Mikhail Semin and Aleksei Ivanov are homeless individuals from St. Petersburg. In the spring of 2023, the men ended up in the Elizavetinskaya and Mariinskaya hospitals respectively, and, as the men claim, they were beaten by the hospitals’ staff there. The victims turned for help to Sergei Ievkov, executive director of the project «Charity hospital», and the latter forwarded the information to the lawyers of the Crew Against Torture. The CAT opened a public investigation into the events and filed crime reports in the interests of Mr. Semin and Mr. Ivanov with the Investigative Committee.
59-year-old Mikhail Semin was released from the correctional colony in 2004, and since then he has not had a permanent place of residence. The man has an amputated leg, and he sleeps in the street or inside the buildings’ entryways. In February 2023, Mikhail was sleeping near a store close to Tikhoretskaya str., from where he was taken by an ambulance. The medics, as the man suggests, were called by passers-by. Subsequently, the ambulance took Mr. Semin to the Elizavetinskaya hospital.
According to Mikhail, the hospital staff immediately tied him to the bed, although the man offered no resistance. «They squeezed my hands very hard; I begged to loosen the belts, but there was no reaction to my words».
Mr. Semin recalls that he spent about six hours being tied in such an uncomfortable position; he was not allowed to drink, eat or go to the toilet. When Mr. Semin was untied, he could not use crutches due to stiff hands, so he fell on the floor. According to Mikhail, instead of giving him some aid, the medic started to kick him out of the ward and beat him.
«He hit me in the face, my nose began to bleed, and then he kicked me in the back and forced a crumpled piece of toilet paper into my nose.»
Mr. Semin spent the night in the hospital without any treatment; besides, he received no medical documents. The hospital management does not deny that they tied the man to the bed, although they qualify it as «soft fixation». The deputy head of the institution told the CAT’s lawyers that this was not the first time that Mikhail had been put in the exogenous intoxication unit of the hospital (for treatment of patients with poisoning), getting there in a state of alcoholic inebriety. After his stay in the Elizavetinskaya hospital, Mr. Semin spent some time in the Botkin Hospital for Treatment of Infectious Diseases. Currently, Mikhail lives in the Lodeynopolskiy care home.
38-year-old Aleksei Ivanov has been living in St. Petersburg since 2007. He earns sporadically and therefore rents an apartment from time to time. Nowadays, he has no money, so he spends the nights in one of the entryways near the Obvodniy channel, along with a homeless woman named Yelena. In March 2023, Mr. Ivanov, while walking with friends along the embankment, suddenly lost consciousness. When Aleksei woke up in an ambulance, he saw that the medics were frisking his backpack. The man did not have the strength to dispute and he again lost consciousness. He came to his senses only in the Mariinskaya hospital, while he was being transported on a gurney. According to Aleksei, the medics started to search his pockets and backpack, and when Mr. Ivanov became indignant, he was beaten.
«One employee twisted my hands, and the second began to search my pockets. Then the second medic kicked my legs and punched me in the stomach area. As I wanted to leave the hospital, the third medic came and they together knocked me down. I was lying on the floor, and they randomly kicked my legs, ribs and head. My nose started bleeding.»
After the incident, Mr. Ivanov was lifted off the floor and taken to a room with bars on the windows. Aleksei fell asleep there. He does not know the number of hours that he had to spend there, as the hospital’s staff took away his mobile phone. There was no toilet in the room; Mr. Ivanov was not given any water or food. The man was released in the evening of the next day, and when his personal belongings were returned, Mr. Ivanov claims that he did not find his chargers, cigarette case and socks.
For several days, Aleksei had severe back and head pain; a week after the incident, painkillers were given to him in a charity bus on Atamanskaya str. He was also examined by a mobile clinic doctor there. According to the examination results, Aleksei had a closed craniocerebral injury, a concussion, a broken rib and an eye hematoma. Later, the CAT’s lawyers sent Mr. Ivanov to the traumatologist who diagnosed him with a fracture of two ribs and a bruised arm. Besides, the ophthalmologist recommended that Mr. Ivanov ought to have an eye operation.
The CAT’s lawyers launched a public investigation into the complaints of Mr. Ivanov and Mr. Semin. They lodged crime reports in their interests before the Russian Investigative Committee. Besides, the lawyers tried to obtain recordings from CCTV cameras in both hospitals. The management of the Elizavetinskaya hospital answered that the period for storing the records had expired, while the Mariinskaya hospital refused to provide the recordings, citing medical secrecy. The human rights activists believe that the actions of medics show some signs of abuse of power and insist on an official inquiry.