Selective Justice: A Military Man Sentenced to 3.6 Years in Prison for Beating a Baptist Church Watchman in Crimea Who Died Later

In Crimea, a drunken contracted soldier beat up a Baptist church watchman, who died 5 months later. However, the article “causing grievous bodily harm based on religious hatred” was re-qualified.

As stated in the verdict of the “Crimean Garrison Military Court”, the text of which is at the disposal of the Crimean Human Rights Group, on May 23, 2020 Pavel Svidersky, a soldier of the military unit, was returning after fishing in a state of alcoholic intoxication, in the village of Sofiyivka, Simferopol District. At the premises of the “Church of Evangelical Christians Baptists” he saw a watchman, asked a question and, dissatisfied with the answer, seriously beat the man. As follows from the text of the verdict, the beating happened “due to religious intolerance”.

According to the expert’s report, the man was kicked into face and got the following injuries: ‘open linear fracture of the left parietal bone, contusion of the left parietal lobe of the brain, haemorrhage under the dura mater in the projection of the left frontal, temporal and parietal lobes of the brain, accompanied by compression of the brain and dislocation of its median structures in the direction from left to right, haemorrhage under the soft cerebral membranes in the projection of the left frontal, temporal and parietal lobes of the brain, the interhemispheric fissure and the left half of the tentorium of the cerebellum, multiple fractures of the ethmoid bone, the right large wing and the pterygoid process of the sphenoid bone, a left lateral wall of the main sinus with haemorrhages in its cavity and ethmoid cells, multiple comminuted fractures of the nasal bones, all walls of both maxillary sinuses with haemorrhages and displacement of bone fragments of the anterior walls into the cavity of the sinuses, arch of the left zygomatic bone, outer and inner walls of the left orbit the upper jaw according to the Le Fort II type, wounds in the left superciliary region and on the tip of the nose, multiple abrasions in the left half of the parietal region and areas of the face, bruises in both orbital regions, which are harm to health, dangerous to human life, directly posing a threat to life ”.

A criminal case was opened under RF CC Article 111-2(e) (Intentional infliction of grievous bodily harm based on religious hatred).

After 5 months, the man died. However, an acute gastric ulcer with bleeding was recognized as the cause of death. And the beatings received after the fight were not officially linked to the cause of death.

Before the verdict, the “prosecutor” removed the religious reason from the prosecution, softening and re-qualifying the case to RF CC Article 111-1 (Intentional infliction of grievous bodily harm, dangerous to human life).

Finally the ‘court’ sentenced Svidersky to 3 years and 6 months in the general security regime penal colony.

“This case illustrates the use of selective justice in Crimea, which is loyal to the Russian military, but unreasonably cruel to the occupied population. As to this case, the “prosecutor” moderately removed the religious component from the charge, although it is clear from the verdict that the reason for the attack was the victim’s religious beliefs. At the same time, Crimean Muslims are sentenced to 19 years in prison just for religious talk. For example, “judge” Rizvan Zubairov, who is considering politically motivated cases against Crimean Muslims, sentenced military Yevgeny Zaitsev to 2 years in the penal colony-settlement for the murder of Ukrainian officer Stanislav Karchevsky. The same judge passed 7 verdicts to the Second Bakhchisarai Group of Crimean Muslims – from 13 to 19 years in the maximum security regime penal colony – under the ‘cooked’ charges’, Oleksandr Siedov, the CHRG analyst, points out.

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