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Chechen Court Sends OMON Officer to Jail

Published: April 1, 2005 (Issue # 1057)


GROZNY - A Grozny court on Tuesday sentenced a federal Interior Ministry serviceman to 11 years in jail for severely beating a Chechen civilian - the first time such a trial has been held in Chechnya.

Sergei Lapin, an officer of the elite OMON special forces who was serving in Chechnya, was convicted of causing severe bodily harm to Zelimkhan Murdalov and of abusing his authority.

Murdalov, 22, left his home in Grozny on Jan. 2, 2001, saying he would be back in an hour, according to the London-based human rights organization Amnesty International.

That was the last Murdalov's family ever saw of him, and his whereabouts remain unknown. His father discovered that a young man matching his description had been detained in central Grozny. Police told him that his son was detained on charges of possessing cannabis and was later released.

However, detainees who had been held in the same cell reportedly said that when they saw Murdalov a day after his arrest he was unconscious after being severely beaten and his body was mutilated. A criminal case was opened in January 2001 into Murdalov's "disappearance," but his father still does not know the fate of his son.

Relatives of the victim wept in court as the judge spent more than half an hour describing the details of his beating and torture, including electric shocks and the use of dogs, according to footage broadcast on NTV television.

Lapin protested his innocence and denounced the court verdict as unfair. His lawyers will appeal, NTV said.

"I didn't expect anything else," he said from inside a steel cage for defendants in the courtroom.

"It's unlawful, unjustified and unproven," Lapin said.

But a lawyer for the victim's family said they welcomed the verdict even though it would not bring back Murdalov, believed to be dead.

"They are satisfied. A crime has been acknowledged as a crime and a real punishment meted out," Stanislav Margelov said.

The verdict was the first to be handed down by a Chechen court against a federal serviceman accused of committing crimes against Chechens. A military officer, former Colonel Yury Budanov, was convicted by a Rostov-on-Don court in July 2003 of the kidnapping and murder of an 18-year-old Chechen woman.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Tuesday, Jan. 27


Observe the 71st anniversary of the end of the Siege of Leningrad on Palace Square with a free concert at 7 p.m. Listen to WWII-era songs and the poetry of Olga Bergholz while you peruse outdoor exhibitions dedicated to life during wartime. The event is capped off by a fireworks display at 9 p.m.



Stop by the Lexica School of Foreign Languages at 73 Ligovsky Prospekt from now until Friday for a free English lesson. The classes start at 7 p.m. and cover all levels, from Beginner to Advanced. Registration by telephone on 7641692 and a desire to improve your skills are the only prerequisites.



Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café — 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.



Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekhov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.



Friday, Jan. 30



The Lermontov Central Library, 19 Liteyny Prospekt, will screen 'Almost Famous’ in English with Russian subtitles at 6:30 p.m. Cameron Crowe's Academy Award-winning comedy from 2000 stars Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit, and tells the story of a budding music journalist at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Admission is free.



Meet renowned Russian poet, journalist and writer Dmitry Bykov, famous for his biographies of Boris Pasternak, Bulat Okudzhava and Maxim Gorky, and winner of 2006 National Bestseller Award. Bykov will read old and new poems as well as answer questions about his works at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Main Hall, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles and are available at city ticket offices and the from the Philharmonic website www.philharmonia.spb.ru.



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of ‘Repulsion’ at 7 p.m. and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy ‘The Tenant,’ the cult comedy ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’ and ‘Cul-de-sac’ among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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