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“You are not real riot police” Lawyer Svetlana Sidorkina talks about the arrest of Stanislav Zimovetz in the March 26 protests

Source: Meduza
Photo: Stanislav Zimovets’s social media account on VKontakte

On April 13, it became known that Russia’s Investigative Committee had detained four people accused of using violence against police officials (Article 318 of the Criminal Code). There is not much information about the detainees. Meduza interviewed Svetlana Sidorkina, a lawyer from human rights organizations Agora, who has been representing the interests of one of the detainees – Stanislav Zimovtz – since April 24. Sidorkina said that Zimovets had confessed to using violence against a police officer, but now wants to recant, something that is unlikely so late in the investigation unless the process were prolonged by just several weeks.

According to the Investigative Committee, Stanislav Zimovets threw a brick at the back of a Rosgvardia officer during the anti-corruption action on March 26, after which he allegedly “hid in a crowd, changed his clothes, hid his jacket in a backpack, took out a handgun, and returned to the scene.” On his page on social networking site VKontakte, Zimovets wrote that on March 26 he was “grabbed on Tverskaya street” and “kicked by riot police.” On March 30, he was detained for two months, though the Investigative Committee reported his arrest only on April 13. Zimovets is accused of using violence against an officer of the law, which can carry a sentence of up to five years in prison.

Svetlana Sidorkina

Lawyer for international human rights group Agora

It was immediately said of Stanislav Zimovtse that he was a football fan, but this is not so. Hailing from the city of Volzhsky in the Volgograd region, Zimovets completed the first four years of an economics major at Volgograd University, but did not finish his studies because of a lack of funds. He moved to Moscow and worked in apartment renovation, but was arrested 1.5 months [into his new life].

March 26 was his first and only day off in this entire period. That day, the weather was good and he and his friends decided to take a walk and take some pictures in the center of [Moscow]. They had no money to go anywhere else. They had agreed to meet at the Rossiya movie theater, but his friends did not come. Stanislav entered the subway just as riot police were beginning to detain people there. Zimovets told me that he felt desperate that he could not help these people [and] outraged by the detentions. He could not believe that police officers could do such a thing [and] grabbed a brick and threw it at the crowd. He did not expect that the brick would hit anyone, but it [did]. “A [brick hit] the back of deputy riot police commander V.N. Kotenev,” as was investigative [files].

Zimovets was first detained at the [March 26] protest. A protocol was drawn up that had [violated protest procedures] and he was immediately released ... On March 30, [members of the] Special Rapid Response Unit came to the shed where Stanislav was living all this time and detained him. A video had [possibly] helped [the police decide] whom to arrest. He was taken to the police station, where an investigative had been initiated, and appointed a lawyer, [cooperating all the time]. In response to my question of whether anyone had read his rights to him, including his right to make a call, he said that he himself knew [that he had these rights] and asked the investigators to call his relatives, but they responded that they would inform his relatives of his whereabouts themselves. But no one, including his appointed lawyer, called his relatives. All this time, Zimovets’ relatives did not know where he was, which lawyer was working on his case, how he could be helped, or how they could see him.

On March 30, searches were conducted at his permanent home address in the Volgograd Region. Stanislav’s relatives learned that he was detained only when police officers came to their house; but his whereabouts and the identity of the lawyer working on the case remained unknown. His relatives were in despair, they phoned half of Moscow in search of him, [calling] almost all of the police departments in the city. They wrote about this on social networking sites and appealed to public organizations, which, in turn, appealed to me. After learning about everything, I went his relatives and told them that I was ready to help.

The peculiarity of this case is also the fact that the investigation was carried out too intensively. Stanislav would be driven out of the prison at six in the morning and brought back late at night. He would also sit at the Investigative Commission office until lunchtime, until two or three o'clock in the afternoon, and wait for the interrogation to begin. During these days, he would be morally and physically exhausted, he did not sleep, he was hungry (he was giving only dry rations that brought about stomach aches). [And] he was forced to partake in the investigation in these conditions. Zimovets said that he told the lawyer and investigators that he was tired and unable to [participate]. He could not [understand] the documents that he was given to sign.

Stanislav confessed [and] was charged under Article 318.1 of [Russia's criminal code] on “the use of violence against a police officer.” He said that he confessed to throwing a brick and even asked the police officer for forgiveness [upon their meeting.] He said that he did not do it [with the intention to hurt], but out of desperation. Zimovets also said that he had served in Chechnya and saw how real riot police behave. “So, you are not real riot police,” said Stanislav to the officer.

Eventually, Stanislav refused the services of his appointed lawyer as she had committed several grave violations. I will not voice them all, but when a lawyer convinces his client [that a case be reviewed according to a] special procedure and to [confess], this raises questions. After all, evidence is not investigated in a case conducted by way of a special procedure, [events are reviewed superficially]. And it is impossible to appeal this later. After all, the fact that he threw a brick can be interpreted in numerous ways, not just as an attack on a police officer. Though he was in complete isolation, Stanislav wrote a complaint against the lawyer’s actions and wrote a statement to name me his defense lawyer on April 24.

I think that the investigators will do everything to prevent me from being involved in the case at this point in the investigation. I suspect, but am not entirely sure, that Zimovets has already signed a document on the termination of the investigation, [which would mean that] his case has already been sent to the Prosecutor General’s Office.

Stanislav told me that he had recently read George Orwell’s novel “1984”. According to him, “the same thing is now happening in our country.” He knows Navalny and watched [the oppositionist leader’s] film about Medvedev, though he is not [Navalyn’s] supporter. I would say that Zimovets is a man who is not indifferent to the situation in the country. He says that he does not adhere to definite [political] views, but simply stands for a just society and the [upholding] of constitutional rights.