Russian activist brings application to European Court over alleged torture

11 December 2012 

Source: (info)
On 11 December, civil society activist Jenny Kurpen, who has already shone a public spotlight on the public demonstrations in Moscow and high profile criminal cases brought against other activists, filed a complaint with the Strasbourg Court regarding a breach of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Basic Freedoms ("prohibition against torture"). This was reported by the Аgora Human Rights Association, citing Ilnura Sharapova, the lawyer representing Jenny Kurpen.

On 23 July 2011, Jenny Kurpen decided to express her support for Taisiya Osipova who had been arrested and had had a criminal case brought against her. Convinced that the case against Osipova and her partner Sergei Fomichenko had been fabricated on account of their civil activities - Kurpen and a number of like minded protesters travelled to Lubyanka Square in Moscow and sat down near the Solovki Stone (a memorial to the victims of the Gulag). Consequently, she was detained by the police and physical force was used on her for allegedly holding a public event that was unsanctioned by the Moscow authorities. After Jenny Kurpen was released from Kitai-Gorod police station, an accident and emergency doctor from Clinic No.137 recorded that she had suffered injuries to both shoulders and to her left shin.

In her complaint to the European Court Jenny Kurpen noted that the police had grabbed her roughly by her arms and dragged her to the police van causing her a great deal of pain in her arms, which were left with large bruises. It was also stressed in the complaint that during her detention Kurpen "offered no resistance to the police and gave them no reason to use physical force on her whatsoever".

Jenny Kurpen asserts that the police grabbed her very hard by the arms in order to deliberately cause her pain because "during her arrest one of the police said to her: "You f...king, b.tches are really f...king me off!"

The police drafted official reports on Kurpen alleging she was guilty of "disobeying the orders of an officer of the police" (Article 19.3 of the Administrative Violations Code of the Russian Federation), and stating that she "was a participant in an unsanctioned public event (a protest in the form of 'a sit-in strike'), that she had "broken through a cordon that had been put in place to ensure public order", and that "she had not reacted to repeated demands to stop her unsanctioned protest".

On 8 August 2011, Jenny applied to Moscow’s Tver district department of the Investigative Committee with a claim of unlawful misconduct against the police. On 12 August, the Investigative Committee replied that "the arguments set forth in your application do not contain sufficient grounds to justify an investigation". Kurpen appealed against this decision at Moscow’s Tver district court, which on 29 November 2011 dismissed her application. She appealed against the resolution of the Tver district court at Moscow City Court, which also dismissed her appeal on 19 March 2012.

In her submission to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg Jenny Kurpen claims that two separate breaches of the European Convention have been committed. Firstly, she "was subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment on the part of the police officers who used excessive physical force against her without any grounds whatsoever and caused her bodily harm". Secondly, "the authorities failed to carry out any effective investigations pertaining to her claim of bodily harm inflicted on her during her detention".

Our readers will recall that in the summer of 2012, Jenny Kurpen and Other Russia activist Aleksei Devyatkin applied to the Ukrainian authorities for political asylum. They fear criminal proceedings in connection with the case regarding the alleged mass disturbances on 6 May in Moscow.