Varya Mikhaylova: Yulya’s Hearing

Varya Mikhaylova
Facebook
May 7, 2018

Now I want to write separately about Yulya’s hearing, which was the last.

Here is how it was.

At three in the morning, the judge said, “Let’s recess until morning, because, as it is, no one can think straight anymore.”

This was a good suggestion for the judge and me, whose warm beds awaited us at home, but not for Yulya, who would have been shipped backed till morning to a police station where she had not been issued any sleeping gear, and where there was a terrible stench and bedbugs.

So, we begged the judge, if she wanted to postpone the hearing, to do it lawfully and humanely: by releasing Yulya on her own recognizance and letting her go home. Because this was what should have happened to all the detainees, who despite all the regulations and common sense were tried on the weekend in emergency court hearings that were closed to the public.

It was such an emotional conversation, I cried as I appealed to the judge to give my defendant the chance at least to take a shower, get her wits about her, and prepare a normal defense.

But there was a snag, you see. If Yulya had gone home and later failed to appear in court, it would have been impossible to slap her with a jail sentence, which cannot be handed down in absentia. All the court could have given her in absentia was a 1,000-ruble fine. So, the judge told us almost in no uncertain terms that was why Yulya would not go home under any circumstances.

Then we pleaded with the judge to hear Yulya’s case right away. As it was, I could not make it to court in the morning, Yulya would not be able to find another social defender, and she would be shipped immediately back to the stinky police department. Whereas, after the judge made her decision, Yulya would be sent to the temporary detention facility on Zakharyevskaya Street, where she would at least have linens and blankets.

The judge could also have exonerated her and sent her home.

That whole conversation was also quite funny, because the judge did nothing at all to conceal the fact the verdict could only be guilty, although we had not even begun to hear the case, and the judge knew nothing about Yulya whatsoever.

The judge ultimately relented, and the hearing kicked off. Usually, people are initially tried for violating Article 20.2 of the Administrative Offenses Code (violating the regulations for holding public events), and only then for violating Article 19.3 (failure to obey a police officer’s lawful requests). During each previous hearing, I had argued to the judge that if the defendant had already been convicted under Article 20.2, and the aggravating circumstances were failure to obey a policeman’s orders, it would be wrong to try the individual separately for failure to obey a policeman’s orders, since this would violate the basic principle of double jeopardly, something the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office had addressed.

Apparently, the judge was heartily tired of my speech, so she decided first to try Yulya for violation of Article 19.3. She found Yulya guilty and sentenced her to three days in jail.

Then the second hearing, on the charge Yulya had violated Article 20.2, commenced. It was four in the morning.

The case file on this charge had been compiled worst of all. It was such a mess the report confirming Yulya had been delivered to a police station was not signed at all. There was no name and no policeman’s signature. It was just a piece of paper.

We pointed this out to the judge, of course, and that was our big mistake. Because the whole point of these hearings was for the defendants and defenders to take home the message that the more you showed off, the worse it would be for you. Having noted the mistakes in the case file, the judge postponed the hearing until 11:15 a.m. on Monday.

So, Yulya was tried at four in the morning and was sentenced to jail, but she was taken from the courthouse back to the stinky police station anyway.

The police station where Yulya was taken did not have even a chair for her to sit on, and so she was taken to another precinct, where she slept for an hour and a half sitting on a chair. By eleven o’clock, she had been taken back to the October District Court, where her hearing resumed.

She was found guilty of violating Article 20.2 and fined 10,000 rubles [approx. 130 euros]. The police officer whose signature had missing from the delivery report simply put his signature on the report, already bound and filed in the case file.

These photos of Yulya and me were taken at four in the morning when we were waiting for the judge to deliver her verdict in the first case.

Image may contain: 2 people, including Варя Михайлова, selfie and closeup

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, selfie and closeup

Translated by the Russian Reader

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OVD Info: He’s No Tsar to Us in Facts and Figures

traffic sign in spbSlava Ptrk, Traffic Sign in Petersburg, 2018. Photo courtesy of OVD Info

OVD Info, That Was the Week That Was Email Newsletter, Special Edition:
How the He’s No Tsar to Us Protests Played Out Nationwide

Saturday, May 5, 2018, witnessed large-scale, nationwide protests by supporters of Alexei Navalny, who voiced their opposition to Vladimir Putin’s new term as president. This was how the protests went down in facts and figures.

The police behaved roughly. They detained not only demonstrators but also random passerby, children and reporters, and OVD Info’s hotline got more than one call about police brutality. In Moscow, so-called Cossacks joined regular police in dispersing the rally.  The so-called Cossacks beat people using whips, and a man with a raccoon was among the detainees. The Bell discovered the so-called Cossacks had ties with the mayor’s office. In Chelyabinsk, local activists were detained before the protest rally on suspicion of theft, while in Saratov, police detained a 12-year-old boy.

According to the information we have available, a total of 1,600 people were detained in 27 cities. Around 300 spent the night in police stations.*

  • 719 detainees in Moscow were taken to 42 police stations; around 154 people spent the night in custody.
  • 217 detainees in Petersburg were taken to 29 police stations; around 95 people spent the night in custody.
  • 185 people were detained in Chelyabinsk.
  • 75 people were detained in Yakutsk.
  • 64 people were detained in Krasnodar.
  • 63 people were detained in Togliatti, half of them minors.
  • 48 people were detained in Voronezh.
  • 45 people were detained in Krasnoyarsk.
  • 28 people were detained in Kaluga.
  • 24 people were detained in Astrakhan.
  • 22 people were detained in Novokuznetsk.
  • 20 people were detained in Belgorod.
  • 18 people were detained in Vladimir.
  • 16 people were detained in Samara.
  • 10 people each were detained in Barnaul and Blagoveshchensk.
  • 9 people were detained in Penza.
  • 6 people each were detained in Tver and Kurgan.
  • 5 people were detained in Sochi.
  • 2 people each were detained in Kemerovo, Naberezhnye Chelny, and Rostov-on-Don.
  • 1 person each was detained in Yekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Smolensk, and Tomsk.
*You can view the complete list of detainees, including names and the police stations where they were taken, here.

In the aftermath of the rallies, criminal charges have been filed against one detainee.  In Petersburg, a policeman named Sukhorukov has accused Mikhail Tsakunov of knocking out his tooth “deliberately, motivated by enmity.” Charges were filed under Article 318 Part 2 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code: health- or life-threatening violence against a police office. Tsakunov could be sent to prison for ten years if found guilty. Video footage of the young man’s arrest can be viewed here.

The detainees were tried on Sunday in Petersburg, Vladimir, Krasnodar, Rostov-on-Don, and Chelyabinsk. 

Alexei Navalny was detained on Pushkin Square in Moscow. At the police station, he was written up for two administrative offenses: repeated violation of the procedures for holding public events and failure to obey a police officer’s lawful order. He was not kept in the police station overnight. His court hearing will take place on May 11.

What Did We Do?

We helped detainees in twenty police stations in Moscow and coordinated the rendering of legal aid in Chelyabinsk, Kaluga, and Krasnoyarsk.

In the space of twenty-four hours,* our hotline received 2,156 calls for a total duration of 64 hours and 45 minutes.

  • 5 hours and 24 minutes of that time was taken up by 93 legal consultations.
  • We were called 1,014 times.
  • We called back to verify information 1,142 times.

* From six in the morning on May 5 to six in the morning on May 6.

We do intake not only on our hotline but also using our Law Bot and our Red Button application.

  • 147 people reported being detained through Law Bot.
  • 78 reports of people being detained were received through the Red Button.
  • 1,993 people had installed the bot as of May 3.

43 volunteers helped us gather information on the detentions, putting in approximately 260 hours of work. You can sign up to join our team of volunteers here.

We can help a lot of people, but we need money to do it. Donations keep the 24-hour  hotline running. They pay for legal services. They pay people to write the news and analyze human rights violations in Russia. You can support us here.

Translated by the Russian Reader

Mari Davtyan: Thinking about the Police

ivan krasnov-takedown
Photo by Ivan Krasnov. Courtesy of RTVI and Mari Davtyan

Mari Davtyan
Facebook
May 6, 2018

Today I am thinking about police officers.

Some time ago I was in a police station in downtown Moscow, one of the police stations where detained protesters are routinely taken. On the bulletin board there was a photograph of a child, accompanied by a request to help the family of someone who worked at the station, someone whose son was seriously ill.

They were trying to raise around three million rubles [approx. 40,000 euros] to take the baby abroad for treatment.

But I look at these other photographs, and there is something I can never understand.

The men in the helmets have no yachts, private jets or hefty accounts in banks. Interior Ministry clinics will not even treat their children, and ambulances will refuse to pick up their elders and take them to hospital, because, “What do you want? He (or she) is seventy years old?!” They themselves will endure systematic violatons of their rights as employees, and when they are dismissed for reasons of health or due to budget cuts, they will have to sue the courts for years to be paid their pensions and other benefits. But if they die in the line of duty—no, not while detaining those awful protesters, but while trying to arrest actual criminals—their families will be paid kopecks in compensation and forgotten within six months.

They know quite well that if a conflict arises—say, an FSB officer hits them with his car—the Interior Ministry will throw them under the bus without batting an eye. They know better than we do how dangerous it is for their children and wives to walk outside in Russia, how easy it is to buy narcotics in Russian schools, and what their commanding officer’s summer cottage is like. They know perfectly well how senseless, illogical, and merciless the “system” is. They talk about it all the time.

But I look at them and I just cannot get my head around one thing. What is it they defend so vehemently?

Thanks to Varya Mikhailova for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader