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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Policemen to Go Free After Beating Boy

Itar-TassRyabov, left, Starkov and Pervushin outside the Basmanny court on Monday.
A Moscow judge will decide Tuesday whether police officers were guilty of abusing their power when they seriously beat a 12-year-old boy who had done nothing wrong — but no matter what, the officers won't be punished.

Prosecutors appearing Monday in the Basmanny District Court asked for a four-year suspended sentence for the three officers, Sergeants Sergei Ryabov and Rashid Starkov and patrol officer Dmitry Pervushin.

Nearly seven months after the April 6 incident, the details of the case are known across the country: On his way out of his apartment building to play football, Nikita Gladyshev ran into the officers, who were following up on a false alarm in the neighborhood.

The officers proceeded to arrest Gladyshev, whose run-in with law enforcement left him with multiple cuts and bruises and a possible concussion.

Police then handcuffed Gladyshev and hauled him down to the police station, both of which are illegal, said Oleg Novikov, a spokesman for Social Verdict.

The nongovernmental organization, which provides legal aid to those thought to have suffered at the hands of the police, is helping Gladyshev.

The case became a cause celebre when it first became public. Mayor Yury Luzhkov said in April that the city demands the "maximum punishment" for the guilty parties.

Gladyshev's mother, Kira Gladysheva, a court marshall, said her son spent two weeks in the hospital after his encounter with the police.

While Novikov acknowledged the officers probably didn't intend to hurt the boy, he said the incident shows police "are just unable to work with people."

Novikov's comments appear to jibe with public sentiment. A 2004 Levada Center poll of Russians in 12 cities showed 80 percent of respondents believe their local police are corrupt. Twenty-six percent said they had experienced abuse, including blackmail or extortion, at the hands of the police.

At Monday's trial, Ryabov, Starkov and Pervushin insisted they were innocent of any crime.

According to the officers' testimony, they were on Novoryazanskaya Ulitsa checking out a possible burglary that turned out to have been a false alarm.

The officers said they then decided to check out the nearby entranceways of the apartment building in question. That was when they ran into Gladyshev.

The boy struck the officers as suspicious, they said, because he hardly spoke when they questioned him. Gladyshev said he was simply scared.

Gladyshev then resisted arrest. Police stopped the boy from getting too far and handcuffed him. He then kicked their driver twice in the groin and reached for one of their weapons, they said.

Gladyshev sustained neck bruises when the police caught him by his T-shirt, tearing it and bruising the area round his collar, said the officers' lawyer, Alexei Yevsyunin. "It is a very tender piece of skin," Yevsyunin said.

Yevgeny Sevosyanov, the trio's senior officer, said Gladyshev is athletic, standing 1.72 meters.

That didn't pass muster with the boy's mother. "They're not exactly gnomes," she said, noting that the officers were wearing body armor and carrying automatic weapons.

Gladyshev said that the whole time he was in the squad car headed to the station, the officers swore and threatened to buy him in a garbage dumpster if he didn't shut up.

When Kira Gladysheva reached the station not long after her son arrived — an old woman helped the boy, still in handcuffs, phone his mother — she found him bruised and rattled, she said.

"It was a horrible picture," Gladysheva said, "He was beaten, scared, half sitting, half lying on a chair. No help was given to him."

Police at the station offered Gladysheva money to drop the case, but she refused, she said.

Gladysheva may not get any satisfaction from the verdict, but she hopes she may get some compensation: She is suing the police for the physical and emotional damage she says her son suffered, asking for 205,000 rubles ($7,660).

Novikov of Social Verdict said the Gladyshev case was hardly an aberration. The NGO has helped 200 people across the country since its founding in 2004. That may be due, in part, to the fact that many officers view violence favorably.

A 2005 Levada Center poll of 634 officers in 41 cities found 63 percent thought violence against suspects was acceptable. Sixty percent said violence was a reasonable response to an insult.

Indeed, Sevosyanov, the senior police officer, wondered what a guilty verdict in the Gladyshev case — prison or no prison — might mean for the whole country.

"What will happen to millions of police if they are found guilty," he said of Ryabov, Starkov and Pervushin. "How will the police work?"