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Photo by regnum.ru

In Orenburg, the investigation of the criminal case based on the fact of incitement to suicide of convict Aleksandr Belousov at Penal Colony No.4 is dismissed for the fourth time. He complained that the colony officers abused him: hit him, did not provide medical assistance, dipped his head into the toilet pit. The investigators once again deemed that the rights of the deceased were not violated, and that he decided to take his own life aiming at loosening his custodial control.

As we have previously reported, on 5 August 2019, а man called to the Committee Against Torture and presented himself as Aleksandr Belousov. He told human rights defenders that he was serving sentence at Penal Colony No.4 of the Department of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia for the Orenburg region. Aleksandr reported that he and other convicts are regularly subjected to abuse and battery by the penal institution officers. According to Aleksandr, the convicts’ abuse and abasement of human dignity by the way of dipping their heads in the toilet pit is in common practice at the penal colony. According to Aleksandr, he was inflicted serious sufferings due to the fact that the penal colony officers refused to provide him with appropriate medical assistance for asthma treatment.

The person who made the call asked human rights defenders to give this information to the Prosecutor’s Office, make it public in social networks and the media. On the next day, lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Timur Rakhmatulin handed over the data submitted by Belousov to the Prosecutor’s Office providing supervision of legal compliance at penal institutions.

On 12 August 2019, some man called human rights defenders office, this time some unknown man called who reported that Aleksandr Belousov hanged himself. On the same day, the parents of the deceased, Tatyana Belousov and Sergey Belousov applied to the Committee Against Torture. In their statement they asked to conduct a public investigation and render legal assistance based on the fact of their son’s death. Lawyers with the Committee Against Torture applied to the Investigative Committee with a crime report as well as submitted a number of motions to perform checking activities.

On 3 September 2019, Senior Investigator of the Investigative Department of the Investigative Department for the Northern Administrative District of Orenburg of the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Orenburg region Lyubov Dyekina opened a criminal case with regard to the crime committed against Aleksandr Belousov, provided by part 1 of Article 110 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“incitement to suicide”).

Starting from October 2019 to 30 December 2020, the investigation of this criminal case was illegally dismissed three times.  Human rights defenders also point out the ineffectiveness of the investigative activities. For example, only 8 months after human rights defenders’ application, on 30 April 2020, investigator Vladimir Yartsev decided to question lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Timur Rakhmatulin, with whom Aleksandr Belousov talked on the phone a few days before his death.

In the spring of 2021, the regional Prosecutor’s Office joined in the case. On 11 March, Deputy Prosecutor of the Orenburg region Andrey Vyazikov passed a ruling, in which he declared the conducted investigation to be incomplete and applied to the court with a motion. It was satisfied by the Leninsky District Court of Orenburg and the investigation was resumed. However, on 14 July, human rights defenders learned that investigator Nadezhda Vorobeykina dismissed the case for the fourth time due to absence of the criminal event. 

“We have to establish that the Investigative Committee is not interested in the objective investigation of the circumstances which resulted in Belousov’s decision to take his own life, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Timur Rakhmatulin comments. – Once again we shall be appealing against the investigator’s ruling. But it’s not worth believing that the effective investigation will be carried out at the national level. In the nearest future, the Committee will submit an application to the European Court of Human Rights”.

Photo from Irina Slavina page on Facebook 

In October 2020, the Committee Against Torture started a public investigation of the fact of Irina’s self-immolation. The information gathered by the present time does not allow talking about incitement of Irina to suicide (part of the attributes that Article 110 of the Criminal Code of the RF covers, are missing). However, as a result of the investigation, human rights defenders with the Committee made a conclusion that for a long time Slavina was subjected to organized pressure.

“It’s enough to open Slavina’s Facebook page and read her posts of previous several months to realize what degree of emotional stress the journalist was”, — lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Sergey Shounin comments. 

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 cynical prosecution of the journalist by the authorities. According to Irina’s friends, relatives, and colleagues, she did not have any psychiatric disorder. However, this subject was discussed publicly. The official posthumous expert examination, mentioning “personality disorder”, was disproved by the review of experts-criminologists in the course of the Committee’s investigation. 

Examination of the materials of numerous administrative cases opened against Irina documents on the criminal case of Mikhail Iosilevich, the journalist’s personal archive and her social networks’ accounts helped to restore day by day the full picture of system-based and regular pressure exerted on the journalist. 

The key event which Slavina feared the most, happened on 1 October 2020. It was a search in her apartment. Irina wrote about the form of this search in her social networks. Legality of this investigative activity raises some questions, — Sergey Shounin comments. — It’s after that when it became finally clear to her that soon it would become impossible for her to continue the journalist activity. Actually, she was losing a meaning of her life”. 

The examined materials point at possible presence of crimes covered by Article 144 of the Criminal Code of the RF (obstruction of legal professional activity of journalists), Article 285 of the Criminal Code of the RF (abuse of office), Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the RF (abuse of office), as well as Article 306 of the Criminal Code of the RF (willfully false crime report) in the actions of the executives of the Department of the Interior of Russia for the Nizhny Novgorod region and of the Prosecutor’s Office of the Nizhny Novgorod city, as well as of other unidentified persons.

Lawyers with the Committee intend to continue their work to establish the facts of violation of Article 2 of the Convention on protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms (“right to life”) with regard to Irina Slavina.

Событие | Пресс центр

29 июля 2021