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The Investigating Committee has refused to open a criminal case on tortures of Ilya Kapustin from Saint-Petersburg who was interrogated as a witness in the “Penza case”. According to the investigator, some of Kapustin’s injuries are due to legitimate use of force by FSB officers (the man had allegedly tried to escape) and the traces in his groin and belly appeared “as a result of insect bites”, not taser shocks.

In late January, Saint-Petersburg industrial climber Ilya Kapustin told Mediazona the story of his detainment, several hours of torture in an FSB minivan and threats to take him out into the woods and break his legs—after that Kapustin was questioned as a witness in the “Network terrorist organization” case. In February, Kapustin placed a complaint about the tortures at the Investigating Committee; after a month the news came that he had left to Finland and applied for political asylum.

In his complaint, Kapustin stated that late on January 25, he was kidnapped by FSB operatives wearing black masks. They struck him to the ground, dragged him into a minivan, handcuffed and beat him up. When the minivan started, one of the operatives pressed Kapustin to the floor and the others pulled up his clothes on his belly and right thigh and tased him with at least 40 shocks in total. After three hours of torture, Kapustin was brought into the FSB bureau and questioned on the “Network” case. His home was subsequently searched.

On January 26, Kapustin sought medical attention. The doctors documented soft tissue bruises of his face, lower lip, nose, shoulders, right side of his chest, bruises on his wrists, and taser burns. On examination on January 29, the doctor documented bruises on his right upper eyelid, shoulders and knees, as well as several abrasions, including in the groin (“predominantly rounded or oval in form, with hyperemic (red) rims, reddish, edematous, underlined edges”).

Military investigative directorate investigator Sergey Valentov ordered to refuse initiating criminal proceedings on April 20, three days after he issued the same order on the case of antifascist Viktor Filinkov, another accused in the “Network” case.

In the refusal to Kapustin’s complaint, Valentov writes that he was unable to question Kapustin on the tortures “due to his absence at his place of residence” and his lawyer’s refusal to disclose his de facto place of stay. However, Dmitriy Gerasimov who represents Kapustin’s interests at the initiative of the Zone of Justice (Zona Prava) human rights organization has reported that he had offered the investigator to conduct an attorney’s questioning of the victim or a questioning by way of videoconference. The investigator had refused.

Doctor Saidov who works at the 3rd city clinic and has examined Kapustin and documented his injuries told the investigator that he had identified the taser traces based on the victim’s report. “Saidov has stated that Kapustin’s physical injuries are visually similar to injuries caused by skin diseases or insect bites (bed bugs)”, says investigator Valentov in his order.

Taser traces on Ilya Kapustin’s body. Photo: bbc.com

During Kapustin’s complaint check the investigator questioned FSB captain Prudnikov who helped detain Kapustin. He told that he learned prior to detain Kapustin that the latter had been “subjected to administrative punishment” according to art. 19.3 of the Administrative Code (defying a lawful demand by a police officer). Based on that he instructed the task force to “thwart immediately any attempts by Kapustin to resist and to use impact ammunition (taser, handcuffs) if necessary”.

The FSB officer claims that he saw Kapustin around 9 p.m. at the corner of Grechesky Avenue and 7th Sovetskaya street. According to Prudnikov, he approached Kapustin, introduced himself, took him by his jacket sleeve and asked him to “follow him for investigative proceedings”. Kapustin did not comply and allegedly tried to escape; the tactical team “reacted to resistance” and drove over on their operational vehicle. At that moment, Kapustin “tore his arm free from the hold” and ran, Prudnikov maintains.

Then two operatives overtook Kapustin, one of them tripped him up and he fell on his knees. Kapustin was taken by the arms and brought to the car, but allegedly continued to resist, “shouted and struggled”.

On the way to the FSB bureau Kapustin “suddenly stood up from his seat and tried to open the door” at the street lights (an almost identical version was previously told to investigator Valentov by FSB operative Konstantin Bondarev—he helped detain Viktor Filinkov who reported being tortured in the van). The officer on his left, “acting under the conditions of fluidity”, tased Kapustin “not more than three times to his right thigh and torso”. “After that the car braked hard and due to this Kapustin fell on the floor and bumped with his face against the plastic seat back”, the Investigating Committee order says.

“On the way, as the minivan stopped at the lights on the Marshall Zhukov Avenue, he (Bondarev) stood up and went to the driver. As the van started to move again, Filinkov suddenly pushed him towards the back of the van and, finding himself near the door, tried to jump out of the van (this happened at approximately 03 hours 45 minutes).” This is how the investigator retells the FSB operative’s version in the refusing order to Viktor Filinkov’s complaint.

The officer, “seeing Filinkov’s actions of using physical impact on the FSB officer and attempting to escape, as well as preventing other consequences associated with a person falling out of a moving vehicle, under the conditions of the fluidity of the developments, the enclosed space and the limited time for decision, applied impact ammunition: a taser — two times to Filinkov (1 time to the right thigh area, 1 time to the torso).”

Following that, according to Prudnikov, one of the operatives pulled Kapustin up and seated him back again. However, Kapustin “would not calm down and continued to try to stand up again”, so the officers decided to handcuff him “in order to prevent him applying physical impact to FSB officers as well as hurting himself”. After this Kapustin allegedly still continued resisting, so he was “put down on the floor of the operational vehicle and held by the shoulders”.

In the FSB building, Kapustin was interrogated and then brought for a search and left in his apartment, “as there were no probable cause for arrest”.

The Investigating Committee wanted to check whether the detainment was caught on tape but just as in Filinkov’s case, no videotapes were found—this time because there are no cameras at the at the corner of the 7th Sovetskaya street and Grechesky Avenue.

Investigator Valentov concludes that there were indeed injuries on Ilya Kapustin’s body but rules out the possibility of torture: he explains some of the injuries with Kapustin “resisting while being taken to the investigation service, including due to reasonable use of impact ammunition”.

The bruises on Kapustin’s belly, groin and penis “could be a result of insect bites or skin diseases”, the investigator contends. Moreover, he could have sustained the injuries during the ten hours between the operatives left him at his home and he came to the doctor. Checking the version of insect bites might be the explanation of the bizarre visit an investigator and a decontamination specialist had made to Kapustin’s apartment on April 19.

Investigator Valentov found no signs of unfounded use of violence against Kapustin and refused to initiate criminal proceedings against the FSB officers.

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14 May 2018





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