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Bolotnaya Square Prisoners Need Support

Source: (info), 21/09/12

· Persecution of activists  · Public protests   · Moscow city & Moscow region

Human rights defender Anna Karetnikova writes in her blog about her visits to the pre-trial detention centres where those detained in connection with the May 6 Bolotnaya Square demonstration are being held. Here are a few extracts from her report.

At detention centre No 4 I visited Mikhail Kosenko. As the visit proceeded I realised there was a big problem with the books we had bought for the prisoners from They were delivered to the detention centre but had been simply left and forgotten in a storage room and never passed on to the intended recipients. In detention centre No 4 we were promised that this problem would be sorted on Monday. At detention centre No 5 we were told that the issue would be reported to the management and would also be somehow rectified. But Mikhail still hasn’t received his books. He has begun to be given his normal dose of medication again, and now feels better. The headaches are now gone. It has also become possible for him to order food from a shop (as he couldn’t find out at all if he had any money on his account). However the order deliveries are rather strange. First order – nothing comes, second order – again nothing. Third order – everything that was ordered before, for example, three kilograms of salt (remember that in Lefortovo salt is totally forbidden), so he shared it with his cellmates when he was moved. Mikhail is very concerned he might be treated in a different way because of his illness. I reassured him that everything would be fine. Now he is reading his case files without his lawyer, whom he only saw in August. His lawyer will somehow familiarise himself with the files separately. He gets parcels from his sister. He used to get some from people he did not know, but that has stopped now. Perhaps they’ve forgotten about him. Nonetheless, he thanks everyone on the outside for their support. He receives letters, and replies to them. It would be better though to get more of them. He is a little angry with one of his lawyers because in his statement it was written that Mikhail took part in the rally just out of curiosity, but that wasn’t the reason. He shared the participants’ demands.

For the first time we met a recent detainee, Leonid Koviazin. The educated young man says he hasn’t been beaten or treated badly. In the cell there are 4 people and they are all nice cellmates, he says. 159, 228, 158. The parcels he gets from a girl he knows and is looking forward to seeing his brother. Leonid needs to have some money put on his personal detainee account so he can order food. In order to do that someone needs to come to the detention centre and in the parcels office put some money on his account. His eyes hurt a bit because he reads all the time, most of the time it is the Criminal Procedural Code, as the situation with literature in the detention centre, say his cellmates, is not brilliant. Through his lawyers he asked to get newspaper and magazine subscriptions. Prison food is ok. Leonid considers he is not a fussy person. He is concerned about his cellmate who came down with a cold. He hasn’t had any interviews or identification parades in Moscow, even in at the Petrovka. There was an identification parade in Kirov and for this purpose a Moscow police officer came there, if I correctly understood it. The line to be taken in his defence hasn’t been worked out yet with his lawyer. Leonid is vegetarian. The things that can be sent to him are biscuits, dried fruit, onions, garlic, mayonnaise, cooking oil, cheese. He also asked for a disposable razor. There is a TV in the cell. He says to everyone on the outside that he is fine. His expecting to get 3 to 8 years, and not a suspended sentence…

Artem Savelov. The cell is a bit stuffy. There are four people. For heart trouble they gave out valerian drops and some aspartates. The pain in his heart hasn’t gone completely though. It still gets tight round the chest twice a week or so. The doctor examined him a couple of weeks ago, but to see him you need to submit a letter. Artem used to write often but it was pointless. He is proud of his father, who addressed the people at the rally yesterday. He asks people to support his father as he is completely alone now... Before? No, before his father never spoke at rallies, his interest was his vegetable beds…

Parcels get delivered from his father, brother and from Lilia. He hasn’t got any specific food requirements; he thinks he’s got enough of everything. He wouldn’t mind having some table games though (one of the prison guards says he is ready to give a set of magnetic chess and draughts to the cell). He receives letters and replies to them. He saw his lawyers on 6th September, at the appeal hearing. He says that in the court he was so nervous, he almost couldn’t talk. He says hello to everyone and thanks everyone for their support.

Next pre-trial detention centre. Stepan Zimin. There are 9 people in the cell. There is a refrigerator and a TV set. The cellmates, who seemed to be very friendly, helped him write a letter to the Prosecutor General and - what a surprise! - Stepan was allowed to see his girlfriend. Only once. But nonetheless… Stepan has two lawyers who visit him often. An investigator visited him around a month ago. Before his custody extension he had a face-to-face interrogation. Novaya Gazeta, the newspaper to which Stepan has subscribed, gets delivered. Books, though, have never arrived. And by the way the books of his cellmate, Lev Lvov, have been “resting” in the storage room since 28th July. We made a note of it in a log book for the inspectors with the demand that they immediately give the detainees their books. True, out of three books he had ordered, Stepan received an invoice only for two. Stepan says that the parcels arrive more rarely now. He would like, of course, receive them more often. The money in his account has run out, so he needs more now… He receives letter and replies to them. He wouldn’t mind some table games. In general, Stepan is a modest guy and it’s quite a job to get him to ask for something.

Fedor Bakhov. There are four people in the cell. Everything is fine but he misses home very much, he misses his relatives and family a lot. He receives parcels only from his relatives, he doesn’t receive any from people he does not know, and the letters arrive more rarely now… There is some money on his account, of course not millions, as the investigators claim (laughing). The problem with his teeth has been solved. The lawyer visits him on a regular basis, but the investigating officer comes rarely. He saw him in August when he brought a document with a formal decision for there to be an expert opinion. Fedor goes to the gym. He asks me to tell the other detainees that they must be patient, and says hello to everyone on the outside. And again, he really wants to be free as soon as possible.. Let the judicial procedures take their course, but he wishes he could be released from custody: everyone knows very well that he won’t go anywhere. He hasn’t even got a passport to travel abroad... He is hoping to be acquitted, he has to, but is it possible in a country with a justice system like the one we have?..

The full text by Anna Karetnikova can be found in her blog