Russians get absolution to fight back legal mayhem

Russia’s interior minister has allowed fighting back against policemen who behave aggressively toward citizens that knowingly committed no crime because “all of the citizens are equal under the law.”

Meeting with the cadets of Moscow University of the Interior Ministry, Minister Rashid Nurgaliev had to answer the question: Could a citizen protect himself against police lawlessness? The reply was a simple instruction for action: “If a citizen does nothing wrong and has committed no crime – yes, he should strike back. If there is molestation – there should be self-protection. We are all equal.”

The minister believes any citizen has a right to protect himself in case of an attack on him. “If a criminal wears police uniform, he must be isolated from the society,” he said.

To support his boss’ words, the head of administration information department of the Interior Ministry, Major General Valery Gribakin, explained to ITAR-TASS news agency that if a policeman’s behavior appears inadequate, poses an aggressive threat or goes right to direct violence – in that case citizens should resist.

“This is the case of defense of extreme necessity and self-defense,” underlined Gribakin. “If a person does not disturb the public peace, has not committed any crime and is not on the wanted list – a policeman has no ground to make any claims on him.”

Making it worse

The cadet’s question addressed to the Interior Minister is really on the tip of everyone's tongue as police violence is on the rise in Russia.

But the real situation is far from being that easy. Well-known Russian lawyers and State Duma deputies forewarn citizens to withhold from any verbal or physical duels or any other sort of resistance against police, for their own safety.

On Tuesday three members of Russia’s law enforcement have been apprehended for brutally assaulting two men and killing one of them.

The confrontation took place in the middle of the night on the outskirts of Moscow. The officers were allegedly intoxicated and wore partial police uniform.

Renowned Russian lawyer and head of the Moscow Bar, Henry Reznik, finds the Interior Minister’s words about the right of self-defense absolutely correct, but the circumstances for those citizens who opt for taking this privilege could be “the most dramatic.” Reznik has said that in his practice it is commonplace that those policemen who abuse the law could call themselves the suffering party and make the conforming testimony. Blow for blow attitude “would cost you dear,” he warned.

Another famous lawyer, Igor Trunov, was practically outraged by the Minister’s statement. “If citizens commit such actions they could end up in prison for life!” he said.

Trunov represents those persons aggrieved in the case of police Major Denis Yevsyukov, who on April 27 this year turned a supermarket in Moscow into slaughterhouse and was charged with two cases of manslaughter and 21 cases of attempted murder.

“Citizens must comprehend that resistance to police is a grievous crime – what the hell kind of self-defense was he talking about?! Resistance to a police officer is punished severely by law,” said Trunov.

Even if the citizen would have witnesses – it is a narrow chance, because police evidence would be taken as fundamental – the realization of the constitutional right to self-defense would turn out a proper mess.”

The Deputy Head of State Duma’s Security Committee, Gennady Gudkov, fully shares this opinion.

“An ordinary citizen has no right to face off against a law-enforcement authority, even if a policeman gets loose and kicks him with his feet,” said Gudkov, and explained that “in 99% of cases the self-defense would only aggravate the citizen’s guilt.”