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On the Abduction of Leonid Razvozzhaev

23 October 2012

Author: мир вашему дому! (may_antiwar)

Source: LiveJournal 

Members of the Moscow Public Monitoring Committee waited in the isolation ward of Lefortovo prison for five hours today to meet Leonid Razvozzhaev. For all this time, according to the prison authorities, he and Konstantin Lebedev were being questioned. This turned out to be untrue; the majority of that time they were in their cells. The officer who escorted us called this a “minor technical error”. But I have a sneaking suspicion that it was only our tenacity that meant we got to see the guys - for unexplained reasons they did not want to show them to us. We went in to see Leonid Razvozzhaev at half past six, despite having arrived at the isolation ward at half past one.

[Anton] Tsvetkov and [Vladimir] Lukin visited before us. They cheerfully communicated that the reports of torture were unfounded. God bless them! I will recount what we heard from Leonid himself.

...He left the High Commission for Refugees building to buy himself a sandwich. At least four people seized him and threw him into a minibus with a Ukrainian number plate. They tied his arms and legs up with tape. Every time he tried to move, even slightly, he received a kick to the back or shoulder. They stretched a hat over his head, covering his eyes, so he could not see where he was.

Leonid thinks that when they got to the border they moved him from one minibus into another, with a new set of escorts, seemingly Russians rather than Ukrainians. They placed handcuffs over the tape, with chains binding his arms and legs, so that he was forced to remain hunched up. These restraining devices were not removed throughout the whole journey to Moscow. They gave him no food or water, and would not let him go to the toilet. One of the people escorting Razvozzhaev even asked whether he had soiled himself. He was taken to the basement of some building, evidently private. They began to threaten him, saying he was now completely outside the rule of law, that nobody knew where he was, and that by the following day he would be nothing but an anonymous lump in the ground. They listed the places where his wife and brother work, and where his children study. He was made to sign a declaration admitting his guilt, and was told frankly that it was the only option open if he wanted to remain alive.

Razvozzhaev wrote the declaration in handcuffs, which, he says, will be apparent from his handwriting. Part of it was dictated to him. The rest they suggested he think up himself, but they asked him what he was writing. He told us that they did not approve. “This lets [Sergei] Udaltsov off too lightly... did he not want the riots on the 6th May?... no, you had better put this...” And so he wrote. About how they received funds for the 6th May disturbances, how they organised a camp for militants, how the opposition works for foreign intelligence agencies and how they planned to either blow up or blockade railway lines. He wrote that he accepted money, even though he was obviously not given any money for the protests... They uncovered Razvozzhaev’s left eye so he could write, and he saw that the majority of people surrounding him were wearing masks. He was surprised to find that some analyst knew the names of even the most insignificant members of the protest movement. After he had signed his ‘admission of guilt’, they forced him to read it aloud on video. Leonid expects the video confession to appear soon on the internet. He was also handcuffed for the filming, but, he assumes, the handcuffs were not in shot. He believes that had not done all of this, he would have been killed.

During these three days all he ate was one sandwich, after signing the confession. Then he was allowed to sleep for two hours, in a sitting position, in the same basement. Two hours after the filming they left the building, and 4-5 hours later they reached Moscow (Leonid thinks that they must have been somewhere in the Bryansk Region). He swears that everything he wrote in his ‘admission of guilt’ was untrue.

Next he was meant to call an investigator, but the investigator was not around. Even more people talked to him. At the entrance to Izmailovsky Park he was transferred to the investigator’s car. It was at this point that he understood the corrupt nature of the situation - the investigator knew the people who had tortured Razvozzhaev very well. This belief was reinforced when he began to retract the ‘admission of guilt’ at the Investigative Committee headquarters. One of the investigator’s assistants led him into a neighbouring room and said “you had an agreement that you would play along with everything...”

Leonid is in an unhappy mental state. He is afraid of being alone in his cell; he is scared that the people who kidnapped and interrogated him will return. They have not yet let him speak to his lawyer. The investigator said today that he will not allow Violetta Volkova to deal with the case, as following his ‘admission of guilt’ Leonid’s interests contradict the interests of her other clients. So he is seeking new lawyers. He mentioned [Mark] Feygin and [Dmitry] Agranovsky.

It can, of course, be argued that there was no torture per se, if you ignore the handcuffing with tape underneath, so as not to leave marks, the threat of using ‘truth serum’, which “leaves you a dimwit for the rest of your life, but first makes you throw up” (they even went to the trouble of bringing a small bowl), and the threats to kill Leonid and his family. I am not sure how I would have behaved in the basement of a building in some unknown settlement, somewhere in who knows which republic. I would like to think that I would stand firm, that I would not have defamed myself and others. But my, scratch that. Not conscience – even my wildest imagination does not let me think that I could have held out against that...

As for Tsvetkov... he specifically wrote that “no torture took place at the Investigative Committee or in the remand prison”, with no mention of the basement in the unknown building. Razvozzhaev says that he tried to tell him about it, but that Tsvetkov was not interested...