Court Extends Azat Miftakhov’s Term in Custody Until April

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“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

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.

The Horrorshow Continues: Svyatoslav Rechkalov Tortured in Moscow

Tg4rFSHWUeY“Free Svyatoslav Rechkalov.” Photo courtesy of the VK page Popular Self-Defense

Anarchist Rechkalov Detained in Investigation of Attack on United Russia Campaign HQ, Tortured
Grani.ru
March 15, 2018

Anarchist Svyatoslav Rechkalov, detained yesterday as part of an investigation of the attack on the United Russia party campaign headquarters in the Moscow district of Khovrino, has been remanded in custody to the Temporary Detention Center, as reported in the early hours of Thursday by OVD Info, who cited Yevgenia, a friend of Rechkalov’s who was detained at Rechkalov’s flat along with him and another person whose name has not been ascertained. It cannot be ruled out the person in question was an anarchist named Andrei, who as of Wednesday evening had also not been released from police custody.

Rechkalov informed his comrades that,when he was in the Moscow police’s investigation department, police officers had tortured him, demanding he confess his involvement in the attack. They put a plastic bag over Rechkalov’s head and administered electrical shocks to his legs.

It has not been ascertained whether Rechkalov confessed or not. Yevgenia maintains he had nothing to do with the attack on the United Russia headquarters.

Yevgenia and the unidentifed third detainee were released last night, but on Thursday they were summoned to the investigative department for questioning as witnesses.

On Thursday morning, lawyer Mikhail Biryukov reported he was going to the investigative department to obtain permission to see Rechkalov.

Yesterday, we reported that Left Bloc activist Vladimir Zhuravlov and an anarchist named Artyom had been questioned as witnesses in the case. Both men said they had no information about the attack.

In addition, security services officers searched the Left Bloc’s headquarters, confiscating all the equipment they found there and cracking open a safe. The three activists present the headquarters—Vadim Timergalin, Grigory Sineglazov, and Denis Avdeyev—were detained and taken to a police precinct. They were later released without charge.

The Left Bloc’s VK page reports officers at the precinct had “conversations” with the activists during which they repeatedly threatened them, demanding they testify against their Left Bloc comrades.

It was also noted that, during the search, a lawyer [sic] received messages from unknown accounts, messages supposedly written by the activists. They informed him they did not need his help.

Left Bloc linked the search of their headquarters and the interrogation of Zhuravlov with the ongoing campaign to boycott the upcoming Russian predisdental election. In particular, they mentioned a protest opposite the Nikulin Circus on Tsvetnoy Boulevard during which a banner emblazoned with the slogan “March 18: Tricks and Clowns” had been unfurled.

We assume that, as the presidential election approaches, the police and FSB want to intimidate everyone who has been calling for a boycott. They are justifiably afraid a low voter turnout is a danger to the political farce wrongly called an “election.” All activists involved in the election boycott are now in danger. We concede the outrageous instances of coercion could continue. However, no crackdown can force us to abandon the fight. Boycott the election! We cannot be intimidated! We cannot be forbidden! 

—Excerpt from a pinned post on the Left Bloc’s VK page

“March 18: Russian presidential election. Dissenters in the cellars of the FSB.” Image from the VK page Popular Self-Defense

The attack on United Russia’s campaign headquarters in Khvorino occurred late on the evening of January 30. Three people, including a young woman, took part in the attack. The attackers broke a window in the office and tossed a lighted flare inside. One of attackers filmed the attack on video.

Antifascists Yelena Gorban and Alexei Kobaidze were detained in the case on February 13, charged with vandalism under Article 214 Part 1 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code. The crime entails a maximum punishment of three months in jail and, consequently, does not stipulate that people accused of the crime be remanded in police custody until a verdict has been reached, according to Article 108 Part 1 of the Russian Federal Criminal Procedural Code, which covers incarceration. Nevertheless, both Gorban and Kobaidze were sent to the Temporary Detention Center, as Rechkalov has been now.

However, forty-eight hours after they were apprehended, Gorban and Kobaidze were released on their own recognizance. Gorban had confessed her guilt, while it was reported Kobaidze had refused to testify, invoking his right not to incriminate himself under Article 51 of the Russian Constitution.

Thanks to Comrades AR and ZV for the heads-up. 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.