11 February 2020
Lev Shlosberg, human rights activist, public figure, deputy of the Pskov Regional Assembly of Deputies, journalist, laureate of the MHG Prize for human rights
Source: Moscow Helsinki Group [original source: Ekho Moskvy]
On 10 February, the Russian police state announced its most brutal sentences of this century so far. The ‘troika’ military district court in Penza sentenced 7 young people to imprisonment from 6 to 18 years for crimes that they did not commit (namely organising and participation in a terrorist community).
The confessions were extracted using prolonged torture by uniformed sadists who threatened to mutilate or kill the suspects themselves and their relatives, particularly their wives or girlfriends. They were threatened with being taken out, raped, slaughtered and buried. Each refusal to confess was followed by an electric shock and a beating. ‘If the investigator tells you to cut off and eat your finger, you will cut off and eat your finger.’
When the victims told their lawyers of the torture, under torture they were forced to withdraw their true testimony. All the evidence taken from the defendants is void, but the military court ‘troika’ copied the indictments and read out the verdict, but only its introduction and substantive provisions. Most of the sentence was not even read out in the courtroom.
“You have half an hour left to live if you confess, and maybe one and a half if you don’t,” is what these amoral monsters said to their victims. The tales of FSB torture survivors differ from the Nuremberg trial transcripts only in that these people haven’t been killed afterwards. Yet.
How do these blood-stained court sentences (in the literal sense: they’re written with the blood of forced confessions) differ from the court sentences of ‘troikas’ in the 1930s? They don’t. How are the 21st-century executioners different from those of the 1930s? They aren’t. These are pathological sadists who came to work in the law enforcement agencies to satisfy their craving for animalistic violence. It is these non-humans who act on behalf of the state: they threaten people on behalf of the state, they torture people on behalf of the state, and they kill on behalf of the state. And they want to go unpunished.
Many of the young people who have been sentenced to long sentences today identify as anti-fascists. The executioners who tortured them call themselves the successors of Dzerzhinsky and Vyshinsky. ‘Confession is the queen of evidence.’ So who in this situation is the fascist?
Translated by Alice Lee