Lev Ponomaryov took part in the protest outside the FSB building. Photo by Valery Sharifulin. Courtesy of TASS and BBC Russian Service
Dozens of Activists Detained at Pickets Outside FSB Building on Lubyanka Square; Human Rights Activist Lev Ponomaryov Injured
BBC Russian Service
March 14, 2020
Lev Ponomaryov, leader of the movement For Human Rights, was taken to hospital from a police station after being detained during a protest outside the FSB building on Lubyanka Square in Moscow.
According to the 78-year-old Ponomaryov, police officers did not beat him, but treated him quite harshly.
“It would be more correct to say they roughed me up. I don’t remember the actual blow, but I do have a cut on my face. They grabbed me hard and dragged me,” he told the BBC Russian Service.
Earlier, news agency Interfax reported that, according to Ponomaryov, a detained activist who was next to him was beaten at the Tagansky police station.
“Me and another young me were dragged from the cell. I lost my hearing aid along the way. The kid got it worse, he was young. Maybe they were bashful about beating me,” the news agency quoted Ponomaryov as saying.
According to Ponomaryov, the police officers began acting roughly when all of the eleven detained activists, delivered to the Tagansky police station in the same paddy wagon, refused to enter the station one by one.
The activists joined hands. It was then, according to Ponomaryov, that the police began dragging the detainees forcibly into the station.
Police detained over forty activists during the protest on Lubyanka Square. Photo by Valery Sharifulin. Courtesy of TASS and BBC Russian Service
According to the human rights activist, the station commander watched it happened.
Ponomaryov said that he would probably petition the court to redress the needlessly harsh actions of the police and the beating of detainees.
A spokesperson for the Tagansky police station told the BBC Russian Service that they did not wish to comment on the situation with Lev Ponomaryov, since they had nothing to do with “what happened on the street.”
According to Ponomaryov, despite the fact that he demanded to see his lawyer, Vasily Kushnir, he was allowed to see him only an hour after arriving at the police department.
After the lawyer arrived, an ambulance was called for the human rights activist. The attending physicians decided to take him to hospital.
Later on Saturday, Ponomaryov told Interfax that he was not found to have a concussion.
“I was checked out at First City Hospital. They did a CT scan and said that everything was more or less normal, no brain damage occurred,” said Ponomaryov.
The human rights defender plans to document his injuries and file a lawsuit in connection with the beating, Interfax reports.
Marina Litvinovich, a member of the Public Monitoring Commission, told Interfax that police officers had violated the rights of both detained activists and public figures.
“Everything is bad here [at the Tagansky police department]. The police don’t let the laywers in, and they even used force, including against Ponomaryov, ” she told Interfax .
According to Lev Ponomaryov, police roughed up protesters when detaining them. Photo by Valery Sharifulin. Courtesy of TASS and BBC Russian Service
Alexei Melnikov, executive secretary of the Public Monitoring Commission, told Interfax that police at the Tverskoy District precinct also took a long time in allowing both lawyers and commission members to see detainees.
According to Melnikov, police officers refused to allow commission members to enter the building because, allegedly, they were not holding any detainees.
Ponomaryov was detained during solo pickets against political crackdowns. The protest took place outside the FSB building on Lubyanka Square. Police detained over forty protesters.
Among those detained were opposition activists Leonid Razvozzhayev and Sergei Udaltsov. According to OVD Info, a minor who had been filming the proceedings was also detained. Police did not specify the reason for the minor’s arrest. According to OVD Info, he suffered an asthma attack in the paddy wagon.
According to Telegram channel Avtozak-LIVE, police broke journalist Fyodor Khudokormov’s equipment while detaining him.
Moscow city hall had refused to sanction a rally in the city center against political crackdowns. Instead, they suggested to rally organizers that they hold the rally in the Lyublino District, in the city’s far southeast, but the activists turned the offer down.
A photo of Lev Ponomaryov after his “rough handling” by police in Moscow on March 14, 2020. The photo was widely disseminated on Russian social media. Courtesy of Julia Aug
I was at Lubyanka today during the rout of the pickets—pickets that hadn’t really started yet. First, police grabbed the people holding placards, but they quickly ran out, so then they grabbed people who were just standing there.
Everyone has been writing that it was a protest against “political crackdowns.” This is not quite true. I want to remind you that people came out under the slogan “We Are All in the Net(work).” The root cause and the reason people came was the Network Case in Penza and Petersburg. This is what causes such a brutal reaction among people in uniform. This was the reason why they got tough with Ponomaryov, nor was it the first time. When you sympathize with Ponomaryov, but say “there must be something” to the latest dirt about the Network, just put two and two together.
But the Network get clobbered every day. With the back of the hand. In the same way that people are beaten up in paddy wagons.
A month ago, I noticed this sneering expression on the faces of Russian National Guardsmen. It seemed to say, “You won’t do anything to us. Things will be our way. We do what we like.” The dogs have been given the command to attack.
Translated by the Russian Reader