Justice Denied to Oborona Activists in Russian Courts
As several prior posts describe, I’ve been arrested and sentenced to two weeks in prison in a preemptive strike designed to stop me from leading protest actions against the sham presidential election results and from helping to form a new shadow parliament organization. I’m far from the only opposition activist who has been treated in this way. The following is a translation of a May 15 post from the Oborona website:
On May 14 the Basman Court of Moscow levied a fine of 1000 rubles against the Oborona activist Ivan Simochkin for walking along Chistoprudniy Boulevard on May 6.
The court reached its verdict despite the testimony of six eyewitnesses for the defense, who testified that unknown individuals dressed in civilian clothes and showing no identification detained Mr. Simochkin without warning. The ruling of the court indicated that the testimony of the witnesses was not taken into account, because “the witnesses were called only to mitigate the punishment of the accused.”
Following is the speech which Ivan Simochkin read in court.
I have absolutely nothing to request forgiveness for. Neither I, nor my associates, nor the passers-by who happened to be on Chistoprudniy Boulevard on May 6 did anything wrong, and we do not deserve even a reproach, let alone long terms in jail.
Moreover, I wish to inform the court about a series of criminal actions that we endured at the hands of identified and unidentified individuals, that should be examined under the laws of the Russian Federation. The individuals who perpetrated these acts should be punished under the administrative and criminal codes of the Russian Federation.
Firstly: On May 6, at 6:00 p.m., a group of citizens, myself included, were peacefully and quietly walking along Chistoprudniy Boulevard when we were subject to a violent assault by unidentified individuals dressed in civilian clothes. The attackers, pursuing whatever objective they had, did not identify themselves, made no requests of us, and in general said nothing, but flung themselves on my associate Oleg Kozlovskiy and tried to drag him away by force to an unknown location.
My natural reaction was to try and prevent the criminals from kidnapping my associate. I will tell you further, regardless of what sentence the honorable Basman Court may impose on me, if I ever again see unidentified, criminal-looking individuals attack a pedestrian on the street, I will not fail to do exactly the same thing – come to his aid.
No sooner had I done this, than the individuals in civilian clothes turned their attention to me, and I myself became the target of their attack. I loudly demanded that the attackers identify themselves and state the reason for their actions, but got not a word in reply. I loudly called for the police to come to my aid and stop these illegal actions of unidentified civilians, but the policemen stayed at a distance and passively watched what was happening.
Other passers-by also tried to stand up for those who were being attacked. Anna Chernobylskaya, the mother of a young child, tried to intervene on my behalf as I was being dragged down the boulevard. She yelled for the police to help and called on passers-by to witness what was happening, as a result of which the unidentified individuals then came after her. Anna Chernobylskaya was called as a witness on my behalf. And the episode I just described was captured on a videotape made by Dmitriy Borko, who was also called as witness.
Following the attack, the unidentified individuals forcibly dragged and threw us into a police van. And let no one be led astray by the fact that the attackers, as it later turned out, were acting in concert with the authorities. On the contrary, it would have been much simpler if this criminal attack had been carried out by some kind of unknown criminal group. In that case, we – as citizens of Russia – would have had the ability to call on the law enforcement agencies for help, and had a chance of being defended.
When crimes are committed with the criminal consent of law enforcement officials, or the police themselves, or at the direct order of those under their command (as is obvious to me was the case in the current situation), the citizen is left completely defenseless and without rights. And the state that commits such acts is a lawless police dictatorship.
Further: Unfortunately, the illegal actions committed against me and other citizens did not end here.
We were illegally and absolutely without grounds placed in the Krasnoselskiy precinct holding cell, where officers of the Anti-Organized Crime Directorate (UBOP) and riot police (OMON) openly fabricated their reports with absolutely false, fraudulent accusations against these illegally detained citizens.
All of the reports were written as if in carbon copy. Like the rest of those detained, I was accused of supposedly “participating in a protest, failing to respond to repeated requests by members of the OMON under Sergeant V.A. Gasheka to cease and desist, and continuing to commit illegal acts.”
Your honor, and honorable ladies and gentlemen, a multitude of testimonies by unbiased witnesses, as well as a multitude of photographic and video evidence from the site of the events under consideration, unambiguously show that these accusations are lies, from beginning to end, and you can be certain of it.
1) I and the others accused, now unjustly convicted, did not participate in any sort of protest, if only because in the area where the events took place no one was planning any sort of protest.
2) I and the other victims of this criminal attack did not have the chance to “obey” or “disobey” any sort of request, since no request was ever made of us by any of those individuals who illegally deprived us of our freedom.
3) I and the other citizens who were illegally deprived of their freedom could not have “resisted” or “not resisted” “police personnel”, since we were attacked by individuals dressed in civilian clothes, who categorically refused to either identify themselves or explain the objective or meaning of their actions, and I saw the police only at a distance, from which they had no contact with me.
Nonetheless, I can absolutely assure you that neither I nor any of those who joined in my misfortune offered any kind of resistance.
The records of arrest and administrative infraction were compiled under a mass of flagrant violations of procedure. Despite my request, I was not given a copy of the record of arrest. The time of arrest was improperly recorded – we were arrested at 6:00 p.m., but the records of arrest showed it occurring at 6:45 p.m. In the report of administrative infraction there is no signature by the so-called witness, OMON officer Fomin, to the effect that he had been informed of his rights and responsibilities.
I can imagine the reason why the so-called witness Fomin’s signature is not on the report. I would not be surprised if this so-called witness Fomin not only never held the report in is hands, but was not even present at the events described in it.
At the Krasnoselskiy precinct detention cell, my rights as a detained person were repeatedly and grossly violated. In the course of the two days I spent there, the people detained were never offered any food. The space where over 20 people were held was not equipped with any place to sleep, and we were given no blankets. We had to sleep on tables and the floor, often taking turns.
Conditions were worsened by the fact that during the two days we were in the cell the air temperature remained extremely low, to the point that I was extremely incapacitated due to low body temperature.
And finally, third: The illegal treatment of me and the other citizens was not limited to an attack by unidentified assailants on Chistoprudniy Boulevard, illegal detention in the Krasnoselskiy precinct holding cell, falsification of accusations and multiple violations of our rights as detainees.
The culmination of this flagrant abuse of power occurred right here, within these very walls. Fourteen times the honorable judge Skuridina heard the testimony of witnesses and agreed or refused to consider photographic and video evidence proving the innocence of the accused. Repeatedly, within these very walls, supposed witnesses for the prosecution – the authors of the police reports – appeared and every time were unambiguously exposed as being fraudulent, having irreconcilable contradictions in their testimonies, etc.
In spite of this, all 14 cases ended in guilty verdicts, and absolutely unfounded and unjust sentences and fines, handed down by the honorable judge Skuridina. Justice deserted us in these four walls; in its place came lawlessness and abuse of power.
From the Basman Court, Judge I.A. Skuridina presiding, these are the sentences given various members of Oborona for daring to express their views about the recent presidential elections in their country in public:
1. Oleg Kozlovskiy – 13 days (hunger strike announced)
2. Karen Makmuryan – 7 days
3. Aleksandr Vaynshteyn – 6 days
4. Maksim Polyakov – 5 days
5. Ivan Afonin – 6 days (hunger strike announced)
6. Vladimir Akimenkov – 6 days
7. Nikolay Novokhatskiy – 6 days
8. Vyacelslav Yeliseev – 5 days
9. Kirill Ananev – 4 days
10. Vladimir Michurin – 4 days
11. Vyaceslav Mertsalov – 3 days
12. Dmitriy Potapov – 2 days
13. Andrey Malitskiy – fine of 1,000 rubles
14. Anna Chernobylskaya – fine of 1,000 rubles.
I am absolutely innocent, and deserve only complete exoneration. But I have no objective reason to expect that consideration of my case will result in anything but anoter addition to the endless list of unjust sentences handed down within these walls. It is not in vain that the term “Basman Court” has become synonymous with injustice and abuse of power.
The ones who are really guilty in this abuse of power – to the last one – sooner or later will stand before a real court and answer for their crimes to the full severity of the Law.
Thank you for your attention.
You can watch a video on YouTube about the same farce of a trial, showing the names and sentences handed down to the Oborona activists, against a black background, while Medvedev drones on with a patriotic speech in a cathedral.