Sunday, October 23, 2011

Voina´s coordinator Natalia Sokol (Kozlenok) defies Russian police

Voina Group´s co-founder reveals her 18 Oct. account of St. Petersburg arrest and detention as she refuses to cooperate

International arrest warrant expected against her

This account was translated by Voina and provided to ArtTraveler; it was first published 23 October 2011 on the Free-Voina website

A doctored image of Putin
Vladimir Putin in L. Brezhnev´s uniform (c) Moscow Times 30 Sept. 2011 (Artist unknown)

By Natalia Sokol (Kozlenok)

Ulf Kalkreuth left the hotel before us. He was filming us very closely as we exited the hotel.

We headed towards the Sadovaya on foot. Kasper was helping me with the bike, pushing it from behind. Ulf was rattling along the pavement behind us, filming everything.

We had only walked about 20 meters when a white car approached us at full speed. The car came to a hard stop, illuminating us with its headlights.

It was immediately apparent who and why would need to brake so hard at 10 minutes past midnight 14 Oct. on an empty street.

I signalled to Oleg to get away.

At the same moment, four Center E operatives jumped out of the car and rushed towards us. Oleg hopped onto his bike and took off. One of the cops ran after him shouting, “Stop or I will shoot!”.

of the others grabbed Kasper, myself and my bike. When they seized me, one of the operatives, Igor Yurievich Borisov, exclaimed, “At last!” This wasn’t our first encounter with him.

Borisov was the one who interrogated Oleg and Leonid during the night of November 16th, 2010 in St. Petersburg after their arrest in Moscow.

The cop who had run after Oleg came back out of breath. The operatives got in the car and sped off to try and follow Oleg.

Kasper and I proceeded towards the Sadovaya under the escort of the two remaining cops. I had told Kasper first thing that everything was going to be all right and not to let go of my hand. He was composed and calm.

Borisov inquired about the contents of my backpack, and started feeling it up straight away.

Natlia Sokol (Kozlenok) and son Kasper, detained by police in St. Petersburg 14 October

Ulf stayed on the embankment with his camera.

under escort, we reached the Sadovaya and turned onto it. We then walked another block in the direction of Lermontovsky Prospekt.

Seeing neither Oleg nor the police car, I concluded that Oleg must had gotten away.

“Stop here,” Borisov ordered, and the escort stopped us.

I saw a patrol car (#24-01) drive by. Immediately following it, the white car with the Center E operatives appeared again.

The one who had run after Oleg jumped out of the car and stood in front of Kasper and me. “I should have fired,” he said, grinning stupidly. “Why didn’t the guys in the second car stop him?” asked Borisov.

They began talking disappointedly about their failure. The escort seemed to have let their guard down. I put my bike on kickstand and stopped a taxi.

Suddenly the cops grabbed me by the arms and started dragging me away. I screamed,
“Somebody help!”

The Center E people were dragging me and Kasper towards their car. I was trying desperately to hold Kasper’s hand; he was about to start crying and I was screaming for help.

I saw two people heading towards us from the other side of the street. Someone shouted from a window, “They’re detaining a woman with child!”

A passing ambulance stopped. The crew wanted to know what was going on.  I screamed that we were being abducted.

The paramedics shook their heads and left. The cops, still dragging us along the pavement, shouted to the onlookers that they were from the criminal investigation department and that “this girl is wanted by police”

Borisov even flashed some kind of ID at them but put it back into his pocket immediately.
A crowd started to gather. I was able to shout Dinze’s (Voina lawyer) telephone number.

One of the onlookers called him at once and explained the situation. When the onlooker asked me my name, Borisov replied before I could, telling him my last name (Sokol).

Dinze later claimed that the onlooker was another police operative in civilian clothes.

Apparently, Dinze later passed this person’s number on to my relatives, who then had a telephone conversation with him. The guy then called them back to ask which political organization I belonged to.

Dinze’s comment:
He probably was a police operative. He hoped that I would lead him to Vorotnikov. The cops didn’t realize it was my telephone number, and that I didn’t know anything about Oleg. It was just one of their wiretapping games.”
I realized that if the cops were to continue dragging us like that, they could break Kasper’s arm.

I managed to lift him with one hand and hold him against my bosom. Borisov started shoving us into the car. He was pushing right against Kasper as he did so.

“Why are you hiding behind a child?” he asked me. I replied, “Did you expect me to leave him on the road, you son of a bitch?”

Another cop was pulling me into the car from the inside.

Finally they succeeded and locked me in the car. Moments later, two cops got on the back seat on either side of me and Kasper. The bicycle did not fit into the trunk of the car, so the cops broke it apart and loaded the pieces into the trunk.

In the car Kasper said to me loudly, “Cops are not people.” I noticed that he was very upset. By his lips I could tell he was about to go into a fit. I tried to console him again.

“Where is daddy?”

“He’s gone.”

“Are we in a beep-beep?”


“Is this a race?”

“No, it’s not a race at all. In races they know how to catch up.”

“Stupid beep-beep!”

“You’re absolutely right. It’s going to be OK because we’re together.”

“Yes mommy.”

We took off. One of the cops was talking on his phone. He was saying, “Yes, Vasya. I’m afraid so. It was an accident.” “Vasya” was Vasily Trifan, the operative who gave the orders to beat up Oleg during the November 15, 2010 arrest.

We arrived at police station No. 1 (16 Yakubovicha str). One of the Center E operatives went to talk to the police officer on duty. He said, “We have something to talk about. We brought you a wanted person.” 

The door opened and the cops tried to shove us inside.

I demanded that they identify themselves. Borisov started listing all of his long titles and positions at the anti-extremism department. I cut him short and told him I only needed his full name. “Borisov Igor Yurievich,” he replied.

I pointed at another agent, the one who had run after Oleg, and demanded to identify him as well. Borisov claimed he was a random passer-by, without a name or title.

The other two Center E agents were silent. Eventually they pushed us into the building.

Then they carried the remnants of the bicycle inside. They tried to put the bicycle back together but couldn’t. It was broken.

My backpack was hanging from the handlebar, open and half-empty.

Cops from the Operations and Searches Department (OSD) soon arrived at the station.

They had some kind of discussion with the Center E agents in another room.

A drunk OSD cop eventually emerged from the room. His name was Nikolay Sergeevich Stepanenko (OSD No. 5). He approached me and told me he was taking me to the 28th police station.
Stepanenko reeked of alcohol. He started ranting about how well he was treating me. I asked him why he was drunk on duty. Stepanenko waved his hand at me, turned away and shoved a candy into his mouth.

Operative Stepanenko

Everyone at police station No. 1 refused to identify themselves. My demands to call my attorney were ignored.

After an hour of pleading, they finally responded with “All right, we’ll call him.” Nevertheless, Dmitri Dinze did not appear at the station that night.

More operatives arrived, Trifan among them. All of them had crooked grins on their faces. I realized that those were a sign of despair.

Oleg had gotten away from them yet again.

Trifan was hiding his eyes from me, though he was just as rude as he was in November 2010 in Moscow. The agents were leaving the room all the time to have telephone conversations with their superiors, either on the street or in the hallway.

A cop from the 28th police station appeared. He identified himself as A.Z. Bisaev, “the officer on duty”. He told me that I was going with him.

Operative Stepanenko and officer Bisaev

Kasper had already fallen asleep on the table with a notepad in his hands, after drawing yet another burning police car.

The drunk Stepanenko came over again. He woke Kasper up on purpose to give him a sunflower seed candy.

Kasper immediately declared that the candy was “shit” and threw it under the bench.

Kasper sleeping at police station No. 1

Stepanenko kept telling me the entire time that he was not the one who arrested me, and thus all I had to do was sign everything he wanted me to sign.

When I found out he was from the OSD, I asked him why he did not participate in the arrest.

“How did you know where we would be at that precise time?”

“We had been informed.” “By whom?” No reply.

A paramedics crew arrives to take Kasper

At 2:30 a.m., two ambulance medics (one male and two female) entered the station.

They had come to “process the child”. Stepanenko told them, “Take the child away. Sokol will be taken to the 28th.”

An operative from OSD No. 5 and the officer on duty at police stations No. 1 try to convince paramedics to take the child

Kasper had fallen asleep again by then.

I announced that I was not going to let them take my child and that I was not going anywhere without my attorney.

Cops from the OSD and Center E threaten Kozlenok to have Kasper taken away

The ambulance crew informed me that they could not legally take the child away without my explicit consent.

That calmed me down. I gave them Kasper’s information, including his age and his health status.

The medics decided not to wake him up for a check-up.

The cops invited the male medic into another room for a talk.

From behind the door, I heard him explaining to them his legal inability to take the child away without my consent.

The ambulance waited for another 20 minutes while the cops locked themselves in the next room and tried to come to a decision on whether to take Kasper away.

Meanwhile, the medic came back to me, and I took the opportunity to write a signed refusal letter.

The paramedics are writing down Kasper’s information

The ambulance then left.

When the Center E agents realized this, they scattered out of their room and started yelling at the local cops.

Borisov was screaming, “Why did you let the ambulance leave without the child? You weren’t supposed to let them go until they would agree to take him! Quick, now, call the escort and let’s get this cunt the fuck out of here. As for the child, get all the documents in order and let the medics take him.”

An OSD operative convincing the medics that they are obligated to remove the child
More phone yelling from the next room. Borisov again, “The cunt refuses to sign the obligation to appear! What the fuck should I do?!”

The cops were talking about taking us to the 28th police station.

I assumed that they had a tighter control over the 28th, that it acted as their “torture chamber”. It was at the 28th that cops beat up Oleg during the night of March 31, while Kasper cried, alone, locked in the next room.

Another incoming call.

“The BBC press service is calling! What do we do?”

“We’re the police service! We tell them to go fuck themselves!”

Starting from 3:30 AM, the cops were trying to get me to sign an obligation to appear for questioning the following day.

I guess they were tired and did not know what to do with me. I kept demanding that they identify themselves and call my attorney.

Eventually, Stepanenko called Dinze. Dinze advised me to sign the obligation, which I did. Stepanenko scheduled the questioning for 7 p.m. on  October 18.

Bisaev, the escort guard from the 28th, dragged my bike outside. I expected a trap as I was leaving the building, because I saw him carry the bike towards a police vehicle.

I was relieved when I recognized the people outside. T

hey were Lena and Kostya, along with lawyer Joseph Gabuniya and a journalist from “Novaya Gazeta”. They had not been allowed inside the police station.

I took my bike from the cop and we started fixing it.

Kasper was very happy to be free. He was marching and singing songs and running around pretending to be a plane.

He even collided with the fence at full speed in his little helmet. We were laughing our butts off watching him.

I was supposed to show up for questioning at investigator Semenikhin’s office at 7 p.m., October 28.

I did not comply. The questioning was postponed till same time October 19. 

According to the investigators, should I fail to appear again, there will be an international arrest warrant against me. We’ll see how that goes. I’m curious.

Islamic art and design at Granada´s Alhambra, photograph by Stefan van Drake (2009)
Rock on and practice peace and love.
Stefan, the ArtTraveler (TM)

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