The Nizhny Novgorod police apologized for the actions of the police officer who hit the apprehended woman

Событие | Пресс центр

11 December 2019

Deputy Head of the Department of the Ministry of the Interior of Russia for Nizhny Novgorod Valery Maksakov offered apologies to the woman from Nizhny Novgorod, who was hit in the face by ex-police officer Pavel Bersenev in 2017. Since the police superiors have not yet offered their apologies to the victims in time and at their own initiative, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture will insist on subjecting to disciplinary action the persons responsible for violation of the rules for offering apologies.

As we have previously reported, Elena Petrova from Nizhny Novgorod (the name and surname are changed) applied to the human rights defenders asking for legal assistance. She reported that she had been violently detained in Nizhny Novgorod karaoke-café and taken to police department No.7 of the Department of the Interior for Nizhny Novgorod. There, according to her, one of the policemen shouted at her during the conversation, hit her in the face and pushed her against the wall.

In her explanation to the human rights defenders Elena reported that at night on 2 April 2017 she was having a rest with friends at the karaoke- café. At some moment, there began a fight between a young man from her company and some other guests on the dance-floor. Those present there tried to stop the fight and some later the policemen arrived to the cafe.

According to Elena, the policemen came to her purposefully and ordered her to come with them to the police department. She asked the policemen to explain to her the reason of their request, but they used physical strength and put her arms behind her back and handcuffed her. Due to that Elena suffered from severe physical pain.

Ms Petrova was taken to Police Department No. 7.

According to Elena, in the department she was given some explanations to sign but they did not let her read them. After the detained person refused to sign the papers several times, the policeman quite abruptly changed the tone of the conversation into very aggressive one and said: “If you do not sign it now, I’ll give you some beating!”

– I said that I was not going to sign anything anyway. Immediately after that the policeman hit my face with the sharp of his hand, – remembers Petrova.

In the end, Elena signed the document without reading it. After that she was released.

The woman from Nizhny Novgorod left the police department at about half past four in the morning. On the same day, she came to the trauma center of city hospital No. 34, and on the next day she went to the surgeon at the place of her residence. As a result, the doctor diagnosed that the victim had: “Soft tissue bruise on the face, and on the right and left forearms. Right and left shoulder joints sprain”.

On 10 April 2017, investigator from the investigating department of the Investigation Office of the Investigation Committee of the Russian Federation in Nizhny Novgorod region, Major of Justice Boris Izverov initiated a criminal case against Pavel Bersenev, duty police officer of Police Department No.7 of the Department of the Interior for Nizhny Novgorod, according to p. «а» Part 3 Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the RF (“Abuse of office with the use of violence”).

On 4 May 2018, judge Ivan Karnavsky declared Pavel Bersenev guilty of the charged crime and sentenced him to 4 years of conditional term.

The convict did not agree to the verdict and appealed against it at the court of appeal.

According to him, Petrova herself assaulted him and inserted a ball pen into his palm. Bersenev claims the video record that shows him hitting the convict in the face (but not showing the episode when she injures him with a pen) to be forged. He also claimed that he was followed by some “unidentified special service”, which installed cameras and listening devices in his office, and scanned his SIM-cards when he was taking the tube.

On 6 September, the Nizhny Novgorod Regional Court, having examined the appellate appeal of Pavel Bersenev, quashed the judgment of conviction against him, and sent the case back to the Sovetsky District Court.

In the course of examination of the appellate appeal, the State Prosecutor asked the court to return the criminal case to the court of the first instance due to the fact that the judgment of conviction did not have proper wording for the crime which Bersenev is charged with, as well as due to the fact, that, in the opinion of the State Prosecutor, it was not proven that part of the bodily injuries of the victim were generated as a result of illegal actions of the former police officer.

On 23 October, the Sovetsky District Court of Nizhny Novgorod once again started the court hearing with regard to charges against Pavel Bersenev.

Just like the previous time, Pavel Bersenev did not plead guilty. During the court hearing, Bersenev said that the day before the incident with Petrova, the FSB officers installed three surveillance cameras, as well as several bugging devices in his office room. After “successful provocation” with the participation of the apprehended woman from Nizhny Novgorod, the special service was quick to “cover its tracks” and remove these devices, however, something went wrong: there was no time to remove one of the hidden cameras, which was installed in the safe, which is why the safe door was welded hastily.

On 19 December, the court ordered a psychological and psychiatric expert examination of Pavel Bersenev, but the experts did not find any deviations which would prevent from examination of the case in court.

On 29 May 2019, judge of the Sovetsky District Court of Nizhny Novgorod Vitaly Bondarenko passed the ruling – Pavel Bersenev is declared guilty of committing the crime under item “a” of Part 3 of Article 386 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“abuse of office using violence”). The court sentenced Bersenev to four years of conditional term.

On 19 September, a panel of judges of the Nizhegorodsky Regional Court chaired by Tatiana Sklyarova upheld this ruling. The verdict came into legal force.

On 12 November, the victim, tired of waiting for the police officers’ apologies, with support of her representatives with the Committee Against Torture, applied to Head of the Chief Directorate of the Ministry of the Interior of Russia for the Nizhny Novgorod region Yury Arsentyev requesting that he offered his apologies according to the law “On police”.

At last, almost three months from the moment when the apologies should have been offered, they were received.

It’s not the first time that human rights defenders face the reluctance of the Ministry of the Interior authorities to execute the federal law “On police” and the departmental order No.795 dated 15.08.2012, in which it is stated that the apologies to the citizen whose rights were violated by a police officer, shall be offered within a month’s time.

“Once again we have to state that this obligation is systematically violated by the Nizhny Novgorod police, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Sergey Shounin comments. – This year was no exception, and the superiors did not take any initiative in offering apologies to the victims not for any of the three Nizhny Novgorod cases of the Committee Against Torture, in which judgements of conviction have been issued this year”.

According to Shounin, this practice continues despite the fact that after last year human rights defenders applied to the Ministry of the Interior of Russia, the Department of State Service and Personnel of the Ministry of Interior of Russia clearly stated its stance regarding offering apologies: they shall be brought no later than in a month after the fact of the citizen’s rights violation is established. The response also emphasized that “failure of an executive authority to offer apologies to a citizen as per established order is a violation of the service discipline”.

“The Nizhny Novgorod police had enough time to set up the system of offering apologies to the victims suffered from criminal actions of the police officers and make it function properly, however, it has not happened up to now, – Shounin emphasizes. – With regard to this we are forced to apply to the Ministry of the Interior of Russia with regard to this case as well as to every case that follows, demanding that the persons committed violations of service discipline shall be subjected to disciplinary action”.