I went to the bath house with Manashirov today, on 9 August 2018. We undressed in the box with the heating and water pipes coming from the ceiling, where a detainee from Tajikistan who could not bear torture anymore had hanged himself three and a half years ago. The detainees in Lefortovo do not like to take off their clothes and refuse to do that in most cases.

I met my attorneys, Pavel Bespalov and Viktor Kamaldinov, and let them go a bit earlier, at 4 p.m. although I usually make them stay until 5.30 p.m. The point is that it was not necessary to copy my papers, which takes a long time, as no documents can be exchanged in Lefortovo, the attorneys’ room is immediately entered by the detention centre officers who terminate any attempts, let alone the fact that both me and the defenders are searched thoroughly and all the documents are examined at the exit. 

I had my story about Lefortovo published in The Pasmi and caused a lot of trouble for the senior executives of the second detention centre. All the attorneys waiting at the checkpoint discussed that article and asked each other, “Is there any information about my defendant?” My daughter Masha also caused additional stir by having a one-man protest with a banner near the checkpoint, which arouse great interest in those going to Lefortovo and passers-by. The piece of news about it was even the first Mail.ru news, and The Kommersant, The Echo of Moscow and other mass media also wrote about Masha’s protest. As for my story, many people wondered how I had managed to collect so much information in three weeks.

Even yesterday, when I was getting into the prison truck to be taken to the Basmannyi Court to have my arrest extended, my cell mates were billionaires Kostia Ponomarev and Dmitrii Mikhalchenko. They welcomed me like a friend. I asked,

“Have we met before?”

“Aleksandr Viacheslavovich, entire Lefortovo knows you!” 

On 8 August, I was announced that there would be the court hearing that day, and I had to pick up my documents and be ready in five minutes. In fact, not telling about the hearing is a breach as they know about it several days in advance, and the detainee has to get ready. Let alone the fact that attorneys visit their customers once every two weeks, and the defence strategy cannot be worked out.

8 August was the tenth day of the hunger strike. In the beginning, they kept talking to me and persuading to give up on that from early morning till late evening, which, by the way, made me even more determined. A while later, I had no visitors and found myself in absolute vacuum. That was why I treated that trip to the Basmannyi Court as an exciting journey, despite its dramatic overtones.

I had asked Iulia to bring our younger children, Grisha and Matvei, to the hearing many times so that I could see them and say at least a few words, and even kiss them if I was lucky. I had not seen them for two months, and pain and sorrow were tearing my heart apart. However, when I saw my little angels in the court room and wanted to kiss them, I was not given even half a second to stay and was dragged by the handcuffs like a cow. I leant against them even though I had lost ten kilos since the start of the hunger strike and got weak. I still had some forces, so the officer I was fastened to almost tore my arm off trying to make me move. Several guards rushed to his assistance at once and started twisting my wrists and pushing me into the court room. I can only imagine how shocked the children were to see their father for the first time in two months and to face such unreasonable violence.

All the court sessions are attended by journalists and camera operators from different media, including district ones, of course. That dramatic moment was video recorded and posted online at once. The video was viewed by 50,000 people in the evening and had hundreds of comments, where the guards were called fascists, and Governor of Moscow Region Andrei Vorobev was cursed as everyone knew that I had been imprisoned by his order. By then, by blood pressure had reached 200, and the heart rate was at least 120 per minute. When I rushed into the court room like a bat out of hell, out of breath and tense, I saw my attorneys looking at me with pity and compassion as if I were crucified Christ. At first, I thought they felt sorry about me because of the conflict with the guards, but they said later that I looked like a victim of the concentration camp after ten days of the hunger strike.

After the fight, Iulia managed to talk the judge into letting me stay in the glass cube without handcuffs. Grisha and Matvei were two meters away from me, and I had three or four minutes to talk to them and have a better look. Matvei had just learnt to speak well and tried to approach me, hit the guards by their arms trying to stop him,

“Set my Daddy free,” my little boy demanded categorically. 

Out of my four sons, Matvei has been a real fighter since his birth and used all means to get want he wanted. The real gangster, – that was how I described him when asked about my youngest son. Grisha was absolutely different: he never broke the rules and was a surprisingly obedient and creative child with no aggression, with inborn good manners, as our family friend Nikolai Rozhkov said at the birthday party. I shed floods of tears when I saw and heard my babies. It was like a nuclear bomb exploding inside. Acute pain and great happiness at the same time. It seemed butterflies were fluttering around sweet-scented floors in my pain-stricken soul.

The children were taken away, and I spent almost an hour discussing the materials in the case with my attorneys.

Instead of Moscow attorney Isaak Iakubobskii (by the way, fellow countryman of my cell mate Manashirov, a Mountain Jew from Krasnaia Sloboda in Azerbaijan) and his office, and had new lawyers, Andrei Grivtsov and Mikhail Trepashkin.

Mikhail Trepashkin is an attorney and human rights defender, a former colonel of the Federal Security Service, who was a political prisoner himself, is known as an opposition member and a trouble maker focused on the European values. I need him to contact human rights defenders, the European Court and the print media.

Andrei Grivtsov is a former investigator from the central executive office of the Investigative Committee who was accused of extorting money from Vladimir Palikhata, the perpetrator of illegal seizures, and imprisoned. Andrei managed to get out of there and prove he was innocent with the attorney’s help. He has a creative personality, writes articles and books, and is an active Facebook user. Andrei is much younger than Trepashkin, he is about 40, and he is more restrained and pragmatic. I have known both attorneys for about ten years, since the times of the “Moscow Region gambling prosecutors’ case”. 

In those times I had visitors from all over the country because I was often invited to the central TV channels and gave interviews to the federal newspapers where I exposed corruption in the prosecution authorities. Galia Volkova, my former group president in the Kostroma Technological Institution and a chairholder and professor, told me in those years of the battle against the prosecutors,

“You were a glimmer of hope for the people!”

A truer word was never spoken...

I have no money for “star” attorneys, and they are of no use if there is a political order of the sky-high level. No arguments will help. 

We discussed all the issues with my defenders, they put down my orders (as there was no communication, as I have already written many times, and they were the only channel to inform my family even of routine news). When I was taken to another court room where the hearing was going to be held, I saw a large support group from the district and my relatives. As always, even a half of the supporters did not fit into the room. Everyone hoped there would be a happy end, but I tried to calm them down and said that any decision of the Basmannyi Court was initially against me and could not be different as the court was under the influence of the Investigative Committee and the Federal Security Service, and it was just a chance to see each other, to talk to the attorneys and just to have a walk and change the surroundings. Moreover, the decision could be appealed to the Moscow City Court where the influence by the Investigative Committee and the Federal Security Service was not that strong, and there were sometimes miracles there: the pre-trial restriction was changed for home confinement or restriction of travel.

All our court sessions were attended by an officer from the Directorate of the Federal Security Service in Moscow and Moscow Region. Their agency was responsible for operational support of my case. It repeatedly demonstrates lack of independent justice, let alone investigation. My prison mates in Lefortovo are the generals of the Investigative Committee imprisoned by the Federal Security Service for disobedience: Maksimenko two cells away from me, Nikandrov from cell 97 on the first floor, and Drymanov brought to cell 41 immediately after me.

It happened that the Investigative Committee always immediately and unconditionally executed all the orders, instructions and desires of Head of K Directorate of the Federal Security Service of Russia Ivan Tkachev and got capricious when it communicated with M Directorate of the Federal Security Service although they were the ones in charge of investigation. Sergei Alpatov, the charming General of the Federal Security Service and the Head of M Directorate, demonstrated his power and capabilities to the people close to the generals of the Investigative Committee and Tkachev by imprisoning them as ordinary pickpockets.

This time, the hearing was attended by a young fair-haired officer of the Federal Security Service, who openly left the court together with the female investigator of the Investigative Committee, had a friendly conversation with her and held her by her elbow. The investigative authorities and the court have to be neutral and unprejudiced, though. Before the hearing I saw the field investigator of the Federal Security Service enter the judge’s office, probably to inform her of his bosses’ opinion: Shestun cannot be released. At the hearing itself, he kept writing reports for his bosses, Head of the Economic Security Service of the Federal Security Service in Moscow and Moscow Region Iurii Plaksenko and an Aleksei Aleksandrovich, about the litigation. When my wife was speaking, he messaged on his telephone, 

“His wife is speaking!”

“Take a picture of the silly woman,” ordered the person on the other end.

“She is weeping for a show, and is saying she is happy he is alive.”

The journalist sitting nearby managed to take a picture of the screen with the messages and published that rude dialogue online the same evening by posting the photo of the screen and the telephone.

At the hearing, I did not look at or listen to the judge, the prosecutor and the investigator. I tried to grasp of the attorneys’ speeches a bit in order to evaluate their eloquence. I fixed my eyes on my children Masha and Vania, wife Iulia, brothers Igor and Misha Cherenov, all my relatives and friends. We are not allowed to speak, so we whisper and articulate like TV hosts with finger speech. 

My 17-year-old son Vania burst into tears when he heard the judge read the decision on extension of the arrest for three months, and I tried to calm him down by saying that the outcome had been expected. The investigation authorities and the prosecutor’s office requested four months, but the judge decided it was too much and reduced the period down to three months. 




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