The Strasbourg Court will deal with the drug police and Dissenters’ March


21 December 2011

Yesterday the ECtHR sent the Russian Government a series of questions regarding three cases of the Committee Against Torture: Gremina, Milovanov (Nizhny Novgorod region) and Konakov (Mariy El Republic). Despite different contexts, these cases have two common points – unlawful ill-treatment and ineffective investigation into corresponding crime reports.

We would like to remind you the facts of these cases. On June 18, 2008 Sarov resident Alexander Milovanov was detained by the local drug police (Federal Drug Control Service). According to Alexander, he started resisting detention, and one of the policemen hit him in the chest with his fist and then kicked him in the groin. Milovanov was taken to the Sarov FDCS office where he was asked to sign some papers. When he refused to do it, the police handcuffed Milovanov’s hands behind his back, laid him on the floor and started beating him in the head and body. Milovanov also claims that he was tortured with an electric shocker and a bat. Finally, Alexander signed everything that the police gave him. On June 20, 2008, upon admission to the remand prison, Milovanov was examined by a doctor who documented numerous injuries. Criminal proceedings under Milovanov’s application were not instigated.  

The European Court has asked the Russian Government the following questions: Was Milovanov subject to tortures or ill-treatment on 18-19 June 2008? Did the applicant have access to an effective domestic remedy? Was the torture-induced evidence used in the criminal proceedings against the applicant?

On March 24, 2007 Nizhny Novgorod pensioner Lilia Gremina was going to participate in the Dissenters’ March. The action was not authorized, but Lilia was not aware thereof. However, she did not even join the protesters. Gremina was unlawfully detained by the police with the use of violence in Gorky Square before the March began. In March this year the Nizhegorodsky district court awarded the pensioner 30 000 rubles as compensation of moral damage, however, none of the policemen was punished.

The European Court asks the Russian Government the following: was the applicant ill-treated during her detention on March 24, 2007? Did the applicant have access to an effective domestic remedy? Was her detention lawful?

Yoshkar-Ola resident Alexey Konakov was detained by the Mariy El drug police on March 12, 2006. According to Alexey, the drug police took him to a room in the local FDCS office and beat him there for 3 hours. They put a gas mask on Konakov’s head and shut the air off. Upon arrival to the remand prison, the applicant had his injuries documented. Alexey filed a crime report to the investigative authorities, however, the policemen were not prosecuted.

The European Court asked the Russian authorities to answer the following questions: Was Konakov tortured? Was there an effective investigation under his application?  

We are witnessing a sad tendency. There are still torture cases from Russia in the ECtHR. Moreover, recently the European Court has started considering Russian torture cases more vigorously. Under some categories of cases, applications now await communication only 1-2 years, instead of 5-6. This has become possible thanks to the 2010 ECtHR reform.

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