim herself was initiated under Article 319 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“Insult of representative of authority”). The investigation into the case was performed promptly, and soon the Kstovo City Court of the Nizhny Novgorod region declared Kristina guilty of committing this crime. However, on 10 November 2017 the court of appeal dismissed the criminal case against Kristina and acknowledged her right to rehabilitation.
In November of last year investigator of the Kstovo Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Nizhny Novgorod region Elena Lyadskaya passed a ruling on dismissal of the criminal case against the police officers based on the fact of abuse of office with the use of violence.
Today, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture has become aware that this ruling of investigator Lyadskaya was quashed and the investigation of the criminal case will be resumed. Now the work on this case will be led by Deputy Head of the Kstovo Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Nizhny Novgorod region Vladimir Pogosov.
Since the “case of Kristina Morozova” drew a wide response in the society, lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Vladimir Smirnov, representing the interests of Kristina Morozova, answers the most frequently asked questions.
Question # 1: Was a video camera installed at the police department, and if yes – then why the video record has still has not become an objective evidence of guilt or innocence of the police officers?
Answer: The motion to seize the record of the video camera, installed in the room where Kristina Morozova’s personal search was performed, was submitted in the beginning of the investigation. The motion was satisfied in full scope. However, as the investigator explained later, the record of the camera, installed in the very spot where the search was performed, was not saved due to technical issue. It is puzzling that the other video cameras, installed at the police department, worked fine.
Question # 2: Was Kristina Morozova herself brought to criminal responsibility or not? Was she subsequently acquitted or remained declared guilty?
Answer: The victim was declared guilty of committing the crime under Article 319 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“offense of a representative of authority”), which she, allegedly, committed against one of the police officers who apprehended her. The judge of peace inflicted a monetary penalty upon her.
However, on 10 November 2017, the appellate instance dismissed the criminal prosecution based on exonerative grounds. Thus, the judgment of conviction with regards to Kristina was quashed.
Question # 3: Was the gas sprayed from the gas spray pellet in Kristina’s face? Is it possible at all to apply a gas spray pellet in a confined space? Should the ambulance doctors, which arrived in 20 minutes after the events described by Kristina, have registered the traces of its use?
Answer: In order to answer these questions, an expert should examine the specific pellet and specific substance which it contains. We submitted a motion to perform such an expert examination back in the very beginning of the investigation, and this motion was even satisfied. However, no examination was ever performed.
In general, it is known, that to state that the Patrol-Guard Service officers are provided with standard spray pellets with tear gas or something like that everywhere, would be a stretch of imagination. It is often the case that the police officers carry around with them some of the civil use pellets which they bought out of their own initiative, and here the properties of each pellet vary. In any case, in order to establish the truth, the investigation should have seized the spray pellet from the police officer and conduct an expert examination of this substance, but this has never been done.
Question # 4: Has the polygraph (lie detector) examination been performed with regard to Kristina Morozova? What did it show?
Answer: The victim passed polygraph examination twice. First time – at a private organization which specializes professionally on such examinations, the second time – at the Kstovo Investigative Department. At the same time, the second examination was conducted long time after the described events.
The first examination showed that Kristina does not have “the information which is not consistent with her explanations”, in other words, that she tells the truth. The second examination, conducted at the investigative department, provided the opposite results for several questions.
From the latest ruling on dismissal it has become known that it is the second examination that the investigator confides in for no apparent reason.
We think it is important to point out the fact that the conclusions of the polygraph specialist cannot be regarded as evidence during the judicial proceedings. Moreover, the situations when two different examinations performed for one and the same situation with the same person, provide different results, are not rare.
Question # 5: Is it legal to perform a search on a woman and cut off her bra in the presence of male strangers?
Answer: The procedure for search of persons during putting them to special premises for detained is regulated by the norms of the Code of Administrative Offences, as well as by the intradepartmental Order of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation. According to Part 3 Article 27.7 of the Code of Administrative Offences of the RF, “personal search is performed by the person of the same sex with the one searched in the presence of the two identifying witnesses of the same sex”.
Apart from that, we think that Kristina’s search with cutting her bra off in the presence of the detained men and in the absence of identifying witnesses should be in itself considered through the prism of the criminal law. At that, it’s not important which bodily injuries she got during this, because applying physical force in itself, as well as of scissors and handcuffs, should be appropriately evaluated from the legal point of view.
Question # 6: So, in the end, what are the prospects of this case? Will the police officers be brought to responsibility or will the case be dismissed again?
Answer: At the present moment the case is far away from its logical conclusion. Dismissal of the case, as we see, was just a pit stop, however, its resuming, which happened now, is too. We can positively state only one thing: the conclusion of Kristina Morozova’s case will determine not only the restoring of the rights of Kristina herself, but the fates of other women who, if the actions of the police officers remain unpunished, may find themselves in the same situation tomorrow – at the police department without underwear handcuffed in the presence of male strangers.