Voina Activists Beaten by Police, Denied Access to Lawyer

Oleg Vorotnikov. Source: Aleksei Danichev/RIA NovostiA lawyer for activists in the radical art group Voina is complaining that police in St. Petersburg have severely beaten his clients and prevented his legally protected access to them, Kasparov.ru reports.

According to the human rights association Agora, lawyer Dmitri Dinze was prohibited from entering St. Petersburg’s 78th police precinct on the night of March 31, where the activists were placed after being detained at a rally in defense of free assembly.

Having been told that the artists had been beaten, Dinze called Russia’s emergency police number five times during the course of the night. At first, Dinze was promised that officers would be dispatched to resolve the situation, but during the fifth phone call he was told that there was nothing they could do and the lawyer would have to speak with the head of the Central Regional Department of Internal Affairs.

“The St. Petersburg Main Department of Internal Affairs openly admitted that they were incapable of bringing pressure onto officers in the 78th police precinct to not violate the rights of detainees to the defense by and access to a lawyer,” Dinze explained.

He said the doctor who arrived in an ambulance did not actually enter the precinct, which resonated with screams and music associated with the criminal underworld.

Dinze had returned to the 78th precinct after securing the release of Voina activist Oleg Vorotnikov from the 28th precinct. The activist was admitted to the Dzhanelidze Institute of Emergency Medical Care, where wounds all over his body and bruises left from handcuffs were recorded.

Vorotnikov said fellow Voina activists Natalia Sokol and Leonid Nikolaev were also beaten in the police station.

Earlier in the evening, police had taken away Vorotnikov’s young son Kasper and placed him in the surgical unit of the Raukhas Hospital as an “unidentified child,” since Natalia Sokol had his documents with her in police custody.

Vorotnikov was able to bring his son home at 10:35 pm.

Russian Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin has asked Dinze to file an official complaint about the actions of the police. According to Agora, the situation is also being followed by the Federal Chamber of Lawyers.

Between 1000-2000 people took part in a march in St. Petersburg as part of the Strategy 31 campaign in defense of free assembly on March 31, 2011. Approximately 100 of them were arrested.