“Expressive Eyebrows”: Azat Miftakhov Jailed After Secret Witness Testifies

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February 12, 2019

Azat Miftakhov, a mathematics and mechanics graduate student at Moscow State University,  has been remanded in custody until March 7, 2019

Golovina District Court Judge Sergei Bazarov has remanded Azat Miftakhov in custody for a month, until March 7, at the request of police investigators. The police suspect Miftakhov of involvement in a January 13, 2018, incident in which a window in the Khovrino office of the United Russia party was broken and a smoke bomb was thrown inside.

The only evidence in the case is the testimony of a secret “witness” who emerged three days ago. Allegedly, the witness was near the United Russia office the night of the incident. He saw six young people. Three of the young people smashed the window and threw a smoke bomb in it, while the other three stood off to the side. The so-called witness supposedly recalled Miftakhov as being among the group who stood and watched, yet he was unable to describe neither what Miftakhov was wearing or his facial features, only his “expressive eyebrows.” The witness, however, did not contact the police for an entire year since, he explained, his phone had gone dead at the time and, subsequently, he had been busy with his own affairs.

Miftakhov was detained by law enforcement officers on the morning of February 1 on suspicion of making explosives, a criminal offense as defined by Article 223 Part 1 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code. He was held for twenty-four hours at the Balashikha police station, where law enforcement officers tortured him, demanding he make a full confession. Only on the evening of February 2 was Miftakhov officially detained and sent to the Balashikha Temporary Detention Facility.

On February 4, however, a court refused to remand him in custody due to a lack of evidence. Over the next three days, police investigators were unable to muster any evidence against Miftakhov, and so, on February 6, he was released from the temporary detention facility without charge.

As Miftakhov was leaving the detention facility, he was detained by men in plain clothes and taken to the Interior Ministry’s headquarters for Moscow’s Northern Administrative Division, where he was told he had been detained in another case, an investigation of alleged disorderly conduct outside the United Russia office in Khovrino on January 13, 2018. An investigation into vandalism (Criminal Code Article 214 Part 1) had been opened in January 2018, but Russian law does not stipulate remanding vandalism suspects in custody during investigations.

In an amazing coincidence, just as Miftakhov was detained a second time, the case was reclassified as an investigation of disorderly conduct, as defined by Criminal Code Article 213 Part 2. People suspected of disorderly conduct can be remanded in custody, and Miftakhov suddenly had become the main suspect in the case. On February 10, the Golovina District Court in Moscow refused to remand Miftakhov in custody, postponing the hearing until February 12.

Miftakhov denies the charges against him. He believes he has been framed because of his anarchist views.

Over a thousand lecturers, professors, researchers, and students from leading Russian and international universities have signed a petition in Miftakhov’s defense, include MIT linguistics professor Noam Chomsky and Viktor Vasilyev, president of the Moscow Mathematics Society. Mikhail Finkelberg, professor at the Higher School of Economics and Skoltech, Boris Kravchenko, president of the Confederation of Labor of Russia (KTR) and member of the Russian Presidential Human Rights Council, and Russian MP Oleg Shein have agreed to stand surety for Miftakhov.

Translation and photo by the Russian Reader. Please read my earlier posts on the Khovrino vandalism case and the Russian police state’s senseless, relentless persecution of Azat Miftakhov.

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

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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.

“The Delirium of Religious Reformism”: Punitive Psychiatry Makes a Comeback in Chelyabinsk

Alexei Moroshkin. Photo courtesy of Memorial
Alexei Moroshkin. Photo courtesy of Memorial Human Rights Center

Chelaybinsk Resident Alexei Moroshkin’s Stay in Mental Hospital Extended Six Months
OVD Info
January 11, 2017

On January 10, the Soviet District Court in Chelyabinsk extended Alexei Moroshkin’s forced confinement in a psychiatric hospital for another six months, according to his mother Tatyana Moroshkina. Moroshkin had been sentenced to compulsory psychiatric treatment after having been accused of calling for violation of the Russian Federation’s territorial integrity.

According to Moroshkina, the court paid no attention to any of the arguments made by the defense, neither that her son’s actions and statements did not pose a threat to others, nor that, according to his medical record and the opinion of his physician, he was not dangerous and there was no need to hospitalize him. In making its ruling, the court was guided by the unsubstantiated opinion of court-appointed experts that Alexei Moroshkin could be dangerous, said his mother.

Moroshkin was committed to Regional Clinical Mental Hospital No. 1 in Chelyabinsk in December 2015. Prior to this, a court had considered the charges of calls for separatism made against him in connection with texts, posted on the VKontakte social network, about the need to establish a Ural People’s Republic. In November 2015, a court absolved Moroshkin of criminal liability, declaring him mentally incompetent on the basis of opinions submitted by medical forensic examiners, who during the police investigation had diagnosed him with paranoid schizophrenia, adding that he suffered from the “delirium of religious reformism.” This diagnosis was occasioned, apparently, by Moroshkin’s online publications and interviews dealing with the virtual Church of the Chelyabinsk Meteorite, which he had invented. At present, acccording to his mother, the medical experts do not mention delirium, but nevertheless consider her son mentally ill and a danger to others.

Before criminal charges were filed against him, Moroshkin had never been under a psychiatrist’s care.

According to his mother, Moroshkin’s physical condition has deteriorated: he suffers from a heart disease. The court also failed to take this circumstance into account.

In October 2016, Moroshkin was suddenly transferred to a wing with worse living conditions than before. Shortly before this, the hospital’s head physician was fined for refusing to provide information about Moroshkin to his defense attorney.

Currently, another case involving Moroshkin is under investigation. He has been accused of painting a bust of Lenin in Chelyabinsk in the colors of the Ukrainian flag and charged under Article 214.2 of the Criminal Code (vandalism).

Translated by the Russian Reader

It Was God’s Will

Dmitry Enteo
August 28, 2014
vk.com

We invite everyone to a unique lecture and roundtable discussion on the relationship of God and the President of the Russian Federation on Sunday, September 7, [2014], at 5 p.m.

You will find out whether our President Vladimir Putin will become a god by grace, i..e, whether he will have all the same as the Creator of the Universe except for communion in His incomprehensible essence? Will Vladimir Putin’s mind take endless pleasure in the perfect knowledge granted him by God? Will he think the great thoughts of the Mind who created the Universe? Will his feelings be filled with infinite joy in God-seeing, and his love increase infinitely over the power of the Holy Spirit? Will Vladimir Vladimirovich’s will be united with God’s will and achieve firmness in goodness? Will Russia’s national leader endlessly come to know infinitely perfect God, penetrating into the depths of the Godhead? Is Vladimir Putin a god by nature or can he become one only by grace? Can we worship Vladimir Vladimirovich as a god on earth? What is the secret of the personal relationship between Vladimir Putin and the Transcendent Creator of worlds? Does Vladimir Putin teach us truly about God? You will learn the answers to these and many other questions by attending our lecture, which will be led by Dmitry Enteo, founder of the God’s Will grassroots movement and an expert in the field of metaphysical Putinism. After the conversation there will be a roundtable discussion on the topic of Vladimir Putin’s role in strengthening the Russian Federation’s spiritual bonds in which everyone will be able to voice their opinions. After the event, everyone can take a picture with the lecturer and get souvenirs.

Free entry for the first 300 people. Photography and videotaping permitted.

Venue: International Fund for Slavic Literature and Culture, Chernigov Lane, 9/13, Building 2, Second floor, Moscow; Tretyakovskaya subway station

Everyone who is interested is welcome! Tel.: +7 (985) 174 6937

vYtGtrvxh_E

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Russian Orthodox Activists Who Vandalized Manezh Face Criminal Charges
Anna Dolgov
September 15, 2015
The Moscow Times

Investigators have opened a criminal case against a group of radical Orthodox activists who attacked Moscow’s Manezh exhibition center last month.

The suspected attackers from the ultraconservative group “God’s Will” could face criminal prosecution for the “destruction or damage of cultural property,” Interior Ministry spokesman Andrei Galiakberov was cited as saying Monday by state-run RIA Novosti news agency. The charge carries punishments ranging from a large fine to three years in prison.

The leader of “God’s Will,” Dmitry “Enteo” Tsorionov, said on his VKontakte social network page Monday that his group is now under criminal investigation.

Two of the attackers had previously been sentenced to 1,000 ruble ($14) fines on a “petty hooliganism” charge in connection with the raid, and other members of the group were to go to trial on the same charge.

Tsorionov said at the time that the verdict was too harsh and that the group planned to appeal, accusing the organizers of the exhibition of committing a crime by insulting religious feelings and inciting hatred, Interfax reported earlier.

The leader said Monday on his VKontakte page that the appeal had been turned down.

During the attack on the Manezh exhibition center on Aug. 14, Orthodox activists damaged four works by the highly acclaimed late sculptor Vadim Sidur and a work by the artist Megasoma Mars titled “Beheading of St. John the Baptist,” according to a Manezh spokeswoman.

The Interior Ministry spokesman on Monday cited “independent experts” as estimating the total damage of the vandalism attack at around 196,000 rubles ($2,895), RIA Novosti reported.

Earlier, art experts from the state-run Grabar Research and Restoration Center estimated the cost of restoring the damaged artworks at more than 1 million rubles, according to Manezh spokeswoman Yelena Karneyeva, state-run TASS news agency reported.

The Manezh will seek compensation for the full amount of damages based on the Grabar center estimate, Karneyeva told the Interfax news agency Monday.

Lecture announcement translated by The Russian Reader. The featured image was part of the original announcement on VKontakte. Thanks to Comrade NT for the heads-up. The Russian Reader previously reported on Enteo’s September 2014 lecture on Putin’s possible divinity in a post entitled “This Is Your Brain on Russia.”

Petersburgers Rally Round Demolished Mephistopheles

Petersburgers Protest Destruction of Mephistopheles Bas-Relief
August 30, 2015
Yodnews.ru

Novaya Gazeta reports that a popular assembly to protest the destruction of a bas-relief featuring an image of Mephistopheles took place today, August 30, on Lakhtinskaya Street.

mef-1Protester with a handmade Mephistopheles t-shirt at Sunday’s rally

“This is not a rally; we are not using amplifiers and posters. People have just come out to show how they feel about vandalism,” said Alexander Kobrinsky, a deputy in the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly.

About five hundred people attended the rally. They attached a temporary banner with a photo of the bas-relief to the facade of the building from which it had been knocked down.

The people who attended the assembly sang Mikhail Novitsky’s song, “This is our city, this is our city, / We will stand up for it! / This is our city, this is our city, / We will defend it from wild vandals!”

mef-nov crowdFolk singer and activist Mikhail Novitsky leads protesters in song

They also played a recording of Feodor Chaliapin’s rendition of the aria “Sérénade de Méphistophélès,” from Gounoud’s opera Faust, on their cell phones.

The Mephistopheles bas-relief on Lakhtinskaya was demolished on August 26. A petition has been posted on Change.org demanding that those involved in the sculpture’s destruction be brought to justice. It has gathered nearly 2,300 signatures of the necessary five thousand. [As of this writing, 4,887 people had signed the petition — TRR.]

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Mephistopheles Facade Facing Orthodox Church Taken Down In St. Petersburg
Anna Dolgov
August 27, 2015
The Moscow Times

A 100-year-old bas-relief depicting the mythical demon Mephistopheles has been removed from the facade of a historical building in St. Petersburg overlooking the nearby construction site of a new Orthodox church, local inhabitants said.

mef-houseMephistopheles House sans Mephistopheles

Mephistopheles is a mythical demon that appears as the devil in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s play Faust. The bas-relief of the character had been a feature of one of St. Petersburg’s minor landmarks, a building on Lakhtinksaya Street known as the House with Mephistopheles.

Local news outlets and social media users reported that the relief was removed from the building without explanation on Wednesday. According to one Facebook user, historian Dmitry Bratkin, the house was designed by 19th and early 20th century architect Alexander Lishnevsky.

“Naturally, the monument was under protection,” Bratkin said. “Or had been. Fifteen minutes ago, Mephistopheles was knocked off the facade.”

One resident of the building, Kirill Alexeyev, told independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta that “workers showed up at 10 in the morning, did not introduce themselves, and did not say who had sent them.”

Instead, the workers asked the building’s residents to move their cars away from the building to avoid being damaged by falling plaster, and then proceeded with the removal of Mephistopheles, Alexeyev said.

“I said: What have you done, this is after all a monument protected by the state,” he said, Novaya Gazeta reported. “They responded: Not to worry, it is old and dilapidated, and it will be restored in plaster.”

The promise of recreating a version of the bas-relief in plaster indicated that the demolition had been a “planned action,” supposedly approved by the authorities, instead of a grassroot stunt by activists displeased by the sight of a mythical demon, Alexeyev suggested.

However, a spokesperson for the city’s architectural monument preservation department, known by its Russian acronym KGIOP, denied any knowledge of the incident, Novaya Gazeta reported.

The removal of the historical bas-relief has also prompted protests by some local lawmakers. St. Petersburg municipal legislator Boris Vishnevsky has sent a complaint to KGIOP, while his fellow lawmaker Alexander Kobrinsky said he would ask police to open a criminal investigation on charges of destruction of cultural heritage sites, St. Perersburg’s Fontanka news agency reported.

mef-vishPetersburg legislator Boris Vishnevsky poses with photo reproduction of Mephistopheles bas-relief

Some commentators also claimed that the removal of sculpture might be connected to the construction of an Orthodox church that would face the House with Mephistopheles.

“A couple of days ago, a cross was placed on the roof of the church that is under construction across [from the building],” Bratkin wrote on his Facebook page. “Yesterday, some sprightly people showed up and took photographs of the facade with the Mephistopheles, and today at 3 in the afternoon, a worker hung down from the roof and — whack, whack, whack.”

mef-churchRussian Orthodox church currently under construction opposite Mephistopheles House

Natalya Levina, another local woman, said her neighbors had spotted “people from the church” looking around and inquiring about the “demon,” the Metro news agency reported.

Historical preservation activists have asked police and the construction firm that is building the church about who had authorized removing the Mephistopheles image, Levina was quoted as saying. Both organizations denied having any knowledge of who authorized its removal, she said, according to the report.

Lishnevsky, the architect, died during World War II after being evacuated to a hospital in Yaroslavl — a historical city 250 kilometers to the northeast of Moscow. Much of his work survived the devastation of the war and the secular policies of the Soviet Union.

The Mephistopheles bas-relief was created in 1910-1911, Fontanka reported.

All photos by and courtesy of David Frenkel. First article translated by The Russian Reader