Officials: Driver Stabbed Himself 5 Times in Suicide
Published: December 26, 2012 (Issue # 1741)
A bizarre claim made by the Investigative Committee concerning the death of a man involved in a road-traffic accident has led to multiple arrests and at least five jail terms.
An estimated 200 gathered on Pionerskaya Ploshchad on Sunday to await news concerning the death of Grigory Kochnev, who the Investigative Committee said stabbed himself five times in the chest after a traffic incident on Dec. 17.
On Tuesday, a local court heard cases of those detained on Pionerskaya Ploshchad. Five of those detained were given three-day prison terms plus hefty fines, while the rest were fined or had their cases sent to their local courts.
According to human rights lawyer Dinar Idrisov, about 10 people were waiting for their cases to be heard when this paper went to press on Tuesday evening.
Kochnev’s relatives insist that he was killed by the men who were in the other car and are demanding a proper investigation and the arrest of the attackers.
Eighty were detained by the police and charged with organizing an unsanctioned rally and failure to obey a police officer’s lawful orders despite witnesses and reporters, who were on the scene, reporting that they had no posters or megaphones and simply discussed the situation rather than held a rally.
Video reports from the scene also show people being detained for no apparent reason by policemen who do not introduce themselves or give any reasons for detentions, as required by law.
“I was in shock when they started detaining people,” video blogger Andrei Smirnov, who broadcasted the gathering on the web, said by phone Tuesday.
“There was not a single poster and not a single shout, nothing at all. These weren’t the kind of people who go to protests, they were purely random who were simply concerned about the situation. Timid, scared of everything.”
Some of the detained are shown on the videos asking the police officers for their IDs and the reasons for the detention, and shouting that they are being detained illegally when the officers continue taking them to the police buses, ignoring their requests.
About 50 were left to spend the night in the police precinct, while a number of those whose cases were not heard Monday were held for a second night.
The fines are reported to be 10,000 to 20,000 rubles ($330-$655). Some of the detained were not released by the police and were awaiting the trial in the evening Tuesday.
Lawyer Idrisov criticized the rulings as “illegal,” saying that the kind of assembly that was held on Sunday did not require any authorization by law.
“The police had no grounds for detaining people and shutting down the assembly,” he said.
“[The law] gives grounds for the police to disperse an event only in case of mass violations of public order and creating a threat to public safety, such as turning the event into mass riots. There was no threat to public order.
“People gathered peacefully to discuss the situation about the [initial] refusal of the Investigative Committee to investigate the case, the refusal of the Investigative Committee’s investigators to speak with the relatives and with the misinformation about the alleged suicide that the Investigative Committee disseminated.”
The Investigative Committee’s Dec. 19 report about a man dying as the result of stabbing himself in the chest five times after a traffic incident caused a wave of disbelief and criticism.
The media cited a witness who said he saw a man being punched while passing the site in his car. Kochnev’s relatives said they did not believe in his suicide, saying he was into sports and had two daughters, a 2- and a 4-year old. He was reported to be on his way to take his daughters from the kindergarten when the incident took place.
Two days later, on Dec. 21, the Investigative Committee said a murder investigation was opened.
On Monday, the Investigative Committee’s spokesman told Interfax that Kochnev had been twice under trial on drug distribution charges, and was recently hospitalized with psychotropic drug poisoning.
“Even if that really is the case, it in no way diminishes the right of society and the victim’s relatives to demand that the murderer be found and a fair and objective investigation be conducted,” Idrisov said.
“In any case, a person died under rather strange circumstances, but instead of probing into the situation, the Investigative Committee started to soft-pedal it. This is exactly what brought about the public uproar.”