«There are always problems with you, human rights defenders.» A participant of the «Golos» movement stated that during a search the policemen stepped on his back and punched him in the back of the head


19 September 2023


On 17 August, there were police searches in the apartments of participants and observers of the «Golos» movement in different regions of Russia. These searches were connected with the case of organizing the work of an undesirable non-governmental organization (Part 3 of Article 284.1 of the Criminal Code). That criminal case was opened against the co-chairman of the movement, Grigory Melkonyants. According to Vladimir Zhilkin, early in the morning the policemen entered his Moscow apartment, intending to search it, and made him face down on the floor because he insisted on inviting an attorney.

48-year-old Vladimir Zhilkin is an observer from the «Golos» movement. Vladimir told the CAT lawyers that at 06:00 on 17 August, unknown people began persistently ringing the doorbell of the vestibule in the apartment building in Moscow where he lives. When Mr. Zhilkin’s wife, Natalya, came out, these men said that they needed to get into a neighboring apartment. Since the neighbors did not open the door, the men broke into that flat, but after a few minutes, probably realizing that they had entered the wrong domicile, they began knocking on Zhilkins’s door. 

Vladimir Zhilkin indicates the following: «I opened the door and saw a crowd of masked individuals. A man in civilian clothes started talking to me, none of them introduced themselves; that man waved the search warrant in front of my nose. I asked him to hand it over to me to read it, but he refused

Mr. Zhilkin claims that he insisted on calling an attorney, but the policemen also denied this request. According to Vladimir, he continued to insist on respecting his rights, but at that moment one of the officers shouted «On the floor!». 

«As soon as I lay on the floor, I felt that somebody’s legs were standing on my back, I felt a crunch in that area. Then I received a blow to the back of my head, it seemed like it was a fist, I tensed up because I was afraid that they would hit me again

The officers took Mr. Zhilkin’s mobile phone and, as he claims, they started demanding the phone’s password. Vladimir informed them that after the blows to the head he did not remember the code. Subsequently, Vladimir was taken to the kitchen, where the policemen began to draw a search protocol. According to Mr. Zhilkin, he was told that the search was connected with the «Golos» organization. Vladimir insisted on the lawyer and underlined that his rights were being violated, but one of the officers said: «There are always problems with you, human rights defenders.» 

Vladimir further claims that he was taken out of the apartment onto the street and put into a black minibus. He was first taken to the trauma center, where Mr. Zhilkin told the doctor that he had been beaten. That doctor prescribed a tomography and therefore sent Vladimir to another hospital, where Vladimir was diagnosed with a bruise of the soft tissues of the head and back.

After the examination, Mr. Zhilkin was taken to the Tverskoy investigative department situated at Petrovka street, 19. Vladimir met his attorney there and, having been questioned as a witness, was released with a commitment to appear. On 20 August, a local police officer came to Vladimir. As Mr. Zhilkin says, this officer questioned him about the beatings, since relevant information had been received from the trauma center. However, nobody contacted Vladimir again. 

The CAT lawyers applied to the Internal security department of the Moscow Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs with a demand to conduct an inquiry into the relevant officers’ actions.

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