Saturday, April 09, 2011

Report from court hearings of “Khimki hostages”

Apr8, 2011


On March 14 and 23, 2010 two court hearings in the case of antifascists Alexei Gaskarov and Maxim Solopov who were accused of organizing attack on the Khimki City Administration, took place at the Khimki City Court.

Accusation against Alexei and Maxim is absurd and based on false evidence of three alleged eyewitnesses identifying them as persons participated in the riots. However, during the investigation Alexei Gaskarov, Institute of Collective Action correspondent, passed a polygraph test which showed that he didn’t lie and participated in the riots. Besides, the case materials contain a large number of photos and detailed video which completely refute the Prosecution’s Case.

As for Maxim, he doesn’t deny his participation in the action; however he notes that he hasn’t committed any unlawful acts. His arguments are supported by a number of witness testimonies as well as he isn’t also
captured in the photos and videos. The State Prosecution alleges that he was in mask, its argument is supported by the testimony of three witnesses.

During the preliminary hearing Prosecutor Olga Egorova read out the indictment which Solopov and Gaskarov disagreed with and noted that none of investigators’ arguments was supported by evidence against the suspects. The trial was postponed to March 23 due to the absence of key witnesses and
victims’ representative.

Besides, it was revealed that Shevelev, representative of the aggrieved party (Khimki Administration), who had also failed to appear in court, wasn’t currently the Administration employee.

During the second hearing one of the key witnesses, resident of Yubileinoye town (Moscow region) Alexei Pitel was questioned. He and his friend Maxim Khramov, another prosecution witness, accidentally found themselves in Khimki, having arrived there from the center of Moscow by car together with two girls they were barely familiar with. According to the witnesses, the girls “flaked” them, but along the way they encountered a column of antifascists going to attack the Khimki Administration. It should be noted that Pitel had extremely bad memory and answered “I don’t remember” to most questions. Thus, he hasn’t remembered what the girls and the Administration looked like. He also didn’t recognized Maxim Solopov in court although he had identified him during the investigation and confrontation procedures. At the same time Solopov stated that he had never seen Pitel and the confrontation procedure had been carried out with another person.

The only one Pitel has remembered for 8 months after the events of July 28 was Alexei Gaskarov who had allegedly thrown something into the Administration building, then while passing by Pitel, had taken off the
mask. However he has remembered neither his face nor the color of the mask.

When Pitel’s testimony, given during the preliminary investigation, identification and confrontation procedures, was read out at the request of the State Prosecution, it was revealed that Pitel had remembered Gaskarov’s face because he hadn’t been wearing the mask at the moment of the commission of the unlawful acts. However he identified him by his body features. He hasn’t remembered what Gaskarov was wearing.

It should be noted that during the hearing it was revealed that Pitel had been tried for theft several years before.

Two other prosecution witnesses Sergey Smirnov and Anastasiya Krivoshanova, journalists, public activists, and spouses, changed their testimony given during the preliminary investigation. They explained that they had been forced to testify against Solopov and Gaskarov due to threats and psychological pressure exerted on them by investigators. According to Smirnov and Krivoshanova, first investigators attempted to force them to testify against Yevgenia Chirikova, leader of the Khimki Forest Protection Movement, and a famous antifascist Alexei Olesinov, however they later ceased to mention them. Sergey and Anastasia filed a complaint about pressure exerted on them during the preliminary investigation to the Prosecutor’s Office; however it has refused to initiate criminal proceedings against the investigators.

The next hearing, where the remaining prosecution witnesses are to be questioned as well as the defense witnesses’ questioning is to begin, is scheduled to take place at the Khimki City Court on April 14.

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