On July 30th Oktyabrsky district court of Vladimir rejected the claim of Alexei Navalny to correctional facility #3 where he was treated from April 19 until June 4. This is the second case of this kind, the first one dated from May 11 and the current one from May 12 to June 4. Navalny claimed his rights as a prisoner were violated because his lawyers were not allowed to carry around his cell phones and laptops needed for his work. The oppositionist himself did not participate in the process, his interests were represented by lawyer Vadim Kobzev.
Judge Maxim Ignatovich was vividly interested in the technical details of the inspection of lawyers. At the checkpoint in the colony there are boxes where visitors can put their things. They are similar to the lockers in supermarkets. The judge suggested that where the doors of the boxes are open, they are vacant. And where they are closed, they are occupied. Vadim Kobzev objected that no, almost all of them are free.
The lawyer has a choice – to leave the equipment “for the badge” or put it in the box “under the video camera”. Vadim Kobzev specified that he prefers the second choice because “every time my heart bleeds” when he gives up his cell phone. Kobziev fears that the special services will have access to his cell phone during the two hours he spent talking to Alexei Navalny. That is why, in particular, it seems illogical that lawyers ask the head of the colony for permission to take the phones and then hand them in themselves at the entrance.
The lawyer explained that before visiting the colony, Alexei Navalny’s defenders each time sent a request to the head of the colony to allow the passage of cell phones. In addition, this action was at the time expressly permitted by the Supreme Court decision of 2018, and defenders across the country exercised this right. More recently (but after the events challenged in the lawsuit), Russian attorneys have been banned from bringing in technology.
“It turns out that every time the head of the colony allowed us to take cell phones and laptops. However, from the very beginning already after going to the warden, at the checkpoint we were met by two officers, one with a video recorder. And the officer Somov forbade us to bring our phones,” said the lawyer.
The lawyer explained that there were conflicts on this issue in the first visits. Then he personally asked if it was possible to take the phone. He received a negative answer and left his things in a box in front of the checkpoint. Scolding each time was pointless.
“The conflict and scolding came in April. On the very first day we went through twice. The warden wrote ‘permission’ in front of us. At the checkpoint they told us, ‘either turn in or leave.’ They showed inconsistency at the checkpoint, as if they did not know what resolution the chief gave,” Vadim Kobzev told the court.
The Russian Federal Penitentiary Service insisted that the checkpoint officer simply asked whether the lawyers were willing to surrender their equipment, and they voluntarily surrendered it. Vadim Kobzev asked the defendant’s representatives how they imagined: he went to the chief, got his permission to take the phone, and then voluntarily surrendered it?
The staff of the Federal Penitentiary Service provided video recordings, most of which do not contain sound. Some of the recordings from the video recorder, as well as from the stationary camera FSIN could not provide due to the breakage of the hard drive. There is no evidence in the remaining video that the lawyers asked to be allowed to bring in their cell phones, and they were refused.
“Naturally, the coercive nature of the seizure does not imply a fight at the checkpoint,” Kobzev was indignant.
The lawyer believes that the Federal Penitentiary Service provided recordings on this principle: where the video is calm, but the defenders ask permission to take the gadgets, there is no sound. Where there is no evidence of violations – there is both sound and video. No recordings recording that lawyers are outraged are provided at all.
“Documentary evidence is not provided by the plaintiff, we ask to deny the claim in full,” said the defendant’s representatives in the debate.
The stage of the debate, the parties did not delay, admitting to each other that all the arguments have already spoken during a similar lawsuit on earlier dates. After a little over an hour of deliberations, the judge retired to the deliberation room. It took him half an hour to reach a decision. The suit was rejected outright. Vadzim Kobzev said he was going to appeal the decision.