The Orenburg police officers, who tortured a man 10 years ago, will not be punished


19 May 2020

Today, on 19 May 2020, the limitation period for bringing to criminal responsibility the police officers who tortured Vladimir Prytkov from Orenburg expired. For ten years, the investigative authorities did every effort for the guilty to escape from responsibility: at first they refused to open criminal case eleven times, then – dismissed it illegally ten times, they also managed to lose the key evidence – the blood wipe samples taken from the investigative officers’ room where Prytkov was tortured. In February of this year, the European Court established that Vladimir was tortured by the police officers and the investigative officers did not perform the effective investigation of this fact.

As we have previously reported, on 9 July 2010, Vladimir Prytkov from Orenburg applied to the regional branch of the Committee Against Torture for legal assistance – the man claimed that he was severely beaten up by the policemen from 2nd Operational Investigation Unit of the Orenburg Regional Directorate of the Interior. As Vladimir told the human right defenders, on 19 May 2010 he was detained at work and delivered to the police department. There, according to Prytkov, he was beaten and tortured for about four hours with the purpose of making him confess that he together with his brother was involved in car theft, or to pay a bribe so that he would be only a witness in this case, unlike his brother. Having failed to obtain a confession from Vladimir, the police had to release him.

After such «conversation» with the representatives of the authorities Vladimir went straight to the city hospital No.1, and after his condition grew worse he was urgently hospitalized in the city clinical hospital named after N.I.Pirogov. The following diagnosis was established: «combined craniocerebral injury, brain contusion of medium severity, subarachnoid hemorrhage, contusions of soft tissues of the head, chest contusion, arterial hypertension of 1 and 2 degrees. Asthenoneurotic syndrome».

After he was released from the Pirogov hospital as an in-patient Vladimir was undergoing out-patient treatment in its outpatient clinic for three months.

On 28 June 2010, Prytkov submitted a crime report upon the fact of police abuse to investigative authorities, however for over a year the investigators failed to open a criminal case. Only on 16 November 2011 it was opened on the grounds of evidence of a crime under Article 286 (3) (a) of the Criminal Code of Russia (exceeding official powers with the use of violence).

Despite numerous motions for conducting investigating actions and complaints against inaction of the investigative authorities, submitted by the human rights defenders on behalf of Prytkov, the case was repeatedly dismissed on the grounds that no crime had been committed.

On 7 November 2014, as a result of investigative bodies’ obvious lack of desire to investigate a criminal case based on the fact of Vladimir Prytkov’s police torture, human rights defenders were forced to apply to the European Court of Human Rights.

Despite this, the lawyers with the Committee Against Torture continued their work on the case at national level, too. In December 2017, investigator Dmitry Gryazev at last satisfied human rights defenders’ motion and performed face-to-face confrontations between the victim and the operational personnel whom Mr Prytkov accuses of torture.

In the course of this investigative activity the police officers provided contradictory and inconsistent evidence. They failed to explain how the blood came about in their office, the blood which, according to expert examination, may belong to Mr Prytkov. This blood falls into rare fourth category with negative Rh factor, same as Prytkov’s blood.

In addition, the police officers also failed to explain why they took Vladimir Prytkov to the police department and which legal grounds they had for that, as well as why the young man who used to be in perfect health when he was delivered to the police department, developed numerous bodily injuries after communication with them.

However, investigator Dmitry Gryazev was satisfied with explanations of the police officers and in January 2018 passed another dismissal of the criminal case, which was quashed later. After that the investigator issued similar rulings several times, and they subsequently were declared illegal. The last dismissal of the criminal case dated 11 March 2019 was appealed against by human rights defenders in court, but the courts declared this ruling to be legal.

In total, starting from May 2010, the investigators issued eleven illegal rulings refusing to initiate criminal proceedings and nine illegal rulings on dismissal of the criminal case. In addition, in the course of the investigation the investigators managed to lose the wipe samples of blood taken from the office of the investigative officers, where, according to Prytkov, he was tortured.

Due to the red tape and inefficient investigation of this criminal case, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture submitted a lawsuit against the Investigative Committee on behalf of Vladimir Prytkov regarding the compensation for moral damage.

On 11 April 2019, judge of the Leninsky District Court of Orenburg Aleksandr Nuzhdin partially satisfied the claims under the lawsuit, having awarded Prytkov with fifty thousand rubles out of the claimed four hundred thousand.

However, in June 2019, the panel of judges of the Orenburg Regional Court quashed the ruling of the court of the first instance, having refused to pay Prytkov the compensation which was previously awarded to him, explaining it by the fact that there was an unreversed ruling to dismiss a criminal case due to absence of element of crime with regard to his crime report. Disagreeing with this ruling, human rights defenders submitted a cassation appeal in the interests of Prytkov, but the panel of judges dismissed it.

On 4 February of this year, the European Court of Human Rights passed a ruling with regard to Vladimir Prytkov’s complaint. The Strasbourg judges established that in case of the applicant, the Russian Federation violated the articles of the European Convention, guaranteeing the prohibition of torture and brutal treatment, as well as the right to the effective investigation. Due to that the victim was awarded a compensation for moral damage in the amount of 39 700 Euro.

Today, the period of limitation for bringing to criminal responsibility the police officers who tortured Vladimir Prytkov in May 2010 has expired. They will bear no punishment.

“The European Court of Human Rights already declared the work of the investigators on this case to be not effective, we intend to insist that it is declared also at the national level, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Albina Mudarisova comments. – In addition, we are waiting now for the feedback from the Supreme Court of Russia where we submitted a motion to quash the court rulings which declared the case dismissal to be legal due to the new fact – the ruling of the European Court. As a rule, such motions are satisfied, after that the proceedings on the previously submitted complaint continue”.

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