Five years later, police will be responsible for deadly 'swallow' 

Five years later, police will be responsible for deadly 'swallow'
Policemen tortured Pavel Drozdov to death Photo: The CrimeRussia

They creased Pavel Drozdov’s arms behind his back, floored him, kicked, and then handcuffed him, tied him with straps and ropes in the torture room and threw him into a cell. Unable to bear the torture, the deputy director of the Kazan Railway Technical College died.

Five years later, four former policemen of the Kazan Yunino Department were charged with the death of Pavel Drozdov, the deputy director of the Kazan Railway Technical College. He died in the cell of the department after the operatives used torture called "swallow" against him. In June 2014, the high-profile case was dismissed due to the absence of corpus delicti in the officers’ actions. Neither the Prosecutor's Office of Tatarstan, nor the regional investigator found anything criminal in the actions of the police. For the past three years, the victim’s relatives have been trying to appeal this decision. As a result, the Supreme Court of Russia accepted the position of the injured party and confirmed the existence of the crime.

"As a result, the Nizhny Novgorod Investigative Committee (the third investigative department of the Russian Investigative Committee’s Main Investigative Directorate located in Nizhny Novgorod), which oversees issues related to the case, got everything right. The charges have been brought," said Andrey Suchkov who represents the interests of the Drozdov family.

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Pavel Drozdov

Persons of interest were the employees of the Yudino Police Department: senior duty officer Sergey Petikin, assistant to the duty officer Alexey Petikin, duty officer in charge of delivered and detained Eduard Bolgarov, local police officer of Yudino Andrey Markunin, canine-policeman of the MIA’s Patrol-Guard Service Police regiment Oleg Bachurov. All are accused of abuse of power with the use of violence (item a and b part 3 of Art. 286 of the Russian Criminal Code), except for Merkunin. In April 2012, he was found dead in his own garage: he committed suicide. As a result, four will be responsible for Drozdov’s death. All of them were dismissed from law enforcement agencies; at the moment, they are under a written undertaking not to leave.

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Yudino Police Department

The tragic events in the Yudino Police Department occurred on February 1, 2012. Pavel Drozdov was taken to the department in a very drunken state. According to the investigation, he was put in a cell for administrative detainees for petty hooliganism. There, Drozdov allegedly made a lot of noise, knocked and shouted, which caused inconvenience to one of the residents of the house, in which the Yudino PD was located. As a result, five policemen came to the cell at once to calm one detainee. They creased his arms behind his back, floored him, kicked and then handcuffed him, tied him with straps and ropes in the torture room and threw back into the cell. Drozdov, unable to bear the torture, died fifteen minutes after it.

By the way, the operatives' actions, as well as Drozdov's death, were recorded by a video surveillance camera installed in the Department. The investigators received this recording by accident. It was found at their colleague, who was not involved in the investigation of the circumstances of Drozdov's death.

But even the analysis of the video from the Department, which actually proves the use of prohibited force and torture, did not convince the investigators that the police committed a crime. In the copy of the order to dismiss the criminal complaint of June 2014, it is written that, according to the results of repeated medical examinations in 2014, Drozdov died of "acute cardiovascular insufficiency, which developed as a result of the atherosclerotic disease of the heart and blood vessels in the setting of the hypertensive disease." The investigators concluded that the detainee died not from the pain and torture, but from the disease that was complicated by alcohol the victim consumed. The causal link between the actions of the police and the death of Drozdov in 2014 was not found, but at the same time it was recognized that the police, guided by the interests of the service, used special means which however did not inflict any pain on Drozdov.

Video: Another murder of detainee revealed in Kazan  


"Tying in the swallow pose is not provided by the current regulations, and in this part the police exceeded their powers, but the officers did not want to inflict physical pain on Pavel Drozdov or to humiliate his human dignity," was written in the order to dismiss the criminal complaint. After that, human rights activists said that by claiming that the Investigative Committee actually legalized the 'swallow' torture.

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Pavel Drozdov with children

According to lawyer Andrey Suchkov, five years of red-tapery by the investigation, four orders to refuse to initiate a criminal case, three orders to dismiss the criminal complaints, which were consistently recognized by the court as unlawful and unjustified (the last one was issued in March 2017), attest to the ineffectiveness of legal protection of violated rights at the national level. The initiation of the criminal case against policemen from the Yudino DP in 2017 coincided with the registration of a complaint to the ECHR by the brother of the deceased, Sergey Drozdov. Will the perpetrators this time be brought to justice for torturing the detainee?

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