30 December 2020
On 19 November, 2020, the Yoshkar-Ola city court of the Republic of Mari El issued an acquittal of Olesya Kolesnichenko, a single mother who had been accused of using violence against an official — the Deputy head of the Yoshkar-Ola Education Department.
With this publication, we continue the cycle of materials that can already be combined into a separate category “Man-Power” about how difficult it is for an ordinary person to protect the rights alone, if the interests of the “system”, the whole machine of state pressure, are on the second “scale of Themis”.
Having come to the state body for support and realization of the rights, it is possible to become the accused.
And the only hope in such situations is the actions of human rights defenders.
We protect human rights, despite the fact that the person can already be declared guilty on behalf of all those who are under pressure from the authorities and the state “machine” — from police officers to representatives of the official media.
So, in October 2020, a resident of Yoshkar-Ola, Olesya Kolesnichenko applied to the human rights organization “Man and Law” and told her story.
On 16 March, 2020, Olesya, together with her child, came to the Department of Education of Yoshkar-Ola to resolve the issue of providing a place in a kindergarten. In the institution, Olesya went to the office of the Deputy Head of the Department, Elena K., who said that there were no places in kindergartens. There was also a Secretary in the office.
The child’s mother wanted to receive from the official not an oral, but an official and motivated refusal in writing, so she decided to write an application without leaving the office of the Deputy Head of the Department.
One of the 2 copies of the application was accepted and registered. But when Olesya Kolesnichenko was writing the second application, the official (probably unhappy that she has to formalize waivers) began to pull her and her child by the hand toward the exit, throwing their belongings, forcing them to leave the room.
Olesya, protecting the child, received from the official… a blow to the head and leg! Elena K. just lost her glasses.
Shocked by the behavior of the official, Olesya Kolesnichenko called the police department and reported the incident. In the evening of the same day, the district police officer took an explanation from the woman.
Also, Kolesnichenko appealed to the emergency room of Yoshkar-Ola, where she recorded injuries.
As it became known later, the official also wrote a statement to the police, in turn, accusing the woman of striking her head and leg.
In June 2020, the magistrate’s court considered administrative materials under article 6.1.1 of the administrative code of the Russian Federation (“Beatings”). In relation to the official, the magistrate dismissed the case «due to the absence of an event of an offense.”
Olesya was also refused by the Investigative Committee. Checking her statement about the case of using violence by the official, on 9 July, 2020 the investigator of the investigative Department for the city of Yoshkar-Ola of SU SK RF in the Mari El Republic refused to initiate criminal proceedings against the official in connection with absence of event of a crime.
The administrative proceedings were terminated. But, the story did not end there…
Olesya Kolesnichenko herself was charged with committing a crime!
On 25 June, 2020, a criminal case was opened by the investigator of the investigative Department for the city of Yoshkar-Ola on the grounds of a crime under part 1 of article 318 of the criminal code of the Russian Federation (“Use of violence, not dangerous to life and health, against a representative of the authorities”).
On 20 August, 2020, the criminal case with the indictment against Olesya Kolesnichenko was sent to the Yoshkar-Ola city court for consideration on the merits (https://yoshkarolinsky—mari.sudrf.ru/modules.php?name=sud_delo&srv_num=1&name_op=case&case_id=25486741&case_uid=5c778cb1-2cae-4ce3-a102-df9038582506&delo_id=1540006).
In the criminal case, Olesya Kolesnichenko was defended by the appointed advocate. Along with the advocate, legal support to Olesya was provided by the lawyer of the project “Different children – equal rights!” of the NGO “Man and Law”, Dmitry Yalikov. He prepared the accused for the trial, worked out the legal position with her, prepared documents…
However, the judge did not grant the request for admission of the lawyer of the NGO “Man and Law” as a defender along with the advocate.
However, on 19 November, 2020, based on the results of the case review, the judge issued an acquittal.
The fact of committing crimes under part 1 of article 318 of the criminal code (“violence against a representative of the authorities”) by Olesya Kolesnichenko was not found and confirmed in the course of the consideration by the judge of the case. Nevertheless, the court considered that Kolesnichenko still used violence against the victim because of personal hostility that arose during the conflict situation.
“The very fact of the acquittal pleased us. But, after studying the verdict of the court, it became known that the grounds for acquittal were different than expected. The court still considered that Olesya Kolesnichenko used violence, but because of hostile relations.
Although, we do not agree with the very fact of physical force, as the prosecution was based solely on the testimony of the victim and her subordinate employees, in the case file there was not even a medical certificate with the recording of bodily injuries of the victim,” comments Dmitry Yalikov.
“When we work on such cases, we consider them not only from the position of the defendant, but much more broadly. We represent every person who has to stand alone with the state apparatus. After all, when faced with the arbitrariness of power, a person is forced to defend himself/herself against a huge mechanism, where the entire “system” works harmoniously against the person. And our task is not only to protect a particular person, but to encourage officials and authorities to work in the interests of the person, and not against him/her.
When human rights defenders work with the authorities, they always raise the same question — the question of predictability on the part of the state representative.
A person can be different – emotional, illiterate, demanding, but this does not give the right to a representative of the state to behave incorrectly at the workplace.
We proceed from the fact that the official is first of all a professional, correct and restrained.
At the workplace, an official acts on behalf of the Russian Federation, and has no right to incorrect behavior!
The position of an official should be to help a citizen; this is both the mission and official duty. And when an official “attacks” a person, using all available legal and non-legal (in this case, the media) mechanisms, there is a question if the official in this case fulfills his/her role assigned to him/her by the state and society?
Will people be able to trust the state if every visit to the body of authority can end up with a criminal charge?
Predictability lies precisely in the fact that each person, when addressing an official, knows how the official will behave – will provide assistance, as prescribed by his/her job descriptions, or will advise where to apply if the appeal is not in his/her competence. It is predictable actions that raise confidence in the state,” comments Sergei Poduzov, a co-chairman of the Interregional human rights organization “Man and Law”. “
“The position of the local media in this story is surprising,” says Olga Vasileva, an employee of the Interregional human rights organization “Man and Law”. “Journalists described this situation exclusively from the position of Olesya Kolesnichenko’s guilt, while she was not found guilty. In the media, a negative image was actively formed and hostility to this woman was kindled. No one tried to get her opinion! The media obediently repeated the press releases of the court and investigation bodies, without even understanding the situation.
There is a logical question about the professionalism of the media in terms of objective and comprehensive coverage of various events.
Are there any media outlets in Mari El Republic that follow the basic principles of journalism in providing information?
Press releases only aggravated the situation, broadcasting only the position of law enforcement agencies, and completely “forgetting” about the person who one-on-one opposed the state body.”
The verdict has not entered into legal force yet and, if it is appealed, the lawyers of the Interregional human rights organization “Man and Law” will again support Olesya Kolesnichenko.
“Such situations should never be left without further attention,” said Irina Protasova, a chairwoman of the Interregional human rights organization” Man and Law”. “Our authorities need to be educated and they should change their attitude to people, to an ordinary, unprotected person. Lawyers of the human rights organization plan to protect Kolesnichenko’s rights further. If Kolesnichenko asks for help, when the Prosecutor’s office appeals the verdict, we are ready to represent her interests, as well as to file a claim for rehabilitation for illegal criminal prosecution, to apply to the Ministry of education of the Republic of Mari El to conduct an internal inspection against the Deputy head of the Department of Education of Yoshkar-Ola Elena K., to file complaints about the illegal decision to refuse to initiate a criminal case for abuse of office with use of violence against O. Kolesnichenko.”