Was journalist Irina Slavina inticed to suicide through pressure exerted by the state?


02 October 2021

Photo Irina Slavina

The Committee Against Torture completed a public investigation of Irina Slavina’s self-immolation and intends to ensure that the criminal case is opened. The human rights defenders came to a conclusion that the journalist was subjected to an organized pressure by the authorities for a long time. The Committee’s lawyers submitted an application addressed to head of the 2nd section for major cases investigation with the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee and the Nizhny Novgorod region human-rights ombudsman.

On the day of Irina Slavina’s memory, the Committee Against Torture publishes the evidence provided by a friend of hers, an Orthodox priest, whom the journalist asked to pray for her a few days before her death.

In October 2020, the Committee Against Torture started a public investigation of the fact of Irina’s self-immolation. Human rights defenders questioned Slavina’s friends, colleagues and relatives. All of them are confident that the act of self-immolation was caused by long and organized prosecution of the journalist by law-enforcement authorities, and not by the psychiatric disorder which the investigative authorities claimed. The official posthumous expert examination, mentioning “personality disorder”, was disproved by the review of experts-criminologists in the course of the Committee’s investigation.

The information gathered by the present time does not allow talking about incitement of Irina to suicide (some of the attributes that Article 110 of the Criminal Code of the RF covers, are missing). However, the materials point at the possibility of the elements of crime under Articles 144, 285 and 286 of the Criminal Code being present in the actions of the executives of the Chief Directorate of the Ministry of the Interior of Russia for the Nizhny Novgorod region, which involve:

  • Obstruction of journalists’ legal professional activity
  • Abuse of office
  • Exceeding official authority

In addition, the Committee Against Torture came to the conclusion that the check performed by the investigative authorities was ineffective. The investigative authorities did not provide any evaluation of the circumstances indicating possible presence of the elements of the above-mentioned crimes in the actions of the law-enforcement officers. Based on the results of the personal appointment, the Prosecutor of the Nizhny Novgorod region claimed that he did not identified any illegal actions by law-enforcement authorities. The Prosecutor’s Office of the Nizhegorodsky District notified (the document is available with the Committee) that no violations during the search of Irina Slavina’s apartment were established.

“The results of the public investigation do not leave any doubts that the pressure exerted on the journalist was thoroughly organized. Development and approval of the reports and rulings in regard to Irina Slavina’s publications were running smoothly. It is obvious that it could not have been possible without a green light from the superiors. Slavina’s media outlet «KozaPress» was popular in the Internet, and her striking articles were raising the issues which were too uncomfortable”, — lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Sergey Shonin comments.

Irina’s close friend, serving Orthodox priest, whose identity the Committee does not disclose at his request, contacted the human rights defenders. The priest agreed to publish his evidence on the day of Irina’s memory:

«… we got acquainted via the Internet in 2017, when I learned that someone cut Irina’s car tires. I gave her some moral support… Subsequently I used to keep correspondence with Irina on various subjects, sometimes we would argue… If one reads her feed, her whole life consisted of continuous troubles, fines and griefs, in church terminology. Some Irina’s statements were harsh, but I did not encounter anything out-of-limit or inadequate. I did not receive any messages from Irina, indicating extreme emotional condition”.

According to the priest, on the day of the search in her apartment, he sent her some words of support in Telegram. Her last message to the priest that she sent the day before her suicide were words “Pray for me”.

I asked whether she was baptized, as in our previous communication she expressed herself as an atheist, — the priest said. – Irina said she was baptized. On the day of her death I sent her the photo of a memorial plate with names of the priests executed by the Soviet authorities. I wanted to talk to her, inspire her for the sacrament and remind her that there are situations a lot worse than hers. I did not receive anything in response, and 40 minutes later I read in social media that Irina died”.  

The Committee Against Torture’s lawyers intend to continue their work to ensure that an effective check under Articles 144, 285, 286 o the Criminal Code of Russia, which will allow establishing the fact of violation of Article 2 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“right to life”) in regard to Irina Slavina.

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