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Urgent Interventions

Russia: threats and intimidation used against a young victim of torture as he tries to bring those responsible to justice

Case RUS 050902.3 CC
Follow up to cases RUS 050902.2 CC, RUS 050902.1 CC and RUS 050902.CC
Torture and other forms of ill-treatment

Geneva, 3 December 2002

The International Secretariat of OMCT has received new information regarding the following situation in the Russian Federation.

New information

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by a reliable source that the administration of the Nizhny Novgorod Regional Pre-Trial Detention Centre IZ-52/1, where Andrei Victorovitch Osenchugov (17) and Alexei Vladimirovitch Shishkin (17) are detained since 5 March 2002, is exercising pressure on Andrei in order to force him to recall his earlier statements of ill-treatment and is trying to block further attempts made by the boy and his parents to bring those responsible for the offence to justice.

As noted in the previous OMCT’s appeals, Andrei was brought before the court for the first time on 1 August 2002 and claimed to the Judge Grigoriev that he had been ill-treated in the detention centre. According to the new information, the prosecutor’s office collected, at the time of the preliminary checking of Andrei’s claim, evidence proving that the boy had indeed been ill-treated by the adult detainees, Mikhail Petrov and Sergei Shulaev, who were acting as secret agents on behalf of the detention centre officer Murav’ev and obeying his orders with the acquiescence of the detention centre guard. At this stage, Andrei was also forced to give false statements denying his ill-treatment. The official investigation, launched at the beginning of October by the prosecutor’s office, has up to now collected evidence confirming these facts.

According to the information received, on 13 November 2002, investigator Elena Valer’evne Zhebko, following a demand made by Andrei, came to visit him at the detention centre. Andrei requested her presence and assistance to write a statement explaining that he had himself asked Petrov and Shulaev to torture him and that his previous declarations were all made up. Once Andrei’s parents were informed, the father asked for a confrontation with his son, which took place on 18 November 2002 in the detention centre in the presence of investigator Zhebko and lawyer Sidorov. Andrei declared that he had given this new statement on his own will and without his parents’ consent. During a short conversation with his father alone, Andrei confessed that he decided to change his statement following threats of further violence. On 21 November 2002, Andrei’s parents received a letter from their son, in which he strongly asked his father to address a petition calling for the end of further investigation to the Soviet District Department of Interior.

The International Secretariat of OMCT expresses its grave concern for the physical and psychological integrity of Andrei Victorovitch Osenchugov and Alexei Vladimirovitch Shishkin. This situation clearly illustrates that, in the absence of adequate protection provided to victims of torture, it is very difficult to investigate on the complaints, especially when the victims are still in detention facing intimidation. Indeed, it has to be added that during preliminary checking and investigation of Andrei Osenchugov’s claim, officer Murav’ev, allegedly responsible for Andrei’s ill-treatment, continued working in the detention centre. Neither the detention centre’s administration, nor the penitentiary department of the Nizhny Novgorod region, nor the prosecutor’s office undertook any measures to protect Andrei and ill-treatment witnesses from pressure and reprisals from the side of Murav’ev and his colleagues.

Brief reminder of the situation

The International Secretariat of OMCT had been informed by a reliable source that Andrei Victorovitch Osenchugov and Alexei Vladimirovitch Shishkin had been subjected to serious ill-treatment while detained in Nizhny Novgorod regional pre-trial detention center.

According to the information received at that time, the adolescents were arrested on 5 March 2002, together with other two minors, on suspicion of robbery and were transferred two days later, on the order of the prosecutor of the Sormovski District of the City of Nizhny Novgorod, to the Nizhny Novgorod regional pre-trial detention center (sledstvennyi izolyator) IZ –52/1, in Novgorod.

In the pre-trial detention center, Osenchugov was put in a cell together with other minors and an adult person, Mr. Mikhail Petrov Germanovitch. On 27 and 28 July 2002, allegedly following an order given by a prison guard, Petrov, joined by another adult named Sergei, severly ill-treated and tortured Osenchugov in order to force him to confess his involvement in several other robberies, which he finally did under the pain. On 30 July, Shishkin was moved into the cell where Sergei and Petrov were detained and beaten until he confirmed Osenchugov statements.

On 5 August 2002, the parents of Osenchugov and an aunt of Shishkin filed a complaint to the prosecutor of Sormovski district and to Mr. Topanov, chief officer of the pre-trial detention center, alleging ill-treatment of the two adolescents and calling for an investigation. On 12 August 2002, the families received a letter, signed by Mr Topanov, which informed them that the officers of the pre-trial detention center IZ-52/1 checked the claim and found no reason to initiate an investigation.

The International Secretariat of OMCT had then later been informed that a criminal procedure had been opened by the Prosecutor’s office regarding the serious ill-treatment of Osenchugov and Shishkin and an official investigation had been launched.

Finally, the two 17 years-old adolescents and their two fellows were found guilty of robbery and sentenced to 8 years of imprisonment by the judge of the Sormovski district court of Nizhny Novgorod, Mr. Grigoriev, on 21 October 2002. According to the information received at that time, Osenchugov, Shishkin and their representatives were going to appeal against this decision given that breaches of procedural law during the trial had been denounced.

Actions requested

Please write to the authorities of Russia urging them to:

i. undertake all necessary measures to adequately protect victims of torture seeking prosecution of those responsible for the offence from pressure and threats exercised as a consequence of their complaints;

ii. ensure an immediate and fair investigation into the above-mentioned alleged acts of intimidation in order to identify those responsible, bring them before a civil competent and impartial tribunal and apply the penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions provided by law;

iii. ensure Osenchugov and Shishkin’s immediate right to appeal the court’s decision and guarantee that a new fair trial by a higher competent, independent and impartial judicial body according to the law be opened whereby all their procedural rights be guaranteed;

iv. place children in separate cells from adult detainees as a matter of urgency;
v. guarantee that the children in question have the right to maintain contact with their families through correspondence and visits;

vi. guarantee all human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards, particularly the Convention on the Rights of the Child.


§ Chaika Y. Y., Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation, General Counsellor of Justice,
fax. No 7-8(095)916-2903;

§ Ustinov Vladimir Vasil'evitch, Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation, Acting State Councellour of Justice, fax No 7-8(095)921-4186;

§ Gryzlov Boris Vyacheslavovitch, Minister of the Interior of the Russian Federation,
fax No 7-8(095)239-5768;

§ Colonel Topanov Sergei Alexandrovitch, Chief officer of the Nizhny Novgorod regional pre-trial detention centre IZ-52/1, fax no 7-8(8312)345469 (the fax is not automatic. It is necessary to call first and ask to start the fax) ;

§ Demidov Vladimir Veniaminovitch, Prosecutor of Nizhny Novgorod Region, State Councellour of Justice, Fax no. 7-8(8312)343033;

§ Mrs Gorbacheva Marina Vladimirovna, Chief officer of the Nizhny Novgorod Regional Departnemt of Justice, State Councellour of Justice, Fax no 7-8(8312)339775 (the fax is not automatic. It is necessary to call first and ask to start the fax).

Please also write to the diplomatic representatives of the Russian Federation in your country.

Geneva, 3 December 2002

Kindly inform us of any action taken regarding the present case, citing the case number of this appeal in your response.
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