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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Annals of Russian Barbarism: Torture is the Kremlin's Hobby

Radio Free Europe reports:

It took nine days of police torture for Aleksei Mikheyev to confess to a crime he never committed.
No longer able to stand the blows and electric shocks, he admitted to raping and killing a 17-year-old woman to whom he had given a lift in his Russian hometown of Nizhny Novgorod. Mikheyev later retracted his confession at the prosecutor's office. So he was taken back to the police station for another round of torture. There, he managed to break free from his captors and threw himself out of the window. "My only thought was to escape the torture," says Mikheyev in his matter-of-fact voice. "When I jumped, I was sitting on a chair, a police officer was holding me by the shoulders, and my hands were handcuffed. I sat some three meters away from the window. I jumped so hard that I smashed through a double-pane window head first."

Mikheyev, who is now 31, broke his spine in the fall. He will never be able to walk again.

The woman he had confessed to murdering returned home the next day. She had gone to visit friends without informing her relatives.

In Search Of Justice

In a country where torture remains a pervasive interrogation method, stories like Mikheyev's are depressingly common.

What makes Mikheyev's case remarkable is his determination to seek legal redress, and his success in doing so. Last year, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in his favor and ordered Russia to pay him 250,000 euros ($355,000) in damages -- one of the largest compensations ever granted to a Russian citizen at the Strasbourg-based court.

It was a hard-won victory. Mikheyev had to endure numerous anonymous death threats and a grueling seven-year battle with Russia's judicial system. "It was like a game of ping-pong," he says. "I would file an application for the case to be investigated, the case would be investigated, no evidence against the policemen would be found, and the case would be closed. I would appeal, and the case would once more be investigated."

In total, local investigators opened and closed the probe 23 times. Only after the European Court of Human Rights agreed to hear the case was Mikheyev finally able to bring his story before a Russian court.

In November 2005, more than seven years after his ordeal, a local court sentenced two police officers to four years in prison for abuse of power.

Mikheyev says the pair has already been released. But he sounds neither surprised nor particularly upset. What he most wanted, he says, was for his country's leadership to be brought to account. "The perpetrators were convicted, those who physically tortured me. But the fact that this is the fault of the government, of the whole system, was never addressed. Only the European Court ruled that the government, rather than individual people, is to blame," he said.

Thousands Of Cases

Frustrated by often corrupt and indifferent courts at home, Russians are turning to the European Court of Human Rights en masse. Last year, Russian citizens lodged some 12,000 complaints with the court -- one-fifth of all the cases filed that year. Ill-treatment at the hands of police is one of the most frequent grievances. Torture is so common in Russian police stations that the method used on Mikheyev even has a name: the "phone call to Putin." It consists of inflicting electric shocks through wires attached to the victim's earlobes.

There's also the "crocodile," when police pin the victim face down on the floor and pull on his limbs, or the "swallow," when the person's arms are painfully twisted behind his back. The most notorious is perhaps the "little elephant," when police strap a gas mask onto the victim's face before shutting off the air supply.

However blatant the abuse, filing a case at the European Court of Human Rights -- let alone winning it -- is no easy feat. And, as Mikheyev points out, not a cheap one either. Mikheyev says he largely owes his victory to a local rights group called the Committee Against Torture, which offered him precious legal and financial support.

Only a fraction of cases lodged with the court actually result in a verdict; the others are rejected for procedural shortcomings or lack of evidence. The tide of applications also means plaintiffs must wait years for a judgment. Mikheyev, for one, waited seven years. But he says these difficulties should not deter victims from seeking justice. "Don't be afraid, fight for yourself," he says. "Winning is possible." Winning his case against Russia will not give him back the use of his legs. But it has given him a new sense of dignity as well as much-needed cash to foot medical bills. Before the ruling, he was surviving on a monthly pension of less than $100. Nonetheless, Mikheyev met his legal victory with a mix of joy and bitterness. "On the one hand, I understood that not everything in Russia is hopeless. On the other hand, I resented the fact that this had to be settled at the European Court instead of here," he says.

Has his example helped curb police torture in his city, or in Russia? Hard to say, Mikheyev says, citing the case of another young man in Nizhny Novogorod who last month threw himself out of a police station's window to escape torture. The Committee Against Torture says charges of police abuse in the city soared following Mikheyev's victory at the European Court of Human Rights. But the committee says this doesn't mean police torture is growing. What is growing is the number of victims who, thanks to Mikheyev, now know that those responsible can be held to account.


american for jesus said...

1) How much longer until the Committee Against Torture is forced to close?

2) Regarding Europe: Germany is being shaken down by Russia via "restrictions" on privately owned German "national" airline Lufthansa as Russia tries to bring about the "'Finlandization' of Europe". (Regarding Finlandization, see Aleksandr Dugin's "Foundations of Geopolitics", for which GRU- strategy-department chief General Nikolai Klokotov wrote the preface, and on which General Leonid Ivashov served as consultant). Russia is of course shaking down Finnish truck drivers too, in exchange for Finnish political cooperation and for Karelian territory, and has previously "owned" Finland. In Britain, the Tories are already raging against "Atlanticism" -- but of course not against Eurasianism, since the Tories belong to Putin, and are rivals of the (compared to many of the EU's political groups) anti-Russian Christian Democrats. I therefore doubt that the European Court of Human Rights will continue to mind very long what Russia does, especially since with Eurabia becoming Islamic as fast as it is (consider the rapid native emigration, low native birthrates, and high Islamic immigration), it will have to be slightly brutal (as opposed to simply murdering the elderly by lethal injection to save money), and will then embrace brutality completely. Perhaps, sometime in the future, the European Court of Sha'aria will reprimand the Russian Emirates for failing to behead Call-to-Putin survivors in a manner sufficiently timely to end their suffering.

Artfldgr said...

Problem with the story, whether its important or not, that remains to be seen, but one should always flag what one sees for better inspection.

I sat some three meters away from the window. I jumped so hard that I smashed through a double-pane window head first."

Actually its two problems. One is that a person cant even jump as high as two feet. In other words the vast majority of people, even high end sports competitors, can’t jump in place with their legs straight and have it go more than 1 meter high… the records though are from around 2 meters.

“The most common misconception about vertical jump is that the measurement displays the athlete's ability to elevate off the ground from a run-up, contrary to from a standstill. The effect of this misconception is that many athletes will quite grossly inflate their vertical jumps.” has some of the highest…

Magic Johnson only had a 30” vertical leap! Though the record is 60 inches!!!

The problem that made me pay attention was the claim that it was double pane glass. Even with large storefront windows, one cant just smash through double pane!!!

Which is why its considered a sucurity benefit.

Given that its presumed office window, its not the ¼ inch thick large glass, but the 1/8th inch thick common glass… separating two pieces of this is an air gap… a key to the physics is that the edges are held by a rubber based epoxy that is flexible.

Apparently no one in Hollywood has ever picked up a piece of broken glass and suffered the inevitable bloodied finger.
Saying that shards of broken glass are razor sharp is an understatement. A shattered window contains thousands of incredibly sharp edges and dagger-like points. It takes almost no force for one of these points or edges to cause a laceration. However, people in movies routinely jump through plate glass windows without receiving a single scratch.
Broken glass has at least two mechanisms for slashing a person diving through a window: its weight and its inertia. First, large heavy shards of glass can fall like guillotines, slicing off body parts. Second, when a person jumps or, even worse, drives a motorcycle through a window, the shards of glass tend to stay in place due to their inertia. The only way to move them is to apply a force. If the person's body provides this force by pushing on the edge of a piece of glass, it can slice right through clothing, skin, and flesh. In the real world, jumping or driving through a plate glass window would be suicidal.
There are individuals who have accidentally fallen through windows without sustaining serious injuries. There are also people who have survived the Ebola virus. However, in both cases the odds are not particularly good.

While the paragraph doesn’t cover double pane, I will point out that with double pane the shards don’t fall out like with single pane. What you get is something that looks like a puckered hole lined with razor blades… the first pane gets smashed, and the second pane stops them from continuing onward as a second force is needed to smash the second pane, and that force HAS to press on the broken glass from the first pane.
Most likely a person going head first through a window with a large run, ends up only halfway through it and sliced up in a way that is usually fatal, or near it.
So I call foul on this part of the story… something is not right…
I basically contend that a man cant jump higher than Magic Johnson while a hand is on their shoulder, and they are in a chair… (I contend that given prime conditions one couldn’t do it the way described). With the added problem of smashing the glass as you go through…
I contend that they dropped him out the window… or the window was open… or something, just not how he described it.