Is there an attempt to deny the Public Observer Commission access to detainees?

posted 16 Mar 2015, 08:11 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 16 Mar 2015, 08:12 ]
12 March 2015

Source: (info)
Officials from the Investigative Committee have tried to question members of the Moscow Public Observer Commission, journalist Eva Merkacheva and human rights activist Andrei Babushkin, in connection with the investigation into Boris Nemtsov's murder.

"At about 9.30 p.m., three representatives of the security services arrived at Eva Merkacheva's flat", according to the website of the Moskovsky Komsomolets (MK) newspaper. The visitors explained to Eva's husband that they "intended to have a conversation with Eva Merkacheva". They said that that the aim of the conversation was to clarify to the MK journalist the correct position to take on a number of topical issues.

According to Novaya gazeta newspaper, the investigators were not able to have their conversation with Eva Merkacheva: after her husband had explained that Eva was not at home and that, in any case, she would only talk to security service officers in the presence of a lawyer and during the daytime, the officers left.

However, security service officers did succeed in having a conversation with Andrei Babushkin, a member of the Presidential Human Rights Council.

"I was questioned as a witness in the case into Boris Nemtsov's murder", Babushkin told the TASS news agency. The human rights activist remarked that the questioning took place in a friendly atmosphere and that he had already informed the Investigative Committee about visiting the prisoners.

After being questioned, Andrei Babushkin said that, as a witness in the case, he was no longer permitted to visit either the suspects in the Boris Nemtsov case nor Lefortovo prison where they are being held. According to Babushkin, Eva Merkacheva has also been given the status of a witness in the case.

On the previous day, the Investigative Committee published a statement in which it sharply criticised the activists for visiting the men accused of Nemtsov's murder. The statement said that the activists' involvement "can be interpreted as interference in investigators' work with the aim of obstructing a comprehensive, complete and objective investigation of the case".

On 10 March, Moskovsky Komsomolets published material which stated that the activists, as representatives of the Public Observer Commission, had visited Zaur Dadaev, the man suspected of the murder of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov. During his conversation with the activists, Dadaev stated that he was not guilty of the murder and that he had been tortured. The members of the Public Observer Commission did indeed record numerous injuries on the suspect's body.

Translated by Suzanne Eade Roberts