Russian Turns to European Court of Human Rights to Launch Case in Defence of Tortured Brother

October 3, 2018

A Russian citizen from the Republic of Tatarstan has filed an official complaint to the European Court of Human Rights about the torture of her brother by Russian police officials. Her concerns had already been ignored by the Russian Investigative Committee.

On the 10th April 2017, Oleg Grigoriev was detained by police, after which he was taken to a local police station in the Kazan’ region of Russia. His sister Nadezhda Shakirova has been retelling Oleg’s story to the European Court of Human Rights.

According to Shakirova, upon arrival at the police station, Mr Grigoriev was forced to remain standing with his face still covered by a mask. Mr Grigoriev was also prohibited from using toilet facilities. However, it turned out that such obvious human rights violations were to seem insignificant to what came next.

At around 19.30 that same day, Shakirova recalls that her brother was then greeted by the head of the police facility, Dmitry Marfin, and Special Agent Dmitry Ivanov, as well as three other unnamed officials. The group proceeded to suffocate Mr Grigoriev with a polystyrene bag until he stopped trying to bite through the plastic bag covering his face.  Police officials then electrocuted Mr Grigoriev first on his legs, then his buttocks. They then attached iron clamps to Mr Grigoriev and proceeded to use a homemade machine to send electric shocks throughout his entire body.

The following day Mr Grigoriev was taken by police officials to see a doctor, who confirmed that Grigoriev was in absolutely fine health. This was then reconfirmed by Dmitry Ivanov, who in an official report stated that Mr Grigoriev’s injuries had been sustained before his arrival in custody, a statement which Nadezhda Shakirova rejects. She stated in her complaint to the European Court of Human Rights that she had many witnesses who could refute the Special Agent’s claims.

It is also clear that higher bodies of the Russian law enforcement were compliant in covering up the brutal violence of Marfin, Ivanov and others. Mrs Shakirova had originally taken her complaint to the Russian Investigative Commission. However, the Commission found that nothing extraordinary nor illegal had taken place.

Oleg Grigoriev was eventually summoned to court, where he received a five year sentence for extortion.  The ruling was made under strange circumstances, after a lead witness spontaneously took back her statement in support of Grigoriev. Witness intimidation is often a practice employed by organised gangs, not state institutions.

The obvious corrupt, illegal and brutal police and judicial practices that Nadezhda and her brother encountered meant that Mrs Shakirova had to turn to the European Court of Human Rights to seek justice for her brother. Open Russia lawyer Elza Nisanbekova helped Shakirova formulate her appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

As a member of the Council of Europe, Russia is also a member of the European Court of Human Rights. Violations of human rights are obvious in this case. Therefore, it is upon other members of the Council of Europe to agree on an appropriate response. This should not only help Nadezhda Shakirova get a step closer to justice for her brother, but will also send a firm reminder to those in the Kremlin that human rights are a central concern for all European states.  Whether Kremlin actors will comply with the outcome is another story.

If you would like to get involved in supporting victims of human rights abuses and political injustice in Russia, please consider making a donation to Open Russia’s Human Rights team.  Without your support, many will be left without help.  If you’d like to contribute, you can do so here