28 January 2021
How do authorities justify police violence in peaceful protests? When does the law allow you to ignore the demands of representatives?
Maryana Torocheshnikova: According to a tradition that has become well established in recent years, after almost any protest in Russia, criminal cases are launched, searches are carried out and arrests are made. The protests end up in mass arrests, often at random. At the same time, the police do not shirk from distributing blows with truncheons. January 23rd, when thousands of people took to the streets across the country, was no exception. […] Dialling in by video link from St. Petersburg is Ivan Pavlov, lawyer and founder of “Team 29” and winner of the Moscow Helsinki Group prize. Ivan, how is the story around Margarita Yudina developing? Are they still launching a criminal case against the policeman who kicked her?
Ivan Pavlov: We will take all measures to ensure that justice prevails in this matter. For security reasons, we have not yet disclosed all the planned actions, because we feel that the authorities are doing their best to quash this case and not pursue it.
Maryana Torocheshnikova: Actually, about ten years ago in St. Petersburg there was a positive example when the so-called “Pearl Ensign” was brought to trial for his unreasonable use of violence against protesters. How are protest actions in St. Petersburg now? How much protection is needed from cases of police violence?
Ivan Pavlov: The protests that took place were of course accompanied by violence by law enforcement agencies that I would say was unjustified and disproportionate. Many observers note that the detentions were very harsh. And here, of course, human rights defenders will have big claims against those who organized the security during these events. There really were a lot of detentions. I think this is commensurate with the detentions that took place at protests over both the Moscow case and as the Bolotnaya Square case. The government is constantly learning, it considers all the options that the organizers of these events have and tries to disrupt them. And they now have a lot of resources to combat these events. […}
Translated by Matthew Quigley