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Victim of Special Riot Police Takes Case to Investigative Committee

1 November 2012 

Source: (info)
On 1st November lawyers for Public Verdict Foundation lodged an appeal with the Russian Investigative Committee demanding that a criminal investigation be launched into an assault on an elderly woman on Bolotnaya Square on 6th May 2012 by a member of the special riot police. Earlier Turane Varzhabetyan, born 1945, had complained to Public Verdict Foundation that an officer of the special riot police hit her over the head with a truncheon as the rally was dispersed.

When Varzhabetyan submitted her complaint to investigators at the Investigative Committee, they initially tried to dissuade the woman from making a formal complaint on the grounds that there was an unwritten instruction not to consider complaints related to the events of 6th May. Nevertheless, Public Verdict Foundation reports that the victim insisted the Investigative Committee accept her complaint.

One witness to the events on Bolotnaya Square was a correspondent from one of the foreign radio stations. The correspondent reported that he saw an elderly woman lying motionless on the road. A few people then carried her on a blanket to an ambulance. After this the press released information about the death of an elderly woman at the rally. However, this information was not verified.

Turane Varchabetyan made a statement to Public Verdict Foundation setting out the events that had taken place. According to her, on the evening of 6th May 2012, she planned to take part in the rally on Bolotnaya Square. However, by the time she reached the place, she realised that the rally would not take place and it was necessary to leave. The woman set off from the stage towards the bridge over the Moscow River, but on the way she found herself in a crush, because of the huge number of people. Varzhabetyan saw that from the side of the police cordon a group of young people came out, throwing a smoke flare into the crowd. After that the special riot police started actively to detain the demonstrators.

When the woman saw some special riot police officers beating two young people, she went towards them and shouted at the officers to stop the assault. At that moment, the woman saw a police officer next to her, who swiped at her with his truncheon. After that the woman felt a blow to her head, from which she lost consciousness.

According to Public Verdict Foundation, Varzhabetyan came to in an ambulance. The medics recommended going to hospital, but she refused because there was a dependant at home, who needed constant care. The first aid doctor said that if the woman refused hospitalisation, then she could not stay with them in their ambulance. “We have many folk like this,” the medic explained and took Varzhabetyan from the ambulance; they gave the woman some sort of jacket and set her down at a bus stop. Four hours later, when the woman felt better, she was able to go home by public transport. The next day Varzhabetyan went to the hospital. The doctors diagnosed concussion.