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Police ordered to compensate journalist for illegal detention

(CJES/IFEX) - The Kostroma Sverdlovsky District Court has granted a lawsuit filed by journalist Anna Skudayeva against the Russian Interior Ministry claiming her April 2007 detention was illegal.

In the early hours of 14 April 2007, the Kostroma police pulled over two buses carrying 64 people to Moscow. Some passengers were going to Moscow to pay private visits and others were going to take part in one of six opposition rallies (known as "Marches of the Disagreeing Ones") sanctioned by the Moscow authorities. Skudayeva was going to Moscow to work on an assignment she had received from "Novaya Gazeta" deputy editor-in-chief V. Yaroshevsky.

Passengers were put in police vehicles and taken to a police station and local department for the prevention of organized crime, where they spent the night. The detainees were questioned and many were searched and photographed but the proper search and detention protocols were not followed.

The next day, the detainees filed complaints with the local prosecutor. However, an investigation conducted by prosecutors and the local Interior Affairs Department (UVD) did not reveal any violations by law enforcement officials. The detainees went to court, claiming the actions taken by the police were illegal and seeking compensation for their illegal detention.

In June 2008, the plaintiffs' claims were declined. However, the regional court reversed that decision and sent the case back for a new trial.

On 16 September, the Kostroma Sverdlovsky Court ruled in the journalist's favor. The court found the actions taken by the police to be illegal and ordered them to pay Skudayeva 1,500 rubles in moral damages (300 rubles for every hour of her illegal detention and 100 rubles in state duties).

CJES provided legal and media support to the journalist.

The journalist and CJES believe that many of the 64 people detained with Skudayeva in April 2007 will use this precedent to file similar lawsuits against the police.

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