Last week, one of the main accused in the “Penza case”, 25-year-old Dmitriy Pchelintsev, told his lawyer Oleg Zaytsev during a questioning that the Penza FSB officers tortured him after he first reported the tortures. They demanded that Pchelintsev withdraw his accusations against FSB officers. Whereas initially he gave in to the pressure and told in front of an FSB camera that he had made up the tortures, he now intends to stand his ground to the end. Pchelintsev has also withdrawn the confession he had previously given.
Dmitriy Pchelintsev was detained on October 27, 2017 in Penza. He and seven more antifascists are accused according to Art. 205.4 Part 2 of the Criminal Code: “organizing a terrorist community and taking part in it”. According to the investigation, the antifascists were involved in a transregional terrorist organization called “The Network”. They allegedly planned to overthrow the government and commit a series of terrorist attacks throughout the country in the run-up to the presidential election and the FIFA World Cup. Dmitriy Pchelintsev was, the investigation maintains, head of the organization’s Penza department.
The families of the accused and several human rights organizations state that the criminal case is being forged. According to lawyers, the main proof in the case are the accused’s confessions. Those were forced from the accused by FSB officers by torture. Tortures have been reported not only by the accused but also by members of the Public Monitoring Committee who had visited them in the detention facilities.
Dmitriy Pchelintsev first informed his lawyer that he had been tortured by FSB operatives two months after his detainment. Initially Pchelintsev did not admit his guilt but then confessed after an interrogation under torture.
A fact that testifies to the cruelty of the tortures is that on October 28, 2017, the day following the torture start, Pchelintsev tried to commit suicide. He smashed the toilet in his cell and cut his wrists with the shards. Pchelintsev said that the FSB officers had warned him: if he tells his lawyer or his family about the torture, it will get worse.
It did get worse. After a media publication the same FSB officers visited him again. After yet another episode of torture with electric current Pchelintsev gave up. He withdrew his statement. After this he kept silent for four months. According to his family, he was afraid he would not stand any more torture.
Last week Dmitriy Pchelintsev made his final decision. He does not admit his guilt. He maintains that he had confessed under torture. He also maintains that he had subsequently withdrawn his statement because he had been intimidated by FSB officers. Now he understands all the possible consequences and is prepared to stand to the end.
On February 10, 2018 (after his statement was published in the media—I.G.) in the afternoon, a Federal Penal Enforcement Service officer brought me to a cell. There were three FSB officers there… They started putting me on the floor but I resisted. After a minute or two of active struggle against three opponents I felt blows in the back of my head, in my back and in the shins. One of the blows made me fall, and my head was pressed to the floor. I kept my hands under my body. They put a bag on my head that covered my down to the chin. It became hard to breathe and I my strength was running out fast. With my hand, I freed my face from the bag. I was hit on the back of my head and as a result, my face hit the floor with a range of 10 to 15 cm… Then they tied up my elbows with cellotape and pulled the bag back down to my chin. From Dmitriy Pchelintsev’s interrogation by his lawyer, May 15, Penza detention center
After that, Pchelintsev’s knees were cellotaped too, and more cellotape was put around his head over the plastic bag.
I was turned on my back but because of my hands [tied behind my back] I was lying rather half on my side. I had lost my shoes at the start because they had taken off my socks and pulled my pants and underpants down to my knees. They put a tight headgear, a kind of helmet liner, on my head and fastened the clasp under my chin. The guard wound wires around my big toes. They tried to gag me but I didn’t open my mouth so they taped the gag over my mouth. Last time I had had several teeth chipped by the gag. During the struggle we were almost silent. When they stopped hitting me on my face and belly, they gave me the electric shock…
They were talking to each other: “The contact is faulty, the charges are too weak”. I screamed asking them not to make it stronger. The third one was standing with his knee on my chest the whole time, he was squeezing my genitals so much that all was going white before my eyes. “What are we going to do with your wife? We’ll arrange for a crowd of Tajiks to rape her at first, won’t we, she talks to much… You’re an enemy and a terrorist. This is the truth. And nobody came to see you.” I repeated everything. “Shall we finish off your wife” Or will you find the words to make her understand?” I said I’ll find the words for sure. After a couple more electric charges they said: “You’ll withdraw your statement and say you lied about the tortures.” In the pauses between the sentences they hit me with current at alternating toes… “Then you’ll do what the investigator tells you. If he shows you white and say black, you say black. If they cut off your finger and tell you to eat it, you eat it.” Then they hit me with current a few more times to make sure I remembered everything.
Four days after the tortures when the bruises and the electric burns started to subside, Pchelintsev was brought for interrogation to FSB investigator Valeriy Tokarev. “During the interrogation I withdrew my testimony as they had told me but added corrections that investigator Tokarev didn’t like. After the interrogation he came to see me and said I had to make up such aims and goals for our training that would have a component of crime in them. I was filmed during the interrogation and injuries from the tortures are visible in the video. My wife saw them on the same day too.”
Pchelintsev’s lawyer Oleg Zaytsev has appealed the refusal to initiate criminal investigations into the tortures.
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