Legal Case of the Week: Viktor Kapitonov, Vasily Nedopekin

posted 9 May 2016, 07:21 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 9 May 2016, 10:39 ]
On 6 May 2016 police detained eight protestors on Bolotnaya Square as they were marking the 4th anniversary of the 2012 protest, OVD-Info reported. The eight people detained, most of whom had been holding placards, were reported to be Polina Bogdanova, Maksim Chekanov, Anton Drozdov, Viktor Kapitonov, Pavel Kuznetsov, Vasily Nedopekin, Valentin Nikitchenko, and Mariya Ryabikova. Six of those detained were released without charge, while Viktor Kapitonov and Vasily Nedopekin appeared before Moscow's Zamoskvoretsky district court on 7 May 2016.

On 7 May 2016 Viktor Kapitonov was fined 150,000 roubles by Moscow's Zamoskvoretsky district court on the grounds that he was guilty of a repeat violation of the regulations for holding a public event (Article 20.2, Section 8 of the Administrative Code). A violation of this kind can be punished by up to 30 days in prison, however on the grounds that Kapitonov has a disability the court did not imprison him. 

Vasily Nedopekin was also convicted of failing to obey the lawful instructions of a police officer (Article 19.3 of the Administrative Code) and sentenced to five days in prison.

Amnesty International in a statement has described what happened on Bolotnaya Square on 6 May 2012 as 'not the quelling of a riot, but the crushing of a protest.' The statement said that the trial of protestors detained for their participation in the peaceful protest that day exposed 'a criminal justice system that is entirely malleable to the dictates of its political masters.' The statement went on; 'The defendants in this trial were confronted by abusive use of force by police. Some of them sought to prevent violence, others to protect themselves. A few were just caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. All are victims of a politically motivated show trial. Contrary to the official line, there was not a mass riot. There was violence, but most of it was at the hands of the police. To this day, however, not a single police officer has been brought to justice for these abuses.'

In January 2016 in the case of Frumkin v Russia, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Russia had failed to protect the right of assembly for peaceful protest on 6 May 2012, and awarded Evgeny Frumkin €25,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage. The European Human Rights Advocacy Centre described the ruling as 'ground-breaking': 'In a ground-breaking and strongly worded judgment, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Russian authorities had failed in their obligations to protect freedom of assembly by not taking adequate measures to ensure that the Bolotnaya Square protest of 6 May 2012 was conducted peacefully. Specifically, the Court found that, by failing to communicate with the leaders of the rally, the authorities were unable to prevent disorder and guarantee the safety of all citizens involved.'

Photo: OVD-Info

'Задержания на Болотной площади в четвертую годовщину событий 6 мая,' OVD-Info, 6 May 2016
'Задержанных на Болотной площади доставляют в ОВД,' OVD-Info, 6 May 2016
'Участника акции на Болотной площади оштрафовали на 150 тысяч,' OVD-Info, 7 May 2016
'Russian authorities failed to ensure the right to protest during the 6 May 2012 Bolotnaya Square demonstration,' EHRAC, 5 January 2016
'Russia: Guilty verdict in Bolotnaya case - injustice at its most obvious,' Amnesty International, 21 Feruary 2014