Two Yabloko members sentenced to 10 days in prison on fabricated evidence

Source: (info), 14/03/12

· The Courts  · Ministry of the Interior  · Public protests  · Krasnodar region

Two members of the Yabloko political party, Viktor Dutlov, a lawyer, and Suren Gazaryan, an activist with the nonprofit organization North Caucasus Environmental Watch, were sentenced by a court in Tuapse to 10 days in prison on administrative charges on Wednesday for “failure to comply with the lawful orders of a police officer.”

The two men had been arrested Tuesday near what is believed to be the dacha of Krasnodar regional governor, Alexander Tkachev. The judge who examined their case refused to question witnesses for the defense or to consider audio and video recordings submitted by the defense.

Yabloko leader Sergei Mitrokhin called the sentencing of party members Suren Gazaryan, of Environmental Watch, and attorney Vitkor Dutlov “lawlessness,” interpreting it as a sign of a nascent campaign of repression against civic activists.

“The verdict against Gazaryan and Dutlov is symbolic in the context of Tkachev’s reappointment as governor,” Mitrokhin said. “Yabloko views this as a sign of tightening police controls with the start of Putin’s new term.”

North Causcasus Environmental Watch considers the evidence fabricated and has expressed its conviction that the judge was biased.

Judge Sergei Bondarev rejected more than 10 petitions by Suren Gazaryan. These included a request to call witnesses and to examine a videotape which allegedly shows him being robbed. The group said the charges were based on a fabricated police report which stated that Gazaryan and Dutlov tried to flee after police asked them to show their identification documents.

The court also refused to consider an audio recording Dutlov made during the encounter which suggests that it would have been impossible for the defendants to fail to comply with police orders, since the police didn’t give any orders to begin with.

The court also rejected seven petitions by Dutlov, including a request to call three of the officers – Plotnikov, Butov and Papikyan - along with members of the Krasnodar private security group Neva, to the witness stand.

“Bondarev’s ruling is self-evidently unlawful and is based on the false testimonies of police officers and Neva security guards, along with a report that is fabricated from the first letter to the last,” said Environmental Watch.“There is no doubt it was made on the personal order of Tkachev, who is obviously no longer capable of making a rational decision when anyone comes to close to his beloved dacha.”

Dutlov and Gazaryan had gone to Tkachev’s dacha to take photographs of its fencing, which they planned to use as evidence in the criminal case currently in process against Gazaryan, in which Dutlov is acting as Gazaryan’s legal counsel.Their trip was made with the agreement of the case investigator. Upon arriving at the dacha, the men were detained by Neva security guards.

Earlier the press service of Environmental Watch had said that Gazaryan had travelled to Tkachev’s dacha to inspect how much damage had been done to the property of governor Tkachev. Gazaryan and fellow activist Evgeny Vitishko had been charged with ‘Intentional destruction or damage to property’ [see The Moscow Times – trans.].

As soon as they approached the governor’s fence, the two men were attacked without explanation by the Neva security guards stationed at the dacha. The guards—one of whom threatened them with a gun—took Dutlov and Gazaryan’s video and photo cameras, phones and other personal items. Gazaryan was beaten and handcuffed. After their arrest, the men were taken to the security checkpoint at the governor’s dacha, according to Novaya gazeta.

In response, Environmental Watch coordinator Andrei Rudomakha notified the police department of the nearby town of Dzhubga of the unlawful arrest. Only after this did police arrive at Tkachev’s dacha.