Quarantine

china friendlyChinese holidaymakers at the Moscow Station in Petersburg. The coronavirus has “legalized” one of Russia’s favorite pastimes: loathing the Chinese. Photo by Sergei Yermokhin. Courtesy of Delovoi Peterburg

Public Monitoring Commission: Russian National Extradited from China to Be Quarantined in One and a Half Meter Wide Moscow Jail Cell
Mediazona
February 28, 2020

A Russian national extradited from Guangzhou, China, will be quarantined in a solitary confinement cell in Moscow’s Remand Prison No. 4, Marina Litvinovich, a member of the Moscow Public Monitoring Commission, reported on Facebook.

According to Litvinovich, all other prisoners have been cleared from the inpatient medical facility at the jail. The Russian national will be placed for fourteen days in a three by one and a half meter cell in which the air vents have been blocked. The room will undergo additional disinfecting before his arrival. The prisoner’s temperate will be taken every day, for which purpose a special sheet of paper has been hung on the cell’s door, Litvinovich added.

The guards escorting the man will also be quarantined.

“Not in the remand prison, of course, but somewhere else,” Litvinovich wrote.

She did not specify the offenses for which the Russian national was being extradited.

This past December, an outbreak of a new type of coronavirus occurred in the Chinese city of Wuhan. As of February 28, 83,734 people have been infected with the virus—2,868 have died, while 36,439 people have recovered. On February 18, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin barred Chinese nationals from entering China as part of the fight against the coronavirus.

Translated by the Russian Reader

Svyatoslav Rechkalov: “They Proceeded to Pull Down My Trousers, Threatening to Shock Me in the Groin”

“They Proceeded to Pull Down My Trousers, Threatening to Shock Me in the Groin”: Anarchist Svyatoslav Rechkalov Relateds How He Was Tortured and Beaten after Police Detained Him in Moscow
Mediazona
March 15, 2015

Anarchist Svyatoslav Rechkalov, apprehended by police on March 14, has told Yevgeny Yenikeyev and Kogershyn Sagiyeva, members of the Moscow Public Monitoring Commission (PMC), how he was tortured with electric shocks and beaten in police custody. To corroborate his statement, he showed the members of the PMC the traces left by the electric shocker: “[D]ifferently sized red dots on the outside of the hips and the knee.” The injuries were recorded by a paramedic at the Temporary Detention Center where Rechkalov is currently incarcerated. He and several other people were detained as part of the investigation of an attack in January on a United Russia party office in the Moscow neighborhood of Khovrino. Persons unknown shattered a window in the office and tossed a smoke grendade [sic: Grani.ru has reported it was a lighted flare] into the premises. Yelena Gorban and Alexei Kobaidze were detained on charges of vandalism, but were later released on their own recognizance. Below, we have published a transcript of Rechkalov’s handwritten statement. Yevgeny Yenikeyev posted a scan of the statement on his blog.

* * * * * * * * * *

At seven a.m. on March 14, 2018, police officers came to the flat where I live, at [address deleted], to search it. They knocked down the door, and then the search took place. Around twelve noon, I was taken from the building. I was blindfold with black adhesive tape, my hands were tied, and I was put in a minivan. I was driven around the city for several hours, and then placed in a GAZelle van containing police officers. My flatmates E. Sergeyeva and Yevgeny Popov were also in the van. Before I was placed in the van, the tape was removed from my eyes and my hands were untied.

After some time, I was put back in the minivan. A plastic bag was put over my head and I was handcuffed. In the minivan, two men whom I did not know asked me questions about the anarchist movement Popular Self-Defense (Narodnaya samooborona) and different people. How had I ended up in the movement? What did I have to do with it? What protests had I been involved in? What were the same people they had asked me up to? When I would refuse to answer or give an unsatisfactory reply, I was shocked with electrical current on the outside of my hips and the vicinity my knee (above and below the knee). They mostly shocked me in the left leg. At the moment, traces of the shocks are visible on my legs in the form of red dots.

From time to time, my interlocutors would get out of the minivan, and then two or three men would punch me in the body and legs, and shock my legs. The punches were mainly aimed at my lower back and were not hard. The electric shocks were their main method of working me over. The duration and intensity of the shocks increased. The men demanded I answer all their questions.

When they proceeded to pull down my trousers, threatening to shock me in the groin, I made up mind to incriminate myself in the vein in which the men were demanding I do. I confessed I was admin of Popular Self-Defense’s VK page, and a leader and organizer of the movement. If I refused to testify [later] to the investigator or went public with the fact I had been tortured and beaten, the men threatened to take me on a second trip with the electric shocker, a longer and more harrowing trip, and they promised to charge me in The Network case [meaning the so-called terrorist community The Network. The FSB has detained several anarchists in Penza and Petersburg in the case, and many of them have claimed they were tortured—Mediazona] and make the conditions of my stay in the Temporary Detention Center and Remand Prison difficult. My sense is I spent around an hour in the minivan.

Svyatoslav Rechkalov

I was then taken to a police precinct near the Tulskaya subway station, but maybe it was the Moscow police’s investigative department; I don’t know for sure. Around four p.m. I was taken into a room where Center “E” (Extremism Prevention Center) officers were seated. There, in the presence of Investigator Kostin, I repeated what the men in the minivan had demanded I say. One of the Center “E” officers in the room had been at my place during the search in the morning.

I was then taken off to be interrogated as a witness in the investigation of the case of vandalism against the United Russia party office. Aside from the investigator, whose surname I cannot remember, there were men in plain clothes in the room, including Center “E” officers. I testified in the vein in which I had been asked to testify, identifying myself as an admin of Popular Self-Defense’s VK page and an organizer of the movement. The men demanded I incriminate other people, which I refused to do. In the presence of the investigator, the men in plain clothes in the room threatened to take me on another trip in the minivan, after which I refused to give any more testimony. As a result of threats and coercion, I signed a transcript of my earlier testimony to the effect that I was a leader, organizer, and admin of Popular Self-Defense. That testimony was obtained through torture and threats of further torture.

My interrogation as a witness ended at approximately six p.m., after which I was kept at the police precinct until around nine-thirty p.m. Before this, I had demanded to call a lawyer of my choice, but I was not allowed to do this and was provided with a state-appointed lawyer. During my interrogation as a suspect, I repeated the testimony I had given earlier as a witness. I testifed because I was afraid they would torture me again and because I had given the same testimony as a witness. The interrogation ended at eleven p.m.

I spent the next eight hours in the police precinct until I was taken to the Temporary Detention Center by armed guards at around seven in the morning on March 15.

I am afraid the torture and pressure will continue, that my testimony, obtained through torture, will be entered into the case file, and that the threats to implicate me in The Network case will be carried out.

Thanks to Comrade TR for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader

If you haven’t heard about the Penza-Petersburg “terrorism” case and the related crackdown against Russian grassroots and political activists on the eve of the March 18 Russian presidential election, you need to read the following articles and spread the word.

What Goes Around Comes Around

Supreme Court Chief Justice Accused of Persecuting Dissidents during Soviet Times 
He convicted human rights activist Felix Svetov, whose daughter Zoya Svetova had her apartment searched by the FSB yesterday
Alexei Obukhov
Moskovsky Komsomolets
March 1, 2017

Memorial has published documents relating to the case of journalist and human rights activist Zoya Svetova’s father, Felix Svetov, who was convicted in the Soviet for his human rights works. His trial, in 1986, was presided over by Vyacheslav Lebedev, who has been chief justice of the Russian Federal Supreme Court since 1989.

Chief Justice Vyacheslav Lebedev. Photo courtesy of Kremlin.ru

According to Memorial, Svetov was found guilty because he had made “defamatory” allegations that “innocent people [were] thrown into prison” and accusations that the authorities did not observe socialist laws and violated the rules of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Ultimately, Lebedev, who was then deputy head judge of Moscow City Court, sentenced Svetov to five years of exile.

Memorial published the information in connection with the search conducted this past Tuesday in the apartment of Felix Svetov’s daughter Zoya Svetova, an employee of Open Russia, which is headed by Mikhail Khodorkovsky. A similar search had taken place before Svetov’s trial in 1986.

Yet investigators have claimed that the hours-long search, which in particular involved confiscating the computers of Svetova’s children, the well-known journalists and brothers Filipp, Tikhon and Timofei Dzyadko, was carried out as part of the case against Khodorkovsky’s company Yukos, launched back in 2003. Svetova herself has suggested the real reason for the search was her work on the Moscow Public Monitoring Commission.

Memorial added that, in 1984, Lebedev handed down a guilty verdict to human rights activist Elena Sannikova. She was convicted of “anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda.”

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Moskovsky Komsomolets Deletes Article on Supreme Court Chief Justice’s Involvement in Persecuting Soviet Dissidents
Meduza
March 1,  2017

On March 1, an article entitled “Supreme Court Chief Justice Accused of Persecuting Dissidents during Soviet Times” vanished from the website of newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets. The article was published on Wednesday afternoon and was accessible on the site for a few hours.

No reasons have been given for its deletion. A copy of the article has been cached in Google Search results.  Moskovsky Komsolets editor-in-chief Pavel Gusev told Meduza he was unaware of why the the article had been deleted and was hearing about the matter for the first time.

The article discusses Memorial’s publication of documents relating to a police search of the home of Felix Svetov and Zoya Krakhmalnikova, parents of Zoya Svetova, which took place in 1982.

Among other things, Memorial’s Facebook post points out that the presiding judge in Svetov’s case, which was heard in the mid 1980s, was Vyacheslav Lebedev, who would become chief justice of the Russian Federal Supreme Court in 1989.

FSB investigators searched journalist Zoya Svetova’s home for over ten hours on February 28, 2017, allegedly, as part of the Yukos affair. Svetova works for Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s Open Russia, but claims she knows nothing about Yukos’s business.

Translated by the Russian Reader. Thanks to Comrades AK and JM for the heads-up

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Zoya Svetova. Photo courtesdy of L'Express
Zoya Svetova. Photo courtesy of L’Express

Russia: ‘Deeply alarming’ raid targets human rights activist and journalist Zoya Svetova
Amnesty International
28 February 2017

After Russian criminal investigators searched the flat of Zoya Svetova, a prominent journalist and human rights activist, this morning, Sergei Nikitin, Director of Amnesty International Russia, said:

“Today’s search of Zoya Svetova’s flat is deeply alarming. She is one of Russia’s most respected journalists and human rights activists – it is unclear what she might have to do with the criminal investigation against YUKOS.”

“This search seems like a blatant attempt by the authorities to interfere with her legitimate work as a journalist and perhaps a warning for her and others of the risks of human rights work and independent journalism in Russia.”

Zoya Svetova previously worked for Reporters without Borders and Soros Foundation in Russia.

The search was conducted by 12 officers from Russia’s Investigative Committee that probes serious crime. According to Svetova’s lawyer, it was linked to a case of alleged embezzlement and tax fraud by the former YUKOS oil company head Mikhail Khodorkovsky. One of the most prominent critics of the Kremlin, Khodorkovsky served 10 years in jail and in 2011, after being convicted of another offence and sentenced to a new term of imprisonment, he was declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.

In December 2016 Russian Investigative Committee officers raided the apartments of seven Open Russia activists as well as the movement’s offices in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. The Investigative Committee claimed it was seeking evidence of money laundering by former YUKOS executives with links to Khodorkovsky.

Anna Karetnikova: Monitoring Moscow’s Prisons

karetnikova
Anna Karetnikova

Anna Karetnikova: “The worse things are in Russia and the less money there is, the worse things are in the system”
OVD Info
October 27, 2016

As promised, OVD Info has published the full version of our interview with Anna Karetnikova, civil rights activist and member of the last three Moscow Commissions for Public Monitoring of Detention Facilities. The term in office of the third Moscow Public Monitoring Commission (PMC) is coming to an end, and by law anyone who has sat on the same commission for three consecutive terms cannot apply to serve on it again. Karetnikova had applied to serve on the Moscow Region PMC, but was not included in the new commission’s lineup. Similar things happened to a large number of civil rights activists who tried to get appointments to PMCs in other parts of Russia.

The interview was conducted shortly before the new lineups of the oversight commissions were made public. In conversation with OVD Info, Karetnikova summed up the work of the Moscow PMC and talked about the Russian penitentiary system’s numerous problems.

What is a PMC?

A PMC is a public monitoring commission of detention facilities. On the basis of Federal Law No. 76, its members are admitted into institutions that have such facilities, from police stations to remand prisons, including temporary detention centers, military prisons, and so on. They see the conditions of detention and can make recommendations on enforcing the law, eliminating violations, and otherwise furthering the legal interests of the persons imprisoned there.

How would you assess the work of the current commission? During your term have you been able to effect changes in the system, in the treatment of inmates, and the way the system interacts with civil rights activists?

I would rate it quite highly. I can speak only about the Moscow PMC. We succeeded in implementing serious reforms in meal services, accountability, and expanding the range of products that can be delivered to inmates in remand prisons. We made definite improvements to the Kaluga Federal Unitary State Enterprise, the [online] prison store or shop where inmates’ relatives can order things for them.  We definitely improved the conditions in Women’s Remand Prison No. 6. Unfortunately, among the things that have remained beyond our control and are getting worse, in my opinion, is medical care. The more we try and get on top of it, the worse it gets.

Medical care has remained a fallow field despite the huge effort we made to improve it just a bit. It was like running up the down escalator.

Nothing can be done. I understand the situation with healthcare is the same nationwide, but it is particularly horrible in our remand prisons.

What do you mean by accountability?

Registering complaints. If we are not around, say, the only way an incarcerated inmate can get something is by filing a complaint or petition. We expended a great deal of effort making sure these complaints and petitions were registered normally, because basically they save lives. It can happen that someone asks to see a doctor for six months and submits petitions to this effect, but none of them is registered. Then he dies, and we are sent an official reply that he never requested medical treatment. Continue reading “Anna Karetnikova: Monitoring Moscow’s Prisons”