Once again police are being presented as a separate, vulnerable ‘social group’

posted 20 Oct 2016, 13:21 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 20 Oct 2016, 13:25 ]
13 October 2016

Source: HRO.org

In Russia’s Vologda region, a criminal case has been opened against an opposition politician for ‘disparaging the dignity of individuals on the basis of belonging to a social group.’ The prosecutor’s office deemed lawful the classification of police officers as a separate ‘social group.’

On 12 October 2016, the prosecutor of Vologda region announced that the prosecutor of Gryazovetsky district had approved the initiation of criminal proceedings—under Article 319 (publicly insulting a government representative in the performance of his official duties or in connection with their performance), and Article 282, Section 1 (carrying out public acts aimed at disparaging individuals on the basis of belonging to a social group), of the Russian Criminal Code—against Yevgeny Domozhirov, head of the Vologda branch of the Progress Party.

A spat between Domozhirov and law enforcement officers on 30 July 2016 served as the basis for the invocation of Article 319. That day, law enforcement officers arrived at Domozhirov’s home in the village of Troitskoye with the aim of searching his premises. The officers injured the hand of Domozhirov’s elderly mother when they demanded that she produce her documents.

Domozhirov proceeded to publish information about the incident on his website, describing the Vologda police in harsh terms. The legal case holding Domozhirov in breach of Article 282 was based on this statement.

The SOVA Centre for Information and Analysis commented on the matter, stating: ‘We consider the case opened against Domozhirov to be illegitimate, since the police do not constitute a vulnerable social group requiring protection in the form of anti-extremist articles in the Russian Criminal Code. We also believe that the vague term “social group” must be omitted from these articles. In addition, we advocate that disparaging dignity be transferred from the Criminal Code to the Code on Administrative Offences as a minor offence. We also note that the real reason for Domozhirov’s persecution is most likely his work as an opposition politician and an anti-corruption crusader.

Translated by Lincoln Pigman