Yesterday, on 26 June, in many cities of Russia activities dedicated to the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture were held. In Pyatigorsk, Kislovodsk, Essentuki, Ufa and Orenburg public events were organized. In Moscow, the premier of movie «The Prisoner of the Caucasus. Murad Amriev” was held, in Krasnodar – training for defense lawyers was organized, and in Nizhny Novgorod exhibition “Tortures exist. No torture!” was opened, it will remain open till 3 July.
Participants of different events share their impressions.
Konstantin Gusev. North Caucasian Federal District:
“On this day the participants of the North Caucasian branch of the Committee Against Torture distributed brochures with the text of the Constitution of the Russian Federation to the citizens of the region.
Such events allow not only to enhance the law knowledge of the population, but also to conduct a very interesting social poll, and to monitor the situation with torture, to some extent, and, most importantly, the attitude of the Russian citizens towards this problem.
During the day we visited the most crowded areas of the three resort centers of the Caucasus: Kurortny Park in Essentuki, National Park in Kislovodsk and Anzhievskogo public garden in Pyatigorsk.
During the event it was very interesting to observe the people’s reaction to such an unusual present. We are glad that the majority of the citizens considered the Constitution of Russia to be “useful for every household”, since the law knowledge and awareness of one’s rights are weak spots with many Russian citizens.
To our surprise, a delegation of lawyers on vacation asked for a pile of brochures. The brochure also provoked interest of school children and students, who study social science. The highest legal awareness was demonstrated by active senior citizens, who strictly asked about the latest amendments to the Constitution.
Unfortunately, the potential “group of risk”, men from 25 to 40, were not interested in the Constitution. Responses involved phrases like “I don’t need one”, “no one is observing it, anyway”. To a question whether he knows the Constitution, a young man replied that he is an active police officer and it was not necessary for him.
The most exotic excuse for not knowing the laws of the country and the guarantee of not being subjected to torture was “nothing will happen to me, I have relatives working in police”. Alas, the experience of the Committee Against Torture shows that such philosophy is acceptable only prior to the first time one has to deal with lawlessness of the police, when one realizes that links to relatives do not always help, and law-enforcement officers may well become victims of torture, themselves”.
Evgeny Litvinov, Ufa:
“Yesterday the re-opened branch of the Committee Against Torture in Bashkiria conducted its first picket in support of victims of torture. And it turned out to be surprisingly busy.
There were a lot of people who took interest. There were some who surprised that we organized this picket not for collecting money; for some it became a revelation that there are some police officers already brought to responsibility with regard to our cases, and that, in general, in our time one still can insist on justice to prevail. One senior citizen, who passed by, ironically reported that all his life he was tortured by the Soviet system.
In general, there were reasons to smile and to think, too. Sometimes, the people who came by spoke rather negatively about the 6th Police Department. We noted that for future”.
Timur Rakhmatulin. Orenburg:
“Every year we conduct a picket dedicated to the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, and traditionally distribute the copies of the Russian Constitution to the citizens of Orenburg. Every year I realize how little how citizens are aware of human rights, and many of them see the copy of the Constitution for the first time. But not all are like that.
At some moment a girl came near. I said hello, told her about our picket and why we are conducting it. I offered her a copy of the Constitution as a gift. To my surprise, she declined the offer, saying that she had one at home, and that she bought it herself. Then she very sincerely thanked us, told us that we were doing a very important mission and continued on her way.
This girl finished school this year. Which means, she’s still a child, but, unlike many adults, she still cares for what is going on in the country. After all, the best things start and develop only due to the fact that some non-indifferent people turn up.
In general, despite the fact that torture is a completely gloomy subject, the picket turned out to be quite positive: the people who took part in it, believe that it is possible and necessary to fight torture! Once again, great many thanks to all the participants of the picket, who came to support us”.
Sergey Romanov. Krasnodar:
“Yesterday we conducted training for thirty defense lawyers of the region. We shared our experience of collecting and recording torture evidence, as well as of conducting public investigations and applications to the European Court of Human Rights.
For us it was a pleasant opportunity to share our knowledge with lawyers, who often deal with the complaints of their clients against brutal treatment.
It is pleasing to note that all the participants of the training expressed their wish that there will be more of such trainings in future. We hope that will be the case.
Sergey Shounin. Nizhny Novgorod:
“Yesterday I worked as a tour guide at your exhibition dedicated to the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.
Different people were coming, the majority of which, fortunately, have not dealt with the problem of torture in person, but they were interested in the mere fact that tortures still exist in the times of block chain and emerging nanotechnologies.
I answered to dozens of questions, listened to different words of support addressed to the Committee Against Torture).
I remember a group of upper-form pupils who not only asked clever questions and listened attentively, but also said they wished we had a normal civil society which would have both ability and desire to fight for one’s rights and would do it in a civilized way.
Incredible youngsters they were…
Due to the fact that our belated visitors were looking at our exhibit item very attentively and with feeling and then asked questions, the exhibition was extended by thirty minutes longer than it was planned”.
Dmitry Piskounov. Moscow:
“Yesterday, together with the Sakharov Center, we conducted the premier of movie “The Prisoner of the Caucasus. Murad Amriev”. The movie is dedicated to a complicated story of Murad Amriev, ММА Champion of the World according to the World Mixed Martial Arts Federation, and a native of Chechnya. According to Murad, in 2013, he was tortured at the police department and he was forced to leave Russia.
The author of the movie, and in addition – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Evgeny Chilikov delivered a speech at the premier of the movie and described the challenges which he had to face during the shooting. During three months Evgeny together with cameraman Aleksey Novikov visited Nizhny Novgorod, Grozny, Moscow, Bryansk, Kiev and Dobrush in order to make sense of complicated circumstances of Murad Amriev’s abduction in summer 2017, during his short visit to Russia.
The film presentation at the Sakharov Center was an exclusive opportunity to watch this gloomy and enthralling movie. In this film, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture, as well as direct participants of the last year’s events told how Murad Amriev was taken off the train by the border guards, how he found himself at the Detention Facility in Bryansk, how he hid himself in the woods for several hours, how he was detained by the Belarus law-enforcement officers and in secret handed over to the Chechen siloviki. The film features the music by Andrey Prokhorov, also known as CORVAD, who managed to capture the atmosphere of these events very precisely”.