3 Years for Attending a Protest

By | July 18, 2018

In April 2018, the Chelyabinsk Regional Court passed a verdict against prisoners accused of organizing and participating in the 2012 protest against torture and inhuman treatment by the FSIN (Federal Penitentiary Service) officers, which was held in the correctional colony no. 6 (IK-6) in the town of Kopeisk.  On the roof of the barracks prisoners put placards “People, help, the administration is torturing, extorting dollars.”

Peaceful protest of convicts in 2012: “They extort, torture, humiliate us”

None of the FSIN officers was injured and the prisoners did not show any aggressiveness. Despite this, seventeen organizers and participants in the demonstration were found guilty of committing crimes under various articles of the criminal code, and all of them were sentenced to terms of punishment, from 2.8 to 5 years in a colony with a specially severe regime. The opposition activists met this news with hash-tags #Justice and #theConstitutionisdead.

The judge Davydova did not include in the verdict the fact that at the time of the protest IK-6 was headed by Denis Mekhanov, who later was convicted twice. In 2015, he was sentenced for extortion to three years’ imprisonment on probation and deprivation of the right to hold posts in the system of the FSIN. Later the same year he received another year and a half on probation for abuse of his position but was amnestied in connection with the 70th anniversary of the Soviet victory in WWII.

Davydova read the verdict out for two days. In the courtroom there were a few relatives of the accused and a couple of human rights activists. However, the bailiffs and the convoy officers with rubber truncheons stood nearby everyone present. Police officers and bailiffs prevented filming of the trial. Probably, the reason for this was that the defendants were handcuffed all the time, although almost all of them were in a so-called aquarium behind a glass wall and could hardly be dangerous for anybody.

Prosecutor Kristina Afletonova asked for an even more severe sentence for the participants in the peaceful protest, up to nine years in prison. The lawyers of the convicts stated that the verdict would be appealed.

In another case, on May 25, 2018, Yelena Bulgakova, judge of the Tverskoi Regional court of Moscow, sentenced Shatrovsky, a 48-year-old visitor to Moscow from the town of Sharya in the Kostroma Region (about 670 km or 416 mi from Moscow), to three years on charges of attacking Maxim Pavlov, Senior Sergeant of Interior Troops during the a protest action on November 5 last year.

Konstantin Markin, Shatrovsky’s lawyer, demanded an to end the case, stressing the fact that neither Shatrovsky’s guilt, nor even the very event of the crime was proven since the charge was based only on the testimony of the police officers. The judge Bulgakova repeatedly rejected Markin’s requests for to show the videotapes from the scene of the incident in the courtroom.

According to the prosecution, on November 5, 2017, the day of protests in Moscow, in Novopushkinsky Square in Moscow center, Shatrovsky struck policeman Pavlov with his fist on the back of his head, after which he “seized the neck [of the policeman] with his forearm.” According to the police, this is how Shatrovsky reacted to the policeman’s demand to show his documents.

Shatrovsky pleaded not guilty. In fact, Shatrovsky himself suffered from the policeman’s action, he received an craniocerebral injury and multiple bruises to the head. On that day he went to the Novopushkinsky Square to meet his son Maxim who was in Moscow at that time. A policeman chased his son, and Shatrovsky stood up for his son. In answer, the policeman threw Shatrovsky the elder over his shoulder.

Shatrovsky was brought to Moscow Sklifosovsky Hospital, where he received first aid. Then he was taken back to the police. A false report was written that he supposedly attacked the policeman, and an investigation was opened. Shatrovsky was placed the pretrial prison the SIZO-4 “Medved” (“Bear”).

In February 2018, Shatrovsky’s health started deteriorating quickly in the SIZO because of the November beatings, but he did not receive medical assistance. At the end of February, he suffered a micro stroke, and began to bleed profusely from his nose. Bleeding continued for four hours, when finally, an ambulance was called.

During the trial, the police officer Tarlan Yusibov, a “witness”, stated: “On the way to the Sklifosovsky Hospital, the defendant kept saying that before the New Year, the power in the country would change.” In fact, Shatrovsky was unconscious when he was taken to the hospital.

On June 9, Yelena Bulgakova, assistant to the judge of the Tverskoi District Court of Moscow, informed Konstantin Markin, Shatrovsky’s lawyer, that Shatrovsky would be sent to a correction colony before the sentence comes into force. This decision directly violates law. As Markin noted, Article 49 of the Russian Constitution establishes that before the sentence enters into legal force, the accused is presumed innocent. The European Convention on Human Rights also contains a similar article 6.

Markin filed a statement to the judge Bulgakova demanding that Shatrovsky not be sent to the colony before the appeal was examined. However, on June 22, Markin was informed for a second time that Shatrovsky would be sent to a correction colony before the sentence comes into force and on June 29, it became known that Shatrovsky had been transferred. As of July 2, Shatrovsky’s wife and lawyer were not informed where he had been transferred.

Author: Vadim Birstein

Dr. Vadim J. Birstein is a historian and geneticist. He is the author of over 300 scientific papers and books and has written two scholarly historical works, "The Perversion of Knowledge: The True Story of Soviet Science" and "SMERSH, Stalin's Secret Weapon: Soviet Military Counterintelligence in WWII". He received the inaugural "St. Ermin's Intelligence Book Award" in 2012 for SMERSH.

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