Person of the Week: Sergei Krivov

posted 16 Jul 2016, 22:20 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 16 Jul 2016, 22:58 ]
On 15 July 2016 Sergei Krivov, a jailed participant in the 2012 Bolotnaya Square protest, was released from prison. Sergei Krivov had been a participant in the Bolotnaya Square protest of 6 May 2012 against electoral fraud, corruption and the re-election of President Putin during which there were clashes with the police. He was arrested on 18 October 2012 on charges of taking part in "mass riots" and "using force against the police" and remanded in custody. Amnesty International described what happened that day at Bolotnaya Square as the arrest of "hundreds of peaceful anti-government protesters" at a protest dispersed by police "using excessive and unlawful force." As The Moscow Times reports, in the subsequent investigation into the 'Bolotnaya Square case', over 30 people were subject to criminal investigations and 11 were sentenced to terms in prison. No charges were brought against police officers. On 24 February 2014 Sergei Krivov was sentenced to four years in prison. As RFE/RL reports, Sergei Krivov's sentence was subsequently reduced on appeal to three years nine months, which he served in Prison Colony No. 6 in Bryansk region. Moreover, "During his trial, he complained that he had been beaten and he held two hunger strikes. He filed numerous complaints about treatment and conditions during his time in prison, which his lawyers say prompted his transfer to a facility with even worse conditions. An appeal for his early release was rejected in March. Two Bolotnaya detainees – Aleksei Gaskarov and Dmitry Ishevsky – remain in prison. Two others – Dmitry Buchenkov and Maksim Panfilov – are being held in pretrial detention. Last month, a court extended their term of detention until September."

As Boris Bruk, writing for the Institute of Modern Russia, points out, Sergei Krivov who has a Phd in Physics and Mathematics and was an activist of the Republican Party of Russia – People’s Freedom Party and the opposition movement Solidarnost, did not plead guilty and described the events on Bolotnaya Square in the following terms: “I saw the police officers organizing in groups, rushing to people, and beating them. I saw some black objects flying around—later, I understood those were pieces of asphalt… Special force officers beat us. I was keeping hold of the barrier. When the officer started beating me, it happened that I took the truncheon. I passed it to somebody. I am sure my actions did not cause physical pain to anyone.” In his closing statement, Bruk reports, Krivov said that he had tried to prevent police violence against innocent people.

At the time of Sergei Krivov's conviction, John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International said: "What happened on Bolotnaya Square on 6 May 2012 was not the quelling of a riot, but the crushing of a protest. The Bolotnaya trial has not exposed orchestrated violence, but rather a criminal justice system that is entirely malleable to the dictates of its political masters. 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.” 

That day, Sergei Krivov was declared by Amnesty International to be a prisoner of conscience, along with five others, and called for his immediate and unconditional release (along with that of Artem Saviolov, Stepan Zimin, Denis Lutskevich, Aleksey Polikhovich, and Yaroslav Belousov). 

'Bolotnoye Case Prisoner Walks Free,' The Moscow Times, 15 July 2016
Russia Releases One Bolotnaya Prisoner , RFE/RL, 15 July 2016
'Russia: Guilty verdict in Bolotnaya case - injustice at its most obvious,' Amnesty International, 21 February 2016
Boris Bruk, Russia’s Political Prisoners: Sergei Krivov, Institute of Modern Russia, 4 March 2014