Memorial Human Rights Centre: Rostov-on-Don resident Vladislav Mordasov, charged with attempting to organise riots, is a political prisoner

posted 2 Dec 2018, 07:09 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 2 Dec 2018, 07:10 ]
30 September 2018




Vladislav Mordasov, a worker from Rostov-on-Don, has been charged with attempting to organise riots under Article 30, Section 3, and Article 212, Section 1, of the Russian Criminal Code (which carries a maximum sentence of 11 years three months’ imprisonment) and with attempting to take part in riots under Article 30, Section 3 and Article 212, Section 2, of the Russian Criminal Code (which carries a maximum sentence of six years’ imprisonment).

Mordasov has officially been held on remand since 10 November 2017. However, as a matter of fact, he has been deprived of liberty since 5 November 2017 when he was detained on Ploshchad Sovetov opposite the Rostov region government building where he tried to organise a picket and was jailed for an offence under administrative law.

According to the charges laid against Mordasov and other defendants in the case, Yan Sidorov and Vyacheslav Shamshin, on 5 November 2017 allegedly ‘actively sought to publicly demonstrate campaigning materials intended to incite those present to actions of protest, gathering a crowd, and also for the purpose of committing provocations in relation to representatives of law enforcement agencies when the latter sought to detain the said participants in public disorder, and by that means tried to start a riot,’ in other words, to hold a picket. There are grounds, however, to consider that only Sidorov and Mordasov knew each other at that time, since Shamshin was brought to the location of the picket, which by that time had been dispersed, against his wishes by police officers from the anti-extremism department. He was there formally arrested.

Analysis of the materials of the criminal investigation to which we have access allows us to state with confidence that Vladislav Mordasov and the other defendants are innocent. The investigation has presented no material evidence that the accused actually did try to organise a riot, or even plan one.

With far greater certainty it can be said that the two young people, who carried no weapons but only placards that were not extremist in nature (‘Return their land to Rostov residents whose homes have been burnt down,’ and, ‘The government must resign’), leaflets and megaphones, and had spent a total of 3,500 roubles on the event, had tried to hold a picket and not to organise a riot or attempt to overthrow the regional government.

The investigation has provided no explanations why, if Mordasov and Sidorov allegedly committed not even the ‘preparation’ but ‘an attempt’ to organise a riot, there were no signs of these alleged riots beginning. The very notion that a riot could begin because of an ordinary picket with specific demands is absurd. In that case, such an intention could be attributed to any participant in any picket whatsoever, including those that have official permission and took place not on 5 November 2017 but at any other time. None of this makes the alleged ‘plan’ feasible or gives it any objective basis.

Of very great importance is Mordasov’s assertion that at the time of the opening of the criminal investigation against him, when he was charged by officers from the anti-extremism police department, he was tortured on two occasions. Furthermore, during his questioning on 10 November 2017, investigators V.A.Voskanyan and S.V.Gordeev also took part in the torture. Mordasov alleges that he was struck on the head, in the stomach, in the kidneys and in the lower stomach. During the most recent episode of torture, according to Mordasov’s account, a gas mask was twice put on his head and access to air was cut off until he had given the required testimony in which he testified against himself and Sidorov (during the torture the government-appointed lawyer A.P.Artamonov left the office at the request of investigator Gordeev). We point out that Sidorov’s defence counsel has also stated that officers from the anti-extremism police department put both pyschological and physical pressure on him during questioning at the special detention centre. The ‘confession’ secured in this way regarding an intention to organise a riot, as recorded in the official protocol of Mordasov’s questioning on 10 November 2017, must undoubtedly be considered inadmissible as evidence and the torture allegation must be investigated in an appropriate manner.

Memorial Human Rights Centre considers Vladislav Mordasov a political prisoner and calls for his immediate release.

At present we are unable to examine the materials of the case of Vyacheslav Shamshin. However, we plan to follow developments in his case. It is highly probable that the charges against him are also wholly fabricated.

We demand that officials guilty of violating the rights and freedoms of participants in public events and of accidental passers-by, unlawfully detained on 5 November 2017, be brought to justice.

Memorial Human Rights Centre continues to monitor the campaign of prosecutions against those charged with allegedly preparing the ‘Revolution of 5 November 2017,’ a campaign which began in the autumn of 2017 and has resulted in dozens of criminal prosecutions, including on charges of terrorism and preparing riots. In all likelihood, a significant number of the defendants are innocent, or do not even have any connection whatsoever with Maltsev and the Artpodgotovka organisation which is banned in Russia.

Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner, or of a prosecution as politically motivated, does not imply that Memorial Human Rights Centre shares or approves the individual’s views, statements or actions.

More information about this case is available here.

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