The judgment against Sochi SPF officers who committed a battery in a children’s camp has entered into force


15 January 2009

On14 January 2009 theLazarevskiydistrictcourtjudgment (Sochi) issuedon 15 OctoberlastyearagainsteightSpecialPoliceForcesofficersfromtheKrasnodarskiyKrayDirectorateoftheInteriorchargedwithmassive assault and batteryofvacationersintheDruzhbachildren’scamphasenteredintoforce. All police officers were found guilty under art. 286 of the RF Criminal Code (“abuse of official powers with violent treatment and application of special tools”) and convicted to imprisonment of various length.  

The convicts denied their guilt throughout the proceedings and appealed against the verdict according to the established procedure by filing a cassation appeal with the Krasnodar regional court.

Yesterday’s decision of the Krasnodar regional court dismissed the cassation appeals and preserved the verdict.

         At night on 18 – 19 July 2006 a small village of Nizhneye Makopse situated on the Black Sea cost of the Lazarevskiy district of Sochi witnessed the events that its inhabitants and numerous vacationers spending their yearly leave in this quite resort will hardly ever forget.

       That evening was just like any other evening. As usual, small bars, restaurants and discos common for the whole Black Sea cost during high season were open.   

       No one could expect that right in the middle of the southern night they will hear a bloodcurdling cry: “FACEDOWN EVERYONE!!! THE SOCHI SPECIAL FORCES ARE HERE!!!” 

        On 21 July 2006 the central office of the Interregional Committee against Torture received an urgent message about massive detention and battery of Nizhneye Makopse citizens and vacationers by some special police forces under the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

        Within one day human rights defenders formed a mobile task force consisting of specialists of the Interregional Committee against Torture (Nizhny Novgorod), Mothers Supporting the Accused, Detainees and Convicts (Krasnodar), Man and Law (Mariy El), and the Public Verdict Foundation (Moscow). Unfortunately, the check confirmed the initial data. According to the materials of the public investigation and thick case file, at night on  18 – 19 July 2006 a group of Sochi SPF officers consisting of  38 fully equipped people armed with government-issue weapon and special tools, including bamboo sticks, conducted an unauthorized special operation that had not been approved by the local Internal Affairs Department. During this operation, or “mopping-up”, as it was later named by reporters, several dozens of local citizens and vacationers were detained. Among detainees there were also minors. There were several teams detaining and beating people simultaneously. In Oasis (cafe) the police detained all men and youngsters, literally threw them over the fence and made them lie facedown on the beach pebble.

        While combat performers were placing detainees facedown on the beach by walking on their backs and counting them by bamboo stick blows, the commanders enjoyed their victory. State representatives went up and down the cafes, finished cognac remaining on the tables, tried to flirt with scared girls left without their companions, and even forced them to give their phone numbers.   

         After detention, frightened and beaten people were taken to the Lazarevskiy district Department of Internal Affairs, where SPF officers asked duty policemen to charge those citizens with an administrative offense and prepare protocols. Officers of the District Department of Internal Affairs, among them there was police captain Novichkov who was personally acquainted with the majority of detainees, refused point blanc to prepare protocols seeing the state of detainees.  The SPF staff reproached them: “Are you supporting the police or the citizens?” – that was the scornful question of one  of the SPF officers.

         As a result, none of the citizens was administratively detained. The SPF officers failed to find at least one legal ground for detention. Soon almost everyone was released. Some people had to go to hospital, some even stayed there for in-patient treatment.

         As we have already mentioned, the circumstances were documented by lawyers of the mobile task force. Human rights defenders questioned the victims and witnesses, obtained medical documents. In three days the evidence collected was submitted to the district prosecutor.  At that moment there was a special brigade consisting of state investigators working in the Lazarevskiy district, it was headed by investigator Yuriy Zinisha. The materials collected by the brigade together with the evidence obtained by the task force were more than enough to open criminal proceedings. All investigation activities were carried out in the shorted term possible thanks to the efforts of human rights defenders. 8 SPF officers were identified. They were indicted and the court decided to detain them. Further investigation was delayed. The accused appealed against every investigators’ action, their lawyers did their utmost to get their clients off the hook. The attempt to bribe victim Serdyuk looked awkward. The man’s body was all blue after the battery and one of the lawyers offered him a bottle of vodka and a bottle of wine in return to remission of his claim.

         The case was well covered by local mass media. The press-service of the District Department of Internal Affairs also contributed to the discussion and using its administrative resources it presented apparently false information. According to official sources, the SPF conducted a special operation in one of the most criminous district of one of the most criminous cities. The violence was caused by the refusal of drunk youngsters to present their documents. All these statements were refuted by the findings of the official investigation, however, the press-service kept lying till the moment of conviction.   

But the court dotted the i-s. The state prosecution supported by prosecutor Elena Barsukova totally demolished the defense statements. All 8 indictees were found guilty under all charges.

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