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    14 years behind bars without fair trial. What did Strasbourg rule in the case of Pichugin? | 18 Jun 2017

    Alexey PichuginOn 19th of June, 2017 it will be 14 years since a wrongfully convicted Aleksey Pichugin recognized by the Civil Rights Society «Memorial» (Moscow) to be a political prisoner has been confined in prison.

    The fact that a former employee of YUKOS company is serving life in prison without any legal grounds has been already established by two judgements of the European Court of Human Rights.

    14 years behind bars without fair decision of the court, of which 8 years spent under the stringent conditions of a penal colony «Black dolphin». In my opinion, it can be only comparable with sentences of Stalin era.

    The political prisoner was convicted twice in violation of the right to fair trial envisaged in art. 6 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

    And it means that the sentence passed on 6th of August, 2007 by a judge of the Moscow City Court Pyotr Shtunder (as well as by a judge Nataliya Olikhver on 30th of March, 2005) should be revoked, as has been already written about by the portal HRO.org.

    That is the point, but not a 15-thousand Euro monetary compensation, which was reported by overwhelming majority of mass media, while keeping silence about the main thing. Why half-truth has spread in mass media is a separate topic. Indeed, the violations revealed are so overarching and flagrant, that keeping silent about them means, from my perspective, saying no word about the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights.

    So, what exactly did Strasbourg Court rule in the case of Pichugin?

    The decision of the European Court of Human Rights, the Russian translation whereof has been published, firstly, mentions contravention of the principle of presumption of innocence. It is one of the underlying principles of criminal proceeding. Person cannot be considered guilty, unless his/her guilt is proven by due process of law and established by effective court verdict.

    According to the facts set out in the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights, on 5th of June, 2005, i.e. just on the next day after charging Pichugin within his second criminal case, statements about Alekseys guilt were made in a live broadcast of federal TV-channels.

    Such proposition statements were expressed by Vladimir Kolesnikov, then holding a position of the Deputy Prosecutor-General of RF, and Yuriy Burtovoy, being a chief of an investigation team in the case of Pichugin.

    By the way, Aleksey pointed at this as early as on 9th of July, 2007 during a session of the Moscow City Court: «As far back as at the stage of pre-trial investigation under this criminal case on 5th of June, 2005 the Deputy Prosecutor-General Kolesnikov V.V. made statements on TV-channels ORT and NTV about my guilt under the charges filed against me in this case. Moreover, as early as at the stage of pre-trial investigation on 11th of September, 2005 in a television program ’The moment of truth’ (Moment istiny) on the channel TVTs a chief of investigation team Burtovoy Yu.A. made statements about my guilt under the charges filed against me in this case, by virtue whereof I had to withdraw from consideration of my case by a jury court».

    At that moment, the case was just expected to be heard at the Moscow City Court and Aleksey was going to request the jury court to examine it. However, because of those TV programs he had to resign such right of his. After all, the jury is also television audience, they could have seen statements of the accusers on TV. And well in advance, before the judicial trial, they could have formed an opinion about guiltiness of the accused.

    In due time Pichugin also tried to appeal against the actions of accusers at the reasonable level, having resorting to Tverskoy and Basmanniy District Courts of Moscow. However, Tverskoy Court found that the disclosed information purportedly had been ascertained by investigation and confirmed by the criminal case files, while the Deputy Prosecutor-General had acted on legal grounds and had not infringed the rights of applicant.

    Basmanniy Court also rejected a complaint on the ground that the declaration of Burtovoy was purportedly his own opinion.

    Secondly, the European Court of Human Rights declared illegal a refusal of the Moscow City Court to entertain an opinion of a handwriting expert Volodina. It was referred to authorship of the note with address in Vienna of one of the affected persons in the case  a manager of the Austrian company «East Petroleum Handels» Evgeniy Rybin. The investigation imputed that note upon Aleksey Pichigun. As though he had written and handed it over to crime committers.

    On the other hand, Volodina reached the conclusion that specimens of the criminal defendants handwriting presented for comparative analysis were insufficient to make any conclusion. In the course of 2007 judicial proceedings Aleksey petitioned for carrying out new expert examination, but a presiding justice Pyotr Shtunder denied a petition, having explained that there was no need in additional expert examination.

    The decision in a case «Pichugin v. Russia» delivered by Strasbourg Court is final and without appeal. On the day of its publishing, 6th of June, the Ministry of Justice of Russia hurried to declare that the judgement of Strasbourg Court should not quash a sentence automatically.

    Certainly, it is so. The European Court never meddles in the national judicial proceedings, neither considers criminal cases on the merits, nor renders sentences and quashes them. It just detects violations of provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights, which Russia must adhere to.

    As and when violation of art. 6 of the European Convention has been recognized, retrial is required. According to the articles 413 and 415 of the Russian Federation Code of Criminal Procedure, if outrage on justice has been recognized, a person has the right to retrial due to new circumstances.

    Now lawyers of Aleksey Pichugin can file a corresponding request to Vyacheslav Lebedev. However, even this is not required by virtue of law. The chief justice of the Supreme Court of RF is obliged to commence proceedings on his own due to new circumstances.

    Meanwhile, Russia has not quashed the first sentence of the wrongfully convicted yet, though the European Court of Human Rights pointed out the necessity thereof in its judgement back in 2012.

    What will the Supreme Court do this time?

    Vera Vasilyeva, HRO.org

  • 14 years behind bars without fair trial. What did Strasbourg rule in the case of Pichugin?
  • Zoya Svetova: Who is it, Mikhail Savitsky, conducting an interrogation of Aleksey Pichugin
  • Alexey Pichugin: «I wrote a motion to have a visit from my mother»
  • Statement of Igor Viacheslavovuch Sutyagin
  • Mikhail Khodorkovsky: «An innnocent man, Alexey Pichugin, is still behind bars»
  • The European Court of Human Rights. CASE OF PICHUGIN v. RUSSIA. Judgment
  • Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger about Alexey Pichugin case
  • Leonid Nevzlins interview about the «case»
  • The «Amnesty International» is anxious about Alexey Pichugins condition

  • Trial of vengeance

  • Journalist Valeriy Shiryaev on the first case of Aleksey Pichugin in his book «Trial of vengeance. The first victim of the YUKOS case»