A Nizhny Novgorod May Day with the Gestapo: The Arrest and Torture of Antifascists at the Avtozavod District Police Precinct
May First in Nizhniy Novgorod Turned into a Celebration of Genuine Police Sadism
A group of young people strolling in the Avtozavod District Park of Culture and Rest aroused the suspicions of police officers. For the OMON, the crowd of 14 people and their outward appearance (several of them were members of the antifa movement) served as an excellent excuse for arrest, torture, and the application of the most perverse “investigative techniques.” According to the detainees, the police did not even explain to them what they had been taken in for. When one of the fellows attempted to ask for the surname and ID of the officer arresting him, the police began beating him and kicking his legs into the “splits” position.
The young men were taken to the Avtozavod District police precinct, where they were subjected to torture and beatings first by OMON officers, then by officers from the Center for Extremism Prevention (Center “E”) who arrived at the precinct.
The detainees were first tortured by OMON officers, who forced them to sit handcuffed in a crouching position with their arms behind their heads for at least half an hour. In this position, a person’s muscles begin to cramp, but any attempt to move was punished with blows delivered through pea-jackets (so as not to leave any bruises) with billy clubs. The detainees were also forced to do push-ups while the police officers stepped on their hands. This “phys-ed lesson” was accompanied by curses and anti-Semitic, homophobic, and flagrantly fascist utterances on the part of the police.
Here is an excerpt from a conversation between one of the torture victims and his tormenter:
OMON Officer: You’re really doing them push-ups! You some kind of big athlete?
OMON Officer: Maybe you’d like to go toe to toe? (laughs)
Antifascist: Let’s do it.
OMON Officer: You some kind of badass?
Antifascist: It’s better than doing push-ups.
Center “E” officers then arrived at the scene. In retrospect, all the torments administered by the OMON came to seem not so “egregious.”
One of the antifascists was beaten on the kidneys through pea-jackets. When this had no effect, he was trussed up with ropes in a contorted position and covered with pea-jackets. Two officers sat on him and held him in this pose for half an hour. Any movement on their or his part caused him excruciating pain. They demanded that he sign a piece of paper indicating his consent to cooperate with Center “E”. After two hours of interrogation, he was forced to incriminate himself by confessing on videotape that he had attempted to organize a (failed) attack on neo-Nazis.
Center “E” officers threatened to give the ne0-Nazis all their video recordings (in which the faces of the antifascists are visible) as well their home addresses and other information. In this way they attempted to blackmail the detainees into signing cooperation agreements with Center “E”.
One of the antifascists was intentionally led into a room at the same precinct where detained neo-Nazis were being processed. (The police were much more polite in their treatment of them. They did not torture them, but only copied their passport information and fingerprinted them.) The Center “E” officers addressed the antifascist by his nickname, which is known to the Nazis, and threatened to give them his address. As one officer said to him, “You do realize that if we leak your address to the boneheads they’ll kill you?”
During interrogations, Center “E” officers held open the eyelids of the detainees and threatened to extinguish their cigarette butts in their eyeballs. They also beat them on the kidneys. The entire proceedings were videotaped, and the officers warned that the detainees would have problems at work and school if they refused to cooperate.
As this was going on, the well-known Nizhniy Novgorod neo-fascist Maxim (aka Shaggy) was freely walking about the precinct house. He had already videotaped the antifascists unhindered when the police were detaining them in the park. In neo-Nazi circles, it is widely known that this person is a member of DPNI (the Movement against Illegal Immigration.) He was also a friend of Sergei “Onyx” Ionnikov, who had already been convicted and served time for inciting ethnic hatred and is now under arrest once again, this time for the murder of a young Nizhniy Novgorod man. There is evidence that Maxim aka “Shaggy” was also detained after the attack in which the young man was murdered.
All this circumstantial evidence forces us to conclude that Center “E” uses DPNI members as provocateurs. The antifascists overheard one officer say, “That Oleg Ivanov fucked me over again. He promised there would be Nazi-autonomes, but they didn’t show up!” (Oleg Ivanov is the leader of DPNI’s Nizhniy Novgorod branch.)
The young people were released after five hours in custody. They were formally charged with swearing in public and sentenced to pay an administrative fine. Just imagine it: 14 antifascists gather in a public place and swear loudly! Such actions are not only deserving of indignation, but also of the most Inquisition-like tortures and punishments. This, apparently, is the “extremism” that Center “E” is charged with combatting.
After the beatings he underwent, one of the detainees was barely able to walk; he is now recovering at home. None of the detainees was able to understand the reason for the cruel treatment they suffered.
Joint News Conference following Russian-Danish Talks. April 28, 2010, Copenhagen
QUESTION: Mr President of Russia, I know that this is a question that you’ve been asked more than once and maybe you are tired of it, but I recently saw that 66 percent of Russians believe that Mr Putin is the one who controls the country. Who actually takes decisions in Russia today?
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Good question, even though it has perhaps grown somewhat tired; but every question asked at a news conference is good.
You know, Russia is controlled by the Russian people – not Medvedev, not Putin, nor anyone else. This is the first thing.
LARS LOKKE RASMUSSEN: I must say that I was struck by the President’s very strong endorsement of the importance of pluralism and of respecting human rights, and I was struck by the progress that we have seen in this area. But I talked about some of the concerns that Danes have, for example, regarding the murders of journalists in Russia. I expressed my wish that these cases be investigated and that the perpetrators be prosecuted. Denmark’s position on this issue is well known.
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Let me say a couple of words here too because, first, this topic is important and, second, it is traditional for Danish society and several other countries where such questions are of concern for many people. This is a good thing.
What can I say? First of all, as a matter of fact such topics can never poison the atmosphere because this is a normal issue to bring up. That’s the first thing.
Second: we really do always discuss this sort of questions. I told Mr Prime Minister that we are open to the idea of these topics being discussed with representatives of the Government, representatives of civil society, and representatives of nongovernmental organisations. That said, these are our problems and we will solve them on our own and independently. We don’t need any help from others on this issue – we have to deal with them ourselves.
Finally, there’s one more thing. Of course every crime committed should be investigated, but I do not think that the President or law enforcement agencies should be exclusively preoccupied with the murder of journalists or any other group that share a given professional capacity.
We should seek to eliminate all crimes of this nature because violence against the person constitutes the gravest crime in the Criminal Code of any nation, including ours.
So these issues need to be addressed without picking and choosing, and that’s what Mr Prime Minister and I talked about. I think this is useful, but again I would stress that these issues fall within the jurisdiction of the Russian state and of me as President of Russia.