The results of the monitoring of 31st of January protest rallies in several regions of Russia


01 February 2021

Foto by Alexei Fokin

Yesterday, on 31 January 2021, members of the Committee Against Torture performed monitoring of protest rallies aiming at registering possible human rights violations.  Among other things, human rights defenders registered several cases when physical violence was applied, which may be regarded as illegal, as well as denials of access of defense lawyers and public observers to the apprehended at police departments. 

By midday human rights defenders Magomed Alamov and Konstantin Gusev arrived to the Lenin square to monitor the public event.   

The square itself was cordoned off and people were gathering in the mini-park. As per monitors’ estimates, there was no organized mass event as such. The people in the mini-park were just sitting on the benches or standing at some distance between each other. Some people had some visual propaganda means in the form of posters.     

The observers pointed out a large number of police officers in the mini-park, which was significantly more than the mass event participants.
At some point, law-enforcement officers started to perform apprehensions. For about half an hour of monitoring our colleagues witnessed apprehension of eleven people.   

According to the estimates of our observers, the apprehensions were performed accurately, without obvious illegal use of force.    

People who had visual propaganda means (posters) were apprehended in the first place, as well as those who attempted to record what was going on photo or video. As for the rest, the apprehensions were random and nonselective.

Apprehensions were mainly performed by small groups of law-enforcement officers (4-6 people), some of them were wearing uniform, and some had civilian clothes on.   

At 12:49 Magomed Alamov and Konstantin Gusev were detained and taken to the Department of the Interior for Pyatigorsk.  They spent the night at the police department.   

On 1 February, both human rights defenders were arrested for 10 days each. Their actions were qualified as administrative offence under part 1 of Article 20.2.2 of the Administrative Offences Code of the Russian Federation. Which specific actions they are charged with, out of the content that covers organization, appeals for participation and common participation, is not known still. 

Monitoring in Orenburg human rights defenders Sergey Babinets, Albina Mudarisova and Timur Rakhmatulin started at midday local time in the center of the city – near the mini-park named after Lenin and in the Sovetskaya street.
According to the estimates of the observers, there were a lot less people at the public event than on 23 January event. At the same time, the number of the law-enforcement officers was significantly higher than on 23 January. What came under notice was the increase of OMON officers who were wearing protective gear. Unlike during the previous event, the law-enforcement officers used metal fencing for limiting and directing the citizens’ movement.   

During first half an hour no one was yelling any slogans, no posters were put up.  

At about 12:30 the first participant of the even unfolded a small poster, which attracted the attention of journalists and those who were present. During next half an hour the apprehensions started to be carried out.   

At about 13:10 the gathered people started marching (there were about 200 people), accompanied by yelling the slogans.

At about 13:14, Timur Rakhmatulin, who was recording the apprehension of one of the citizens and asking questions to the people in civilian clothes who were apprehending him, was apprehended himself.   

Mainly, citizens’ apprehensions during the Orenburg event were carried out by masked people in civilian clothes. When performing the apprehensions these persons did not introduce themselves or mentioned the grounds for apprehension, did not explain their actions in any way. At the same time, the actions on apprehension were brutal and harsh and were accompanied by obscenities.     

In the process of his apprehension, Timur Rakhmatulin asked the persons who were apprehending him to introduce themselves and state the grounds for their actions, however, his requests were ignored. Rakhmatulin was violently pushed inside the van with other apprehended and, according to him, during this process, he was hit in the groin.  

At about 13:45, Rakhmatulin was taken to Police Department No.1.

Our colleagues continued monitoring till about 14:30, when almost all the participants of the event left. In total, according to the observers, about 30 people were apprehended during the event. Law-enforcement officers’ actions were more brutal and harsh than during the previous event.      

Those who were shouting slogans, who was standing near those who were shouting, made a photo or/and video shooting of the events, were apprehended in the first place. As for the rest, the apprehensions were random and nonselective.

With regard to Rakhmatulin, protocols on administrative violations were drawn up, under Article 19.3 (failure to obey the instruction of a police officer) and part 5 of Article 20.2 (violation of a public event execution procedure) of the Administrative Offences Code of the Russian Federation. He remains at the police department, the period of his apprehension is extended to 48 hours.   

Nizhny Novgorod.
Monitoring was performed with several groups. Main locations of monitoring: Bolshaya Pokrovskaya street, Zvezdinka street, Minina square, Minina street, Bolshaya Pecherskaya street (to Sennaya square). The number of participants of the public event was higher than that on 23 January of this year. 

On the contrary, the law-enforcement officers’ headcount visibly increased. This allowed implementing measures for preventing from formation of a large group of protesters by breaking the crowd into smaller groups with their subsequent localization.      
During moving the groups of protesters to the streets adjacent to the Bolshaya Pokrovskaya street, police and Rosgvardiya forces were advancing there, which were localizing, displacing and apprehending the gathered citizens.
The apprehensions of the event participants started simultaneously with the start of the march. Observers point out the random and non-selective character of apprehensions.  

Most of the apprehensions witnessed by observers were not done with explicitly illegal use of force, except for one episode which demands a separate evaluation.   

In addition, during the day it has become known about three apprehended who claimed of illegal violence (blows, choking) during apprehension.   

The apprehensions were performed by OMON officers wearing special gear, who were operating in small groups (2-4 persons).   

At the same time, compared to the 23 January event, the law-enforcement officers started to apply the tactics of mobile apprehension groups, which move around on 2-3 minivans, come up to the groups of citizens and perform apprehensions. The officers who were performing such apprehensions, had “Special Forces of the Ministry of the Interior” chevrons.     

Among the observers themselves, three human rights defenders were apprehended: Sergey Shounin, Ekaterina Vanslova, Igor Kalyapin.  

Igor Kalyapin was apprehended at 13:07 in the Minina square, taken to Police Department No.7 where there were 40 apprehended, 5 of them underage. None of these apprehended expressed any complaints against the actions of the police officers. Sometime later Igor Kalyapin was released without drawing up any procedural documents.   

Sergey Shounin was apprehended at 12:17 in the Bolshaya Pokrovskaya street. Prior to apprehension he was video registering the process of the citizens’ apprehension. He was taken to Police Department No.8. A protocol on administrative violation under part 6.1 of Article 20.2 of the Administrative Offences Code of the Russian Federation was drawn up (participation in unauthorized rallies, demonstration, march of picketing, disrupting vital transport or social infrastructure functioning), an undertaking to appear was collected. He was released at 21:20.

Ekaterina Vanslova was apprehended at 13:55 in the Minina square. Prior to apprehension she was video registering the process of the citizens’ apprehension. She was taken to Police Department No.4. A protocol on administrative violation under part 6.1 of Article 20.2 of the Administrative Offences Code of the Russian Federation was also drawn up. She was sent to special detention room for the arrested by an administrative procedure.  On 1 February, the court declared Ekaterina Vanslova guilty of the crime under part 5 of Article 20.2 of the Administrative Offences Code of the Russian Federation (“violating of the established procedure for the public gathering, rally, demonstration or picketing by its participant”) and issued a fine of 10 000 rubles. 

Just like after the 23 January event, yesterday the access of defense lawyers and members of public monitoring committees to police departments was restricted. For example, denials of access for defense lawyers and members of Public Monitoring Committee were registered in Police Departments No.2, 7, 8. Denial of access was explained by declaring “Fortress” plan. For example, duty officer of the Chief Directorate of the Ministry of Interior for the Nizhny Novgorod region explained this directly to member of the PMC Igor Kalyapin.     (“Fortress” plan is applied in the whole city, so lawyers or members of the PMC won’t be allowed to enter”). 

Human rights defenders which were working in the consulting mode, received only two applications – one from Moscow and one from St. Petersburg.  The person who applied from Moscow expressed his intention to apply to the Committee Against Torture after he is released from the police department.   

Georgiy Ivanov, a member of the Public Monitoring Committee, was working the whole day at police departments. He visited 5 police departments and talked to over 100 apprehended.   

At the District Police Department for the Akademichesky district at the moment of the PMC members visit there were 29 apprehended persons, and work with their paperwork only started.

At the District Police Department for the Kotlovka district there were some problems at the entrance: the members of this department crosschecked the names of the arrived observers against the PMC lists. As a result, the PMC members left, having submitted complaints against denial of access to the department.     

At the District Police Department for the Zyuzino district: at the moment of the PMC members visit there were 26 apprehended, some of them were brought at night (!) to court for the case examination, for others the paperwork for detention till morning was drawn up.  

At the District Police Department for the Obruchevsky district: at the moment of the PMC members visit there were 19 apprehended (out of them 3 minors), at the same time, previously the officers of this department already has released 27 people having taken an obligation from them to show up during the week for drawing up the protocols.    

At the District Police Department for the Gagarinsky district: at the moment of the PMC members visit there were 25 apprehended. It was planned to apprehend all of them for the night and take them to other departments. At the request of PMC members an ambulance was called for one of the apprehended due to the blood pressure issues.
In all the police departments the PMC members insisted that food is provided to the apprehended, the police officers did not want to do it on their own in any of them.  

Krasnodar Territory.
On 31 January, from 1500 to 2000 attended the Krasnodar protest rally was attended, according to different media estimates. Over a thousand protesters were spotted by journalists in Sochi. The protest rallies that took place in other cities of the Krasnodar Territory, gathered several times fewer participants.   

Before the protest rally and upon its completion, over 100 citizens were apprehended in the Krasnodar Territory, most part of which – 31 and 81 were apprehended in Krasnodar and Sochi, accordingly. It is pointed out that some citizens were apprehended by the police departments 500-700 meters from the location of the event, after its completion.   

Based on the lawyers’ data, 8 persons in the Krasnodar police departments where the apprehended were taken, were left to await the trial.  

Lawyers with the Krasnodar branch of the Committee Against Torture did not perform monitoring at the protest rally itself, having arranged consulting for the citizens who applied to them, instead.   

Upon completion of a public event, two persons applied to the Krasnodar branch of the Committee Against Torture.   

One applicant claimed that he was apprehended by people in civilian clothes, who did not introduce themselves nor explained the reasons of the apprehension. They seized him by the arms, then dragged him to the bus and dropped him on the ground. Then they took him inside the police van. As a result of actions of the persons whom he later identified as police officers, he damaged his lower thigh, his blood pressure increased.  The applicant was taken to the Department of the Interior for the Krasnodar Territory. Protocols were drawn with his regard on administrative violations under Part 2, Article 20.2 and Part 1, Article 19.3 of the Administrative Offences Code of the Russian Federation, after that he was brought to special room for apprehended till the court examination of the case materials. According to the applicant, he called for an ambulance to the police department himself.

Another applicant claimed to have been detained by the people dressed in civilian clothes, who did not introduced themselves and did not explain the cause of his apprehension.  Immediately after the apprehension, several men brought him to the ground, one of them pressed his knee against his face, due to that he felt sharp pain and a crackling sound in the area of his nose. Another man pressed in the ribs area, which inflicted pain. After that the applicant was taken to the Department of the Interior for Krasnodar, some material under Part 2 of Article 20.2 of the Administrative Offences Code of the Russian Federation was filed with his regard, after that he was released.       
Two more consultations were given over the phone to the persons who were apprehended during the protest rally and located at the Department of the Interior for Krasnodar.   

Human rights defenders Evgeny Litvinov and Denis Iskhakov were performing a remote monitoring of the protest rally which took place in Ufa.  

The event was a march of protesters from the building of the Agrarian University in the direction of the House of the Republic.    

According to universal estimate, no less than 4 thousand people participated in the event. It started at 11 Moscow time and lasted no less than 3 hours. 

According to the available information, no less than 250 people were apprehended and taken to police departments in the course of the protest rally, out of them no less than 17 minors.  The main part of the detained were never formalized by any procedure and was released within a day, some of them under obligation to show up in court. The underage were handed over to their parents after the conversation at the Juvenile Division.

6 persons were detained for 48 hours: at Police Department No.2 — 3 persons, at Police Department No.4 — 1, at Police Department No.9 — 2 persons (activists of the local Navalny office).

According to member of the Human Rights Council under the Head of the Republic of Bashkortostan Oleg Galin, the confinement conditions in all the above mentioned departments correspond to the norms. He said: “For those who were detained for 48 hours, warm blankets were provided for the night, as well as pillows, mattresses, single-use linen, evening meal”.  

This time (compared to the previous event) there were twice as many detentions. The detentions were more brutal, but, just like a week ago, there was no targeted police brutality against the protesters.  

However, at the present time, there is information on about at least one injured (suspicion on bodily injury in the wrist area) during the apprehension. This information is being clarified.   

Unfortunately, a prompt visit of member of the PMC Denis Iskhakov to the police departments did not take place because no second person was found to form a group of two, so the PMC of Bashkiria did nothing, in effect, not performing any public monitoring.    

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