An Emergency Situation was Prevented

April 24, 2013
The Bolotnaya Square protests

The Daily Journal is publishing a sensational document that without any doubt will shed light on the events on Bolotnaya Square last May. We have managed to obtain a document entitled “Report on Maintaining Public Order and Security in the City of Moscow on May 6, 2012”, signed by Colonel Deynichenko, the Deputy Chief of the Interior Ministry Directorate for Protection of Public Order for the City of Moscow. This four page report is a rather detailed account of what happened on Bolotnaya Square and Yakimanka. The most important part is the last paragraph of that document, a final conclusion made by Col. Deynichenko.

Nikolai SVANIDZE, TV journalist, Member of the Civic Chamber, Member of the Presidential Human Rights Council

If this document is for real, that statement by a high-ranking Ministry of the Interior (MVD) official contradicts the charges that the investigators brought against the defendants under the “May 6” case. This is very interesting, and is a very serious document. The problem is, [the Bolotnaya protestors] are accused of serious violations of public order. Meanwhile, it is clearly stated in the document that the police managed to prevent any such violations. This is why I think this statement would be a serious argument for the defense at the “May 6” trial. No doubt it will not go unnoticed by the special group within the Presidential Human Rights Council investigating this matter.

Vladimir Lukin and I participated in that march as public observers. In fact, we really did not like that turn of events when people just sat down on the pavement. Back then nobody could evaluate that situation to the full extent, because that was a spontaneous action. We dashed from that stage where they planned the rally to the Maly Kamenny Bridge, where that group of people had sat down on the pavement. We tried to ask them what they were up to, and persuade them to stand up and keep going. It wasn’t immediately clear how narrow or how wide the passage was that led directly to the spot where the rally was to be held. Shortly after that the stampede started. For the Gudkovs, as well as for Lukin and me, the most important thing was to make sure we avoided any potential clashes involving violence. This is how an observer is supposed to act in such situations. After people sat down on the pavement, and the riot police (OMON) was getting ready to attack, it became clear that something was going to happen. Of course we were unpleasantly surprised by the way the situation was developing. However, I don’t think any of this has anything to do with who is responsible for what happened. Under the circumstances those were some prompt actions by people who tried to prevent violence.

Gennady GUDKOV, a member of the Opposition Coordinating Council, a former Duma deputy (“Just Russia” party)

I have to agree with the honest report Mr. Deynichenko submitted to his commanding officer, because any lawyer who has honor, courage, intelligence, and a conscience would tell you precisely the same: on that day a crime that falls under the category of “mass riots” did not take place in Moscow. Moreover, I am sure all the provocative actions that led to clashes with the police were organized by pro-government youth groups, who in the end escaped responsibility. I reviewed that case rather closely and this is what I found. Not one of those arrested and accused of inciting public unrest on May 6 was ever charged with conspiring to attack the riot police. Such charges are nowhere to be found. The problem was the provocation that triggered that violent outburst from both sides.

After that, the OMON tried to wedge into the crowd, and everything turned into a mess. Just like in some bar brawl: once the fight starts there is no way you can tell who is right and who is wrong, who started that and who was just trying to defend himself. I know one thing for sure: those actions were not spontaneous. I saw those young guys, they were standing about 3-5 meters away. It was absolutely obvious that they acted simultaneously and instantly, as if at some command. Their actions were clearly well-rehearsed. It is completely obvious: if none of those young people were arrested, despite a lot of police, TV and video cameras, et cetera, that only goes to show that it is well-known who was  behind these actions.

The fact that none of those who planned in advance to break that chain of people was ever found indicates how far-fetched all that was, and that all this is being done with one purpose – to intimidate those who participate in protest movements, to instill doubt and fear. It is essentially a politically-motivated campaign that involves investigators, prosecutors, and police officers who carbon-copy their reports. Most likely, once the authorities issue an order, another participant in this conspiracy will come to the fore. The notorious “Basmanny (kangaroo) Court”, which obeys any orders by the ruling party, will rule that black is white and white is black, will bury any common sense and justice per se. That is something they succeeded at more than once. I sincerely regret that Russia is not governed by the rule of law, that political bias and political expediency considerations prevail in our law enforcement and justice, that nobody can rely on fairness of the judiciary, and that the powers that be essentially resorted to repressive measures– including, by the way, against some entirely innocent people.

What the police report says about me and Dmitry Gudkov is not entirely accurate. Dmitry and I were acting as parliamentarians, doing some shuttle diplomacy, and acting somewhere in between the organizers of the event and the police top brass. The point was to move those human chains over, clear the passage to the square and to the park, in order to avoid a situation that potentially could lead to a conflict. I kept speaking both to the protesters and to the police officials. Like I said before, we were in agreement as to how to proceed. We had to do only one thing: Sergei Udaltsov, the only organizer who was around, signed the new conditions regarding notification. By the time I tried to locate him in that crowd to get him talk to the police officials and the representatives of the Mayor’s Office, it was too late. At that moment a couple of dozens of young men stormed the police cordon, at which point any negotiations became pointless. I was indeed an eyewitness, and everything was going on right in front of me, including flying pavement fragments, tough actions by OMON, a Molotov cocktail thrown by somebody from the crowd, people with broken ribs pulled out of that stampede. All that was the result of provocative actions by those young people I mentioned, as well as tough actions by the riot police, who acted totally indiscriminately.

Pavel CHIKOV, Chairman, “Agora” (Association of Human Rights Organizations)

This is one of the documents that is supposed to exonerate those accused under the “Bolotnaya case”, at least the twelve defendants who are soon to face trial. Unfortunately, the Investigative Committee and the prosecution most likely will try to use that document to their advantage. Obviously they are well aware of its existence, and they probably have a certain position regarding it. I wouldn’t expect that document to become some kind of a magic piece of paper that will set everyone free and close that “Bolotnaya case”. The defense will try to prove that there was no public unrest, and undoubtedly will present this document as evidence. I can’t speak for the Investigative Committee, and it would be very inappropriate to help them find ways to justify all this. They can claim that the police officer who signed that report cannot be considered a witness, and that the investigator is the only official who is authorized to determine whether a crime actually took place. The fact that none of the police officers found any elements of offence does not mean that there are none, and those elements may be found by an authorized agency upon closer examination. It is also possible that at the time the report was signed it was not known that some police officers had sought medical help. That is a useful document for the defense; however, it falls short of ensuring total protection.

Elena LUKYANOVA, lawyer, member of the Public Chamber, an applicant for the 6 May action

I can divide the conclusion made in the document into two parts. The extreme incidents on the part of demonstrators were not permitted; extreme incidents were provoked and permitted by the police. That is my very deep conviction, as a result of our own investigation of the events of 6 May. You can try to use this document as arguments in court in defense of the accused in the case.

Sergei DAVIDIS, member of the Coordinating Council of the opposition, Solidarity activist, an applicant for the 6 May action

This is some sort of absurdity. It turns out that this document is simply evidence for the defense. The fact is that by that time, on the evening of 6 May, the Investigative Committee had already made a decision to consider that these were mass disorders and opened a criminal case. Accordingly, its task was to investigate what it was already declaring a crime. But the public security police, on the contrary, must demonstrate that they maintained public security. Thus, they had a conflict of interest. It is amusing. Perhaps the defense will be able to use this in some way, but at the same time, I think that the investigation will find a means of getting around it.

This document says that the opening of the criminal case was purely political. At that moment, Colonel Deynichenko, who provided security at all the street events over the greatest period of time, and was himself present on Bolotnaya Square, did not understand that some criminal acts had taken place — outrageous violations of public order. That is, the decision to open the criminal case is based not on real circumstances and a threat to the public interest.

What is said about the intention of the participants in the action to go toward Bolshoy Kamenny Bridge and Borovitskaya Square does not correspond with reality. The public investigation being conducted now–the preliminary results of which will be presented April 22– are fairly persuasive , on the basis of hundreds of eyewitness testimonies gathered from various sides. It has re-created the picture of what happened, and it is precisely the way that many described it back in May. Back on 10 May at the hearings at the Public Chamber, I spoke of this. This is a real version of how it all happened. Despite the agreement that had been made, Bolotnaya Square was chained off – in the notice it had been indicated that the event was to take place in Bolotnaya Square, but only Bolotnaya Promenade was reserved, and despite a verbal agreement which had been made by the organizers with the mayor’s office and the police that the passage-way and the chaining off would be organized in the same way and in the same place as in the February march, and along the same route, nevertheless the passage-way was radically narrowed. It was supposed to extend along the whole line of the square of Bolotnaya Square, but instead it was a very narrow corridor leading on to Bolotnaya Square, with a 90-degree turn.

This objectively did not enable people to pass through in such a crowd, and forced them to sit down in order to demand the widening of the passage and the fulfillment of those agreements which had been made during talks with the mayor’s office. The idea that in fact, whoever wanted to was able to pass through directly, is false and absurd, because everyone could see that on Bolshoy Kamenny Bridge, legions of the OMON stood in nine rows with heavy equipment. So even if some mad man had been found, he would see that this was not realizable. Nobody wanted anything like this. The organizers did not have the intention – they included Nemtsov, Udaltsov, and Navalny. The organizing committee discussed the question of the movement of the column, and no one made the suggestion to go straight across the Bolshoy Kamenny Bridge. Why?

As for the break-through described in the document, during the period indicated, of course it was not the citizens who broke through the ring, but the police who attacked them from all sides, beat them and detained them. Citizens did not break through anywhere but tried to remain in place in keeping with the public event. The breakthrough was a small episode at the very beginning, and not an action that lasted for an hour and a half. A small chain was pressed against without any force at exactly 6:00 p.m. A small group of about 30 people ended up outside the chain as a result of this pressing, and not break-through, which then broke. Some of them were detained: for example Artyom Savelyov, only on that basis, that he had wounded up behind the line of the chain. Some of them weren’t even detained then or later, and no demands were made of them. But there were no other breakthroughs at all, and all further events amounted to an attack by the police on citizens who did not take part in any breakthrough, but on the contrary, were on Bolotnaya Promenade and Maly Kamenny Bridge. So the description of the events is false and motivated by trying to justify an absolutely lawless measure by the police.

Sergei VLASOV, coordinator of the RosUznik [Russian Prisoner] Project

This is a standard document.  When they released this report, the police stated what happened on Bolotnaya Square from the perspective of its competency. The phrase “extreme incidents”, just like the phrase “extreme situations”, usually means incidents or situations whose provenance is of a natural or technological nature. The police mean, for example, that there were no crushes which would serve as a reason for the deaths of dozens or hundreds of people. Investigators, and not police, should provide a legal evaluation of the events from the perspective of whether mass disorders took place or not. That is why Deynichenko did not speak of this. He cited some factors – true, for example, he did not mention that the officers of the Investigative Committee were in place at the time the action was conducted, which means that they understood that something would happen there, and already began investigating what had not yet happened. That is evidence that the whole situation on the square was rehearsed previously– that’s a more interesting factor. The report itself does not show anything in particular. The lawyers saw this document. It can be used for those occasions when the testimonies of witnesses, for example, do not correspond to the time indicated in the report.

We have to understand that this is a raw document written by people who most likely did not sleep the previous night, planning the security measures.  They wrote hot on the trail, having experienced everything that was happening on the square, so they wrote it as best they could. If you have the goal of finding some valuable formulation, I would not place particular attention on documents written the evening of that same day. On 6 May, the investigation had still not determined in what way the charges would be arranged, who would take what; the work had only just begun. The criminal case contains an enormous quantity of documents which essentially can help the defense and illustrate that no mass disorders took place. In the coming weeks when the trial will begin, we will speak very loudly of this so that it will be understandable to everyone. The entire case is trumped-up.  Now, twelve people are completing their review of the materials of the case. In April – likely next week – they should finish. Those who are slow in reviewing the case are limited by the court; those who proceed according to the schedule are being hurried. Some lawyers have already completed their review. The fact that these people are separated from the organizers and other participants indicates that that investigation cannot connect them in any way in one case. If they are all be put together, the case will simple crumble. If you look at the whole case carefully, in every volume you can see a huge collection of outrageous facts bearing witness to the fact that there shouldn’t be any indictments in this trial.