Thursday, December 22, 2011

Petersburg Activist Filipp Kostenko Sentenced to Another 15 Days in Jail

Dec. 23, 2011 Avtonom

On December 22, Judge E.K. Yermolina of the 153rd Judicial Precinct [in
Saint Petersburg] sentenced Filipp Kostenko, an anarchist activist and
employee of the human rights organization Memorial Anti-Discrimination
Center, to another fifteen days of administrative arrest. For his
involvement in mass protests against the rigged elections, Kostenko had
already served fifteen days in jail, but in violation of procedure he
was not released [as scheduled, on December 21]. As we have previously
reported, the decision for Kostenko’s compulsory delivery to court was
sent to the administration of the detention facility [where he was
serving his first sentence] a few minutes before his anticipated
release. This decision was made due to the fact that Kostenko had failed
to appear in court [on December 9], although at that time he was serving
fifteen days of administrative arrest.

This time, the activist was charged under Article 20.1.1 (petty
disorder) for allegedly using foul language two months ago, on October
16, outside the 43rd Police Precinct. According to witnesses, on this
day Philip had brought food parcels for detainees [at the precinct]. He
was arrested and taken into the precinct building, although he had not
disturbed the peace. There are a number of witnesses who can confirm
this, and a video of his arrest also exists.

The court hearing lasted four hours, including recesses. An officer
from the Extremism Prevention Center [Center "E"] was in attendance as a
“spectator” the entire time, and from the very outset there was the
sense that the most adverse ruling was a preordained outcome. For no
reason at all, the judge rejected all motions made on behalf of the
defendant, including motions to give the defense adequate time to
prepare its case and to call witnesses. The judge granted only one
motion by the defense: to admit V.V. Kostyushev, a professor at the
Petersburg branch of the Higher School for Economics, as a public defender.

Because, in the court’s opinion, there were no grounds for “not
trusting the reports filed by police officers that Filipp Kostenko had
disturbed the peace by expressing a clear disrespect for society, which
was accompanied by swearing in a public place,” the judge also rejected
a motion to summon the [arresting] officers to verify their testimony
and cross-examine them. In contrast to the reports filed by the police
officers, the oral testimony of defense witnesses, who personally
appeared in court, was not acknowledged as credible by the judge.

Despite numerous procedural violations, the lack of any real evidence
(except for the evidence of the police reports, which Judge Yermolina
found “compelling”), and an energetic defense, it was obvious to all
present that the judge would give Kostenko the maximum possible
sentence. The judge was not even troubled by the presence in the
courtroom of numerous spectators and journalists (who, incidentally,
were strictly forbidden from photographing anything or even making audio

Consequently, Judge Yermolina sentenced Kostenko to another fifteen
days of arrest, and he has again been delivered to the detention
facility at Zakharievskaya, 6. In the coming days, his attorney will
file an appeal against this decision, as well as filing a new complaint
with the European Court of Human Rights in connection with this new,
illegal arrest (a violation of Article 6 of the European Convention on
Human Rights) [see below].
After this latest court decision was announced, Kostenko ended his
sixteen-day hunger strike because all those detained during the
post-election demonstrations in Saint Petersburg had been released, with
the exception of Kostenko himself.

In the absence of an independent and impartial judiciary, the continued
detention of Filipp Kostenko is obviously politically motivated. For all
intents and purposes, [the state] is continuing to persecute Kostenko
for his involvement in protest actions.

From a report on the hearing published on Free Voina:

Our correspondent reports from the courtroom:

Despite all the efforts of the defense, and despite the very clear
testimonies from witnesses in favor of the defendant, Philip was
sentenced to 15 more days in jail. This was definitely orchestrated by
Center E. The judge was very pushy the entire time. It was obvious that
she had made her decision long ago, and having to actually listen to us
was merely an annoyance to her.

Earlier today, BBC journalist Nick Sturdee reported:

Philip is being charged with “petty hooliganism” (article 20.1) for
allegedly using profane language. The incident happened back in October
when he visited police station #43 to pass a food parcel to the
detainees. The police detained Philip without stating a reason, but they
ended up not charging him with anything back then. Philip denies the
charges. The three police witnesses have testified against him. The
judge has now left to make a decision. Philip looks weak and yellow, but
mood is ok. Everyone expects more jail time for him, though.

Oleg Vorotnikov comments:

Philip is one of the rare few who never use profane language at all.

Leonid Nikolaev, who also attended the hearing, reports:

The judge was biased. It was obvious from the beginning. Everyone was
shocked by the incredibly rude manner in which she conducted the
hearing. At one point, a defense attorney pleaded that Philip was unable
to participate in the hearing due to poor health (because of his 15-day
hunger strike). In response, the judge inquired whether it was the jail
personnel who starved him, or if he did it on his own accord. This is a
gross violation of the procedure. The judge is only supposed to take
into account the defendant’s present condition, not the reasons that
caused it. Philip was definitely unfit to participate in court
proceedings. He was weak, did not ask questions nor make motions to the
court, and when giving his testimony, he could barely stand.

The last witness of the defense was this pleasant, very civilized
fellow. He somehow managed to induce rage in the judge even before he
had a chance to open his mouth. She was incredibly pushy with him,
especially because whenever she demanded something from him, he replied
with “all right”. For some reason, she chose to interpret that as though
he was making a judgement on whether her demands were right or wrong.
The poor fellow almost got thrown out of the courtroom because of this.

I kept looking for a way for Philip to escape. At one point the guards
got distracted, so I suggested that he go downstairs, hop on my bike and
get out of there. Turned out he was too weak for that. Damn hunger strike.

When the judge left the room after announcing her decision, the public
started expressing its outrage out loud. Suddenly the judge barged back
in and commanded the court guards to “write them up”. The guards grabbed
a frail girl, activist of the Parents of St. Petersburg movement, and
took her away. They are writing her up right now, and chances are she
will be in jail with Philip before the end of the day.

The arrested girl is Leda Garina, a film director and a friend of
Philip. She is reported to have been released after being fined 1000 RUB
(30 USD).



Forwarded by
Anarchist Black Cross of Moscow
abc-msk A riseup D net
P.O. Box 13 109028 Moscow Russia

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