Oct 10, 2021
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Protesters to pay for police work at rallies

In the photo: police officers detain a participant in an uncoordinated rally in support of Alexei Navalny on a street in Novosibirsk, January 31, 2021.

In the photo: police officers detain a participant in an uncoordinated rally in support of Alexei Navalny on a street in Novosibirsk, January 31, 2021. (Photo: Kirill Kukhmar / TASS)

The Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the Novosibirsk Region requires a deputy of the City Council Anton Kartavin and blogger Timur Khanov compensation for overtime work on the day off. They were recognized by the court as organizers of the protest action in support of political prisoners, which took place on January 31 in the Siberian capital. On that day, the police had to stand in cordon instead of rest.

The amount of the claim filed with the Oktyabrsky District Court of Novosibirsk is impressive – more than 3 million rubles. For work at an “uncoordinated public event”, the police authorities demand 3.01 million rubles, plus 13 thousand rubles – the cost of gasoline. The excessive consumption of fuel is explained by the fact that employees of the regional department of the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs were brought in from as many as 11 municipalities.

Characteristic to do. At the action itself, neither Kartavin nor Khanov was present – they were in a temporary detention center (IVS). The deputy was serving a 10-day sentence for violation of Part 2 of Art. 20.2 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation – for organizing a public event without notification, Khanov was placed under arrest for 7 days under the same article for posting a video on the Internet announcing a protest action.

According to observers’ estimates, up to 4 thousand people took part in the mass protests on January 31 in Novosibirsk, according to the internal affairs bodies – from 800 to 1 thousand. The events were accompanied by a number of scandals: one of the employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs was accused by the press of attacking a journalist of the NGS portal Alena Istomina – it was reported that a policeman, who was cordoned off in Pervomaisky square, hit the girl with a truncheon on a mobile phone.

In addition, another resident of the city was detained some time later at the end of the march near the Gagarinskaya metro station. In total, on that day, the police took to the police station about 40 townspeople who, as people in uniform assume, participated in an unauthorized action.

This is not the first case in the region. Earlier, the heads of the Novosibirsk police already demanded compensation for expenses for unscheduled work during the march demanding the release of Navalny on January 23. Then they wanted to get money from a former State Duma deputy Arkady Yankovsky, city council deputy Sergei Boyko and his assistants – Elena Noskovets and Kirill Levchenko, as well as several activists accused of violating the rest regime of law enforcement officers. The amount of claims amounted to 2.78 million rubles, plus 4.6 thousand compensation for fuel costs.

According to the deputy of the Novosibirsk City Council Anton Kartavin, the new lawsuit of the security officials is a form of pressure on opposition figures:

– This is part of a general wave of influence on activists, who are sometimes forced to leave the country because of the criminal cases initiated, but in fact political.

“SP”: – Is your situation limited by the Novosibirsk region, or somewhere else the police decided to collect money from public figures for the protests?

– My history is “federal” – it refers not only to our region. At the moment, there are about a dozen similar cases in other cities – Penza, Yaroslavl and Omsk, where the sentences on fines have already been passed. At the same time, the court rejected the claim in Ufa. This is a big campaign of pressure on those who disagree. The next on the path of the power machine may be representatives of the systemic opposition – the same Communist Party.

“SP”: – Will you raise the issue at a meeting of the City Council?

– We may initiate a letter from a group of deputies condemning this practice. But we must assume: the decision on these claims was made at the very top, and, I believe, any legal norms will be distorted during these proceedings in the most possible way.

Lawyer Dmitry Agranovsky believes that the Novosibirsk story is a continuation of the high-profile Moscow litigation two years ago.

– The leadership of the Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Novosibirsk Region is guided by the Moscow experience of 2019, when similar applications were filed in court against Lyubov Sobol, Ilya Yashin and some other persons. For all my antipathy towards those figures (I think they have no place in Russian politics), I am deeply convinced that this measure of influence on the part of the authorities is completely unacceptable. For example, in a similar way, it can be assumed that, for example, to the hardened criminals, murderers, the Ministry of Internal Affairs will also issue a bill for their detention. And what will we get as a result ?!

“SP”: – In the courts, what can they be guided by when such claims are satisfied?

– In our state, the opposition is viewed not as an integral element of the democratic system, but as an enemy who, if he does not surrender, is destroyed. Therefore, rallies and protests, which the state should perceive as public signals, are perceived as hostile attacks. These decisions of the courts follow from this logic.

“SP”: – Does this practice lead to the undermining of the legal system?

– Such phenomena will sooner or later lead to the collapse of the entire system. Such anomalies lead to the fact that the authorities make decisions based on false premises. For example, those at the top are not just trying to present falsified election results as true, but they themselves believe in the reality of the announced data. This shakes the entire mechanism – and everyone will suffer from the collapse, and not only those who are at the very top.

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