Russia: 197 Deaths in Custody in 2015

russkaja ebolaProject ‘Russkaya Ebola’ (Russian Ebola), created to monitor deaths at police stations and in temporary and long-term detention facilities, concludes after its first year of work: in 2015, 197 persons died in custody.

In 2015, 197 persons died at police stations and in temporary and long-term detention facilities.

109 persons died at police stations, 42 in temporary detention facilities, 31 in long-term detention facilities. 10 more detainees died in police vehicles. Furthermore, one death occurred in each of the following facilities: a room of an investigation department, the building of the Federal Drug Control Service of Russia, a drunk tank, the Main Directorate for Road Traffic Safety and during an investigative expedition.

Among the deaths, 6 persons came to the police station by themselves, voluntarily; the rest were taken into custody.

The most popular official cause for an in-custody death in 2015 was “a sudden worsening of physical health” – 104 persons. Usually, reports of such cases mention “unclear circumstances” or cardiac arrest caused by a heart attack or a blood clot.

According to the 2015 findings, second place is awarded to suicide – 62 persons. Among other causes of death mentioned are epilepsy – 5 persons; tuberculosis – 3 persons; 2 died from delirium tremens (alcohol withdrawal); 1 more died from poisoning by an unidentified substance; 10 – from traumas, which, as stated by the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ press service, were obtained before arrival at the station. 5 persons suffocated in fires, 1 more was killed by his co-inmates. 4 individuals were killed by police officers.

Among the dead detainees, 45 were in a state of alcoholic drunkenness, 4 – were under the effects of drugs.

Police officers performed first aid in 88 cases. An ambulance was called to every case of death at police stations and temporary and long-term detainment facilities.

Among the dead individuals there were 183 men and 14 women.

Most deaths occurred on Saturdays and Tuesdays – 31 persons, on Fridays – 29, on Mondays and Wednesdays – 28 persons, on Thursdays – 26 persons, and on Sundays – 24 death cases.
19 deaths occurred in January, in February – 17, in March – 21, in April – 18, in May – 29, in June 20, in July – 15, in August – 16, in September – 9, in October – 12, in November – 14, in December 6. The data for the last month was processed at 13.00 on December 31; if new in-custody death reports are to be received, the results will be corrected.

Most often in 2015 detainees died in the following Federal Districts: Central (50 persons), Volga (40), North-West (23), Ural (22), Siberian (22), Far-East (17), South (14), North Caucasus (8), and Crimean (1).

‘Russian Ebola’ puts particular emphasis on several cases of in-custody deaths of Russian citizens in police departments, temporary and long-term detaining facilities.

In January, in Belgorod, police officers beat a person taken into custody. The man died 2 days later at a hospital. The Investigations Service first set up an investigation, then initiated a criminal case. In October, the police officers were found guilty: Aleksandr Goptarev was sentenced to 9 years at a strict regime corrective labour colony; Andrey Volikov was sentenced to 3 years at a general regime colony. According to the case materials read out in court, the details of the incident have become public: Goptarev put handcuffs on the detainee and hit his head against the wall, which caused the man to fall to the floor. Afterward, Volikov and Goptarev started beating him with their arms and legs, took him to the washroom, away from security cameras, and continued kicking him. After that, they pulled the victim out into the corridor and left him lying on the floor. After a certain time, Goptarev, walking by, deliberately stepped on his arms and legs. After several hours, the detainee was placed in a cell. An ambulance took him not before morning.

In July, in the district centre Slantsy (Сланцы) in the Leningrad oblast, a man was invited to give a witness account at a local police department. During the discussion, he admitted to participating in a murder and, having finding a moment when the police officers left him alone in the office, he threw himself out of the window. Pedestrians found him still alive and called an ambulance to the scene; less than one hour later the man died in the intensive care unit. A criminal case to address the death of a witness was never initiated. A lawyer of the international human rights’ group Agora, Vitaliy Cherkasov, appealed against the rejection to build a criminal case.

In Ulyanovsk, 4 persons died during the fire of the Long-Term Detainment Facility #1. The wiring caught fire on August 29 in an isolation cell under renovation – this was caused by inmates, established the attorney at a later date. As reported by a representative of the Federal Penitentiary Service, 3 convicts and 1defendant died. The investigative committee for the incident at the long-term detention facility, built a criminal case on charges of negligence.

In September, Sergey Pestov, the ex-drummer of one of the first soviet rock bands, Zhar-Ptica, died in Dubne (Moscow oblast). As his acquaintances and witnesses of his arrest report, the cause of the musician’s death were physical injuries, that were inflicted by police officers searching for drugs in the rehearsal studio – Pestov’s garage. The drummer passed away at the hospital in an unconscious state. Later, the public prosecution office recognized that his arrest was legal and the investigative committee accused the deceased for managing a crack house. Criminal proceedings regarding his death were not initiated.

On October 31 in Vladikavkaz, Vladimir Tskayev, a local suspected of assaulting an officer of the Special Purpose Mobility Unit of the Police (OMON), was placed under arrest. On the morning of November 1 he died in a hospital. The police reported that the man cause himself self-inflicted damage, beating his head against the floor; however, relatives of the deceased, not believing this version of the story, took to the streets with a large demonstration. After some time, the field investigators suspected of beating Tskayev to death, were arrested. The chief of the city’s Criminal Investigation Department was also arrested; the head of North Ossetia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs was dismissed. Later, the deceased’s neighbour confessed to the assault of an OMON officer.

In the middle of November, at the 26th Police Department of St. Petersburg, after the celebration of the Day of Employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, a drunken operations’ director, Andrey Artemyev, shot a detainee with a service firearm in his office. On the next day, the court sent Artemyev to a long-term detainment facility for two months; he was charged with murder according to Paragraph 1 of Article 105 of the criminal code.

Russian Ebola is a project of the journalist Mariya Beryozina, which deals with monitoring cases of death in forced detention in long-term and temporary detainment facilities, at police departments and in drunk tanks. The project data does not take into account sentenced prisoners. Russian Ebola only calculates the death toll among arrestees on criminal and administrative charges, in whose place any adult resident of Russia can find themselves at any given time.

The name of the project was taken from an article under the same name of Oleg Kashin.

The first account of Russian Ebola occurred in Mediazona, on April 1, 2015.



Translated from:

Originally published on 01.01.2016 on Медиазона.

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