The Case of Gennady Afanasyev

posted 22 Sept 2015, 07:24 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 22 Sept 2015, 07:28 ]
11 September 2015

Source: (info
Тhe so-called 'Crimean prisoner' Gennady Afanasyev, who was sentenced to seven years in a high-security prison, has been transported to a colony in Komi. This was reported on Twitter by the lawyer Aleksandr Popkov, citing the Public Oversight Commission for the Rostov region. In court Afanasyev retracted accusations he had made against Oleg Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenko, alleging that he had been put under pressure and had undergone torture.

The Memorial Human Rights Centre (Moscow) has recognised Afanasyev as a political prisoner.

The precise penal colony to which Afanasyev has been sent has not been confirmed. According to the website of the Federal Penitentiary Service in Komi, there are two penal colonies for first-time offenders in operation in the region. They are IK-25 in Syktyvkar and IK-51 in the city of Emva, 130km north of the region's capital. In addition, IR-49, a high-security prison for former employees of the courts and law enforcement agencies, operates in the city of Pechora, in the north-east of the region, a little way south of the Arctic Circle. Because Afanasyev briefly worked in the Zheleznodorozhny district prosecutor's office of Simferopol, it cannot be ruled out that he has sent to that colony.

Afanasyev is 24 years old. He was detained in Simferopol on 9 May 2014 and claims to have been subjected to pressure and torture, as a result of which he gave false testimony against himself, the film director Oleg Sentsov and left-wing activist Oleksandr Kolchenko. Afanasyev refused the services of independent lawyers. He also rejected Ukrainian citizenship and was granted Russian citizenship.

Gennady Afanasyev made a deal with the prosecutor's office, and the case against him was separated off from the cases of the other two defendants. On 17 December 2014 Moscow City Court, having considered Afanasyev’s case, sentenced him in a special procedure. It has not been reported whether the convicted man might file an appeal.

Under a pre-trial agreement, Afanasyev was supposed to appear in the North Caucasus District Military Court on 31 July in the Sentsov and Kolchenko trial.

He maintains that security officials told him that he should opt out of testifying (Art. 51 of the Russian Constitution) so that lawyers for the defendants would not be able to ask him questions.

However, appearing in court, Gennady Afanasyev retracted his testimony, explaining that he had given it under torture.

He then enlisted the services of the lawyer Aleksandr Popkov and declared that he would be seeking a review of his case.

According to the lawyer Popkov, Afanasyev does not deny that he committed certain crimes, but he disagrees that they should be classified under the article on terrorism. He also admitted involvement in the arson attacks on United Russia HQ in Simferopol on 14 and 18 April 2014 respectively, but said that he knows nothing about plans to blow up the monument to Lenin in the Crimean capital.

After retracting his testimony on Sentsov and Kolchenko, Gennady Afanasyev claims that he was threatened by investigators in Rostov remand prison, and on 6 August, as one inmate testifies, one of them attacked Afanasyev, inflicting a heavy blow on the leg.

On 12 August the lawyer Aleksandr Popkov reported that Afanasyev had been transported from Rostov remand prison-1 without his relatives or defence team being informed. While the lawyer has managed to establish the whereabouts of his client, he has not disclosed this information, citing a request by the mother of the convicted man, who feared, "that he would be transferred once again".

On 22 August 2015 Moscow City Court refused to allow the lawyer Aleksandr Popkov to take part in the case of Gennady Afanasyev. The court demanded that the lawyer first sign a non-disclosure agreement in respect of certain "classified information". But the lawyer would sign no such thing, explaining that he did not know which of the case files had been marked ‘classified’ and which had not.

"If they have classified all of the information, then I cannot show anything to journalists or any kind of experts, nor can I share it with my colleagues," said lawyer Aleksandr Popkov. Any contact with a foreign journalist, and I would be in the dock for treason."

On 25 August 2015 Oleg Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenko were sentenced to 20 and 10 years respectively in a high-security prison. They have been recognised by the Memorial Human Rights Centre as political prisoners.


Translated by Lindsay Munford