The events of March 31st, circa 6:30 PM
There was a certain cold logic about the way the police acted that day. Note that baby Kasper and myself weren’t assaulted until after the minivan in which Kozlenok, Leonid and our comrades were being held had driven off. As soon as it had left, a direct order was given to arrest me, there was a finger pointed at me. The following words can be heard in the video: “Detain the baby. Detain him” (me, that is). The order was given by Lt. Col. V. A. Zasypkin, head of the 78th police station.
Koza was taken to police station No. 78 (Chehova Street, 15), whereas baby Kasper and myself were sent to police station No. 28 (Marata Street, 79). In the police bus on our way there I was roughed up by two cops right in front of my son. I was handcuffed. One of the cops sat me down and then straddled me, as if he was a woman and we were making love. He then began punching me in the head and in the torso. At the same time the other cop, who had occupied the seat behind me, was choking me. He’d wrapped my arm around my neck, bending my elbow, and he was choking me with my own arm. Another policeman was clutching Kasper throughout the whole ordeal. There were many witnesses to the beating. Every detained protester on that bus saw it and they were calling for the cops to stop punching and choking me.
Upon arrival to police station No. 28, I was separated from Kasper immediately. They carried him off to another room where he remained for one and a half hours, and I have no idea what they were doing to him in that room. I was left to stand in the hallway, handcuffed. At that time I guarded by five cops who continued beating me. Barely 10 minutes later, a group of Center E (anti-extremism) operatives arrived. There were at least 7 of them. One of the agents separated from the group and approached me. “The first time wasn’t enough for you,” he told me bluntly. “Our talks and our methods have no effect on you. So keep having fun in prison. You won’t see your kid for several years now.” By “methods” he clearly meant the March 3rd incident when Center E agents assaulted us on Vosstaniya Street as we were returning from a press conference. I asked him to identify himself which he refused to do, though he acknowledged being a Center E employee. It was no use trying to conceal it from me, as I know those type of people very well.
The only thing that remained unclear to me was what he said about going back to prison. Today (April 6th) it became clear.
Both the criminal and the administrative actions recently initiated against me are related to March 31st. The latter deals with my alleged mistreatment of my child. This is a continuation of their plan to strip me and Kozlenok of child custody rights.
It all began last year, on November 15th in Moscow when Center E raided the apartment we were staying in. Leonid and I were already laying on the floor of the police van, handcuffed and with plastic bags over our heads, while Kozlenok was being interrogated in the kitchen. It was then that Vasily Trifan, a Center E agent who’d gained notoriety in the Anti-Fascist movement, said (in the presence of witnesses) those exact words to Kozlenok: “In your case I support the death penalty. I would execute parents like you.”
What was it exactly that caused Trifan to utter these words? Kasper wanted to pee really badly. He’d already learned how to pee in the toilet and so he refused to wear diapers. Trifan didn’t let Koza acccompany Kasper to the toilet, in fact he didn’t let them out of the kitchen for several hours. Kasper didn’t want to go alone either since he was scared of all the cops. Those men had just trashed the apartment before beating up and taking away Leonid and me. So Kozlenok had to hold Kasper over the kitchen sink while he peed in it. This was what made Vasily Trifan so furious that he had to make a remark about introducing death penalty for mothers who let their kids pee in the sink. I know this from the letters I received from Kozlenok in prison.
During the raid the Center E agents also took Kasper’s child benefit money. They seized all of Kozlenok’s documents, including her ID from Moscow State University where she teaches. Koza and Kasper were left on their own, without any money or documents. The money and the documents are now being held by Col. A. Yu. Petrov, investigator for high-priority cases. Prior to that, Koza had talked to inquiry officer Borodavkin on the phone and filed two complaints (with City Public Prosecutor’s Office and with Petrov himself) to have the unlawfully seized money and documents returned to her. Since Kozlenok doesn’t appear as a suspect in the case, the police had no right to seize any of her property — in effect, this constitutes theft. The complaints were never answered. Recently, however, Kozlenok’s parents received a letter from Petrov which stated that the money will not be returned since there’s no proof that it belongs to Kasper.
I suspect that Petrov has already spent the money on drinks for himself and his drinking buddies from Center E. One hundred fifty thousand rubles would just have been enough for them. As they drove us from Moscow to St. Petersburg, they celebrated their success throughout the night, drinking whiskey, clinking glasses above us as we were laying on the floor. They drank until they passed out in the seats of the van.
Koza has been living without documents for five months. She still is. This is happening in Russia, where (as they say) even the sun doesn’t rise without papers. She’s written to the ombudsman and to the General Prosecutor’s Office with no effect.
The next episode is well-known. March 31st. The OMON snatch Kozlenok from a crowd of passers-by on Nevsky Avenue and throw her into a police minivan. Bystanders surround the vehicle, they are outraged, they demand to have the mother released but they don’t have the courage to resist the police. I try to break through to Kozlenok with Kasper in my arms. A group of young people attempts to block the police vehicle. They sit down on the road in front of the van but are immediately dispersed by the OMON.
As soon as the van drives off, the OMON rush at me and Kasper, they throw us to the ground, they stomp on us and beat us. One of the cops grabs my arm and starts twisting it. Another snatches Kasper from my other arm. He pulls and tugs at the baby with all his force, as if it was an inanimate object. Both Kasper and I are beaten and in shock.
Later we’ll get our injuries documented at Children’s Hospital No. 19 (Kasper’s ) and at the Emergency Medical Care Institute (mine). The police through their spokesperson will falsely claim not to have received any messages from those institutions.
Having tormented Kasper to their hearts’ content, the cops drop him off at a hospital, as if they were getting rid of stolen goods. Neither Koza nor myself have any idea about the whereabouts of our child at this point. I’m being held at police station No. 28. Kozlenok is at the 78th, in a holding cell in Col. Zasypkin’s domain. I’m being beaten up by the police, Koza is also being roughted up by drunk cops. They try to break her leg with the holding cell door. Eventually an ambulance takes me to the hospital. The first news about Kasper comes at 4:30 AM, April 1st as I exit the Emergency Care Institute. My attorney passes a message from the outside: some of the activists have found out where Kasper is, and they’re heading to the hospital to keep watch at his bed. Koza is still being held at the police station where she’s being denied access to an attorney. At some point during the night, Center E agents Trifan and A. I. Kolotushkin arrive at the 78th to interrogate the arrested activists.
Koza doesn’t find out that Kasper is alive until 10 PM, April 1st when the three of us are reunited. As she’s being transported to the court, she pries open the door and jumps out of the moving vehicle. Kasper, his mother and his father are together again.
The police announce that they are initiating criminal action against Koza. They want to charge her with escaping from police guard and with assaulting a cop at the 78th. They spread misinformation about a video tape they allegedly have that depicts Kozlenok attacking and beating up the cop from within the holding cell. This is yet another episode in the campaign to have our custody rights revoked.
The next stage: as soon as I appear at the children’s hospital in the morning of April 1st, the doctors call the security guards. A female doctor also calls the child protective services. Without thinking twice, I get Kasper dressed and together we escape from the pursuit. Security guards try to block the exit but they are too slow.
Today, on April 6th, the conflict entered a new phase. My attorney Dmitri Dinze received a call from City Public Prosecutor’s Office. I’m being charged with an administrative offence. They are charging me with improper child care under article 5.35 of the Offences Code. At the same time, the prosecutor explained, they have initiated criminal action against me. She refused to tell my attorney which criminal offence I’m being charged with, or provide any details at all.
This is Dinze’s opinion on the situation, in his own words: “Oleg, they are agressively leading you towards child custody removal. They have activated the mechanism.”