On December 22nd, the judge of the 153d court department E. Ermolina sentenced Filipp Kostenko, activist and employee of the human rights organisation “Memorial”, for an additional 15 days. The decision on prior arrest was given to the administration of the detention centre a few minutes before his expected release. The decision was made based on the fact that Kosteko did not appear in the court, even though at the time he was already under detention.
Now he is accused under article 20.1.1. (disorderly conduct); reported to have been swearing two months ago, on October 16th at the 43d police department. According to witnesses, on that day Filipp brought food for the arrestees, and was detained and taken to the police station, even though he did not violate any rule. There are several witnesses who can prove this. There is also a video recording of his arrest.
The court session lasted 4 hours, including a number of breaks. A worker of the Anti-Extremist centre was in the courtroom as a visitor during the session. From the very beginning of the process there was a feeling that the worst verdict had already been decided upon. The judge, without any obvious reason, refused all the defendant’s requests, including the request to grant him time to prepare for the trial and gather evidence. She agreed only on approving as a social defender the professor of the High Economics School, V. Kostyushev. The judge stated that she has no grounds to doubt the reports of the policemen that “Filipp Kostenko was disturbing public order, showing his disrespect towards society and swearing in public” and declined the request to call in the policemen to check their testimonies and organise cross-examination. The oral testimonies of the witnesses who arrived in the court were found by the judge to be unreliable.
Despite many procedural violations, the absence of real proofs (beside the “absolute” for the judge Ermolina proof – reports of the police workers) and active participation of defenders, everyone was sure that the judge would give the maximum punishment. The judge was not by many visitors and journalists who were prohibited to make a video or even an audio recording. As a result, the judge sentenced Kostenko to 15 more days of detention, and now he is in the detention centre at No. 6 Zakharyevskaya street. The lawyer will appeal against this decision and prepare a new complaint to the European Court on Human Rights – on the new illegal arrest (violation of Article 6).
After the new court decision Filipp ceased his hunger strike as all people arrested during the protests against electoral fraud in St Petersburg (beside Filipp himself) are now released.
The continuation of Filipp Kostenko detention, with the notable lack of independent and objective court proceedings is obviously politically motivated and is nothing less than the persecution of Filipp for his participation in the protests.