March 18th: Day of International Solidarity With Russian Prisoners
On March 18th Bristol ABC hosted an info night talk along with the screening of the film “Sad But True: Ivan.In Memory of Our Friend.” a link to the film can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_pfgPf3PG0
Information from Russian comrades on the torture of antifascist prisoners and a call for solidarity follows:
During last months Russian secret services have arrested several
anarchists and antifascists in Penza and Saint-Petersburg cities. They
were accused with creation of “terrorist organization”. Arrested people
was tortured with electric cables and shockers during many hours,
brutally beaten without paying any care to make hard damage and visible
traces of beating. Officers humiliated our arrested comrades. They tried
to force them make evidences and accusations against themselves and
against each other. These true Gestapo actions of Russian FSB secret
service can call only vigorous protest from every honest person who can
only learn the truth about the situation.
At the same time with arrests in Saint-Petersburg raids and arrests by
FSB against anarchists were made in Crimea.
The international solidarity action week of February 7-12 exposed wide
reaction of the libertarian movement worldwide to these terrible
repressions and made huge informational effect in Russia. But it
appeared to be not enough to overcome the situation. Very soon the
information was published that some of arrested anarchists were again
tortured and intimidated. They were demanded by FSB officers to refuse
to participate in campaign of resistance against tortures and
repressions. More – after solidarity actions in Russia police launched
repressions against its participants. Comrades were prosecuted in Moscow
and Chelyabinsk cities. Anarchists in Chelyabinsk were tortured with
electricity by police while accused with “hooliganism” (!)
It is necessary to continue and strengthen the campaign of solidarity to
force Russian authorities to end tortures and political repressions. The
best day for new actions is March 18 – the day of presidential elections
in Russia. In this day ruling regime is the most vulnerable and the eyes
of the world will be turned to the situation in our country.
We urgently and desperately call to all anarchist, leftist, antifascist
and democratic groups and communities all over the world to organize
actions of protest and resistance of any kind against tortures and
repressions in Russia by the embassies, consulates and other official
offices of Russian Federation in your countries.
The arrested will also be delighted to recieve letters of support. Here are their addresses:
191123, St. Petersburg, Shpalernaya St., 25 PKU SIZO-3 of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia
Shishkin Igor Dmitrievich
Filinkov Victor Sergeevich
PKU SIZO-1, st. Karakozova, 30, Penza, Penza region, Russia, 440039
Shakursky Ilya Alexandrovich
Pchelintsev Dmitry Dmitrievich
Chernov Andrey Sergeevich
Sagynbaev Arman Dauletovich
You can also donate to their legal costs here
For an update/review of state repression in russia read this avtonom.org/en/news/review-repressions-…
“My Mouth Was Full of Blood, and One of the Torturers Stuck My Sock in It”
On February 6, 2018, attorney Oleg Zaitsev visited Dmitry Pchelintsev and interviewed him. Like most of the defense attorneys in the case, the investigator made Zaitsev sign a non-disclosure agreement concerning evidence in the preliminary investigation. Zaitsev notes that, under the circumstances, he has not violated investigatory privileges, but nevertheless he felt obliged to discuss all the violations of rights his client has suffered. What follows is a transcript of his interview with Pchelintsev.
I can say the following. On October 27, 2017, I left the house at around six o’clock in the morning to meet my grandmother. Near the end wall of the building, as I was nearing my car, four men in plain clothes suddenly approached me. I was so surprised I put my hands up in front of me. These men immediately beat me up and threw me on the ground. Their faces were not covered. I could identify them. Later, some of them escorted me from the remand prison to the FSB office. One of them looked to be thirty-five years old. He had light-brown hair, was wearing a gray jacket, and had a stout face and thickset build. They asked me my surname and struck various parts of my body. They reproached me for having putting up my dukes when I was being detained by the FSB. They confiscated the keys to my flat and used them to enter the place when my girlfriend was sleeping and search the place.
On October 28, 2017, after the court had remanded me in custody to the remand prison on Karakozov Street, I was in solidarity confinement cell 5-1. It was around four o’clock in the afternoon when a special forces policeman, the senior shift officer, and a major from the local office of the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service entered my cell. They told me to exit the cell and go to the nearby punishment cell, which I did. Six or seven men immediately entered the cell. Half of them were in MultiCam camouflage uniforms, while the other half were in plain clothes. But all of them wore balaclavas. Despite the headgear concealing their faces, I could identify some of these people by their voices, physique, and clothes. Subsequently, I recognized some of them when I was being transported and escorted.
They told me what to do, and I followed their orders. I stripped to my shorts, sat down on a bench, stretched my arms backwards, and put my head down. At first, I thought this was some examination everyone sent to the remand prison had to undergo, so I voluntarily submitted to it. Then they taped my hands behind me, tied one of my legs to the foot of the bench with more tape, and stuck a wad of gauze in my mouth.
One of the men was wearing white rubber medical gloves. He took out a dynamo and set it on a table. He stripped two wires with a boxcutter and told me to stick out my big toe. Another man checked my pulse by touching my neck. He would subsequently do this more than once: he was monitoring my condition. He was surprised my pulse was normal and I was not agitated. That was because I did not realize at first what was happening.
Then the man in gloves cranked the dynamo. The current flowed to my knees. My calf muscles contracted, and I was seized by paralytic pain. I screamed. My back and head convulsed against the wall. They put a jacket between my naked body and the stone wall. This went on for about ten seconds, but when it was happening, it felt like an eternity to me.
One of them spoke to me.
“I don’t know the word ‘no.’ I don’t remember it. You should forget it. You got me?” he said literally.
“Yes,” I replied.
“That’s the right answer. Attaboy, Dimochka,” he said.
The gauze was stuck in my mouth again, and I was shocked four times, three seconds each time. […] Then I was tossed onto the floor. Since one of my legs was tied to the foot of the bench, when I fell, I seriously banged up my knees, which bled profusely. My shorts were pulled off. I was lying on my stomach. They tried to attach the wires to my genitals. I screamed and asked them to stop brutalizing me.
“You’re the leader,” they repeated.
“Yes, I’m the leader,” I said to make them stop torturing me.
“You planned terrorist attacks.”
“Yes, we planned terrorist attacks,” I would reply.
One of the men who measured my pulse put his balaclava on me so I would not see them. At one point, I lost consciousness for awhile. […]After they left, a Federal Penitentiary Service officer entered the room and told me to get dressed. He took me back to my solitary confinement cell.
The next day, October 20, 2018, I broke the tank on the toilet and used the shards to slash my arms at the wrists and elbows, and my neck in order to stop the torture. There was a lot of blood from the cuts on my clothes and the floor, and I collapsed onto the floor. They probably saw what I did via the CCTV camera installed in the cell. Prison staffers entered my cell and gave me first aid. Then the prison’s psychologist, Vera Vladimirovna, paid me a visit.
As regards the video cameras installed in my cell, as well as in the punishment cell and the corridor, I can say that when FSB officers show up, the cameras either are turned off or the recording is later erased, or something is done with the sensors. The FSB officers completely control the local Federal Penitentiary Service officers.
On November 8, 2017, at around five o’clock in the afternoon, the senior shift officer was getting ready to leave.
“Will everything be alright with me?” I asked him.
“Don’t worry, I’ll be right back,” he replied.
I had connected his departure with the fact that the last time he left, the day before, Saginbayev’s scream was audible on the floor. I realized he was being tortured. Later, our paths crossed, and he apologized for testifying against me.
A lieutenant from the Federal Penitentiary Service then came to my door.
“Am I safe here?” I wrote on a piece of paper that I showed to him.
“Yes,” he replied in big letters.
After that I showed him the enormous bruise on my chest and stomach to let him know I had been tortured. After awhile he opened the cell door, and four men wearing prisoner’s uniforms dashed into the cell. Civilian clothes were visible under these uniforms, all of which were baggy. They were all wearing what looked like Buff masks, black tube scarves.
They beat and kicked me in the stomach, kidneys, and head. I had bruises from their blows, but they hit me like in a gym, so they would leave fewer visible traces. They informed me they were from the “underworld committee”: because of me they had been put on lockdown. They gave me a week to solve my problems with the “pigs.” If I didn’t solve them, they would punk me. One of them filmed the whole thing on a smartphone. The Federal Penitentiary Service officer was outside in the hallway the entire time. The four FSB guys from the “underworld committee” left. Later, I also recognized some of them when I was being escorted and transported.
Then the senior shift officer, a captain, returned.
“How can I believe you when FSB guys just came into my cell and beat me up?” I asked him.
He looked puzzled.
Afterwards, FSB agents have visited me many times in the remand prison. They wear no masks and chat with me in the visiting room. When they talk with me, they exert psychological pressure on me. They threaten, blackmail, and manipulate me.
During an interrogation, the investigator told me it was he who gave the agents permission to visit me. They took their orders from him and they had their own work.
After I tried to commit suicide by slashing my veins open, I was put under special watch in the remand prison. The cuffs are not removed from my hands even when I am signing interrogation reports.
I want to add that, when I was tortured with electrical shocks, my mouth was full of “crushed teeth” due to the fact I gritted my teeth since the pain was strong, and I tore the frenulum of my tongue. My mouth was full of blood, and at some point one of my torturers stuck my sock in my mouth.
I was beaten so badly I had open wounds on my head.”
Repression in Autumn 2017
In October-November 2017, officers of the Federal Security Service in the Penza region arrested six young people (from 20 to 27 years). Arman Sagynbaev, Dmitry Pchelintsev, Ilya Shakursky, Yegor Zorin, Vasily Kuksov and Andrei Chernov were placed in the pretrial detention center in Penza. In January 2018, Ilya Kapustin (later released, now he is a witness in the case), Viktor Filinkov and Igor Shishkin were detained in St. Petersburg. According to the investigation, all the detainees were members of the terrorist group “Network,” which allegedly was engaged in preparing the overthrow of the authorities. Young people are charged under art. 205.4 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“Organization of a terrorist community and participation in it”). There were no public actions on behalf of the “Network.” It is known that the accused took interest in strikeball, training for survival in extreme conditions, trekking, and role-playing games. Some of the defendants are activists of anti-fascist, environmental and anarchist movements, others were not included in the public activity, but were familiar with these activists. Information on the participation of the accused in violent actions against citizens or state institutions does not exist. Most of the detainees gave confessions, and all of them were charged with participation in the terrorist community (Part 2, Article 205.4 of the Criminal Code). It was later found out that the testimony was obtained under torture.
- Viktor Filinkov was tortured after his detention at Pulkovo airport on January 23, 2018 and after medical examination in hospital No. 26 in St. Petersburg. Victor Filinkov was placed in a minivan in handcuffs and a cap, stretched over his face, after which the FSB officers inflicted a significant number of blows to him in the chest, back, nape, and used electric shock. Electric shocks were applied to the leg, neck, groin, nape, parietal area of the head, and also to the handcuffs. The presence of bruises, abrasions and traces of the electric shock on Filinkov’s body was recorded by members of the Public Observation Commission of St. Petersburg. Filinkov’s torture was accompanied by threats of even more painful torture (electric shock to the genitals), psychological pressure on Filinkov, and threats of using violence against his wife. On January 27, 2018 Viktor Filinkov filed an application for a crime against the actions of the FSB in the Military Prosecutor’s Office. In early February 2018 it was answered that this message had been forwarded to the FSB for consideration. The results are currently unknown.
- FSB officers kidnapped Igor Shishkin on January 25, 2018 while he was walking his dog. The location of Shishkin remained unknown for two days. Despite the fact that Shishkin refused to write a statement about application of torture to him, it is obvious that he was subjected to them. Unknown people broke the bottom wall of the orbit of Shishkin’s eyes in the period of January 25-27, 2018, which was diagnosed by medical officers of pre-trial detention ward No. 3 in St. Petersburg. On January 27, 2018 in pre-trial detention ward No. 3 Shishkin was visited by the members of the St. Petersburg POC, which recorded numerous injuries, identified as traces of torture (bruises, wounds, burns from an electric shocker). Medical assistance was being given to Igor Shishkin only after the lawyer of the “Public Verdict” appealed to the ECHR.
- Ilya Kapustin was detained on January 25, 2018 in St. Petersburg on his way home. Five FSB officers drove Kapustin to the ground, dragged him into the mini van, handcuffed him, tightening it with such force that Kapustin’s brushes were cut. Within 4 hours Kapustin was asked about his membership in political organizations, visits to Penza, and political activities of his acquaintances while he was constantly struck with electric shocks in the groin and in the abdomen. Traces of electric shocks on the body of Ilya Kapustin are recorded by an act of forensic medical examination dated 29.01.2018 and photographs submitted by a lawyer. On February 13, 2018 Kapustin filed an allegation of torture with the Investigative Committee. The results of the verification are not known at this time.
- Dmitry Pchelintsev was detained in Penza on October 27, 2017. The detention was accompanied by a beating. On October 28, 2017 Pchelintsev was subjected to electric shocks in the cell of the Penza pre-trial detention ward to obtain confessions. On October 29, he broke the tank from the toilet and cut his hands on the folds and neck with shrapnel, after which the detention facility employees were forced to call a doctor and provide medical assistance. Torture after that ceased for a while, but FSB officers constantly visited Pchelintsev, threatened violence against him and his wife, who lives in Penza. Dmitry Pchelintsev refused to admit guilt and talked about his torture during a poll made by lawyer Oleg Zaitsev on February 6, 2018. But after attracting the attention of the media to torture in relation to Pchelintsev and the publication of the announcement of a press conference in Moscow with the participation of Zaitsev’s lawyer, the tortures resumed, and Pchelintsev renounced his statements.
- Ilya Shakursky was detained in Penza on October 19, 2017 and taken to the FSB for interrogation. During this interrogation, staff struck at the back of his head and also pronounced numerous threats – from rape to life for organization of the terrorist community. Later interrogations continued in the pre-trial detention ward, and during one of them Shakursky was subjected to electric shocks. During this interrogation, Shakursky was threatened with continued violence if he had new lawyers or human rights activists. Shakursky reported on torture during a lawyer’s poll conducted by lawyer Anatoly Vakhterov on 12.02.2018. However, after 16.02.2018 the beatings of Shakursky by FSB officers in Penza’s pretrial detention facility resumed, the defendant confirmed earlier evidence about his guilt and refused to file an application for torture.
- Vasiliy Kuksov was also detained in Penza on October 19, 2017. The violence applied to him is known from Ilya Shakursky’s lawyer’s questioning and Elena Kuksova’s wife’s messages. According to Shakursky, he saw Kuksov with a bloodied face during interrogations of FSB officers. Kuksova’s wife Elena saw him when the detainee was brought home for a search: his clothes were torn and dirty in blood, and his forehead and nose were broken.
- Yegor Zorin was detained in Penza on October 17 or 18, 2017, for more than a day his friends and relatives did not know about his whereabouts. Zorin was placed under arrest in Penza’s pretrial detention facility, but in December 2017 was transferred to house arrest.
- Arman Sagynbaev and Andrei Chernov were detained in early November 2017 in St. Petersburg and Moscow, respectively. According to lawyers, Sagynbaev and Chernov admit guilt and give testimony to other members of the alleged terrorist community. There is every reason to believe that these statements were also given under torture. Arman Sagynbaev, who is in pre-trial detention facilities of Penza, wrote a statement refusing any “outside” contacts, including with human rights activists and members of the Public Observation Commission. According to Dmitry Pchelintsev, during transportation to investigative actions, he was in a car with Sagynbaev, and in the course of their conversation Sagynbaev told Pchelintsev about the use of torture against him.