A double arm amputee in the Russian Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria held a single-person picket on Thursday protesting the lack of investigation into police officers he says beat him and his family.
Aslan Iritov picketed in front of the Investigative Committee in the republic’s capital, Nalchik with posters strapped to his chest and back. The posters read: ‘Two years ago, the police beat my family. The perpetrators have not been punished!’ and ‘The Investigative Committee allowed the police to enter our homes and beat us?’
The Nalchik Administration refused on 22 October to authorise a larger protest, but law enforcement agencies did not interfere with Iritov’s picket.
Around a dozen people came to support Iritov, including journalists and representatives of the North Caucasus branch of the Committee against Torture.
The case against the Iritovs
Aslan Iritov is the head of Volny Aul, a Nalchik-based group advocating for the rights of residents of the microdistrict of the same name, in particular in resolving land and housing issues.
In October 2017, Aslan and his brother, Beslan Iritov, tried to organise a protest in front of the Nalchik City Administration against the local authorities. They said that the city authorities were attempting to sell plots of land in Volny Aul to local residents which they should rightfully have received for free.
On the morning of the planned protest, police visited the Iritovs’ house, allegedly to give a written warning about the illegality of their upcoming protest.
‘There were several people, and they appeared with the clear intention to provoke me and my relatives into some illegal actions’, Aslan Iritov told OC Media.
According to him, the officers illegally broke into his yard.
He said that masked and heavily armed police in military fatigues were waiting behind the gates of the house.
After Beslan Iritov asked officers to leave his property, a brawl broke out during which the brothers and other family members were injured. According to Caucasian Knot Beslan Iritov received a broken rib while Aslan’s wife’s finger was broken.
The Iritov brothers were detained and taken to a pre-trial detention centre, where on the same day, a criminal case was brought against them on charges of publicly insulting and using violence against a government official.
Later that day, around 100 activists from the Volny Aul organisation gathered in front of the Nalchik Administration demanding a meeting with the mayor. The protesters were dispersed by riot police and several people were detained.
A year later, a court sentenced Beslan Iritov to six months in prison but he was released immediately considering time already served.
After serving six months of pretrial house arrest, Aslan Iritov was released on bail but the case against him continues.
Following the Iritovs arrest, their lawyer, Roman Bondarenko, told OC Media that the charges against the brothers, including a medical examination of security officers they were accused of injuring, had been falsified
The court refused to initiate proceedings against law enforcement officers who broke Beslan Iritov’s ribs and the finger of Aslan Iritov’s wife, Marina Iritova.
Aslan Iritov told OC Media that this refusal was the reason for his single-person picket in front of the Investigative Committee on Thursday.
Konstantin Gusev, a member of the Committee against torture, told journalists at the picket that the authorities had four times refused to initiate criminal proceedings against ‘police officers who broke into the Iritovs’ house and beat his family members’.
He added that the committee believes that the claims of Aslan Iritov should be heard.