The case was initiated on 7 May 2012 by Russia’s Investigative Committee in connection with the events that took place during the opposition rally on 6 May 2012 as a result of clashes between the police and a group of protesters in Moscow. The protesters were marching along the Yakimanka street towards the Bolotnaya square, the planned location of the concluding rally. This case has become notorious due to the numerous violations of both the Russian laws and the rights of the accused by the prosecution.
A public investigation of events in the Bolotnaya square has been conducted by the «12 December Round Table» party and civic organization. Hundreds of testimonies were obtained from witnesses of the events of 6 May in the course of this investigation. A detailed report was compiled on the basis of testimonies, materials of the case, and photographic and video documents. Conclusions of the commission can be summarized as follows:
- There were no mass riots in the Bolotnaya square on 6 May; however, there had been individual clashes between the police and the protesters.
- These clashes were provoked by the law enforcement authorities.
- The origin of clashes was the violation by the authorities of the initial scheme that protesters had coordinated with Moscow Mayor’s office.
In April 2013 the New Times magazine came into possession of a document entitled «Report on Results of Securing the Public Order and Safety in Moscow on 6 May 2012». Deputy Chief of Department on Securing Public Safety of the State Department of the Ministry of Internal Affaires of Russia for Moscow Colonel of the Police D. Yu. Deinichenko reported in this document: “the Moscow’s authorities in charge of internal affaires have fully met their objectives with regard to securing public order and safety; extraordinary situations have been prevented.»
By October 2012 28 persons had been officially accused, while supposedly around 80 were under investigation by the Investigations Committee. Two of the accused, who collaborated with the investigation, had already been convicted. Maksim Luzyanin was sentenced to 4.5 years in detention while Konstantin Lebedev (who, along with giving other evidence, testified against Sergei Udaltsov and Leonin Razvozzhaev) was sentenced to 2.5 years in detention.
Mass protests have been held in Russia and in other countries in support of people arrested in connection with the Bolotnaya case.
The case has raised concern of the European Union, according to the statement of its Foreign Service made in May 2013. On 13 June the European Parliament adopted the “Rule of Law in Russia” resolution which appealed to Russia to investigate the facts of force being applied by policemen in the Bolotnaya square. An appeal was also made for the members of the EU to simplify the process of getting a visa for the activists who participated in the demonstration on 6 May 2012.
According to this resolution, «Whereas prosecutors continue to persecute opposition activists who participated in the ‘March of Millions’ on 6 May 2012 (the day before President Putin’s inauguration); whereas, according to reliable independent reports, the demonstration was forcibly disrupted at Bolotnaya Square by riot police, who subjected participants to disproportionate force and arbitrary violence; whereas reports by the Presidential Human Rights Council, the Human Rights Ombudsman and an independent investigative commission comprising senior public figures blamed both the Russian authorities and police for the violence.»
Additional information in English:
The 6th May Committee: http://6may.org/en/
Entry in Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bolotnaya_square_case