Judge Summons TV Presenter
Published: October 17, 2012 (Issue # 1731)
The established Moscow film critic and TV presenter Kirill Razlogov may be summoned to testify at the Trial of 12 after one of the prosecution experts was dismissed by the Moscow City Court as “unqualified.”
The defense of The Other Russia activists on trial for alleged “extremist activities” has demanded that Razlogov appear in court as the director of the Russian Institute of Cultural Studies to testify about his employees, Vitaly Batov and Natalya Kryukova.
Batov and Kryukova produced highly debatable “expert reports” supporting the investigators’ claims that the men on trial acted as the banned National Bolshevik Party (NBP), rather than legally within The Other Russia, the party that dissident author and political activist Eduard Limonov launched after the NBP was banned.
According to the defense, the two witnesses made their conclusions on questionable grounds and without relevant qualifications, yet their testimonies may lead to prison sentences for the defendants, some of whom face up to three years and some up to two years in prison if found guilty.
Meanwhile, the Moscow City Court last week dismissed Kryukova’s expert report in a different trial and refused to hear her testimony as an expert, referring to her “incompetence.”
On Tuesday, lawyer Gleb Lavrentyev asked Judge Sergei Yakovlev to enter upon the record in the Trial of 12 the Oct. 10 issue of Kommersant daily newspaper with a report about Kryukova’s Moscow dismissal. Yakovlev declined, arguing that the article represented the reporter’s personal opinion.
The investigation turned to the Moscow-based Batov and Kryukova, who have a reputation for being able to find traces of extremism in any materials with which they are presented, after an original local expert concluded that the video recordings secretly made at the group’s meetings by the counter-extremist Center E in 2009 and presented on 27 DVD discs failed to link the group to the NBP.
The defense asked the court to exclude the Socio-Humanitarian Expert Report and the Psychologist Linguistic Expert Report by Batov and Kryukova after the Oct. 2 hearing at which the two were present.
According to defense lawyer Olga Tseitlina, the experts are not qualified to carry out such research, having no qualification or licenses to conduct any research for the court. Kryukova is a math teacher and Batov is a psychologist and cultural studies scholar.
Kryukova and Batov claimed that the research was carried out on behalf of the Russian Institute of Cultural Studies, which is a state-sponsored research institution, but Tseitlina said that the organization had no authority to conduct such research either.
According to the institute’s charter, she pointed out, the organization can only conduct expert analysis of social projects for the Culture Ministry, but not of evidence for a police investigation or court.
Tseitlina also found that Batov and Kryukova’s reports included unreferenced sections of text taken from Wikipedia and from Andrei Fateyev’s monograph “Enemy Image in Soviet Propaganda in 1945-1954,” widely available on the Internet.
She questioned the “psycho-hermeneutics” methodology used by Batov, who admitted at the Oct. 2 hearing that it was his own invention and was not accepted by his fellow researchers. The reports made no mention of scientific methodology used as required by the law, thus making it impossible to be reexamined by different experts.
According to Tseitlina, Batov and Kryukova’s testimony indicated that, in contravention of the law, the experts had used additional materials, such as the NBP’s manifesto and National Bolshevik websites, that were not provided by the investigators.
“By collecting material on their own authority, Batov and Kryukova showed their interest in getting results desirable for the investigation, having done everything they could to prove the guilt of the defendants in committing the actions they were charged with, hence they cannot be considered independent,” Tseitlina concluded.
At the Oct. 9 hearing, Judge Yakovlev neither accepted nor rejected Tseitlina’s motion, saying he had sent an enquiry to director Razlogov, asking him to give a detailed report on the qualification and authority of the experts. The defense lawyers said Yakovlev had done so without consulting them, and they insist on seeing Razlogov in person in order to put their own questions to him as well.
Yakovlev declined the motion for the time being, saying, however, that it could be raised again after receiving a reply from Razlogov.