A Review of human rights violations by law enforcement officials in Russia.
November 17, 2004 14:00
A Review of human rights violations by law enforcement officials in Russia.
The Public Verdict Foundation, an organization committed to creating an atmosphere of public intolerance to abusive practices by law enforcement agents in Russia and to establishing public control over law enforcement, has reviewed and analyzed data provided by human rights organizations regarding human rights abuse by law enforcement officials. (This review was prepared by the Public Verdict Foundation. It is based on human rights abuse cases referred to us by our partner NGOs - Nizhni Novgorod Committee against Torture, Kazan Human Rights Center, Individual and Law in Yoshkar-Ola, and Krasnokamsk Human Rights Center.)
The review has shown that in most cases, human rights are abused by members of the Ministry of Interior (police) and prosecutorial officials (members of the Russian Procuracy) (see Section I). It is specified that the police, as a general rule, act in violation of Articles 2, 3, 5, and 8 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (Rome, 1950)(Hereinafter, the European Convention.), namely, the right to life, prohibition of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the right to integrity of person in relation to deprivation of liberty, and the right to respect for private and family life and home. Under domestic law, the said acts are treated under Article 286 of the Russian Criminal Code, as are other crimes committed by persons in an official position - such as abuse of power or forgery by an official, and crimes against individual.
Members of the Russian Procuracy [prosecutorial bodies], such as prosecutors, assistant prosecutors, investigators, practice human rights abuse by failure to act, that is to say, they fail to comply with their legal obligation to implement a full, objective and effective investigation of the aforementioned typical human rights violations, which, depending on the circumstances, may be qualified as violations of articles 3, 6 and 13 of the European Convention (see Section 2).
Section 1. Patterns of Human Rights Abuse by Police Officers
1. The typical circumstances
Practice: The use of physical and psychological violence during arrest, detention, and questioning of a suspect
Nizhny Novgorod Oblast
The Pochinkovsky District Court in Nizhny Novgorod Oblast determined that on February 2, 2003, the Head of Criminal Police Department in Bolsheboldinsky District of Nizhny Novgorod Oblast tortured Mr. Dolgashev. He beat Mr. Dolgashev causing him bodily harm when trying to obtain a confession of a theft of alcohol.
On two occasions - in January 2002 and in February 2003, respectively, police in Balakhninsky District, Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, tortured Mr. Ochelkov under similar circumstances, as reported by the victim.
On November 25, 1999, Ms L. was tortured by Nizhny Novgorod police who tried to obtain a confession of the theft of a hand pouch.
On 22.01.2004, Mr. Kanakhin was summoned to the Department of Organized Crime Control (UBOP) in the city of Pavlovo following allegations that he had extorted money from Mr. Stozhkov. In questioning him, UBOP officers beat Mr. Kanakhin, inflicting bodily harm.
Marii El Republic
Mr. Orlov reported to prosecutorial bodies that on November 29, 2002 district police officers in Yoshkar Ola subjected him to cruel and unusual torture to force a confession.
On January 12 and 26, 2004, police officer Dmitriev subjected Mr. Yarovikov to physical and psychological torture forcing a confession of a number of thefts.
On July 4, 2004, Zarechny district police officers in Yoshkar Ola unlawfully detained Mr. Almakaev. He was taken to the police office and tortured, both psychologically and physically, in an attempt to force Almakaev to confess the theft of a bag from a woman.
On May 17, 2004, Zarechny district police officers in Yoshkar Ola, while raiding illegal car parking lots, detained Mr. Tulovchikov and Mr. Abrosimov without any apparent reasons or grounds, and tortured them trying to get a confession of having been employed as security by an illegal parking lot.
Republic of Tatarstan
On February 16, 2003, criminal police agent Garifullin of Sovetsky District criminal police department in Kazan and intern Abdullin unlawfully detained and tortured underage suspects Nuriev and Petrov forcing a theft confession. The criminal prosecution against Nuriev and Petrov was dropped, while police agent Garifullin was convicted and got a probational sentence. Intern Abdullin was prosecuted in separate criminal proceedings.
In Ryazan, Ms. Trushkina, a student, was detained and tortured by district police officers. She reports that police officer Ignatkin who questioned her about a missing cell phone said that he would "beat the truth out of her anyway." After another police officer beat her in Ignatkin's presence, the latter forced her to sign a piece of paper on the reverse side, which he then filled, but would not let her see.
Police officers Averin, Svyazhin, Baskov, and Pluzhnikov were convicted for abuse of power which they committed on March 4, 2003, in Yekaterinburg. They unlawfully searched a room occupied by husband and wife Yazovskikh, at night and with procedural violations. After the search, they took the victims to Verkh-Issetsky District Police Department, where officer Averin beat Mr. Yazovskikh forcing him to confess a theft, and broke his nose.
Practice: Unjustified use of firearms and physical force in arresting drivers for traffic offences.
On the night of December 17-18, 2002, in Krasnokamsk, Perm Oblast, Mr. Bityukov's car was followed by traffic police for a formal violation of traffic rules (failure to activate the turn signal in time). In chasing Mr. Bityukov, the police fired at his car, wounding the driver - Mr. Bityukov, and causing injuries to his passenger Mr. Supreev (a handicapped person) by shattered glass. When the car stopped, Bityukov and Supreev were beaten by the police.
On May 24, 2003, also in Krasnokamsk, police officer Gusev, without any reasons authorizing the use of force by police (Article 13 of the Russian Law on Police) and in contravention of conditions and procedures established for any official use of force (Article 12 of the same law), in the presence of many passers-by, cruelly beat and kicked underaged Mr. Tuzhilkin who had been driving a motorbike without a license, inflicting injuries to the boy. At the same time, police officer Sazhin forced the motorbike passengers, underaged Agafonov and Bolotov, to drop to the ground and held them down, although they had not committed any formal offence.
Republic of Tatarstan
Criminal police agent Fatykhov of Alkeevsky District Police Department was convicted for abuse of power, which was an unjustified use of firearms, on October 4, 2003, in chasing two minors - Mr. Shamsutdinov driving a motorbike and his passenger Mr. Kharitdinov, who suffered from bullet wounds of the thorax and stomach, respectively.
Practice: Unlawful detention and use of force against non-offenders for insignificant reasons or for no reason.
Republic of Tatarstan
Ms. Martynova reports that on August 13, 2003, she suffered an unprovoked beating by police removing her from the premises of Tetyushsky Police Department, Tatarstan, where she was trying to obtain information about the destiny of her husband detained by police. The police beat her causing bodily injuries.
It was only during the trial session that assistant criminal agent Smetanin of Privolzhsky Police District in Kazan formally apologized to Mr. Ionov for having caused severe damage to the victim's health. The court stated that on November 19, 2003, the said policeman beat Mr. Ionov on the police station premises causing a blunt injury of the victim's thorax, breaking his rib and damaging his lung for the sole reason that the victim "was making noise and swearing."
The criminal investigation based on the complaint by Mr. Suleimanov against unlawful actions by police found that on February 9, 2001, Aviastroitelny district police officers (Kazan) beat him in response to his request that they identify themselves and produce their identity papers. Suleimanov suggested that they should go to a police station. There, police officers beat him without any reason other than stated above, handcuffed him, used teargas, stole 5 thousand rubles from his bag, tore his clothes, and locked him up in the "cage."
Nizhny Novgorod Oblast
Mr. Gusev, underaged, was beaten and injured by criminal police agent Alyoshin of Avtozavodsky District Police, unlawfully detained and taken to police station on May 8, 2001, after Gusev defended his pregnant sister, Senichkina, whom police officer Alyoshin offended using obscene language during a search, and then unlawfully detained (neither Gusev, nor Senichkina had committed any legal offences, and there were no legal reasons to suspect them of any crime).
On November 16, 2000, district police inspectors Khoryakov and Frolov from Kanavinsky Police Department of Nizhny Novgorod beat Mr.Oleinik until he lost consciousness, following Oleinik's request that the policemen who had detained him for no legitimate reason should identify themselves. Both policemen were convicted for abuse of power and causing the victim bodily harm of medium severity.
A prosecutorial review found that on December 20, 2003, Mr. Mardanov was detained by police officer Ivanchenko of Krasnokamsky Police Department, Perm Oblast, during a quarrel between Mardanov and his wife in their own apartment. The policeman broke Mardanov's arm while detaining him.
The local court determined that on February 25, 2001, at the Polyot Hotel in Krasnoyarsk, Mr. Sanochkin was unlawfully detained by police officer of Sovetsky Police Department of Krasnoyarsk and accused of minor misdemeanor [minor hooliganism] for insisting that the hotel receptionist should accept his driver's license as ID for checking him in the hotel. Ironically, it was Sanochkin who called the police to mediate the conflict.
Practice: Unlawful detention and use of force against individuals for reasons unrelated to law enforcement or procedure
Republic of Tatarstan
On December 5, 2003, in Kazan, Mr. Magsumov and Mr. Nizamutdinov were detained by four policemen who planted illicit drugs on them and extorted 100 thousand Rubles. The police said that unless the money was delivered within an hour, they would report drug dealing and initiate a prosecution. Now the extorters are under criminal investigation.
On September 1, 2003, Mr. Shishkin was unlawfully detained by police in Naberezhnye Chelny, Tatarstan, and taken to Avtozavodsky Police Department, where he was severely beaten and abused, which resulted in medium-degree damage to his health. The reason for the beating was that two years earlier, Mr. Shishkin had reported similar police abuse, and two officers of Avtozavodsky Police Department had been prosecuted and convicted as a result.
On May 14, 2003, following a personal request by a relative of police officer Ashirov, in Almetyevsk (Tatarstan), Ashirov and three other members of the city police department - Ismagilov, Martynenko and Gubaidullin - detained in the street and brought to the police department three school students - Safin, Tukhbatullin and Faizutdinov. The teenagers later gave detailed and consistent testimonies evidencing that a "preventive discipline session" by the said policemen consisted of cruel beating, abuse and humiliation. All three teenagers suffered injuries as a result of police abuse.
On October 18, 1998, in Kemerovo, police officers Lapitsky and Gref of Leninsky District Police Department, in contravention of their official duty and the law on police, failed to stop Khusnutdinov, Matushev and Botchenko from beating Mr. Karataev in a cafe. Officer Gref failed to act while he watched officer Lapitsky join the offenders in beating and kicking Mr. Karataev, causing the victim severe bodily harm and potentially life-threatening injuries
On June 5, 2001, Mr. Kuzmin, a teacher at High School [Lyceum] No 10, Stavropol, was summoned to the local police station during his workday by the precinct police officer in Promyshlenny District of Stavropol, where a civilian man unknown to Kuzmin, while physically pushing him, demanded that Kuzmin pay damages to the father of a pupil he had had a conflict with. Then police officers Belenko and Chernov beat the teacher, handcuffed him and locked him up in a cell.
The Chechen Republic
As determined by preliminary investigation, on January, 2, 2001 in Grozny, the Chechen Republic, officer Lapin of the anti-terrorist group of Octyabrsky VOVD [Temporary Police Department] attempted to coerce Mr. Murdalov, a detained criminal suspect, to becoming a police informant. After Murdalov refused, officer Lapin together with someone who was not identified beat Murdalov with a rubber baton, causing the victim severe bodily harm and potentially life-threatening injuries.
Practice: Use of force, in the presence of police officers, by their former (resigned or removed from active duty) colleagues, or by police off duty.
Republic of Tatarstan
On the night between 26 and 27 March 2003 in Kazan, police officer Dorzhiev (off duty at the moment), in presence of two policemen called to the site, beat Mr. Elgukaev with a rubber baton causing injuries - the beating, reportedly, was related to an earlier conflict with Elgukaev. The Court closed criminal proceedings against Dorzhiev following his active repentance.
Nizhny Novgorod Oblast
On July 8, 2003, around 2 p.m. in Nizhny Novgorod, former policeman Mr. Kondratyev, beat Mr. Generalov, allegedly for having beaten Kondratyev's relative, handcuffed him and together with Avtozavodsky District Police officers delivered Generalov to the police station, where Kondratyev continued beating the handcuffed man with a rubber baton causing bodily harm, while criminal police agent Tulyakov of Avtozavodsky District Police watched, and after the beating, locked up Generalov in a cell for administrative detainees without any legal grounds.
2. Instruments and methods
The Foundation keeps files on 27 cases, where victims reported unauthorized use rubber batons and handcuffs and other means of restraint and punishment.
Republic of Tatarstan
Teenagers Safin, Tukhbatullin and Faizutdinov have reported that police officer Gubaidullin would take them, one by one, to the toilet room and forcefully push their heads into the toilet bowl (Almetyevsk, Tatarstan, May 14, 2003). Safin was handcuffed.
On February 16, 2003, criminal police agent Garifullin from Sovetsky Police Department in Kazan handcuffed underaged Petrov and Nuriev to a pipe and used the "gas mask torture."
On September 1, in Avtozavodsky Police Department in Nizhny Novgorod, police handcuffed Mr. Shishkin and used to so-called "swallow torture," when the victim is lying face down, handcuffed behind his back, while his legs are bent backward and attached to the handcuffs; they hanged Shishkin upside down by the leg. They dropped him to the floor, head down. They pushed a rag down his throat, choking him.
Mr. Suleimanov's report which was used to initiate criminal prosecution of Aviastroitelny District Police Department officers in Kazan, says that he was beaten, handcuffed, and teargassed.
On the night between 26 and 27 March 2003, a rubber baton was unlawfully used against Mr. Elgukaev when he was beaten by police officer Dorzhiev.
Nizhny Novgorod Oblast
According to Mr. Ochelkov, he was tortured by being handcuffed to various objects, subjected to electric shocks on his fingers, forced to wear a gas mask with air supply cut off, and then water was thrown on him to bring him back. He was tied up in a "swallow torture." Chair and table legs were used to hit him on the head and other parts of the body. In addition, on January 16, 2002, police officers in Zavolzhye, Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, forced him to sit on a chair for 16 hours. Similarly, handcuffs, a gas mask, and electric shocks on the handcuffs were used when he was tortured in Balakhnino Police Department on February 14 and 15, 2002.
On November 25, 1999, in Nizhny Novgorod Police Department, Ms L. was hit on the face with her own scarf, she was thumbcuffed, and told to take the penis of police officer Khmelev into her mouth. He tried to force his penis into her mouth and then he raped her.
On February 2, 2003, in Bolsheboldinsky District of Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, Head of Criminal Police Department Bolshakov hit Mr. Dolgashev with an object that looked like a pistol.
On January 22, 2004, policemen in Pavlovo tortured Mr. Kanakhin by pressing sensitive points behind his ears, causing extreme pain.
On July 8, 2003, a rubber baton was unlawfully used on Mr. Generalov by former policeman Kondratyev, while criminal police agent Tulyakov of Avtozavodsky District Police watched.
On March 11, 2004, police in Beskudnikovo District of Moscow tortured Mr. Tokmakov by applying electric shocks to his fingers.
On March 21, 2004, police in Tsaritsino District of Moscow tortured Mr. N. by chocking him using a gas mask; they also handcuffed him, beat him with a rubber baton and forced it into his anus, and caused intense physical pain by pressing on his eye-sockets. All these acts were performed in the presence of a woman.
Marii El Republic
On November 29, 2002 Zavodskoy District police officers in Yoshkar Ola in addition to beating Mr. Orlov, choked him using a gas mask until he lost consciousness, and shoved needles under his fingernails.
On May 17, 2004, when police in Zarechny District of Yoshkar Ola unlawfully detained Mr. Tulovchikov and Mr. Abrosimov, they handcuffed the detainees and hit them with a baseball bat on their arms and hands.
On July 4, 2004, Zarechny district police officers in Yoshkar Ola tortured Mr. Almakaev: they hit him on the head several times with a plastic bottle half filled with water; forced him to do push-ups, and threatened to force him to perform oral sex on another detainee.
On 17 December 2001, police in Zarechny District in Yoshkar Ola unlawfully detained Mr. Rzhavin and delivered him to the police station barefoot and wearing only his underwear, while outside temperature was minus 21 Centigrade (about -6 F).
During the detention of Mr. Bityukov and Mr. Supreev in Krasnokamsk, Perm Oblast, on the night of December 17-18, 2002; underaged Shamsutdinov and Kharitdinov in Alkeevsky District of Tatarstan on October 4, 2003, and Mr. Kozlov on October 16, 2003, by Tetushky District Police, firearms were unlawfully used: PM pistols and an automatic gun in the latter case.
The Chechen Republic
On January 2, 2001, a rubber baton was unlawfully used on Mr. Murdalov when he was beaten by officer Lapin of the anti-terrorist group of Octyabrsky VOVD in Grozny.
2. Methods of covering up crimes and abuse
Practice: Causing the death of the victim of police abuse
The Chechen Republic
The criminal investigation found that on January, 2, 2001 in Grozny, the Chechen Republic, after officer Lapin of the anti-terrorist group inflicted potentially life-threatening injuries on Mr. Murdalov, Lapin took Murdalov away from the detention prison to an unknown destination. So far, the whereabouts of Mr. Murdalov and his destiny have remained unknown. The initial investigation into the abduction of Mr. Z.A.Murdalov, whose body has not been found, was implemented as part of criminal case No 15004 by the Department of General Procuracy in the North Caucasus. Witnesses were interviewed, and investigators were instructed to search the well where, reportedly, corpses had been dumped before. Later the search was effectively stopped and the file was forwarded to the Chechen Republic Procuracy. Currently, the proceedings have been suspended and nothing is being done to search for Mr. Murdalov's body.
Lapin has not been charged with killing Mr. Murdalov.
The indictment of police officers Gref and Lapitsky says that on October 18, 1998, at around 11 p.m., Lapitsky, having participated in the beating of Mr. Karataev in a Kemerovo cafe and having inflicted potentially lethal injuries to the victim, decided to cover his act and asked Mr. Mitushov to take Khusnudinov and Botchenko (other perpetrators of the beating), as well as the victim, out of the cafe, so that the police called to the site could not apprehend them. Advised by police officer Lapitsky, the perpetrators, having robbed the victim, left him lying in the street. About 1-3 hours later, Karataev died from injuries in his neck and stomach caused by the beating.
Mr. Shishkin, formally complaining of the beating and torture he was subjected to on September 1, 2003, by police of Avtozavodsky District in Nizhny Novgorod, wrote that after the beating and abuse he was placed in a cell, where he overheard a conversation between two policemen who said that they should "finish with him." They tried to choke him twice by pushing a rag into his mouth. Mr. Shishkin then faked death to save his life and to avoid further torture.
Practice: Attempts to discredit a victim
When police officers Ivanchenko and Drachyov of Krasnokamsky Police Department realized that excessive use of force and injuring Mr. Mardanov during a quarrel between Mardanov and his wife in their own apartment was unjustified, they claimed that the victim was drunk and delivered him to a sobering clinic [vytrezvitel']. However, the paramedic at the clinic refused to admit him, so Mardanov was locked up in a temporary detention house for no legal reason.
On November 19, 2003, police officer Smetanin of Privolzhsky District in Kazan beat Mr. Ionov and then transferred him to a sobering clinic.
Practice: Withholding the fact of detention from a detainee's relatives
On September 13, 2002, police of Tukaevsky District Department in Naberezhnye Chelny found that Mr. Khairullin summoned to a questioning was in a state of coma and had to be taken to hospital in an ambulance. In an attempt to conceal the fact, on the following morning, September 14, 2002, police lied to the victim's son that the victim had been sent to a temporary detention house in Naberezhnye Chelny.
Marii El Republic
Similarly, the police officer on duty in Zarechny Police Department of Yoshkar Ola withheld from the victim's mother that her son, underaged Tulovchikov, beaten by police on the day before, was still detained there.
Practice: Pressure against witnesses of abuse
It follows from explanations and reports by Mr. Karataev and Ms. Davlyatshina addressed to the Russian Prosecutor General and to the Kemerovo Prosecutor that Davlyatshina, who witnessed policeman Lapitsky beating Mr. Karataev's son, during the preliminary investigation was forcefully brought by police to Leninsky District Police Department of Kemerovo, where she was locked in the cage for 4-6 hours before questioning and confrontations, and then forced to deny or distort her previous testimony.
Police twisted her arms, locked her up in the cage together with a man, so she had to use the toilet in his presence, and threatened her (officer Lapitsky was one of those threatening her). On one occasion, Davlyatshina's husband was detained and locked up in the cage together with her for trying to defend his wife. Police threatened, beat and abused him as well.
Nizhny Novgorod Oblast
The judgment by Kanavinsky District Court of Nizhny Novgorod of May 28, 2003, says that in November 2000, precinct inspector of the Kanavinsky Police Department Nelidov who was in charge of official review following the complaint by Mr. Oleinik regarding abuse by policeman Khoryakov, coerced witnesses Khavroshechkin and Popov to testify contrary to Oleinik's statement. The judgment says that "False testimony prevented investigators from finding out the actual circumstances whereunder Oleinik suffered bodily injuries from being beaten by Khoryakov and Frolov."
Practice: Falsification of documents
The Chechen Republic
Officer Lapin of the anti-terrorist group of Octyabrsky VOVD in Grozny was charged under Article 292 of the Russian Criminal Code (forgery by a public functionary). In an effort to conceal the fact that on January, 2, 2001 he inflicted potentially life-threatening injuries on Mr. Murdalov, Lapin later falsified an application on behalf of the victim where he described different circumstances of the incident, and referred to different procedural and other documents. He also took Murdalov from the temporary detention house "to an unknown destination." So far, the whereabouts of Mr. Murdalov and his destiny have remained unknown.
Nizhny Novgorod Oblast
Having read the findings of prosecutorial review of Mr. Ochelkov's application regarding being beaten by police on January 17, 2002, the victim's lawyer lodged a formal complaint saying that police officer Makarov of Zavolzhsky Police District reported an administrative violation by Mr. Ochelkov on January 17, 2002, i.e. being found drunk in a public place in Zavolzhye. However, the review also found documentary proof that on that day Mr. Ochelkov was actually detained at the police station as a theft suspect.
Police officer Gerasimov of Sovietsky Police Department in Krasnoyarsk admitted forgery: on February 25, 2001, he made a report of administrative violation with deliberately untrue information that the detained Mr. Sanochkin had committed minor misdemeanor.
Section 2. Patterns of Human Rights Abuse by Prosecutorial Officials
The review has shown that the Russian prosecutorial bodies (the Procuracy) responsible, under Article 151 (investigative jurisdiction) of the Russian Criminal Procedure Code, for reviewing complaints about police abuse and initiating criminal investigation based on such complaints, fail to deliver the ultimate goal of criminal prosecution, i.e. bring the perpetrators to justice. Prosecutors empowered by Article 37 of the Criminal Procedure Code to supervise the lawfulness of preliminary investigation and to protect victims' rights and legitimate interests, are not using this power.
Practice: Refusal to open criminal investigation of police abuse
In the cases mentioned above involving policemen Dorzhiev, Chetvertakov, Garifullin, and Smetanin, where the said policemen abused power, committed violence against individuals, caused bodily harm and forged documents - cases that had been investigated and resulted in criminal convictions - the respective Procuracies (in Kazan on April 3, 2003; in Bolsheboldinsky District of Nizhni Novgorod Oblast on March 27, 2003; in Sovetsky District of Kazan on April 18, 2003; and in Privolzhsky District of Kazan on November 30, 2003) initially refused to open criminal investigations in response to complaints, failing to find criminal offences in the actions of the law enforcement officers.
In Krasnokamsk, Perm Oblast, the local Procuracy had to open a criminal investigation under Article 286(3a) - abuse of power with aggravating circumstances - against policemen Sazhin and Gusev only after the underaged victim's father, Mr. Tuzhilkin, effectively challenged a number of unlawful refusals to prosecute. However, the preliminary investigation into the crime committed by the policemen on May 24, 2003, has not been completed as of this writing.
In Almetyevsk, Tatarstan, the local deputy prosecutor, having verified the circumstances and found all legal reasons for criminal prosecution of policemen Ismagilov, Martynenko, Gubaidullin and Ashirov, and having confirmed that the detention of underaged Safin, Tukhbatullin and Faizutdinov was unlawful, nevertheless refused to prosecute on five consecutive occasions in the course of one year following the incident in response to complaints by the victims and their parents; each of the five refusals to prosecute was found unlawful by the higher Procuracy of the Tatarstan Republic and by courts, including the Supreme Court of Tatarstan, but criminal investigation of this obvious crime has not been opened as of this writing.
The prosecutorial investigator of Avtozavodsky District in Nizhny Novgorod initially refused to prosecute policemen who beat the underaged Gusev on May 8, 2001, but then the prosecutor had to open a criminal case on July 10, 2001, after the victim complained.
On December 23, 2003, Mr. Mardanov complained to the Krasnokamsk Procuracy about the police abuse, but his request to prosecute was turned down twice. On August 16, 2004, Mr. Mardanov challenged the third refusal to prosecute in Krasnokamsk City Court.
Similarly, the Pavlovo City Procuracy failed to properly investigate Mr. Kanakhin's complaint about police beating.
Similarly, the Avtozavodsky District Procuracy in Nizhni Novgorod, having verified Mr. Generalov's complaint of being beaten at the police station, has refused twice, since August 1, 2003, to open a criminal case against the police.
Practice: Intentional misinterpretation of police abuse by prosecutorial officials
On June 5, 2004, first deputy prosecutor of Almetyevsk, Mr. F. Badykov, refused to open a criminal case based on his review of detention and abuse of the underaged Tukhbatullin, Safin, and Faizutdinov. While he admitted that policemen Ashirov, Martynenko, Gubaidullin and Ismagilov violated the established procedure, he only found it to be a case of "disciplinary offence" so there was no reason to prosecute them under Article 285 (1) of the Russian Criminal Code. The prosecutor failed to substantiate or justify this finding.
The seriousness of police abuse was intentionally underestimated to fit the qualification of "disciplinary" rather than criminal, liability. The case for criminal liability was that police actions were collective, premeditated and coordinated, they caused harm to three teenagers who had not committed any offence and did not have any intention to do so (nothing in the prosecutorial review suggested otherwise); the mere fact of their unlawful detention was a violation of their individual rights and liberties, plus, discreditation of law enforcement bodies negatively affected the state and society in general.
Consequently, the judge of Almetyevsk City Court overruled the refusal to prosecute on August 18, 2004. The judge qualified the case as criminal abuse of power, not a disciplinary offence.
On June 28, 2004, a procuracy investigator in Krasnokamsk, Perm Oblast, refused to open a criminal investigation based on Mr. Mardanov's complaint. The prosecutorial official confirmed that Mardanov's injuries had been inflicted by policeman Ivanchenko when he unlawfully detained Mardanov; however, the case was categorized under Article 118 (3) (causing accidental harm), which by that time had been de-criminalized.
However, policeman Ivanchenko's actions do not fall under the said article, because he inflicted injuries intentionally through excessive use of force against Mardanov while detaining the victim without lawful reasons, which involves criminal liability. On 16 August 2003, Mardanov challenged the prosecutorial decision in Krasnokamsk City Court.
Practice: Inaction of superior and supervising prosecutors with regard to unlawful procedural decisions
Notably, in all cases quoted above, the unlawful procedural decisions were overruled due to persistent efforts of victims or their representatives, rather than at the initiative of supervising prosecutors.
On 25 April 2004, in Yoshkar-Ola, underaged Zykov was severely beaten with a baton when four police detained him as a crime suspect. Zykov suffered injuries as a result. Prosecutorial documents available do not identify the police.
The victim's mother complained to Marii El Republic Procuracy, but they refused to prosecute.
On 27 August 2003, the court overruled the refusal to prosecute as unfounded and unlawful.
Marii El First Deputy Prosecutor Maslov who had reviewed the lawfulness of the refusal to prosecute three months earlier, failed to find any of the irregularities pointed out by the court, and rejected Ms. Zykova's complaint.
As of this writing, Tetushsky District Prosecutor (Tatarstan) and superior prosecutors have failed to overrule the unlawful refusal, on August 23, 2003, to open a criminal case based on the complaint by Ms. Martynova who was abused and injured on August 13, 2003, in Tetushsky District Police Department. The decision not to prosecute was unjustified in and of itself, plus it was issued by someone who did not have the authority (under the code of procedure) to make such decisions; rather than a prosecutorial official, it was a police officer of Tetushsky Department who issued it. The same police officer Matyushin had unlawfully detained Ms. Martynova's husband, Mr. Vassin. Moreover, officer Matyushin attempted to justify his refusal to prosecute by saying that Ms. Martynova was injured when she accidentally fell down in the police building - her injuries included bruising of the tissues under the left eye, swelling of the jaw, and abrasions of the elbow and hip joints. In contrast, Ms. Martynova wrote to a human rights NGO that she had been beaten by police when she tried to find out what happened to her husband detained earlier by Matyushin.
Practice: Inaction of prosecutorial officials and their failure to protect victims of police abuse during initial investigation
Since July 10, 2001, the Avtozavodsky District Procuracy dropped the criminal investigation into the beating of the underaged Gusev on May 8, 2001, nine (sic!) times. Each time a higher procuracy or a court overruled the decision to drop the case. The most recent attempt to drop the case on April 24, 2004, was based on the same legal grounds as the first one.
Due to the fact that prosecutorial bodies have denied the victim the right to effective remedy, provided by Article 13 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, on June 22, 2004, the European Court admitted the application by Gusev and his sister Senichkina in which they allege violations of Articles 3, 5, 8, and 13 of the Convention.
The initial investigation into the case of Lapitsky and Gref charged with abuse of power and inflicting bodily harm, and with negligence, respectively, lasted for 44 months, before it was completed and forwarded to court by senior investigator Garibyan of the Russian General Procuracy on August 28, 2003. The initial investigation was suspended at least 10 times "due to the failure to establish the guilty parties." It was only due to persistent complaints and challenges by the victim's father, Mr. Karataev, that the decisions to suspend the case were overruled, and the investigation resumed.
On 26 February 2001, Leninsky District (the city of Kemerovo) Prosecutor Godovalov opened a separate criminal case against Mr. Karataev under Article 309 (1) (bribery or coercion to get a witness to change his/her statement). The Prosecutor claimed that Mr. Karataev had bribed the witness, Ms. Davlyatshina.
In May 2001, investigator Pavlov of Leninsky District brought formal charges against Mr. Karataev under Article 309 (1).
The criminal investigation of this particular case found that in December 2000 Mr. Karataev gave 60 rubles (US$2) to witness Davlyatshina and her husband.
Mr. Karataev explained that by giving her the money, he wished to reimburse Davlyatshina for the costs of attending the criminal proceedings.
On July 30, 2001, senior criminal prosecutor of the Russian Procuracy Main Investigative Department, Mr. Starodumov, reviewed the 'bribery' case on Mr. Karataev's request and closed the case against Karataev, overruling all related procedural decisions.
He wrote in his statement: "The victim's father, N.I. Karataev, aged 62 (in 2001), lost any confidence in official investigators and started his own investigation of the circumstances of his son's death. In his numerous complaints to a number of authorities he referred to inconsistencies, negligence, and a lack of operational support for the investigation. Prosecutorial officials in Kemerovo Oblast, having grown tired of Mr. Karataev's complaints, found a pretext to stop him." Unfortunately, this statement was the only document giving a fair assessment of the over-zealous prosecutorial actions where law was manipulated in order to stop an elderly victim from accessing justice. Mr. Karataev does not know of any prosecutorial officials having been made liable for numerous violations of the victim's rights, including unlawful prosecution of the victim.
Similarly, prosecutors failed to respond to the situation in Kazan, where investigator Bakirov denied the underaged Nuriev and Petrov their right to rehabilitation after the theft case against them was closed on May 20, 2003, and the court found in Garifullin case that the teenagers had made their confessions under torture. The said investigator closed the criminal case against the teenagers, but failed to recognize their right to rehabilitation under Art. 133 and 134 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The rights of the two underaged victims of torture and unlawful criminal prosecution have not been restored as of this writing.
Practice: Inadequate review and investigation of reports of police abuse, procedural delays, lack of prosecutorial oversight of pre-trial proceedings, and resulting unlawful procedural decisions
Prosecutor Lebed of Pavlovo, on three occasions, on February 4, 12, and 24, 2004 allowed his assistant Odintsov to prolong the review of Mr. Kanakhin's report of criminal offence, so the total duration exceeded one month, contrary to procedural requirements.
Article 144(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code allows prolonging the initial review only once for a maximum of 7 days, so the total duration should not exceed 10 days.
Moreover, the extensions granted on February 12 and 23, 2004, were not justified.
The reason given for the delay was the need for a forensic medical assessment, which required Mr. Kanakhin's medical records; in fact, the records were kept in the Oblast Medical Forensic Bureau in charge of the assessment, so the justification was absurd. The review findings could have been announced in time, i.e. before February 12, because most of the information regarding the circumstances had been gathered on February 5 and 6, and Mr. Kanakhin's injuries were documented in his medical records dated January 26, 2004.
There were no other significant data obtained after February 12.
By extending the initial review to February 12 and then to February 24, and by failing to overrule the wrong decisions of a subordinate procuracy official, the Pavlovo Prosecutor intentionally exceeded his powers under the Criminal Procedure Code.
The investigation of Mr. Khairullin's death after he was brought from Tukaevsky Police Department in Naberezhnye Chelny on September 13, 2002, to a medical institution in a coma, in the course of two years failed to look into the cause of the strangulation mark on Khairullin's neck and what instrument may have inflicted it; it failed to test the assumption that Mr. Khairullin had inflicted the injuries on himself, or to check the use of a gas mask with its air duct taped (as it was stated by Mr. Vassikov on May 5, 2003), and the use of handcuffs.
Mr. Shishkin was beaten by police on September 1, 2003; however, the investigator has failed so far to identify the perpetrators. Notably, Mr. Shishkin reported the injuries to prosecutorial official Bayurov on September 2, 2003, during a prosecutorial inspection of the detention house where Shishkin was unlawfully held at that time. It was only in August 2004 that the investigator requested to be given photos of policemen to show to Shishkin so he could identify those who had beaten him. The case has inconsistencies which no one is trying to clarify. No investigative experiment has been undertaken to explore the circumstances of Shiskin's injuries.
Since nearly two years after the incident, the investigator has not requested an expert examination of the bullet extracted by surgeons from the body of Mr. Bityukov who had been under police fire.
Marii El Procuracy, three months after it received the report of police abuse from Mr. Zykov, failed to assess the evidence, to request medical records, and to interview eye-witnesses. It all came out in court following Mr. Zykov's complaint.
It was only on August 28, 2003, that the indictment of police officers Lapitsky and Gref was confirmed by Deputy Prosecutor General Birukov and forwarded to Leninsky Court in Kemerovo for consideration on the merits - four years, ten months and ten days since the day the crime was committed and reported.
Practice: Delays causing expiry of time limits for criminal liability
Criminal investigation into Mr. Sanochkin's case was started on March 19, 2002 - more than a year after Mr. Sanochkin was beaten by police on February 26, 2001. It took another year for Sovetsky Procuracy in Kazan to prosecute police officer Gerasimov. By the time the police officer was found guilty and convicted, the time limit for criminal liability had expired.
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Many Russian citizens have failed to find protection in agencies empowered by the Russian Federation to enforce the Constitution and laws in the country. People cannot access justice due to delays and neglect by prosecutors. Having exhausted all official remedies, they seek help from human rights NGOs.