Driving inspectorate investigates the incident with Russian driver after ERB’s appeal

Minsk driving inspectors stopped a Russian citizen for speeding in the centre of Minsk on March 13. The victim accuses inspectors of demanding a bribe from him. Policemen say that the guy is lying and is trying to take his revenge for the equitable punishment, They are not afraid of the complaint he has sent to court. However, the republican driving inspectorate has started a check-up of the incident after a phone call made by ERB. The Russian guest Sergei Ostrovskii told ERB (he described everything in his livejournal later) that the driving inspectors who stopped him made him get in their car and started threatening him with the consequences of taking away his driving license.

Sergei Osrovskii: “They started telling scary stories and said I would not be able to return to Moscow because they were going to take away my driving license and give me a temporary one that would not be valid in Russia. They said that I did not need all those problems because the license would take a lot of time to be sent to me, etc. I asked them to conduct the protocol quicker and noted that I would mention my disagreement and the fact that they were dropping hints about a bribe”.

According to the young man, this phrase resulted in his beating.

Sergei Ostrovskii: “One of the driving inspectors sitting in the rear clasped my neck and pressed my cheek against an elbow-rest. The one sitting on the right hit me in the face with his palm several times”.

The victim said that the policemen immediately stopped a car with the future witness and showed him a pocket he was accused of tearing off the uniform of one of the policemen and a portable radio transmitter dropped on the ground. Sergei and his friends could have settled the problem but they did what they had threatened and mentioned the fact that the driving inspectors tried to make them give them a bribe and described the beating in the protocol. That is why he was delivered to the District Department of the Interior. Then he had to go though an alcohol blood test.  During all that time he was not allowed to phone a lawyer and turn to the Russian consulate.

Sergei Ostrovskii: “Policemen in the District Department of the Interior did not react to my request to register the traces of the beating, to let me turn to the consulate of the Russian Federation and to call a lawyer. Nobody cared about it”.

Then he had to spend several hours in “a monkey-house”. The guy from an educated Saint Petersburg family described it in a very emotional way.

Sergei Ostrovskii: “Policemen treat everyone with unwanted familiarity, use only foul language and do not treat you as a person. The cell is dirty and the bench is 30 cm long. The light is dim and they do not allow you to read anything. You just sit there waiting for nothing because you do not know when they let you off and what you have been imprisoned for”.

The guy spent that night in the confinement cell and was brought to Central District Court in the morning. Understanding that further resistance may lead to “days of detention” and pleading guilty wuold only lead to a fine he had “to confess”. The trial was conducted by judge Paulyuchuk. Then the young man was told that she punished him according to the article she liked to use against young opposition activists.

Sergei Ostrovskii: “I was accused of using bad language and disobedience to the police which should not be done. Later I found out that the judge usually conducted trials of all Belarusian opposition members and that the accusation was standard – she simply typed my name in the form”.

The Russian driver is not going to put up with the incident. He has already sent complaints to the Belarusian Ministry of Internal Affaires and is going to send an appeal to the Russian Ministry of Foreign affaires. He is going to sue the Belarusian driving inspectorate.

A lawyer Vera Stromkovskaya has assured ERB that a Russian citizen Sergei Ostrovskii turned to her asking to protect his interests in Belarus. However, she refused to give any comments. She said she did not have all the materials of the case and had not managed to read them. But she said that a person sure of having suffered for no reason should assert his or her rights.

Vera Stromkovskaya: “People can and should assert their rights. However, the complaints should be grounded and it’s quite another matter. The real events should be assessed on the whole before sending an appeal to court. I will be able to give comments when I receive the documents”.

ERB turned to Minsk Central District Court on Friday, April 18. We were told that the judge Tatstsyana Paulyuchuk was on a sick leave. However, only the judge who pronounced the decision can comment on it. If she pleases.

The deputy head of Central District Department of the Interior Victar Syramolat has refused to comment of the incident with Sergei Ostrovskii. He says nobody forbids him to send complaints to court.

Vіctar Syramolat: “Nobody can forbid a citizen to complain about the actions of this and that state organ if they think that their rights were violated. It’s quite another matter whether his complains are impartial or not. That is why I am not going to comment on that incident”.

The press officer of Central District Department of the Interior says that the guy got an equitable punishment and is simply trying to take his revenge on the Belarusian police.

Svyatlana Kapkova: “According to the law, the evidence of policemen is a proof in criminal and administrative cases. So, if policemen bring us a young man who did not behave in an adequate way and make a protocol of the incident we have no reason to doubt it. The court pronounced its decision and I do not think anything should be discussed now. The guy is just impudent because he cannot put up with the fact that he insulted a policeman and was punished for it. Maybe such attitude to policeman is allowed in Russia and Russian policemen allow it. But it is inadmissible in Belarus”.

She also doubted that doctors who arrived in the District Department of the Interior refused to inspect Sergei Ostrovskii’s blows.

Svyatlana Kapkova: “It is ridiculous! They do not refuse homeless people if they complain about health. They take them to hospital. No doubt they would have taken him to hospital and checked if he had blows, bruises or was just feeling bad if he had complained”.

According to her, the District Office of the Public Prosecutor has not received any complaints from him yet. She said they would conduct a check-up if they received it.

The head of the republican driving inspectorate Yury Litvin confessed to ERB that he had decided to study all the documents of the case after our phone call. It took him an hour to talk to the inspectors who detained the Russian citizen, to the witnesses and the doctors who conducted the alcohol blood test for Sergei Ostrovskii. This is what he said to ERB.

Yuryi Lіtvіn: “We have organized a check-up according to his complaint. It is being performed by the personal security service and I ordered to conduct it. I have all the materials on my table – copies of the documents of the case. I have talked to our inspectors and they reported me what had happened. There are private persons who gave evidence because it was a conflict situation. There are doctors who conducted a medical check-up. We will check it”.

He advised us to take our time before making conclusions. ERB will be watching the events.