This week our guest is Olga Sadovskaya of the Nizhny Novgorod human rights NGO, Committee against Torture, which is led by Igor Kalyapin. Olga Sadovskaya is the head of the Committee’s department for international legal protection. Since its establishment in 2000, the Committee against Torture has undergone many changes but continues to be one of the leading human rights organizations in Russia and has never changed its focus which remains working to prevent torture in police custody.
This podcast is in the Russian language.
The music is from Stravinsky’s Elegy for Solo Viola, played here by Karolina Errera.
Sergei Nikitin writes on Facebook: “I first heard about the Committee Against Torture many years ago: Amnesty International took part in the Mikheev Case, which Nizhny Novgorod human rights activists had taken up. It was while working on the Mikheev case that Nizhny Novgorod human rights defenders decided to establish a specialized organization – the Committee against Torture.
On 26 June – the International Day of Support to Victims of Torture – activists from the Committee Against Torture and Amnesty International would take part in joint public events: in Moscow I had the chance to participate in several. That’s when I met almost all the Committee’s staff.
Yesterday Simon Cosgrove and I spent a whole hour in conversation with Olga Sadovskaya, head of the department for international legal protection at the Committee against Torture. Alas, in all the years that have passed since the creation of the Committee Against Torture, the problem has become no less important. The Levada Center informs us that one in ten Russians has faced violence or the threat of violence from law enforcement agencies. And prosecutions of police officers, even where violations have been publicised, are extremely rare. Even less often do they reach trial and sentencing. Igor Kalyapin told me of the sad ‘record’ of their practice: how many times prosecutors have rejected the human rights defenders demands! I admire the Committee’s persistent pursuit of a noble cause: it helps victims to restore justice. Alas, the state seems to be less and less prepared to cooperate with the human rights defenders, but they do not give up.”
The podcast is in Russian. You can also hear these podcasts on Podcasts.com, Spotify and iTunes. Music from “Elegy Stravinsky for Solo Viola” by Caroline Herrera.
Simon Cosgrove adds: If you want to listen to this podcast on the podcasts.com website and it doesn’t seem to play, please download by clicking on the three dots to the right. A summary of some of the week’s events in Russia relevant to human rights can be found on our website here.
Translated from the website of the Committee Against Torture (https://www.pytkam.net): “In 1998 the prosecutor’s office for Nizhny Novgorod region responded to human rights defenders’ complaints about torture by the police, in which, among other things, it stated: ‘”Facts” of the use of “torture” on the territory of the region have not been established.’ This document served as the basis for the establishment of the Nizhny Novgorod Committee against Torture in 2000. Since then, the word ‘torture’ has been used by Nizhny Novgorod prosecutors without quotes, and the concept has become an established fact. Also without the quotes. Over time, the Committee against Torture began to work in other regions of Russia, using its own methodology for conducting public investigations. Thanks to the work of the organization’s lawyers, by February 2020 147 law enforcement officers had been convicted for the very ‘facts of torture,’ the existence of which was denied by the Nizhny Novgorod prosecutor’s office. In January 2015, the Ministry of Justice entered the Committee against Torture in the register of non-profit organizations acting as a foreign agent. Accordingly, on 1 August 2015, members of the organization decided to dissolve it. On 3 August 2015, the Committee for the Prevention of Torture began work. However, in January 2016 the Ministry of Justice also included this organization in the register of ‘foreign agents.’ In this connection, the members of the organization also decided to liquidate it. Currently, the organization works under its historical name of Committee against Torture without a legal entity.