“Hug Your Son and We’ll Open Fire”
April 19, 2018
Petersburg’s Krasnoye Selo District Court has extended the arrest of Yuli Boyarshinov, a 26-year-old industrial climber charged with involvement in The Network, an alleged “terrorist community.” The accused’s parents, who took the stand as witnesses during the court hearing, were grilled about their son’s vices, job, and hobbies. After listening to their account of a loving son whose health has suffered while he had been imprisoned in Remand Prison No. 6 in Gorelovo, the court remanded Boyarshinov in custody for another two months, until June 22.
Open and Closed
Boyarshinov’s custody hearing was held in open chambers for ten minutes or so, before the court granted the police investigator’s motion to hear the case in closed chambers. Two reporters and a member of the Human Rights Council, who had been admitted into the courtroom, had to go back out into the corridor, where the other thirty people who had attempted to attend the hearing and had not been admitted to the courtroom were writing complaints about their not having been admitted.
Mediazona journalist David Frenkel argues with court bailiffs.
Court bailiffs stood in front of the closed courtroom door, apparently defending it from attack by the indignant crowd. When asked by reporters why they were not being allowed in the courtroom, their only replies were “No comment” and “Don’t provoke us.”
However, even the reporters admitted into the courtroom found it hard to sit down. For the latest hearing in the high-profile “case of the antifascists” the authorities chose a tiny room with a single bench for the public that, in fact, could accommodate no more than three people.
Soon after the hearing was closed to the public and reporters, the accused man’s father and mother, Nikolai Boyarshinov and Tatyana Kopylova, were summoned one after the other into the courtroom to give testimony.
When he exited the courtroom, Boyarshinov’s father, barely holding back his tears, talked to reporters.
“I told the court I knew my son well and was certain not only he had not done anything bad but also had not planned to do anything bad. There were questions about his vices. I said he had never drunk or smoked. There were questions about his job. I said Yuli had a steady job, and thanks to it we made ends meet. My wife and I are artists, and lately we have had hardly any commissions. He took care of us,” said Nikolai Boyashinov.
After reporters finished talking with him, two friends of his son approached Nikolai Boyarshinov.
“We are really glad to meet you. Hang in there. Everything will be fine,” they told Boyarshinov’s father.
“You know, I’m now often asked about Yuli’s friends, but I’m sure he wouldn’t bother handing out with bad people. If he is friends with people, they’re good people,” Nikolai Boyarshinov said to them.
When she exited the courtroom, Tatyana Kopylova reported that she had been asked similar questions.
“I was asked about his hobbies. I said he enjoyed traveling and reading. I was asked about his job. I said he was an industrial climber and he had been helping us out a lot. I also said my mother’s heart could not stand this worry. The press has informed me that some guys named Kostik, Dima, and Gennady Belyayev had been visiting him and threatening him. [Ms. Kopylova means an article in Novaya Gazeta in which it had been reported Boyarshinov had been visited by FSB officers who threatened him—Editor.] When I go to sleep I think about how Yuli’s night will pass. Why have these people been intimidating Yuli? As it is, the remand prison in Gorelovo is a torture chamber and a cesspool, where all the regulations are violated,” said Tatyana Kopylova.
According to her, Boyarshinov was being deliberately held in poor conditions to extort him into testifying. She also added the cells in Remand Prison No. 6 were so overcrowded her son had had to sleep on the floor, and when he had caught cold he did not receive proper medical treatment.
Yuli Boyarshinov was apprehended on January 21, 2018, several days earlier than the other two Petersburgers accused of involvement in The Network, Viktor Filinkov and Igor Shishkin. However, Boyarshinov was initially charged only with illegal possession of explosives (Article 222.1 Part 1 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code): police found 400 grams of smoke powder, ordinarily employed in the production of fireworks, in the young man’s backpack during a random ID check. He was charged with involvement in a terrorist community (Article 205.4 Part 2 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code) only on April 11, 2018.
The particulars of the new charge are unknown: Boyarshinov’s defense attorney, Olga Krivonos, has signed a nondisclosure agreement regarding the preliminary investigation. The other young men caught up in the case, including Filinkov and witness Ilya Kapustin, have alleged they were tortured into testifying. Members of the Public Monitoring Commission also reported bruises, a fracture, and burns on Igor Shishkin’s body.
Shoot to Kill
After the court issued its ruling, Boyarshinov was escorted into the corridor, where Ms. Kopylova turned to the court bailiff maintaining order there.
“I haven’t seen my son or heard his voice for three months. Could I go up to him and give him a quick hug?” she asked.
The bailiff did not bother with procedural subtleties.
“We’ll open fire and shoot to kill,” he replied.
Twenty minutes later, the prisoner escort guards made the exact same threats to the accused’s friends, who had gathered in the yard of the courthouse to see their comrade one more time. A police escort guard officer did not like the fact some of the young people had cameras. On several occasions he announced either that everyone was too close to the police truck or he could see the people who had gathered were hiding next to the courtroom’s porch. For these offenses, he claimed he was willing to resort to the harshest measures, but push did not come to shove.
His friends greeted Yuli Boyarshinov with a round of applause. He was able to flash them a smile before he was put into the paddy wagon for the trip back to the remand prison.
Yuli Boyarshinov exits Krasnoye Selo District Court in Petersburg.
P.S. As Boyarshinov’s custody extension hearing was underway in Krasnoye Selo, police were searching the flat once occupied by Ilya Kapustin in the city’s Central District. Interrogated as a witness in The Network case, Kapustin alleged he had been tortured and applied for political asylum in Finland.
All photos by Sergei Yeremeyev. Thanks to Nastia Nek for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader