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Torture in Russia: reference information on torture cases monitored by russian human rights ngos

September 25, 2006 14:26

Out of 136 cases submitted by Russian human rights NGOs and monitored by the Public Verdict Foundation during the period July 2005 - July 2006, 70% or 95 cases are concerned with unlawful violence and abuse of citizens by agents of the state, and 10,5% (10) of them are cases which have already resulted in convictions.

The geography of torture include Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, Chita Oblast, Ryazan Oblast, Moscow and Moscow Oblast, Kemerovo Oblast, Chuvashia Republic, Republic of North Osetia-Alania.

A review of these cases (detailed description of each case is attached below) leads us to a conclusion that in most cases, torture is used to: force a confession (in two cases), to force to comply with an unreasonable request, other cases included hazing among military conscripts (in two cases), seeking to demoralize, to humiliate, and to cause bodily injuries (in two cases), seeking to stop a journalist from legitimate professional activity (in one case), seeking to demonstrate power due to official position, combined with disrespect of individuals' constitutional rights (in two cases), and denial of a detainee's legitimate request (in one case).

Torture was carried out: in an office at a police station (in two cases); elsewhere in a police station (in one case); in a public place (in one case); in the street (in one case), in motorway (in one case), in the army unit (in two cases), elsewhere in clinical hospital of ambulance (in one case).

The following objects were used as torture implements: electric shock (in one case), a rubber baton, handcuffs (in three cases), so-called 'swallow' (in one case), a gas mask (used to suffocate the victim in the so-called 'elephant' torture - in one case), baton with reflecting cat's eye (in one case).

The methods of torture included: beating the victim (in six cases); tying the victim up and long keeping in a painful position (in one case); suffocation with a gas mask, transmission of electric discharge through the victim's body (in one case); threat of rape, beating the victim with a rubber baton (in one case); striking the victim's head with a baton with reflecting cat's eye in mo-tion (in one case).

In one case, torture was used against minors (under 18).

Below we describe two incidents of the most cruel and inhuman torture among all cases that we have analyzed.

On 28.10.2003, Stepanov was suspected of stealing cattle and delivered to Vershino-Darasunsky Police Station, Tungochensky District, by deputy chief of the said police station O. V. Ivanov and senior criminal police agent Yu. M. Khyazev. Stepanov denied his involvement in the theft of the cattle. Then the policemen decided they would beat a confession out of him. Stepanov's sister later testified in the courtroom reporting the words of their father that before his death, Stepanov told the father how Ivanov and Knyazev knocked him down and started beating and kicking - they wore heavy boots - on his head and trunk. They did not stop at that and literally danced on his body. Stepanov still denied the theft, so they thought of another torture - they lifted him above the floor and dropped him down repeatedly. The torture continued for four hours, but Stepanov refused to confess, and was allowed to go home. At home he felt very ill, he could not sit up or lie down, and could only crawl on the floor. He suffered extreme thirst. A few hours after he came home from the police station, he died in the arms of his elderly father; the beating caused a blunt injury of his abdomen, resulting in ruptures of the mesentery and intestinal arteries.

On 10.09.1998, Ms. Urutina reported disappearance of her daughter M. Savelyeva to Bogorodskoye Police Office. A police investigation determined that on the night between 8 and 9 September 1998 Savelyeva was seen with Mikheyev and his friend Frolov.

On the same day, 10.09.1998, Mikheyev, a traffic patrol policeman, was apprehended and delivered to Bogorodskoye Police Office, where the police officers forged a report of administrative violation and used this pretext to keep Mikheyev detained in the Police Office between 11 and 16 September. Each day, officers of Bogorodskoye Police Office spent between 10 and 12 hours trying to force Mikheyev to confess having raped and killed Savelyeva. They insulted and hit him, threatening to use torture.

On 16.09.1998, Mikheyev was transferred to Leninsky District Office of Interior and taken into custody. Before 19.09.1998, criminal police agents of Leninsky District Office of Interior Kosterin and Somovhad only threatened Mikheyev with physical torture to force a confession of rape and killing, but on 19.09.1998, they took him to a room in the 3d floor and tortured him with electric shocks. They placed Mikheyev on a chair facing the back of the chair and handcuffed in the front. Kosterin attached electrodes connected to a power outlet, to the victim's ears. Another policeman held the victim down pressing on his shoulders. The torture was repeated several times every 10 seconds, with increasing intensity. Mikheyev was in great pain, and his muscles contracted involuntarily. For a while, Mikheyev lost the ability to think clearly, he did not see or hear what was going on around him. He confessed having raped and killed Savelyeva.

Then Mikheyev was taken to another room where a prosecutorial officer questioned him. Mikheyev told the prosecutorial investigator about the use of torture that had caused him to confess.

The prosecutorial officer, who had expected to hear a confession, called Kosterin and told him to take Mikheyev "back where you brought him from." Kosterin brought Mikheyev to the same room as before, and the electric shocks continued.

Mikheyev screamed from pain, then he could no longer stand the torture; he jumped up from the chair, climbed on a desk, and rushed out of the window, breaking the glass. He fell hitting his back on a motorcycle cradle, which resulted in fracture of the first lumbar vertebra, lower spinal cord compression, contusion and crushing, disrupted function of pelvic organs, paralysis of lower extremities, and temporal bruising

To conceal the use of torture and to discourage the victims from pursuing their rights and demanding an investigation, police officers used the following methods: repeated denial to open a criminal case (in three cases), falsified expert conclusion (in one case).

Harm done to the torture victims included: death (in two cases); serious damage to health (in two cases); medium damage to health (in one case); minor damage to health (in one case). In two cases, there were no physical damage to health.

The following officials used torture (and were convicted): head of district investigation department; two criminal police detectives; senior criminal police detective; two deputy heads of police station; commanding officer in an alcohol detox center; head of group in district convoy department of police station; commanding officer of convoy department; officer driver of the Patrol Police Service; soldier; traffic police inspector, precinct police officer.

The time that elapsed between the complaint to law enforcement authorities and the conviction of the perpetrators (see tables below): in Kabakov case - more than 18 months, in Mikheev case - more than 7 years, in Shoikin case - more than 5 months, in Sankin case - more than 4 years, in Stepanov case - more than 2,5 years, in Berezin case - more than 2 years, on Gulin case - more than 1 month, in Dubrovinski case - more than 4 months, in Sorokin case- more than 2 months, in Kirii case - more than 4 months.

In the reviewed torture cases, a total of 13 law enforcement officers:

  • imprisonment - 10;
  • parole - 3

In 6 cases, an additional punishment was imposed - the convicts were banned from police service for a certain period.

In response to the victims' claims for compensation of moral and material harm caused by police abuse, the courts imposed the following damages:

  • 54000 rubles (approx 1,570 Euro) as a compensation of material damage;
  • 246000 rubles (approx 7,200 Euro) as a compensation of moral harm.

In accordance with the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Mikheyev v. Russia the Russian Federation paid to Mikheyev 120000 Euro as a compensation of moral harm and 130000 Euro as a compensation of material damage.

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