Head of the International Human Rights Group &# 171; Agora&# 187; in an interview &# 171; Voice of America&# 187; – about sentences for &# 171; Moscow case&# 187;
Courts in Moscow over the course of three days – from September 3 to 5 – passed several sentences, which struck with their cruelty even those who had no illusions about Russian justice..
Blogger Vladislav Sinitsa was sentenced to 5 years in prison on Tuesday, who on July 31, under a pseudonym, published a tweet saying that the children of law enforcement officers may “one day not come from school.” The Russian security officials considered this publication as containing a direct threat, and the financial manager from the Moscow region received a real long term for a few lines on the social network..
The real terms of imprisonment were received on September 3 and those who admitted their guilt in the use of violence against police officers and agreed to the so-called “special procedure” for the consideration of the case – without examining the evidence. Ivan Podkopaev, 25, who agreed that on July 27 he sprayed pepper gas in the direction of the police, was sentenced to three years in a general regime colony. Danil Beglets, a 26-year-old businessman and father of two small children, also detained on July 27, pleaded guilty to pulling a police officer’s hand – and despite all requests for leniency, the court sentenced him to 2 years in prison.
At the same time, it was on September 3 that it became known that the Investigative Committee of Russia dropped the criminal charges against Sergei Abanichev, Daniil Konon, Valery Kostenko, Vladislav Barabanov and Dmitry Vasiliev, accused of “mass riots” in Moscow on July 27, and asked to be transferred from the pre-trial detention center to house arrest of a student of the Higher School of Economics Yegor Zhukov and Sergei Fomin – a volunteer at the headquarters of an unregistered candidate for the Moscow City Duma, lawyer of the Anti-Corruption Foundation Lyubov Sobol.
The next day, 28-year-old Kirill Zhukov and 48-year-old Yevgeny Kovalenko were sentenced to imprisonment: Zhukov was given three and Kovalenko three and a half years for actions that were considered “violence against police officers” at the July 27 rally. Both did not admit their guilt.
On September 5, Konstantin Kotov was sentenced to four years in prison – he was convicted only for the fact that he several times took part in peaceful protests that were not approved by the authorities. The court did not take into account the fact that the case of activist Ildar Dadin, previously convicted under the same article, at one time caused great public indignation and a special decision of the Constitutional Court of Russia.
At the same time, the Russian authorities did not prosecute any of the police officers whose violent actions were repeatedly recorded on video, and the results of these actions – fractures, bruises, concussions – were certified by doctors..
Many of those prosecuted in the Moscow case are being defended by lawyers associated with Agora, an international human rights group of more than 50 lawyers who often represent politically persecuted people in Russian courts. The head of the “Agora” Pavel Chikov in an interview with the Russian service of the “Voice of America” spoke about the features and prospects of the unfolding “Moscow case”.
Danila Galperovich: Is it possible to draw conclusions about the development of the “Moscow case” based on the sentences already passed??
Pavel Chikov: There is good news and bad news. The good news is that, apparently, at some meeting on September 2, it was decided to end the case of “riots”, as with obviously unproven. And this is connected with the termination of the case of participation in mass riots in relation to five people. In relation to one more – Yegor Zhukov – the case was re-qualified, as you know, for “extremism.” This is not as good news as news of those who were released in peace at all, but it is still better than it was for two reasons. Firstly, what he was charged with entailed up to 8 years in prison, and what he is now charged with is an article of medium severity, up to 5 years in prison. And, secondly, the investigation went to court with a petition to replace detention for Zhukov with house arrest. Yegor Zhukov is at home, not in a pre-trial detention center – this is good news. The same can be said about Sergei Fomin, although questions remain with the fate of Sergei Fomin’s case..
The bad news is that obviously part of the compromise is that those accused of violence against the police will be in prison, as evidenced by the four verdicts under Article 318. Here we see features that refer us to the “swamp case”: Ivan Podkopaev for a sprayed canister with a “special order” and a confession of guilt, they were given three years, and Kirill Zhukov was given three years without admitting guilt, as in the “swamp affair”, when those who admitted guilt and asked for a “special order” received either the same , or more than those who really fought and did not admit their guilt. We would, of course, want this criminal case not to exist at all, and even if it did, there would be no real imprisonment. But the “fork of leniency”, apparently, does not imply an alternative punishment to imprisonment, in any case – prison, only fluctuations in terms are assumed in the interval between two and 3.5 years. Separately, there are sentences to Vladislav Sinitsa and Konstantin Kotov, and they are also bad news..
D.G .: What can be said about the sentence to Vladislav Sinitsa, how indicative it is?
P.Ch .: The most important thing in understanding this verdict is that he consolidated the entire class of “siloviks” around him. The authorities have long been frightened by all sorts of social unrest, “Arab springs” and “orange revolutions”; this is the main nightmare of the political regime, because it understands that only in this way will it lose power in the end. This inner understanding forced them all these years to pump up their muscles – for many years the security forces have been pumping their muscles, they demonstrate them in every possible way and provoke civil society into a violent confrontation. Constant provocations and demonstrations of this violence in all different forms – verbal, stylistic, physical – program this confrontation. Because when the muscles are pumped up, you want to try them all the time on someone. But exactly at the moment when one single person wrote a single comment, this comment made it possible to unleash all the accumulated energy on him – that’s what happened to the Tit. In fact, the words of the Tit, of course, absolutely obviously did not threaten anyone and did not threaten anything, he had neither such an opportunity, nor such intentions, but these words of his ideally served to confirm the stereotypes within the power class, legitimizing all their pumped up muscles: “this is what they are , they are ready to kill our children. ” Therefore, a demonstrative verdict was needed – and, naturally, no one can stand in his way..
D.G .: 4 years of Konstantin Kotov under the “Dada” article is a sign?
P.Ch .: This is a fundamental signal from the power bloc, which can be read as follows: “Despite all your scandals and throwing arrows around the“ Dadin case ”three years ago, despite the decision of the Constitutional Court, despite the cancellation of the sentence, his acquittal and release, we all Article 212.1 was equally suppressed, and now the sentence to Kotov with real imprisonment is a confirmation of the original intention. Everything returned to normal, and all your liberal efforts to torpedo this repressive article of the Criminal Code were unsuccessful. Here’s a good example for you. ” And in Moscow, at least a few dozen more people, conditionally, go under the same article. Especially after the summer protests, the number of those who, in the event of just one more administrative punishment, will face the risk of repeating the fate of Konstantin Kotov, will already number dozens and dozens.
D.G. You have already given one analogy with the “swamp affair” after the events of 2012. Is it possible to talk about the differences between the “Moscow case” from the “swamp case”?
P.Ch .: One of the differences is in the configuration of forces. Now the process is very strongly influenced by the Russian Guard, which simply did not exist 7 years ago. Then the first violin was played by the Investigative Committee, which is not quite the first violin now, although it is all done with its hands. This role of the National Guard is manifested informally, although formally too – the “victims” of the National Guard carry deliberate nonsense in court proceedings, ensuring this role of “victims” in criminal cases. You also need to take into account the psychological moment. 7 years ago it was after four Medvedev, more or less liberal years, and it was a sudden cold shower. And in 2019, no one has any illusions about possible repressions from the current political regime for a long time. Therefore, no one should be surprised by these sentences. And while the current level of police repression does not overlap the level of violence during the events of summer-autumn 2012.
D.G. You said that the verdict on Vladislav Sinitsa is, in fact, the collective revenge of the siloviki class. And to what extent are the siloviki in the “Moscow affair” united and act as one group??
P.Ch .: I definitely do not have the feeling that the siloviki are a single group that can really be politically defined. They, of course, can be called so, separated by commas – Rosgvardia, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the FSB, the FSO, the FSIN, the Investigative Committee and the Prosecutor’s Office, but this is absolutely definitely not a monolith. We do not see, for example, the FSB in the “Moscow case”, but we see the Russian Guard and some divisions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, for example, Center “E”, which promptly accompanies the 2nd operational regiment, which together with the Russian Guard beat people at summer protests. There is, perhaps, a certain tactical tandem of the Russian Guard and the Investigative Committee, which need to compensate for the recent failures of their own reputation..
(ENG) ECHR – COURTalks-disCOURs, Admissibility of an application (English version)
D.G. You say that there is no FSB in the “Moscow case”, but the rhetoric that went on state TV channels and was picked up by the deputies of both chambers of the Russian parliament about “external interference in the elections” is characteristic of the FSB, isn’t it??
P.Ch .: I have no doubts that the case against the Anti-Corruption Fund related to money laundering was initiated on materials obtained from Rosfinmonitoring, which is, in fact, a subdivision of the FSB. But whether this was done on the initiative of the FSB, or the Investigative Committee in partnership received these materials and tried to sell it to the Kremlin as a “big conspiracy within the country with financial support from outside” – this is the question. Apparently, this sale did not materialize, that is, the Kremlin did not buy into this option. But we do not know what they said in response – the final “no” or “let’s do some more work, look, try to confirm better”. I just think that the work to find evidence is actually going on..
D.G .: How many lawyers associated with Agora are now working in cases where people are being targeted for protests this summer?
P.Ch .: If we are talking about a criminal case, then our lawyers are defending seven, plus there is Ilya Novikov, who is our partner. We do not call him Agora’s lawyer, but he is a graduate of the Agora school. And, in addition, there are 14 more lawyers who deal with administrative matters. And we must also remember that there is a criminal case on “legalization of proceeds of crime” against Alexei Navalny’s FBK, in which three lawyers are separately involved. In total, this means there will be 25 lawyers.
D.G .: Do you have any hopes that the police violence, which was documented during the 2019 street actions of the year, will be punished in the future??
P.Ch .: When we talk about perspective, it depends on the level of farsightedness of the observer. If we assess the prospect of sentences against the soldiers of the Russian Guard and the 2nd operational regiment of the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Moscow, then such a prospect is not visible. The authorities guarantee immunity and, apparently, “they will not hand over anyone,” it is in such formulations that they think. In the best case, there may be some personnel changes, some official checks, some disciplinary sanctions. It is not a fact that they will be public, although it is also possible that they will be called upon to demonstrate that something has been done. But this, in any case, will be inadequate to what was done, because to date, 29 cases of violence have been recorded at protests from July 27 to August 13. These people turned to human rights defenders, they are accompanied by lawyers, they filed a crime complaint with the Investigative Committee. Of these 29 cases, 17 are led by lawyers from Zona Prava, our organization that deals with the topic of police violence. Six more are led by the lawyers of the Committee Against Torture. None of the 29 stories have a criminal case. The prospect of the investigation tends to zero.
But our principled position is to find as many people as possible who have been beaten, and bring everyone to the European Court of Human Rights. The first complaints have already started to go there this summer. I can talk about 17 of our cases – we will bring each of them to the ECHR. And in this sense, the prospect is more than visible. I think that in the future three years we will have a large joint case in the European Court of Justice on those who were beaten up at the protests. And these stories, which took place in Moscow in the summer, will most likely be considered according to a simplified procedure. There will be some money – I think it will be from 10 to 15 thousand euros for each applicant. But the main thing is that there will be a decision by an international court that will establish the systematic and massive nature of the use of violence against protesters. That is, in 3-4 years there will be several dozen decisions of the ECHR, establishing that representatives of the Russian authorities massively and systematically use unjustified violence against participants in peaceful assemblies. I am more than happy with this prospect..
Reporter for the Russian Service «Voices of America» in Moscow. Collaborates with «Voice of America» since 2012. For a long time he worked as a correspondent and presenter of programs in the Russian service of the BBC and «Radio Liberty». Specialization – international relations, politics and legislation, human rights.
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