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Statement by Human Rights Organizations on the Sentencing of Major Igor Matveev

Source: (info), 13/09/11

· The Courts · Army · Prisoners · Primorsky Region

Human rights defenders have published a statement in defence of Major Matveev:

“On 9 September 2011, Vladivostok garrison military court sentenced Major Igor Vladimirovich Matveev to four years in prison and stripped him of his rank. Matveev is the former head of security for Brigade 6890 of the Eastern regional command of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

We, the representatives of human rights organizations, have carefully followed Matveev’s trial and believe that his sentence is unlawful and the court failed to prove Matveev’s guilt. Moreover, we believe that Matveev’s case has been a show trial to set an example to any officer who might dare to expose the military’s ‘dirty laundry’.

During the course of the trial, the court disregarded numerous violations of criminal procedure law. Article 15, Section 3 of the Russian Criminal Procedure Code states: “Courts are not instruments of prosecution, they side neither with the prosecution, nor with the defence.” Yet the court failed to uphold this principle during Matveev’s trial. Upon investigation, we are convinced that the court was on the prosecution’s side from the very start. As a result, we are voicing our doubts that the court maintained its objectivity.

During the trial Igor Matveev repeatedly caught representatives of the military command of the brigade and the military district, who were witnesses for the prosecution, lying. Yet without any grounds the court ignored the numerous appeals by the defence. As a result, many facts of the case have remain unexplained.

For example, the prosecution claimed that Matveev had a tendency to violate military discipline and alleged that Matveev had been punished by commanding officers on dozens of occasions. The defence sought to refute these claims by petitioning the court to ask for a copy of Matveev’s military record, which states the awards and punishments Matveev received over the course of his service. The court, however, ruled that this was unnecessary.

Throughout the course of the trial, witnesses for the defence claimed that they and their families had come under pressure. Several witnesses had been attacked and suffered injuries. At the same time, witnesses for the prosecution, as military personnel, were under the constant oversight of their commanding officers. They were even brought to the court in cars belonging to the command of their military unit.

We also doubt that a man, who was allegedly prone to the abuse of power, would be interested in a thorough investigation. After all, once you invite someone to go through the facts, you can no longer hide your own illegal actions. Yet Igor Matveev initiated the investigation of alleged violations of the rights of military service personnel, including violence and battery. Matveev turned to the president as commander-in-chief since he wanted to ensure that the investigation was carried out as thoroughly and carefully as possible.

All these circumstances have led us to conclude that Matveev’s trial has been rigged.

We intend to carefully examine the materials of the case and the records of the court hearings to examine the objectivity of the trial. Our goal is to secure a thorough investigation of all the questions and complaints that we have concerning the case of Igor Matveev. The laws of trial procedure require that Igor Matveev should be acquitted and fully rehabilitated where there is any doubt whatsoever about the objectivity of the trial.

We give our full moral support to Igor Matveev.

We hope for an honest and objective review of the case.”

Maria Bontsler, Vladimir Mareev – Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers (Kaliningrad Region)

Irina Korneeva, Tatiana Kuznetsova –Soldiers’ Mothers’ Movement (Moscow)

Sergei Krivenko – Citizen. Army. Law (Moscow)

Ella Poliakova – Soldiers' Mothers of Saint Petersburg»

Valentina Reshetkina – Khabarovsk Committee of Soldiers' Mothers

Pavel Shmakov – Khabarovsk Human Rights Protection Center

Vera Pisareva – Society and Army

Public Verdict Foundation