On 12 June, 2009 two activists with the Other Russia coalition were assaulted and beaten up by the police in the town of Rostov-on-Don located in the South of Russia. It was pre-emptive measure to disrupt the planned rally “Russia against Putin”. It didn’t matter that the organizers had received the authorization from the city administration. It didn’t deter police force from open assault.
There were two co-organizers of the rally, Pavel Nagibin, a member of the banned Limonov’s party of nazbols who are now part of the Other Russia coalition, and Boris Batyy, the leader of the United Civic Front by Garry Kasparov.
Boris Batyy received numerous calls from the city administration on June 11, the day before the sanctioned event. They attempted to revoke their own decision. Nagibin received a phone call the same day. The person introduced himself as the chief of the Leninsky district police office. He threatened Pavel that if people dare to come to the sanctioned venue at 7 pm, all would detained.
The same day Pavel Nagibin had a meeting with the chief of the prosecutor’s department to oversee implementation of the federal legislation. Mrs. Serebrjakova assured that protesters had all the rights to hold the rally at the agreed venue and time. She also encouraged not to react to provocations. It didn’t help.
Pavel writes in his letter to me, “On June 12 I took five hundred copies of the flier with the text explaining why we are demanding Putin’s resignation and went to the venue of the rally. Not far from the Sport Palace I noticed a police car with four men inside which was slowly moving along the street. They did not notice me. At that moment another car appeared moving in the opposite direction. Policemen in that car started waving at me demanding that I come up to them. I tried to walk away from them. But the first police car moved round and tried to block my way. I made attempt to run away but they overtook me and knocked me down. The first blows were so heavy that I lost conscience. The policemen handcuffed me. I heard some voice screaming “Beat him, beat him… I am taking footage of it”. The policemen stopped beating me when they heard it. They dragged me into their car and one of them went to sort out their problem with someone who was taking footage. I don’t know what happened to it.
When the police car was passing the building of the Palace of Sport, I tried to rise from the floor of the car. Policemen forced me down so that nobody could see me. Some time later I managed to move my handcuffed arms in front of me from behind. I reached my cell phone and managed to make a quick phone call before the policemen took the phone away from me. I noticed that their white shirts were in my blood. They exchanged remarks that they felt sad about the spoilt shirts and that an FSB officer ordered them to detain “some long-haired man”. They also lamented about them having such wretched jobs. They didn’t explain the reasons for my detention. At that, they also said, “we don’t understand why people don’t just keep to their flats”…
I was put behind the bars in the police station. My hands were still handcuffed. My trousers were soaked in blood. I noticed that I had a long wound on my hip which was bleeding. One of the policemen put some light bandage only two hours later. But I had lost around a liter of blood. The bandage didn’t stop bleeding.
At around 9 pm a police colonel came. He ordered to remove handcuffs and to take my explanations. At that, he was the first one who offered the version of the police crew finding me bleeding in the street.
Then they called an ambulance. I was operated in hospital. Doctors there told me that the wound was caused with a knife and that it was two cm deep. I assume that policemen had cut me on purpose to be able to come with the version of them rescuing me. My right eye was diagnosed to be contused”.
On June 15 Pavel turned to the prosecutor’s office. Trying to hand over the report on what had happened to him, the was suddenly told that the prosecutors’ office received information that he was detained while fighting. However, the report has been accepted. No investigatory measures have been taken yet, though.
The chair of the United Civic Front (Kasparov’s group) Boris Batyy who was a co-organizer of this rally was put under orders not to leave the territory of the city as a suspect in a criminal case on counterfeit software. The decision was taken the same day, June 12.
The criminal investigation into counterfeit software was opened already in June 2007. Boris Batyy told that at that time he was one of organizers of the March of Dissent which was planned to be held before Putin’s visit to Rostov-on-Don. Baris Batyy is a small entrepreneur. On 20.06.2007 police raided his office and confiscated computers. There were no witnesses to the seizure, in his words. In October 2007 another search was carried out in his flat. During the search fliers of the Other Russia, computers and several books were also confiscated.
When Pavel Nagibin and Boris Batyy tried to find lawyers to take up their cases, it happened to be impossible. Members of the Bar of Lawyers of Rostov-on-Don gave some advice to them but refused to take up their cases, due to “lack of prospect that it will be possible to bring them to court”. “They are too political”, lawyers explained.
There was another person beaten up by the police that day. Also a member of the Other Russia coalition, Alexander Nosenkov, was on the way to Rostov-on-Don from the town of Taganrog. He was stopped by people in civilian clothes when he got out of the house. Alexander was taken to the police station where he was offered to quit politics. He was threatened with “being finished off”. Nosenkov told them that he would not denounce his views. Policemen started beating him with a heavy book at his head. “They have beaten my brains out of the head”, Nosenkov described his sensations. But there have been no signs left, no scratches or bruises…
Oksana Chelysheva, fifi.voima.fi