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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Policeman Free in Draft Dodger Case

MTFrom left, Andrei, Konstantin, their mother and Nikolai Zuyev in their apartment about a week after the incident.
A city court judge handed down a suspended sentence Tuesday to a police officer convicted of illegally detaining a suspected draft dodger in December.

Dorogomilovsky District Court Judge Vera Belkina ruled that Viktor Lavrenyuk had abused his authority in forcing Andrei Zuyev, 21, to go to the enlistment office to prove that he had medical exemption from army service.

But Lavrenyuk was acquitted on charges of assault after prosecutors alleged that he attacked members of Zuyev's family while trying to bring him in.

"The court recognizes that Lavrenyuk's physical actions were in the category of self-defense," Belkina told a tiny, packed courtroom in an hour-long reading.

All charges against a second officer, Igor Gavrilin, were dropped after the judge ruled that he was "simply following orders" in an altercation that broke out at the Zuyevs' apartment.

Neither of the officers was satisfied with the ruling.

"We are not happy because we do not consider ourselves guilty of anything," Gavrilin said outside the court after the sentence was read.

Lavrenyuk and Gavrilin had faced maximum prison sentences of 10 years for assault.

Zuyev and his family also expressed their disappointment-- they were seeking 300,000 rubles, or about $12,000, in damages and a much tougher sentence. They received 30,000 rubles.

"It's not a fair sentence," Zuyev said outside the court Tuesday. "These policemen beat me and my family, including a child."

"They are dangerous criminals and, accordingly, should be in prison," Zuyev said.

Viktor Lavrenyuk
Zuyev's father, Nikolai, said the case only got as far as it did because of media attention. "We are not happy. A person without money for bribes is simply not protected in this country," he said, adding that he had been threatened with trumped-up charges from police officers if he did not drop the case.

Four officers, including Gavrilin and Lavrenyuk, arrived at the Zuyevs' Filyovsky Bulvar apartment at 10:30 p.m. on Dec. 11, because Andrei's name was on an Interior Ministry list of men required to report for enlistment.

Zuyev had filed an exemption application with the Kuntsevsky enlistment office, but it had not yet been processed. He had a document verifying that he had submitted the application.

Nikolai Zuyev let officer Sergei Dolgov into the apartment, while the other three officers remained outside.

Dolgov told them that the document they had was not enough, after which they say the officers assaulted them.

"The bandits then came in and beat us up after we refused to pay a bribe," Nikolai Zuyev said.

He said Lavrenyuk and Gavrilin attacked him, after which his 14-year-old son, Konstantin, ran out of his room and punched Gavrilin. Gavrilin retaliated by punching the child in the face and holding him against the wall by his throat, choking him, he said.