No to police persecution of activists from the Autonomous Action movement in Izhevsk!
In Izhevsk, law enforcement officials – specifically, officers from the Republic of Udmurtia Interior Ministry’s Center for Extremism Prevention (formerly, the Organized Crime Prevention Squad) [or Center “E”] – have fabricated a case against members of the Autonomous Action movement. According to Galina Shutova, who for the time being has been identified as a witness in the case, the authorities want to turn her into a terrorist: “Center ‘E’ officer Artem Akhmetzyanov told me outright that he would do everything in his power to put me away.”
A criminal investigation has been opened into whether Article 207 of the Russian Federation Criminal Code (“Providing knowingly false information about an act of terrorism”) was violated. At present, three people have been implicated as witnesses in the case: Galina Shutova, Anton Sobolev, and Kirill Shumikhin. The police believe that on November 4, 2009, at approximately 12:20 p.m. these three young people called the Republic of Udmurtia Interior Ministry and informed them that a bomb had been planted at the Medical College by participants of the Russian March, and that Galina was the person who “organized” the telephone call. All three witnesses have alibis for the time when the alleged crime was committed. According to investigators, the call was made from a public phone located near the Turist Café (Communards Street, 291). At the moment the call was made, however, the three young people were more than two kilometers away from the Turist Café. According to the activists, at approximately the same time that the alleged call about the bomb threat was made, all three of them were detained by a group of policemen in the center of Izhevsk, who subjected them to an illegal search and videotaping. Among the detaining officers they recognized Artem Akhmetzyanov, an investigator with Center “E.”
On November 6 at approximately 8 a.m., Center “E” operatives Artem Akhmetzyanov and Konstantin Polcherednikov illegally arrested Kirill Shumikhin in his apartment in front of his confused mother; the officers presented neither their own documents nor an arrest warrant. (NB. Illegal arrest is a violation of Article 301 of the Russian Federation Criminal Code and carries a maximum punishment of two years in prison.) The young man was taken to Izhevsk Police Precinct No. 2, where he was interrogated, verbally abused, and intimidated over the course of nine hours. The arrest warrant for Kirill was drawn up after the fact – that is, during the interrogation. That same morning Galina Shutova’s parents were awoken by the sound of people kicking the door to their apartment: in an attempt to ascertain Galina’s location, police officers were trying to bust into the apartment by kicking the door. Galina was not home at the time: she and Anton were visiting acquaintances. According to Galina, a bit later she got a phone call from a police officer who refused to identify himself; he said only that he was a “police detective.” The anonymous caller demanded that Galina report for questioning, although he did not specify what the case was and in what capacity Galina would be interrogated. When Galina informed him that she would not go anywhere without a summons, the anonymous caller replied that he would immediately send her a summons. Since Galina and Anton were at the house of friends, she agreed to meet the anonymous caller on the street. Literally ten minutes later, Akhmetzyanov arrived at the meeting place. In the police car, Galina was handed a summons that did not contain the case file number or indicate in what capacity she would be interrogated. The summons contained only the carelessly scribbled surname of a certain Lieutenant Khuzyakhmetov, who would be conducting the interrogation.
At around 9 a.m. Galina and Anton were delivered to Izhevsk Police Precinct No. 2. There they learned that they had been summoned for interrogation as witnesses in the case of the telephone call made to the Udmurtia Interior Ministry about the bomb allegedly planted in the Medical College on November 4. They were both asked to take a lie detector test. Galina refused and told police that she wanted to call civil rights defenders she knew and to find herself a lawyer. For about half an hour the police officers did not allow her to call: they had already confiscated her mobile phone during the drive to the precinct. According to Galina, the police officers subjected her to crude “psychological coercion.” Center “E” officers, including Artem Akhmetzyanov, swore at her and shouted, “What do you have to be afraid if it wasn’t you who made the call?” and “Prove to us that you’re not afraid.” They accused the young woman of “interfering” with their work. These unscrupulous Center “E” officers attempted to force Galina to write a statement that she was “delaying” their investigation, while at the same they photographed and fingerprinted her without properly documenting these procedures. They also attempted to coerce Galina into giving up her request to have lawyers present. In the end, Galina agreed to take a lie detector test. The questions, which had been prepared by Center “E” officers in advance, were vague, inappropriate, and had no direct bearing on the case.
After Galina was given back her mobile phone, she called civil rights defenders from the Prikamsk Civil Rights Center. Within approximately half an hour, three civil rights advocates arrived at Precinct No. 2. Over the course of several hours, however, police officers refused to admit them into the building where the interrogation was taking place. It was only after lawyer Rustem Valliulin arrived that the situation changed somewhat: police officers became more restrained in their treatment of Galina. In all, Galina was interrogated for over eight hours.
The other “witness” detained that same morning, Anton Sobelev, was brought to the precinct along with Galina, but was immediately taken to a different office. In violation of the law, he was placed in a cell that already held several tattooed common criminals. According to Anton, “The arrestees began accusing me of having a nontraditional sexual orientation and threatening me with physical violence. Then one of them gave me some ‘friendly’ advice. I should ‘come clean, repent, and sign a confession’ – otherwise, I would have a very rough time in prison camp.” Emotional coercion involving other prisoners is a provocation to which police authorities traditionally resort in order to frighten witnesses and obtain from them the necessary testimony. Anton then underwent a lie detector test and was interrogated by Center “E” officers, who made him offers of “friendship and cooperation.” Although these same officers had put him a cell with ordinary criminals, they suddenly showed a touching concern for Anton’s personal life. They suggested that he “get a new girlfriend” insofar as it was precisely Galina who was “getting [him] mixed up” in the wrong kind of business.
Anton was shown a video recording made near the payphone from which the alleged call about the bomb planted in the Medical College had been made. According to Anton, “In the recording you could see a tall young man and young woman. The young man was much taller than I am, and the woman was wearing a jacket. But Galina had been wearing a long coat that day.” Anton believes that this video recording is direct evidence that he and his friends had nothing to do with the “mythical” phone call. In all, Anton spent around nine hours at the precinct.
On November 7, Galina was interrogated at Precinct No. 2 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the presence of her lawyer Rustem Valliulin, a representative of the Prikamsk Civil Rights Center. During the interrogation Galina was given the results of the lie detector test, which allegedly proved that she had “organized” the phone call. According to Valliulin, this was a crude provocation on the part of the police. “This lie detector test is not admissible evidence against my client because the questions were formulated on purpose so as to confuse Galina. They had nothing to do with the essence of the case, and I’m certain that evidence like this will be thrown out [in court.]”
Galina has been shocked by these events. “You never expect that it will happen to you, that the police will pick you to cook up a criminal case against. I am simply shocked by what is going on. I am shocked by the impudence and crudeness of the Center “E” officers – Artem Akhmetzyanov, Konstantin Polcherednikov, and others.”
According to antifascists and members of the Autonomous Action movement, this criminal investigation is the latest stage in a campaign of repression against antifascist and anarchist activists in Izhevsk. This wave of repression began in early 2008: since that time, approximately one hundred people have been illegally detained for various reasons, and six fabricated criminal cases have been initiated. Four of these cases have been subsequently closed after it was found that there was no evidence that crimes had been committed.
During their investigation of these cases, Center “E” officers have engaged in illegal behavior. They have subjected witnesses and suspects to physical and mental coercion, including the torture and threatening of activists. In the vast majority of these cases, the complaints were filed by neo-Nazis who have problems with the law. Nearly all of them have been convicted of serious crimes, including attempted murder, hooliganism, grievous bodily harm, and vandalism.
We, antifascists and members of Autonomous Action, demand the closure of the Udmurtia Interior Ministry’s Center for Extremism Prevention, whose officers are engaged in the fabrication of criminal cases. We demand the dismissal of those Udmurtia law enforcement officials who have been involved in the torture and beating of antifascists and Autonomous Action members: Artem Akhmetzyanov, Konstantin Polcherednikov, and others. (http://ru.indymedia.org/newswire/display/22972/index.php)
We ask everyone to show their solidarity with us and prevent the punitive organs from continuing their campaign of intimidation, fabrication of criminal cases, and the torture and beating of our comrades. Publish information about the situation in Izhevsk. Telephone, write, and fax your appeals to the Administration of the President and Government of Udmurtia and the Udmurtia Interior Ministry (see the contact information below). Demand an end to the criminal prosecution of innocent people! Down with police oppression! We demand that the Udmurtia Interior Ministry’s Center for Extremism Prevention be closed and that all of its officers who are guilty of beatings, torture, and the fabrication of criminal cases be brought to justice!
Autonomous Action – Izhevsk
The Antifascists of Izhevsk
For more information about this case, contact:
Prikamsk Civil Rights Center
Telephone: +7 3412 71-4457; +7 950 833-6276
You can sign a petition (in Russian) here. Addressed to the top political and law enforcement officials in Udmurtia (see their contact info, below), it essentially summarizes the main points of the appeal above and makes three demands: 1) an end to the persecution of Autonomous Action members and antifascists in Izhevsk; 2) the closing of the Udmurtia Center “E”; 3) the prosecution of police officers (including those mentioned in the appeal) for the torture and beatings they inflicted on Autonomous Action members and antifascists. For the sake of convenience, you can also print out the text of the petition and include it in your messages to Udmurtia officials.
Please send your appeals and protests on behalf of our comrades to any or all of the following:
Administration of the President and Government of the Republic of Udmurtia
Telephone/Fax: +7 3412 497-200
Nelli Nikolaevna Mamayeva, Aide to the President of the Republic of Udmurtia
Telephone: +7 3412 497-054
Valery Vladimirovich Sosnovsky, Interior Minister, Republic of Udmurtia
Telephone: +7 3412 934-190
Public Relations and Information Office, Republic of Udmurtia Interior Ministry
Telephone: +7 3412 932-186
Fax: +7 3412 934-243
Sergei Valentinovich Panov, Prosecutor General, Republic of Udmurtia
Telephone: +7 3412 94-85-00
Fax: +7 3412 78-25-76
Vladimir Anatolievich Nikeshin, head
Russian Federation Prosecutor’s Office Investigative Committee Directorate in the Republic of Udmurtia
Telephone: +7 3412 78-08-04
Fax: +7 3412 78-56-33
Alexei Olegovich Kozlov, supervisor
Republic of Udmurtia Interior Ministry Center for Extremism Prevention
Telephone: +7 3412 948-764
Andrei Viktorovich Chirkov, head
Investigations Department, Oktyabrsky District, City of Izhevsk
Telephone: +7 3412 43-69-00