Court Extends Azat Miftakhov’s Term in Custody Until April

azat

“Russia needs scientists, not political prisoners. Free Azat Miftakhov!” A women picketing outside Moscow City Court on February 4, 2020. Photo courtesy of FreeAzat!

Moscow City Court Extends Mathematician Azat Miftakhov’s Term in Custody Until April 7, 2020 
OVD Info
February 4, 2020

Moscow City Court has extended the term in custody of mathematician Azat Miftakhov, charged with disorderly conduct, as reported in Novaya Gazeta‘s live blog from the hearing.

Since Miftakhov has been in remand prison for a year, further extensions of his remand in custody had to be decided in the city court rather than in a municipal district court.

According to the Telegram channel Vestnik Buri Originals, Svetlana Sidorkina, Miftakhov’s defense attorney, reported that before court hearings her client was not delivered directly from the remand prison to the court by the Federal Penitentiary Service, but for unknown reasons was driven around town in a paddy wagon.

The defense asked the court either to transfer the mathematician to house arrest or release him on bail in the amount of 1,994,000 rubles [approx. 28,500 euros], but the court sided with the prosecution and extended Maftakhov’s term in custody till April 7.

Miftakhov, a graduate student in mathematics at Moscow State University and an anarchist, was arrested as part of an investigation of a case of group disorderly conduct, as punishable under Article 213.2 of the Russian Criminal Code. Police investigators allege that on January 30, 2018, Miftakhov, Andrei Yeikin, Yelena Gorban, Alexei Kobaidze, and Svyatoslav Rechkalov broke a window in a United Russia party office and threw a smoke grenade through it. Rechkalov and Kobaidze have fled Russia, and their case is now being investigated separately. In December 2019, the Russian Interior Ministry reported that it had completed its investigation of the case of the broken window at the United Russia party office.

Miftakhov was detained on February 1, 2019. He would later tell his lawyer that he had been tortured with a screwdriver. For the next eleven days, his arrest was extended under various pretexts. OVD Info has written in detail about different aspects of Miftakhov’s arrest and published a timeline of developments in the broken window case.

Translated by the Russian Reader

Police Intimidating Azat Miftakhov’s Family into Testifying

azatAzat Miftakhov. Photo courtesy of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Police Pressuring Azat Miftakhov’s Family to Testify
OVD Info
June 14, 2019

During an interview at the Nizhnekamsk police department, police officers promised Moscow State University (MSU) graduate student Azat Miftakhov’s stepfather problems if he did not testify and submit Miftakhov’s younger sister, who is finishing ninth grade, to routine monitoring by the police, OVD Info has learned from the MSU Pressure Group.

Svetlana Sidorkina, Miftakhov’s defense counsel, corroborated the news. According to her, the police want Miftakhov’s family to testify. Sidorkina underscored that Miftakhov’s mother, stepfather, and sister have the right not to testify since they are close relatives.

Azat Miftakhov is a suspect in a criminal case involving a broken window at a United Russia party office.

According to the MSU Pressure Group, police officers visited the Miftakhov family home on June 6, telling them to come to the police station for an interview. As they were leaving, they hinted Miftakhov was guilty. Subsequently, police officers telephoned the Miftakhovs several times, demanding they report to the police station.

On June 10, during the interview, police officers showed Miftakhov’s stepfather a video in which his younger sister is seen pasting stickers in his defense. The police officers demanded that the girl stop supporting her brother overtly. Otherwise, she would have problems at school, and they would make a habit of detaining her, summon her for interviews, and put her on their routine monitoring list.

Miftakhov’s stepfather was asked by the police officers how long he had known his stepson, how often he visited Nizhnekamsk, and what people in Moscow the family members were in contact regarding the criminal case.

After the interview, a police officer telephoned Miftakhov’s mother, apologized for taking to her in a raised voice, and hinted at her son’s guilt. He demanded that she stop communicating with activists, and take her daughter in hand.

Miftakhov told Public Monitoring Commission member Yevgeny Yenikeyev about pressure on him in the remand prison where he has been jailed since his arrest. In late April, Miftakhov was taken to the investigation room, where two men wanted to have an “informal” chat with him. When Miftakhov turned them down, they threatened him. They said he would have problems at the remand prison and face a second set of criminal charges.

A graduate student in mechanics and mathematics at MSU and an anarchist, Miftakhov was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct (Russian Criminal Code Article 213 Part 2). The charges were filed due to the events during the early hours of January 31, 2018, when persons unknown broke a window at the United Russia party office in Moscow’s Khovrino District and threw a smoke bomb inside.

Police detained Miftakhov on February 1, 2019. Subsequently, Miftakhov told a lawyer he had been tortured with a screwdriver. Eleven other people were detained the same day, and several of them reported they were tortured, too. Over the next eleven days, Miftakhov’s time in police custody was extended under various pretexts.

[…]

Translated by the Russian Reader

Azat Miftakhov: Abducted for the Third Time in a Week

fasischmus.JPG

Yana Teplitskaya writes: “Today, Azat Miftakhov was abducted for the third time in a week. (That is, he was abducted once, but allegedly “released” two times.) Attorney Svetlana Sidorkina was informed that Azat had been released from the Temporary Detention Facility. But then it became clear no one had seen him since his release. Ultimately, it transpired that he had simply been taken to a police station. The court hearing at which Azat was either to be released or remanded in custody was scheduled for today.”

Photo and translation by the Russian Reader

Torture First, Ask Questions Later (The Case of Azat Miftakhov)

азатAzat Miftakhov. Courtesy of Autonomous Action

Detained Moscow State University Mechanics and Mathematics Grad Student Tells Lawyer Security Forces Beat Him
Mediazona
February 3, 2019

Defense lawyer Svetlana Sidorkina reported to Mediazona that Azat Miftakhov, a graduate student in the mechanics and mathematics department at Moscow State University, told her he was beaten by security forces officers after they detained him.

“In the office [at the Balashikha police station — Mediazona] where he was held, they demanded he confess and were upset he asked to call family members or a lawyer. As he told me, one of the officers pressed an object that appeared to be a screwdriver to his chest and said he would use it if [Miftakhov] did not do as they asked,” Sidorkina told us.

“Then he was beaten on the arms and face. As [Miftakhov] said, they kicked and punched him in the chest. But there were no visible injuries. Then [one of the security forces officers]  wanted to stick the screwdriver in his anus. [Miftakhov] took the threat seriously, but [the officers] did nothing. Ultimately, [Miftakhov] did not tell them anything nor did he sign a confession,” said Sidorkina.

She noted that, aside from a bruise on Azat’s ear and a mark made by the screwdriver, there were no visible injuries on his body.

Miftakhov did not know what security agency the men who beat him represented.

Sidorkina added that Miftakhov was detained as part of an investigation into a violation of Russian Criminal Code Article 223.1 Part 1 (illegal manufacture of explosives).

According to Sidorkina, Miftakhov was detained on the morning of February 1. After his dwelling was searched, he was delivered to the Balashikha police station. In the evening, after he was interrogated by security services officers, he was taken to hospital, where he was treated for abrasions from the screwdriver and injected with a sedative. He was driven back to the police station, but held in the car until three in the morning.

Sidorkina suspects the security forces did not know how to charge the detained graduate student.

Ultimately, Miftakhov was placed in a room for people detained on administrative charges in the Balashikha police station’s other building, which houses its investigative department.

On the morning of February 2, however, he was taken back to the first building. According to Miftakhov, he was held in a office there for the entire day, but he was handcuffed. Around seven o’clock in the evening, he was driven back to the Balashikha police station’s investigative department, where the written record of his detention was read out to him.

At least eleven other people were detained as part of the explosives investigation. Except for Miftakhov, all of them have been released.

Mediazona has spoken with six of the former detainees. Daniil Galkin told us that, after the search, FSB officers tortured him with a taser and tried to force him into testifying against Miftakhov and doing an interview with a news crew from Channel One.

Translated by the Russian Reader

Moscow Anarchist Azat Miftakhov: Arrested, Tortured and Missing

azatMoscow anarchist Azat Miftakhov at the center of a selfie taken, apparently, by the Center “E” officers who tortured him. Screenshot courtesy of Jenya Kulakova

Jenya Kulakova
Facebook
February 2, 2019

For a day and a half, lawyers have been unable to see Azat Miftakhov, an anarchist and Moscow State University graduate student who was detained yesterday. Yesterday evening, Miftakhov was taken from the Balashikha police station as a defense counselor looked on and taken to parts unknown. Miftakhov was bruised and surrounded by eight cop. It has been twenty-four hours since he was last seen. No one knows his whereabouts, his condition, and the charges against him.

On the other hand, Ren TV and Rossiya 24 have broadcast photos and videos from the Miftakhov’s search and interrogation. In one of them, an investigator mocks Miftakhov, who is handcuffed, when he claims he is afraid of being tortured. The Center “E” officers take a selfie with their prisoner. (I was unable to find any other photo, so that’s why it illustrates this post.)

The folks who were detained along with Miftakhov, but released yesterday, report they were beaten and tortured with electric shocks. The torture was so bad that yesterday Miftakhov “didn’t look like a human being.” He attempted to slash his wrists to keep from being tortured again. Today, lawyer Svetlana Sidorkina heard an investigator in court talking to someone about it.

The authorities did not produce Miftakhov in court today for his own custody hearing.

Like a year ago in Petersburg, torture is happening practically in broad daylight, but we don’t know what to do.  Yesterday, when I left a message on the Moscow police’s hotline, the operator almost laughed at me. Just as Putin claimed [at a recent meeting of the Council for Civil Society and Human Rights] that FSB officers don’t torture people in vehicles, she doubted what I was saying.

“He’s being tortured right in an Interior Ministry building? Right now? Give me a break,” she said to me.

A missing person report on Miftakhov has been filed, and lawyers have been trying since yesterday to get access to him. But what’s the point?

I hope this hell ends for him as soon as possible.

Here are a few links to articles [in Russian] about what has transpired about the searches and arrests in Moscow since yesterday.

Translated by the Russian Reader

Comrade to Comrade

1465990524-5252Crimean political prisoners Oleg Sentsov and Alexander Kolchenko during their so-called trial by a Russian kangaroo court. Photo courtesy of Unian Information Agency

Alexander Kolchenko, Convicted in the Case of the “Crimean Terrorists,” Writes a Letter to Oleg Sentsov
Mediazona
May 22, 2018

Antifascist Alexander Kolchenko, convicted in the Case of the “Crimean Terrorists,” has written a letter to filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who is in the ninth day of a hunger strike meant to force the Russian authorities to release all Ukrainian political prisoners from the country’s prisons. Mediazona was told about the letter by attorney Svetlana Sidorkina.

According to Sidorkina, Kolchenko was afraid the censor would not pass the letter on to Sentsov, so he gave her a detailed acount of its contents when she visited Kolchenko at Corrective Colony No. 6 in the town of Kopeysk.

“In the letter he wrote that, in his opinion, a hunger strike was an effective means of defense only in cases in which a country valued its reputation. Alexander believes that, in Oleg’s case, Russia could ignore his hunger strike, but not let him die by forcibly feeding and sending him off for a psychiatric examination. Sergei Magnitsky’s death changed nothing in Russia. Instead, the Dima Yaklovev Law was adopted. He did not try and dissuade Oleg, since he knows Oleg is stubborn and does not change his mind. He is quite concerned for his health, since he knows what the climate and living conditions are like in Labytnangi from prisoners he met when he and Oleg were in transit to the prisons where they would serve their sentences. Although Alexander doesn’t agree with Oleg’s method, he respects his stance on freeing Ukrainian political prisoners from Russian prisons and is ready to support Oleg if he needs to,” said Sidorkina.

Sidorkina tried to dissuade Kolchenko from a possible hunger strike by pointing to his health problems and the fact he is underweight. Because of this, he is on a special diet.

Aside from the letter to Sentsov, Kolchenko wrote a letter to Vladimir Putin demanding he intervene in the situation and release Sentsova. Kolchenko, however, was afraid the censor would also prevent the letter from reaching its addressee.

Kolchenko added he had no complaints about conditions in the penal colony. According to Sidorkin, he looked cheerful, but was quite worried about Sentsova. Sidorkina had wanted to show him articles about the Ukrainian filmmaker’s hunger strike, but penal colony staff stopped her from doing so.

In 2015, a court sentenced Kolchenko and Sentsov to ten years and twenty years, respectively, in maximum security penal colonies. According to police investigators, in 2014, Sentsov established a “terrorist community” (illegal under Article 205.4 Part 1 of the Russian Criminal Code). Members of the alleged community supposedly set fire to the doors of the Russian Community of Crimea and the windows of a United Russia Party office. These actions were deemed terrorist attacks, punishable under Article 205 Part 2 Paragraph A of the Criminal Code.

In addition, police investigators insisted members of the alleged “terrorist community” were planning to blow up a monument to Lenin and the Eternal Flame, punishable under Article 30 Part 1 and Article 205 Part 2 Paragraph A. Sentsov was also charged with trafficking in arms and explosives as part of a group, punishable by Article 222 Part 3. Kolchenko was found guilty of involvement in the alleged terrorist community and planning terrorist attacks on the Crimean Peninsula. Both men have denied their guilt.

In the spring of 2016, Sentsov was transported to a penal colony in Yakutia, but in 2017 he was transferred to the White Bear Colony in Labytnangi. In the winter of 2017, the Ukrainian authorities announced they were prepared to exchange Russian prisoners for Sentsov and Kolchenko. On May 14 of this year, Sentsov announced he was going on an indefinite hunger strike to secure the release of all Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia.

Translated by the Russian Reader

Dragnet (Yelena Gorban and Alexei Kobaidze)

Suspects in Vandalism Committed Outside of United Russia Office Sent to Temporary Detention Facility
OVD Info
February 14, 2018

Paddy wagon in which Gorban was taken away. Photo by Maxim Pashkov. Courtesy of OVD Info

Yelena Gorban and Alexei Kobaidze, suspects in the vandalism case (Russian Criminal Code Article 214) opened after a protest outside a United Russia party office on January 31, have been sent to Temporary Detention Facility No. 1 (Petrovka) in Moscow, as reported to OVD Info by their defense lawyers, Svetlana Sidorkina and Maxim Pashkov.

Gorban and Kobaidze have been jailed for 48 hours. On February 14, investigators plan to pursue their investigation, perhaps by confronting the detainees. According to the lawyers, Gorban has confessed to violating Article 214 Part 1 (vandalism) of the Criminal Code, while Kobaidze has refused to testify, invoking his right not to incriminate himself under Article 51 of the Russian Constitution.

Police arrived at Gorban’s home early in the morning. They searched the flat she shares with her parents, confiscated all electronic devices, and took the young woman to the Investigation Office of the Interior Ministry’s Moscow Directorate. Gorban has problems with her eyesight, but was not allowed to take contact lenses or eyeglases with here. The activist was delivered to the Investigation Office and interrogated as a witness. Her attorney, Svetlana Sidorkina, was not allowed to see her client for four hours. When Sidorkina was finally allowed to see Gorban, she had had decided to confess her guilt and testify.

The police came for Kobaidze in the evening. He refused to open the door, and the police were unable to enter his flat for a long time. Kobaidze’s neighbor Alexei Markov was apprehended by police and taken to the Novogireevo precinct, because he had returned home and refused to opened the door to the flat with his own key. He was then taken to the police station on the premise that he could be inebriated. After testing Markov, the police took him back to the flat and, after showing him a search warrant, opened the door with his key. After the search, Kobaidze was also taken to the Interior Ministry’s Investigation Department and interrogated as a suspect.

During the interrogations, police officers questioned Gorban and Kobaidze about an unauthorized march by Moscow anarchists on Myasnitskaya Street to protest the torture of anarchists and antifascists in Penza and Petersburg (see below).

Translated by the Russian Reader

••••••••••

I have previously posted the following translations of popular press articles on the Penza-Petersburg “terrorism” case and the FSB-led investigation of the April 2017 bombing in the Petersburg subway, which upon close examination seem eerily like carbon copies of each other.

Dmitry Buchenkov, Last Bolotnaya Square Defendant, Flees Russia

CF8AAC04-C132-492E-9382-9B569A27A780_cx0_cy8_cw0_w1023_r1_sDmitry Buchenkov

Last Bolotnaya Square Defendant Flees Russia
RBC
November 9, 2017

In an interview with Current Time TV, Bolotnaya Square defendant Dmitry Buchenkov said he has left Russia for a European Union country.

He said he has applied for political asylum in this country. Buchenkov failed to say exactly where he had gone.

“I’m calm about the fact I won’t be returning to the motherland soon. I won’t say leaving was easy. Psychologically, of course, I didn’t want to leave,” he noted. “The regime and the entire justice system forced me to take this step.”

He added he was currently not in touch with relatives.

When asked how he managed to cross the Russian border, the Bolotnaya Square defendant said he was “neither the first nor the last person to do it in such circumstances.”

According to Buchenkov, the Bolotnaya Square Case was “political” from the onset. He said that, after he was put under house arrest, “for six months [he] observed how the case was unfolding personally for [him]” and was convinced a guilty verdict lay in store. He said he was transferred from a pretrial detention facility to house arrest during a “brief thaw.” He was not outfitted with an electronic tracking bracelet, because the Naro-Fominsky division of the Federal Penitentiary Service had run out of them.

“I think the police investigators have long known they nabbed the wrong guy. But it was too late for them to back out,” said Buchenkov.

On the morning of November 9, Buchenkov did not show up to the Zamoskvorechye District Court for the latest hearing in his case, in which he stood accused of involvement in rioting. The Federal Penitentiary Service has accused him of fleeing, writes Current Time. Federal Penitentiary Service spokeswoman Natalya Bakharina said the defendant had “absconded,” since he was not to be found in his flat. She noted another family had been living there since November 5, and they were given keys to the flat in late October.

Buchenkov’s attorney Ilya Novikov wrote that he would refrain from commenting for the time being. In turn, Buchenkov’s other attorney, Svetlana Sidorkina, told RBC she did not know about her client’s departure from Russia.

“I don’t know about it. I do know he did not come to today’s hearing, during which the matter of whether to continue the forensic investigation or not was to have been ajudicated,” said Sidorkina.

According to her, the court decided to postpone the hearing since Buchenkov was not in attendance.

In April, at a hearing in the Zamoskvorechye District Court, Buchenkov declared himself not guilty of involvement in rioting and fighting with policemen. He was accused of violence against six Interiory Ministry officers and causing damage in the amount of 73,800 rubles to a commercial firm that set up porta-potties near Bolotnaya Square in Moscow.

Buchenkov, a 38-year-old anarchist and history teacher, was detained and remanded to custody in December 2015, thus becoming the thirty-fourth defendant in the Bolotnaya Square Case. Later, the Moscow City Court released him from custody and put him under house arrest. Buchenkov’s lawyers insisted the activist was not in Moscow during the events of May 6, 2012. The claim was corroborated by Buchenkov’s relatives in Nizhny Novgorod.

According to the defense, the police investigators who, allegedly, identified Buchenkov on video recordings of the May 6, 2012, protest rally mixed him up with another person. The defense lawyers sought to enter higher resolution photographs into evidence, but police investigators refused to take them into account.

Translated by the Russian Reader

Be Kind, Don’t Repost

Andrei Bubeyev (right) in the defendant's cage at his trial
Andrei Bubeyev (right) in the defendant’s cage at his trial

Tver Resident Sentenced to Two Years in Work-Release Penal Colony for Two Reposts on VKontakte
Takie Dela
May 5, 2016

The Zavolzhsky District Court in Tver has sentenced mechanical engineer Andrei Bubeyev to two years and three months in a work-release penal colony for extremism and separatism, writes Kommersant.

The defendant’s lawyer, Svetlana Sidorkina, said the court delivered its verdict “on all the charges summarily and taking into account the verdict in the first criminal case.” In addition, the time Bubeyev has served in a pre-trial detention facility since May 24, 2015, will count toward completion of his sentence. According to Sidorkina, the verdict will be appealed.

The basis for the charges were two reposts Bubeyev made on the VKontakte social network. He posted the article “Crimea Is Ukraine” by writer and political activist Boris Stomakhin on his personal page and a picture of a tube of toothpaste captioned “Squeeze Russia out of you.”

The prosecution argued this was a violation of Russian Federal Criminal Code Article 280.2 (public calls for extremist activities) and Article 280.1.2 (public calls for actions aimed at violating the Russian Federation’s territorial integrity) and requested that Bubeyev be sentenced to three and a half years in prison. Bubeyev pleaded not guilty.

In August 2015, the blogger was found guilty of extremism and sentenced to nine months in a work-release penal colony for reposting similar matter and pictures.

In February 2016, a court in Yekaterinburg ordered the laptop of single mother Ekaterina Vologzheninova destroyed because she had made certain likes and reposts. Investigators claimed that in 2014 Vologzheninova posted images deemed extremist by FSB officers on a social network. The investigators did not report exactly what was in the images. According to the woman’s attorney, one of the images was a caricature in which a person resembling Vladimir Putin was hunched over a map of Donbass with a knife.

Translated by My Left Foot. Image courtesy of openrussia.org

_______

Russian Jailed For Reposting ‘Extremist’ Article
RFE/RL
May 6, 2016

A court in the Russian city of Tver has sentenced a man to two years and three months in prison for reposting material about Crimea on a social media network.

The court on May 5 found that engineer Andrei Bubeyev reposted an article by publicist Boris Stomakhin that had earlier been deemed “extremist” and “threatening to Russia’s territorial integrity.”

The piece argued that the Ukrainian Black Sea region of Crimea had been illegally annexed by Russia and should be returned to Ukraine.

In April 2015, a Moscow court sentenced Stomakhin to seven years in prison on charges of promoting terrorism and extremism.

Stomakhin says the charges against him were politically motivated.

In the region of Chuvashia, investigators have accused 62-year-old Nikolai Yegorov of inciting national enmity for reposting the same Stomakhin article.

Yegorov denies the accusation and his trial is pending.

Railroading Dmitry Buchenkov

How the Investigative Committee Interrogated Me in the Buchenkov Case (Bolotnaya Square Case)
Yaroslav Nikitenko
April 27, 2016
yaroslavn.livejournal.com

Yesterday, I went to the Investigative Committee for questioning in the Dmitry Buchenkov case (part of the Bolotnaya Square case).

Dmitry Buchenkov is one of the recent defendants in the case. He was arrested on December 2, 2016. The investigation has been plagued by gross violations from the get-go. Buchenkov’s attorney, Svetlana Sidorkina, was not allowed to see the accused. She was thus unable to defend him not only at his pre-trial custody hearing but was also unable to establish his whereabouts for several days. During this time, investigators were subjecting him to psychological pressure. Dmitry has been accused of involvement in rioting (Criminal Code Article 212.2), the rioting that, allegedly, took place on Bolotnaya Square in Moscow on May 6, 2012, and of using non-life-threatening violence against officials. Dmitry and his loved ones have claimed he was not at Bolotnaya Square that day. He was visiting relatives in Nizhny Novgorod, and so could not have committed the crimes of which he has been accused. I am a witness in the case, because I have known Buchenkov for many years and was at Bolotnaya Square on May 6, 2012.

On December 11, 2015, a photograph of a “man in black,” whom investigators believe to be Dmitry Buchenkov, according to activists, appeared on the Internet.

I am the man in the white t-shirt standing next to the “man in black.”

I do not know the man in the black hoodie in this photograph or whether he inflicted a great deal harm on the policeman in body armor and helmet, but it is obvious to me he is not Dmitry Buchenkov.

When I saw the photograph and realized the man was not Dmitry, I contacted Svetlana Sidorkina and told her I could act as a witness in Dmitry’s case.

Later, I learned that the same man in black has been accused of upending port-a-potties on Bolotnaya Square on May 6. I can also testify that during this incident I was in the vicinity of the port-a-potties from the very beginning and nearby until the police finally dispersed everyone. Dmitry Buchenkov was not there.

Between the public garden and the embankment. I am in the middle in the white t-shirt. Photo courtesy of martin.livejournal.com
This is a bit closer to Bolotnaya Square. I am the person left of center in the white t-shirt. Photo courtesy of Yevgeny Feldman

The general sequence of events was as follows. I arrived at the Oktyabrskaya subway station, where the march started, approximately at the beginning of the event (i.e., 3 p.m.). I marched with the bloc of Pussy Riot supporters, and I was wearing a pink balaclava (which is dangling from my chest later in the photographs). On Malyi Kammenyi Bridge, our group and the LGBT bloc were attacked by provocateurs, who tried to snatch a flag. Then there was a sit-down strike near the Udarnik movie theater. I thought about sitting for a while too, but I didn’t like it very much. I could not get through to Bolotnaya Square, although I wanted to make it to the rally, because, it seemed, they were not allowing anyone to enter. Subsequently, closing the entrance to the square has been regarded as one of the numerous police provocations at the rally. Then someone seemingly decided to try and break through the police cordon. I am not sure whether I saw it myself or read it about later on the Internet, but the idea seemed pretty silly to me then and still seems that way now, because there were really a lot of police, and the people who broke through the first cordon probably went straight to the paddy wagons. At some point, stones started flying at the police. What I remember most of all was how the police split the crowd outside the Udarnik theater into several sections, and a huge column of cops ran through the empty space wielding batons and indiscriminately hitting the people standing along the sides.

Gradually, I moved closer to Bolotnaya Square. There, I stood for a while in a human chain with people who thought it might be an effective self-defense. But it wasn’t. Policemen armed with batons constantly attacked these people, hitting them and dragging individuals out of the crowd to arrest them. Then I remember that someone who looked a bit wild-eyed suggested we overturn the toilets, as if it were really important and could protect us from the mobs of police. Then everything [the contents of the port-a-potties? — TRR] spread out over the pavement, and even more police came running from the direction of Bolotnaya Square to disperse the group of people there as well. (This was between the public garden in Bolotnaya Square and the embankment.) I went back over Malyi Kammenyi Bridge around 8 p.m.

I also do not remember this tent being set up. (Although I cannot vouch for the fact it is the same tent I saw.) Photo courtesy of Yevgeny Feldman and Novaya Gazeta

The man in the photos bears no resemblance to the real Dmitry Buchenkov.

Dmitry Buchenkov. Photo courtesy of ad-sr.info
The man in black (left) and Buchenkov. Their noses and chins are shaped completely differently.

Read Dmitry Borko’s analysis for a detailed comparision of photographs of Buchenkov and the man in black. A criminal expert, cited by Borko, is certain that Buchenkov and the man in black are different people. Borko also lists psychological and political inconsistencies. Indeed, why did it take the police three and a half years to find an activist whose identity had long been know to them if photos and videos of him at Bolotnaya Square were, allegedly, plastered all over the Internet? I would remind you that Maxim Luzynanin, who was wearing a mask the whole time on May 6 and was virtually unknown within the protest movement, was located by police in May 2012.

The man in black felt quite at ease on Bolotnaya Square. He hit policemen, threw them on the pavement, tossed glass bottles at them, sprayed them with pepper spray, and overturned toilets. He clearly sensed his own impunity.

Photo courtesy of Yevgeny Gurko and OpenSpace.ru

As someone who has long been involved in protests and grassroots movements, I can say such behavior is virtually impossible for a very experienced activist. Anarchists and anti-fascists quite often cover their faces even at authorized rallies where nothing illegal is happening. Approximately half of civil society’s work involves defending unjustly accused comrades and political prisoners. Every longstanding activist (such as Buchenkov) is well aware that if activists with no ties to the authorities give them the slightest excuse, they will be jailed instantly, while even if they give them no excuse, the authorities will fabricate a case against them. It is obvious to me that no opposition activist could have behaved with such flagrant impunity. That means he could have been someone linked to the authorities, whose safety had been ensured in advance and who was handsomely remunerated. I do not believe he was a random person, because he was clearly well trained to do what he did. He avoided arrest and was armed with a pepper spray can. (For some reason, however, he did not wear a mask.) Civic activists clearly have nowhere to go where they could do such training. I think the man could only have been a specially trained intelligence officer, and this explains why he could not be found (probably because no one looked for him). It is another question why Buchenkov had to take the man in black’s place. It is quite possible the authorities want to put pressure on protest movement activists in the run-up to September’s parliamentary elections. (They are ready to jail anarchists and anti-fascists any time.) Besides, it is quite possible the security agencies do not always coordinate their actions, and arresting another man was a clear miscalculation on their part.

Compared to other protest rallies, there were a great number of provocations at Bolotnaya Square. Moreover, the authorities initially knew about them but did nothing to prevent them. In all likelihood, they took advantage (and set up many of them themselves).

The fact that the man in the photographs is not Dmitry Buchenkov is obvious to me and other people who know Dmitry personally.

Moreover, I did not see Dmitry Buchenkov on Bolotnaya Square at any point on May 6, 2012.

I was right next to the man in black during the incidents of which he has been accused (as listed above). Of course, my memory of the man has now faded. But if an acquaintance of mine had been next to me and the police had tried to beat him, and he had done the things the man in black did, I could not have failed to remember it.

It is impossible not to recognize an acquaintance who is at arm’s length from you. Besides, during the incident with the toilets there were many fewer people there; the crowd was considerably thinner. So not seeing and not recognizing an acquaintance of mine there (especially one who stuck out so much in terms of clothing and behavior, and was demonstratively at the very center of events) would also have been impossible.

Would the above-mentioned facts be meaningful in an objective investigation? In my opinion, they would be of primary importance. But my testimony proved fairly uninteresting to the actual investigation. On January 11, I wrote a letter to the Investigative Committee. I explained I was personally acquainted with Buchenkov, had been at Bolotnaya Square, and could act as a witness in the case. I received a formal reply from Major General R.R. Gabdulin of the major cases division.

“The information related in the letter will be taken into account during the investigation of the criminal case in question,” he wrote.

The investigators have probably already found policemen who probably had never seen Dmitry Buchenkov in their lives but have already testified they saw him, just as their higher-ups wanted them to do. Why would they need more witnesses? I believe this shows clear bias on the part of the investigation and an unwillingness to establish the truth. Policemen committed many crimes on Bolotnaya Square, but none of them has been punished. Where there is obvious bias there can be no justice.

The Investigative Committee’s reply to my letter

Suddenly, last Monday, April 24 (i.e., three months after I wrote my letter and four months after Buchenkov’s arrest), Investigator Uranov telephoned me and asked me to come to the Investigative Committee for questioning. Buchenkov’s attorney, Svetlana Sidorkina, had no longer been counting on my being summoned to the Investigative Committee as a witness and had put me on the list of defense witnesses. In this case, an investigator was obliged to question me.

Yesterday [Tuesday, April 26], my attorney and I arrived at the Investigative Committee at 12:30 p.m. (The investigator had initially scheduled us for 1 p.m., but an hour and a half before our meeting, he called and said the building’s security checkpoint closed at 1 p.m. and we had to be there earlier.)

There was a huge Saint George’s Ribbon (two hands’ long) hanging from Investigator Uranov’s desk lamp, and a picture of people convicted in the Bolotnaya Square Case, published on the website of the May 6 Committee, hung above his desk.

74182
Some of the people convicted in the Bolotnaya Square Case: Alexandra Dukhanina, Yaroslav Belousov, Andrei Barabanov, Artyom Savyolov, Denis Lutskevich, Alexei Polikhovich, Stepan Zimin, and Sergei Kriov, along with their sentences. Image courtesy of May 6 Committee. TRR

When we finished, the investigator made me sign an agreement not to disclose information from the preliminary investigation. He explained I could talk about what had happened on Bolotnaya, but I could not talk about what I had been asked during questioning and what testimony I had given. He also warned me I would be held criminally liable if case information were disclosed.

So I have not written here about what happened during the interrogation yesterday, and everything I have written in this post is either publicly available on the Internet or is my own personal knowledge and opinions and has nothing to do with the investigation’s classified information.

Just in case, I asked another lawyer friend whether I could write this.

“You know what the times are like now yourself. If they want to get you, they will find a crime to charge you with, so it’s better not to write,” he replied.

However, according to Article 161.2 of the Criminal Procedural Code, “The investigator or interrogating officers warns those involved in criminal proceedings of the inadmissibility of disclosing information from the preliminary investigation without proper authorization.”

So I decided to act in keeping with what the investigator himself had said, and another lawyer confirmed I could write about it. I think it is very important to testify publicly about what I saw at Bolotnaya Square and why Buchenkov had nothing to do with it, especially because I don’t know whether I will be able to do it in the future.

When I wrote that I had been summoned to the Investigative Committee in the Bolotnaya Square Case, very many friends of mine were worried. Many of them wrote that one could go from being a witness to a suspect almost in an instant. Many wrote that I had better not go. Everyone advised me to be careful. I can vouch for myself that I did nothing illegal on Bolotnaya Square on May 6, 2012, but it is clear they can easily fabricate a case and find a whole platoon of “witnesses,” as they have done many times before. I would only note that in a country that has the rule of law and where law enforcement agencies work to administer justice and protect the rights of citizens, this attitude on society’s part to the status of witnesses in criminal cases would be impossible.

And today, investigators began putting real pressure on me. The day after my questioning, the investigator suddenly telephoned and asked me to report to him tonight. Unfortunately, my attorney could not come with me tonight, so I offered to come with him tomorrow. Uranov (the man who, after Dmitry’s arrest, searched his parents’ flat in Nizhny Novgorod and did not inform his lawyer of his whereabouts) replied that this did not bother him very much.

“You can come with another lawyer or without a lawyer,” he said, adding, “You are a witness, after all.”

During his next call, Uranov informed me that my lawyer could not come at the time tomorrow I had just scheduled with him, because another investigator in the same case had summoned him. But then my lawyer told me he was not going on another case and was willing to go with me to questioning even at ten in the morning.

This entire conversation was conducted with me acting as the intermediary for some reason, and the investigator said several times I could find another lawyer. Uranov also insisted I not write about this on Facebook, but that I look for another lawyer and come to see him today: it was extremely urgent. Obviously, this way of doing things was illegal, because the impossibility of having a lawyer present during question is a legitimate excuse for failing to appear for questioning. Fortunately, realizing he would not be able to persuade me, the investigator agreed to reschedule the questioning to tomorrow, but he reminded me about administrative responsibility [for failing to respond to a summons — TRR] and repeated several times I could be forcibly brought in for questioning.  In any case, I would have filed a written statement that I would not take part in the investigation without a lawyer and would remain silent. But I would like to note that when investigators behave this way with witnesses, they are signaling to the public that witnesses in political cases will have problems.

My lawyer and I had met before in another case, and he had been at his best then. He is now also involved in the Bolotnaya Square case, and so it was quite important to me that he come with me. However, when I called him to say the investigator could question us tomorrow at ten in the morning, it transpired that all his papers had just been stolen and he would not be able to come tomorrow. I hope it has nothing to do with this case.

Many people have been quite demoralized by the Bolotnaya Square case, but I am not pessimistic. I have also found it painful over the last few years to see this injustice and hear that my acquaintances have been convicted or have been forced to leave the country. Society, however, is a complex system, and the political situation changes rapidly. Many of the prisoners of May 6 were convicted despite massive protests against the case. But that is no reason to give up. People who do not give up always have a chance of winning, and this is especially true in politics. I can see that the case against Dmitry Buchenkov has obviously been grossly fabricated. It is a complete failure on the part of the Bolotnaya Square case investigators, and whether or not you support Dmitry’s political views, you must talk about the case as much as possible.

We must fight back against the obviously unfair and unjust charges against Dmitry Buchenkov.

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