Search Evidence Shown at Trial of 12
Published: October 31, 2012 (Issue # 1733)
SERGEY CHERNOV / SPT
Andrei Dmitriyev (c) pictured with The Other Russia chair Eduard Limonov (l).
The Trial of 12 — in which activists from The Other Russia face charges of re-launching and conducting the “extremist activities” of the banned National Bolshevik Party (NBP) in a case they see as fabricated and politically motivated — hit a new low this week, when the prosecution presented the evidence collected during searches of activists’ apartments in 2010 and 2011.
Under the defense’s examination, most of the evidence — consisting of disks, photographs, newspapers, books, buttons and other objects that were brought into the courtroom in cardboard boxes, travel bags and a large envelope — turned out to date back to the 1990s and the early to mid-2000s, i.e. before the NBP was banned in 2007.
The defendants do not deny belonging to the NBP before the ban, but say they have acted as activists of The Other Russia Coalition and then The Other Russia political party since 2007.
The rest of the evidence presented at the sessions Friday and Tuesday included books written by The Other Russia’s chair and author Eduard Limonov and available from bookstores, his presidential manifesto for the 2012 elections and even a Soviet propaganda pamphlet called “Present-Day Nationalism in the Service of Anti-Communism,” published by Lenizdat in 1981.
A large number of leaflets advertising various protests, including those bearing the image of then President Dmitry Medvedev and reading “The Tsar is not real,” as well as flyers for Strategy 31 rallies in defense of the right of assembly were also presented by the prosecution.
“I don’t understand what the presented evidence has to do with the case,” said defendant Andrei Dmitriyev, the local leader of The Other Russia, at one point during Tuesday’s session.
Judge Sergei Yakovlev asked when the search was conducted and said, “That’s what it has to do with the case. In the investigation’s opinion,” he added after a pause.
Search reports did not specify the dates of the seized documents, and Prosecutor Nadezhda Filimonova appeared to be disappointed when what was described simply as “NBP membership applications” turned out to date back to 1998. Dmitriyev’s NBP congress delegate mandate was for the 2001 congress.
The evidence included a red NBP flag seized at the apartment of Dmitriyev’s parents, but there was no proof that it had ever been used in public after the ban. According to Dmitriyev, the flag was kept behind a cabinet and he hasn’t lived with his parents for the past 12 years.
A pair of red armbands bearing a hammer and sickle symbol were found on the balcony of defendant Andrei Pesotsky, who also owned a couple of NBP application forms dating back to 2005 and 2006, while Alexei Zentsov had a CD-ROM called “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the NBP, But Were Afraid to Ask,” dating back to 2006.
Although the cases against Zentsov, Vadim Mamedov and Vladislav Ivakhnik were closed in August due to the expiration of the limitation period since their last detention at a protest, the evidence seized at their homes was presented at the trial, as well as that belonging to Sergei Porokhovoi, the 13th accused, who fled to Finland to claim political asylum in November 2011 and whose case has since been singled out into a separate one. The judge ruled that the evidence related to those four men was connected to the case of the eight activists who remain on trial.
On Tuesday, Dmitriyev’s lawyer Gleb Lavrentyev pointed out that a pamphlet called “Extraordinary Fascism” presented by the prosecutor as containing NBP symbols was, in reality, issued in 2005 by the pro-Kremlin movement Nashi and contained an article by its then-leader Vasily Yakimenko attacking the party, which was then legal.
The defense also showed that a stack of photographs from a rally or rallies on which NBP flags were visible, which had been seized at Zemtsov’s apartment, bore a stamp from a photo lab showing they were printed in 2005.
The evidence also included a blue travel bag, found — according to the investigation — in the attic of the building where defendants Ravil Bashirov and Roman Khrenov lived in a communal apartment. Apart from a couple of hammer-and-sickle postcards, the bag contained a large number of documents — including a copy of a passport and a parachuting certificate issued to a Mikhail Bakhman.
While both Bashirov and Khrenov denied ownership, saying that the attic was accessible to everyone, Pesotsky’s lawyer Olga Tseitlina suggested that the bag belonged to the person whose documents it contained, i.e. Mikhail Bakhman, who was not a defendant in the case against the activists.
Speaking to The St. Petersburg Times on Tuesday, lawyer Tseitlina dismissed the evidence as “wastepaper.”
“The prosecution believes that it proves the defendants belong to the NBP, but we think that it proves nothing as far as the charges go,” she said.
“First, the bulk of evidence doesn’t contain any reference to the NBP or dates [to a period] prior to the ban, and secondly, there’s no proof that it was distributed publicly or used at rallies after 2007. They [the prosecution] have nothing.”
Despite multiple flaws in the evidence, Tseitlina said she is sure that the trial — which, by her estimates, will be concluded before the end of the year — will result in a guilty verdict.
“It’s a political, trumped-up case, with a planted apartment and a police provocation; the case was clearly commissioned,” she said.