Russian graduate student and anarchist activist faces closed hearing after alleged torture, intimidation, searches
On February 1, plainclothes and uniformed officers searched the homes of a group of Moscow residents suspected of anarchist activity. The officers arrested 11 people, 10 of whom were then released. Three of those arrested said they had been tortured in custody, OVD Info reported.
Azat Miftakhov, a graduate student in mechanics and mathematics at Moscow State University, was not released. Officials have charged him with attempting to set up an improvised explosive device on a gas pipeline in Balashikha, a city on the outskirts of Moscow. The MGU Initiative Group, a student activist organization at Moscow State University, wrote that law enforcement officials later told TASS the device was a fake. However, prosecutors have maintained that Miftakhov is suspected of preparing a terrorist attack.
The group also announced on social media that Miftakhov had been threatened on the Russian-based social site Telegram as early as July of last year by accounts with alleged ties to law enforcement.
The mathematics student is suspected of participating in the “People’s Self-Defense” anarchist movement, and others among the group of 11 who were arrested Friday have ties to anarchist groups. One of them has been accused of vandalizing an office of the ruling United Russia party. Authorities kept Miftakhov’s location hidden for more than a day after he was arrested before allowing him to make contact with attorneys. The student said officials had beaten him and tortured him using a screwdriver while threatening to use it to sexually assault him. His attorney told reporters she noticed signs of injury on the young man’s chest.
Daniil Galkin, who was one of the other 10 people arrested alongside Miftakhov, said officials had applied an electric shocking device to his body and groin. He also told journalists he was asked to denounce Miftakhov in front of television reporters under threat of torture.
On February 4, after a hearing that was closed to the public and the press, a Balashikha court ruled that Miftakhov would remain in custody for an additional 72 hours “in connection with a lack of sufficient evidence that would provide a basis for the suspicions that [Miftakhov] committed the actions imputed to him.” The student has maintained that the charges against him are fabricated while prosecutors have continued to deny his claims.