Happens Every Day


By Galina Stolyarova, The St. Petersburg Times

A 28-year-old suspect was beaten to death by local police who were torturing the man to get a confession from him.

The identities of the police officers who tortured the man are yet to be established. However, the local branch of the Investigative Committee of the Russian General Prosecutor’s Office has admitted the fact of “intentional grave physical injury leading to death” and said the policemen “exceeded their authority.”

Around 8 p.m. on Oct. 1, the man and his 27-year-old civil spouse — both suspected of fraud — were seized by Moskovsky district police officers and taken to a police station located at 95 Moskovsky Prospekt. Then, according to the report posted on the Investigative Committee web site, the policemen “demanded a confession from the suspect, and hit the woman at least ten times on the head. The man sustained multiple blows — inflicted with the use of both hands and feet — and was tortured by being strung up by his arms. Around 2 a.m. the following morning the man was moved to Police Station No. 12, from where he was sent to Hospital No. 26.”

The victim died at the hospital on Oct. 10 from multiple injuries, which included blood clots, brain edema, broken arms, intoxication and pneumonia.

An investigation into what the prosecutors have described as a case of “involuntary manslaughter” is now in progress.

The statement of the Investigative Committee did not use the word torture, which human rights advocates find alarming.

The definition of the word torture in Russia’s Criminal Code is different from the phrasing used by the UN Committee Against Torture.

In international law, “torture” means “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for obtaining information or a confession, punishing them for an act they have committed or are suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing them.”

By contrast, the Russian penal code defines torture simply as a form of inflicting pain. The UN committee has on several occasions advised Russia to amend its law and introduce a definition consistent with international legal practice as well as incorporate a separate article on the use of torture by law enforcement agencies, but as yet such changes have not been made.

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