Maxim Lapunov at press conference in Moscow. Screenshot from video posted by user novayagazeta

06 December 2018, 11:07

Rights defenders criticized Russian Ombudsperson's conclusions on Lapunov's case

The departure of the victim from the country cannot be the reason for refusal to initiate a criminal case, as suggested Tatiana Moskalkova, the Russian Ombudsperson, the lawyers of the Committee against Torture (CaT) assert.

The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that Ms Moskalkova urged the Prosecutor's Office to join the check of Maxim Lapunov's complaint about the refusal to initiate a case about his detention and beating up in the building of the criminal investigation department in Chechnya. According to the Ombudsperson, the decision to refuse to initiate a case was motivated by his departure to another country.

On October 16, 2017, Maxim Lapunov said that he had been detained in Chechnya on suspicion of homosexuality and spent 12 days in the basement of the criminal investigation department of the Chechen Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA). According to his story, they beat him up there, forcing to call members of the Chechen LGBT community and appoint meetings with them, where they would detain them.

A person's departure from the country due to fears for his life cannot be a basis for stopping the case or refusing to investigate his applications, said Albert Kuznetsov, a senior lawyer and coordinator of the CaT's North-Caucasian branch.

"The whole problem in the investigation of the case is not in the absence of the applicant Lapunov, but in the fact that investigators did and do nothing. He left only when the Investigating Committee of the Russian Federation (ICRF) stated that they could do nothing, refused to open a case and conduct an investigation", Mr Kuznetsov has stated.

According to Vladimir Smirnov, another CaT's lawyer, who represented Maxim Lapunov's interests, in September and October 2017, Maxim spent three weeks in Yessentuki. "He visited the investigator; he was interrogated; and examinations were conducted. During these three weeks, investigators could have done a lot, but, probably, they had no desire," the lawyer has stressed.

Mr Smirnov has pointed out that in his conversation with the investigator, Lapunov offered to go to Grozny and take part in the inspection of the place where he was held; he asked about it in the form of a petition. None of Lapunov's petitions was satisfied. "After that, Lapunov and his representatives decided to leave Yessentuki, since it was not safe in itself to be near Chechnya in those circumstances," the lawyer has added.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on December 6, 2018 at 02:35 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

Source: CK correspondent

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