A man who died last week in police custody in the central Russian republic of Tatarstan alleged before his death that officers had tortured him, including by sodomizing him with a bottle, a rights activist told RIA Novosti on Monday.
“The relatives of the deceased and the doctors who treated him say he had time to say he was beaten and tortured by police,” Pavel Chikov, head of the Kazan-based Agora rights center, told RIA Novosti by telephone.
Sergey Nazarov, 52, was arrested in the republic’s capital of Kazan on the evening of March 9 on charges of petty hooliganism. He was taken to hospital the next day suffering from stomach pains and died soon after of intestinal injuries.
Agora is representing Nazarov’s relatives in the case.
Chikov also confirmed media reports that Nazarov had alleged before his death that four officers had forcibly inserted the neck of a champagne bottle into his anus.
“His injuries were consistent with this,” he said.
Tatarstan Interior Minister Asgat Safarov has suspended 13 officers over the case and pledged to punish severely anyone found guilty of involvement in Nazarov’s death, the republic’s Interior Minister said on its website. An investigation is underway. The officers involved maintain their innocence.
The accusations come some seven months after Russia’s militsiya (militia) were renamed politsiya (police) as part of a massive shake-up of the country’s often-criticized force ordered by President Dmitry Medvedev. Officers had been charged or convicted in the years leading up to that reform of numerous high-profile crimes, including a shooting spree in a Moscow supermarket, the beheading of a suspect, burning a suspect alive, and child sex abuse.
But Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev - who once advised Russians to give as good as they get if attacked for no reason by an officer – said after the completion of the reforms that those left in the force were “the best of the best.”