Free Akimenkov and Kosenko!

27 December 2012

Lev Ponomarev (from the blog Free Space

Source: Echo of Moscow

Public Appeal by members of the Moscow Public Commission for Interaction with the Judiciary to Olga Egorova, chair of Moscow City Court 

To: Olga Aleksandrovna Egorova
Chair of Moscow City Court
8 Bogorodsky Val, 107076 Moscow.

We ask that this appeal be considered not as an attempt to exert influence on the court, but rather as a plea for the court to be allowed to make rulings strictly in accordance with the law, based on unconditional adherence to the code of criminal procedure, as well as the principles of humanity and fairness, giving priority to the human rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the Russian Federation. We have decided to write to you because the fate of two critically ill ‘Bolotnaya Square prisoners’ rests with Moscow City Court. 

They are Mikhail Kosenko, officially registered as disabled, and Vladimir Akimenkov, whose sight is very poor and continues to worsen. The investigation into the cases of these two individuals has been completed, and they cannot exert any influence on the investigation nor hinder it.

A cassation appeal has been lodged with Moscow City Court against the decision of 9 November 2012 by the Basmanny district court in Moscow to extend the pre-trial restrictions placed on Mikhail Aleksandrovich Kosenko, registered as a disabled person within “Group II”, charged under Article 212, Section 2, and Article 318, Section 2, of the Russian Criminal Code.

On 26 November 2012 the Collegium on Criminal Cases of Moscow City Court rejected the appeal against the decision by Basmanny District Court in Moscow to extend the pre-trial restrictions placed on Vladimir Georgievich Akimenkov, accused under Article 212, Section 2, and Article 318, Section 1, of the Russian Criminal Code. An appeal against this ruling will be lodged with the Presidium of the City Court.

The decree of the Plenum of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation No. 22 dated 29 October 2009 states that: “When making a decision on the issue of using imprisonment as a pre-trial restriction, the grounds defined in Article 97 of the Russian Criminal Procedure Code must be considered, namely: information showing that the suspect or accused party may abscond from the investigative agencies, preliminary investigation or court, may continue to commit criminal acts, may threaten a witness or any other participants in the judicial proceedings, or may destroy evidence or otherwise hinder the execution of the criminal case. Said circumstances should be real and grounded, that is to say they should be confirmed by reliable information (Paragraph 3)”

The court refused to approve the petition by defence counsel acting for V.G. Akimenkov and M.A. Kosenko to change the pre-trial restrictions to anything that did not involve imprisonment. The court used the following arguments as grounds for extending the term of imprisonment: the seriousness of the crime, personal data, potential abscondment, and potential continuation of criminal activity and hindrance of the criminal of the case. The court also used as a reason the fact that pre-trial detention had already been imposed on the suspects in the course of the same case.

However, we believe that there are good grounds to doubt these assertions. Far from all of those accused in connection with the events of 6 May were made subject to pre-trial detention. It is difficult to see why the same humane treatment was not offered to someone who has a psychiatric disability and has not been diagnosed as having any disposition to aggression, or to a young man who is almost blind. Moreover, the level of seriousness of the criminal charges is practically the same for everyone!

Does the court really believe that if released from their pre-trial detention cells Mikhail Kosenko or Vladimir Akimenkov would start doing what the investigators accuse them of having done - fighting with the police or organising riots? Does the court really believe that Akimenkov or Kosenko would manage to hide, given the supervision to which they would be subjected? We do not believe that the links to the previous rulings are valid, as in the intervening time no assertions of any particular social danger regarding either Kosenko or Akimenkov have arisen.

The investigation has not been presented with a single fact to justify keeping M.A. Kosenko and V.G. Akimenkov behind bars!

We are not here discussing the justification for the criminal charges per se, but we call on Moscow City Court to show some humanity to the disabled Mikhail Kosenko and the visually impaired Vladimir Akimenkov and to allow them to prepare for their trials at home.

Members of the Moscow Public Monitoring Commission for Interaction with the Judiciary:
P.N. Gusev
Chair of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation Commission for Support of Mass Media as a Basis of Civil Society, Freedom of Speech and Access to Information, Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper Moskosvsky komsomolets
L.M. Alekseeva
Chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group, chair of the board of the Foundation for the Defence of Prisoners’ Rights
L.A. Ponomarev
Executive Director of the All-Russian Movement for Human Rights
N.A. Tagankina
Executive Director of the Moscow Helsinki Group
V.V. Yakov
Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper Novye Izvestiya