The case of underage Valery S. (the name is changed), apprehended at the rally in Moscow in 2021 will be returned for a new examination. The Lefortovsky District Court quashed the ruling of the Juvenile Affairs Commission, according to which Valery is accused of violating the rules of participating in a public event.
This winter, eight people applied to the Committee Against Torture and reported illegal violence applied against them by law-enforcement offices during the January protests in Moscow.
One of them, 17-year old Valery S., informed that on 31 January 2021 he was detained by the officers of the 2nd Special Police Regiment with the Chief Directorate of the Ministry of the Interior of Russia for Moscow. From the “Krasnoselskaya” metro station he and his step-father went on foot to Lefortovo district. When they saw that the police officers are coming to the groups of protesters, apprehending them and taking them to police vans, they decided to keep a distance. The police officers were wearing protective ammunition, their faces were covered with masks, they had rubber truncheons in their hands. At the crossroads near the Viktyuk Theater, a girl ran passed them, who suddenly fell and screamed. Valery help her to get up, after that she started to flee very fast. At that moment, Valery turned round and saw several police officers who held him by the shoulders and brought him on the snow.
This is how he recalls these events: “I felt a blow in the loin area, then a little to the left. In total, there were several blows, at least, three. I felt sharp pain and screamed loudly after the first blow. I did not offer any resistance to the police offices and could not understand why violence was applied against me. I was confused and did not understand what was going on”.
Together with his step father, Valery was taken to the Department of the Interior for the Southern Medvedkovo district, where from his mother picked him up in the evening. At home, she found red marks on his back made by rubber truncheons and applied to the first-aid station, where Valery was examined and hospitalized immediately.
Five days later, the teenager was released from hospital to be monitored by a surgeon, neuropathologist and ophthalmologist. His discharge epicrisis contains the following diagnosis: “a contusion of the loin area on the left”. A subsequently conducted psychological examination established its psycho-traumatic impact.
A crime report with regard to these facts was submitted to the Investigative Committee. However, no check followed. Despite the requirements of the law and departmental instructions, the officers with the Chief Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee registered the crime report as citizens’ application (no pre-investigative check is required based on citizens’ applications) and forwarded it to the inferior agency. From there it was forwarded to the department of internal security of the Department of the Interior for the Eastern Administrative District of the Ministry of the Interior for Moscow – exactly to the same department the officers of which were accused by the applicant of committing a crime. After Valery was apprehended, he was brought to administrative responsibility for “involvement in a protest action”.
Lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Petr Khromov, representing the interests of Valery S., asked the Juvenile Affairs Commission of the Lefortovo District to dismiss the administrative case due to absence of the element of legal offence. Human rights defender pointed at numerous procedural violations during drawing up of a protocol and discrepancies of the actual circumstances of the case and evidence obtained from the questioned witnesses. However, the Commission dismissed this motion, having made a decision through closed ballot. The issues of the teenager’s rights were sorted out by municipal servants, social workers, doctors, physical-education and sports instructors, a people’s guard and even by one police officer, all these people being members of the Commission.
On 6 April, the Commission declared Valery to be guilty, having indicated that Valery’s actions “contain elements of administrative offence under part 6.1 of Article 20.2 of the Criminal Procedure Code of the RF. The defendant’s arguments that his actions did not contain an event of an administrative offence with reference to the fact that he was not participating in an illegal public event, are inconsistent, since these arguments are disproved by the totality of the examined evidence and the objective substantiation of that during the case examination was not found” and imposed a fine on him in the amount of 10000 rubles.
Having disagreed with such ruling, Valery’s defense submitted an application to the Lefortovsky District Court, in which it pointed at severe violations committed during the examination of the case by the Commission and incompliance of the issued ruling with the requirements of the Criminal Procedure Code of the RF.
On 14 July, the Commission’s ruling was quashed by the court due to “significant violation of the procedural requirements which prevented from comprehensive and objective examination of the case”. The case is sent for re-examination.
The court ruling states that during witnesses’ questioning – the officers with the Ministry of the Interior of Russia, these persons were not explained their procedural rights and obligations, as well as provisions of Article 51 of the Constitution of the RF (the right to not witness against self and one’s close people), they were not warned about the administrative responsibility for perjury. When presenting the materials to the court, the Commission did not provide the evidence added to the materials of the case in the form of a CD and a flash-drive with a video record of the apprehension, as well as the photos and the screenshots of this record.
In addition, the court reminded the Commission of a condition which is mandatory to qualify the actions of a participant of an illegal public event: the consequences represented in creating obstacles to the functioning of critical infrastructure, transport or social infrastructure, as well as causal relationships between the performed actions (inaction) and the developed consequences.
“It is comforting that the court heard our arguments and decided to defend Valery’s rights, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Petr Khromov comments. – I hope that now the Juvenile Affairs Commission will increase the number of lawyers in its composition, who understand the rights of underage citizens. This will help to take a legal ruling during the new examination of the case. Our ultimate objective is to prove that Valery’s actions do not amount to administrative offence, and after that, I am sure, the Investigative Committee will finally take necessary steps to check the application on illegal use of physical force against the teenager”.