Officers Fail to Recognize Activists on Trial

Officers Fail to Recognize Activists on Trial

Published: May 23, 2012 (Issue # 1709)

Prosecution witnesses gave contradicting testimonies as the trial against 12 opposition activists — dubbed “the Trial of the Twelve” — continued Tuesday.

The activists, who belong to The Other Russia party, have been charged with organizing or conducting activities of the banned National Bolshevik Party (NBP). Some face up to two and others up to four years in prison. All of them deny the charges, saying they have acted legally within the Other Russia coalition and then the Other Russia party since the ban.

Three of the five police officers who the prosecution brought to the Vyborgsky District Court on Tuesday failed to recognize the activists and, when they were read the activists’ names, said they did not know them.

After every testimony the prosecutor asked the judge to read aloud the earlier testimonies given to the investigators in October because of “significant contradictions” to what they had said in the courtroom.

Their earlier testimonies contained all the names of the defendants and accused them of being “active NBP members.” Moreover, the excerpts from the testimonies of all three officers turned out to be identical.

Although their testimonies date to mid-October 2011, police officers Sergei Moshkov, Yury Nikitin and Vladimir Nikitin justified themselves by saying that they had forgotten the activists because it was “a long time ago” and they had made “very many detentions” since that time.

Moshkov said he listed the names when testifying to the investigation because he was shown photographs and had been told the names of the activists by an interrogator. The policemen said they had heard the activists belonged to the NBP from their colleagues or at their weekly meetings, but failed to give the names of those officers.

Each of them claimed, however, that they saw banned NBP flags at Strategy 31 rallies in 2010.

Much of the time was devoted to Strategy 31, a nonpartisan campaign that defends the right of assembly.

Although it was launched in St. Petersburg in January 2010, more than two years after the NBP was banned, the prosecution insists that the protests were really NBP party rallies.

According to the indictment, Strategy 31 has been “aimed at expressing intolerance toward the senior leaders of state authority as well as toward the popularization of the extremist activities of [the NBP].”

What the three policemen said contradicted the testimony of Andrei Fyodorov, the officer in charge of providing security at the city’s public events, who has frequently been seen at Strategy 31 rallies. Fyodorov said that the activists used NBP paraphernalia, such as flags and armbands, for about six months after the party was banned in 2007, but stopped when they started getting detained for using them.

Police officer Makhir Iskenderov said he remembered only Andrei Pesotsky and Vadim Mamedov, adding that they were frequently detained near Gostiny Dvor (Strategy 31’s site) for “disorderly conduct.” He also said he saw the two giving away newspapers on the site, but did not detain them because it was legal. He said he did not remember what the NBP’s banned paraphernalia looked like.

During the Friday session, Nikolai Strumentov, the City Hall official responsible for authorizing public events, was interrogated. He said he had seen no NBP paraphernalia at Strategy 31 rallies, adding that he had seen Yabloko Democratic Party paraphernalia there.

The next session is scheduled for Friday.

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