Mikhail Savva on the machinery of repression: Discreditation

posted 14 Jul 2014, 07:01 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 14 Jul 2014, 07:09 ]
9 July 2014

Source: HRO.org (info
The machinery of repression of the Russian state falsifies criminal cases. Naturally, this is impossible to hide so long as someone who comes under the blows of this machinery says at least something about their case. That is why the first task of the ‘asphalt-layer’ is to ensure a complete news vacuum.

But if the victim does not behave themselves as a victim should, but resists, the machinery moves on to a second task, that of discrediting the person concerned. This is according to the principle: ‘Who is talking about our crimes? You are no better yourself!’ On the way to discreditation the officials in epaulettes cannot help but violate the law. After all they have not yet managed to remake the country's laws to suit themselves, despite all the efforts of the ‘crazed printer’ – as the State Duma has become known.

I shall talk more about these violations on the basis of my personal experience that, I hope, will help others to protect themselves. The attempts to discredit you can in fact badly damage those who are falsifying the case against you.

On the last day of my trial, Kuban TV, the local branch of the federal state broadcasting company, reported on the sentence. The report contained one line that simply amazed me. Its sense was that Savva is not a political prisoner since the European Court of Human Rights in its response to his application has not given him this status.

In the first place, this was strange because the European Court of Human Rights does not take decisions of that kind – it has no powers to do so. The second strange thing is that the European Court of Human Rights does not pass judgments on the merits of a case in so short a time as a month and a half. Well, we can examine the professionalism of the staff working at Kuban TV later. What is more interesting for the time being is a third strange thing, namely, that I had not received from the European Court of Human Rights any response to my application concerning the unlawfulness of my pre-trial detention in Remand Centre No. 5 in Krasnodar. I had sent my application via my lawyer at the end of September 2013. After all, it is truly interesting who told the journalists about the contents of a response from the European Court of Human Rights addressed to me, when I know nothing at all about this response, and my lawyer knows nothing either.

I needed to find out what had happened. My first step was to obtain an official letter from the head of Remand Centre No. 5 in Krasnodar, Mr Agarkov, dated and numbered, confirming that a response to my application had been received by Remand Centre No. 5 and had been redirected to my home address. My second step was to get an official letter from the director of Kuban TV, Mr Tovanchev, that a representative of Remand Centre No. 5 during the journalists’ investigation had told a staff member of Kuban TV about the contents of the response from the European Court of Human Rights.

Thanks from a political prisoner to the journalists for their support! This was an instance when they caught an official in a trap. Because the representative of the Remand Centre who spoke to the journalists, cited in the answer as one Ms Tovancheva, committed a crime. Article 138 of the Criminal Code concerns the violation of the right to privacy of correspondence. If the commission of this crime involves an abuse of one’s official position, then the punishment is up to four years in prison. And this had indeed been the case concerning the letter addressed to me.

What should one do in such a situation? Report the crime in accordance the Article 141 of the Criminal Procedural Code, both to the Prosecutor’s Office and to the region’s Investigative Committee. It is necessary to make the second report since it concerns a crime committed by a law enforcement officer. A copy of the report of the crime should be sent to the director of the Federal Penitentiary Service.

Colonel-General G.A. Kornienko, recently appointed to this position, ought to know what is happening in his department. The Public Monitoring Commission should also be told of what has happened. As a body whose designated function concerns public oversight of the observance of human rights in places of detention, the Commission can conduct its own inspection of alleged violations of constitutional law.

I stress that I am not naïve. All my previous reports of violation by law enforcement officers had been denied by their colleagues in other departments. But it is necessary to identify attitudes of this kind. Even if the result is an official refusal to do anything. Let someone from among these officials in epaulettes put their signature beneath this refusal. As in the good old romantic song: ‘We must get ourselves ready for the spring!’ 

I never did receive a response from the European Court of Human Rights to my application concerning the unlawfulness of my pre-trial detention. But even without this it is clear that the attempts to discredit me involved the commission of a crime.

Professor M.V. Savva