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Unfiled November 13, 2004
 
Dr. Limonov’s Advices on Surviving Russian Interrogation
By Edward Limonov Browse author
 
 

When detained, you shouldn’t talk to them without presence of lawyer. Remember that: at first hours and first days of detention you will be most vulnerable: surrounded by policemen, frightened, so you will easy to deal with. Anything you say will be later used to destroy you or your friends. So, don’t talk, don’t sign anything. Wait for the lawyer.

Almost sure you will be beaten, when detained. The very degrees of beating will depend on crime which you suspected to commit. If you are suspected of committing homicide, you will be severely beaten, in order to force you to confess. In Russian law system confession is very important. You should manage do not confess for three days, afterwards you will be released or will be transferred to prison. In prison during investigation you will not be beaten, they will use other means of influence on you. That because, when in prison, you will be under charge of two administrations: prison administration and team of investigators. Each will not be interested to bear responsibilities for your injuries and hematomes.

When talking with investigator, even if your lawyer seating next to you, don’t give them names of people. Never mention the names because those people might be summoned for interrogation, so you will put them in trouble. Those people named by you, may say some bad things about you, about other innocent people. No names.

The best thing to do is to use the word "not" as much as you can. "No, I don’t know what you talking about. No, I never met that man." Try to avoid the sentences like, "No, but…"

Remember that interrogator, no matter how silly he might look, been taught of primitive art of interrogation. Even if he is not smart, his is professional. You should be aware that he is capable to cheat you, he will do it on every occasion. Don’t believe in interrogator’s promises. He might promise you liberation from prison or unsignificant punishment, but you should know that judge, not investigator, will decide your fate.

Don’t talk to investigator as to your friend. Talk to him only as with your worst enemy, and he is your worst enemy. Never try to explain him yourself, or your life, or your preferences, or tastes. Everything you said will be used against you.

Investigation of yours might be protocoled in due form: question, answer. In order to sound clear — talk in short phrases. When investigation is over and protocoled you and your lawyer should read it CAREFULLY. You should protest against phrases protocoled not as you said them. Those phrases might have big influence on your fate. You and your lawyer shouldn’t sign protocol, if investigator is refusing to change some protocols lines. Foreigners have a right to have a translator. Use your right even if you speak perfect Russian. Try to get in touch with your embassy.

You should know that Russian police habits are harsh. In order do not provoke unnecessary violence on you don’t tease them, don’t mock them: speak seriously, with determination, straight-forward. They will see what kind of man you are in a few first hours of interrogation: you should control yourself at least during three days. If by the chance you are not tortured in those three days, very unlikely that you will be physically abused later.

I wasn’t beaten up when arrested in 2001 at Altai mountains. It explains itself by two reasons: 1) I am too known figure in Russian world; 2) I was a target of interrogators. I was destined to be judged as organizer, leading figure of crime. My second-in-command, Sergei Aksionov, was also left alone, he wasn’t beaten up because he was also destined to be an organizer. On the contrary six other men arrested with us were interrogated all night long, beaten up, menaced with pistols (barrel of a gun was puted on forehead), in order to force them testify against me and Aksionov. But all of us, we were arrested by FSB-men, Russian police is more brutal than FSB.

Pressure on you might be applied also by a cell-mate. Usually your first cell-mate is an informer, working for the police. (It might be different, if they had no time for preparation. In small village prison of Ust-Koksa I was in my cell with two young horse-stealers, they weren’t informers, those boys with Mongol faces.) So you shouldn’t talk to him about your "crime," about your life, about anything except simple matters: food, women, weather, etc. Because your cell-mate almost certainly will rapport to your interrogator about you.

Remember that all your weaknesses, fears, all particular traits of your character will be noticed by policemen who will deal with. All that will be noted in some documents, what will travel with you from prison to prison, from one interrogator to another one. So you should be strong-willed, bright, clever from the first hour of your detention. Your behavior in first hour and first day of detention will affect all your fate.

If they decided to press the charges against you, as I said, you will be transferred to SIZO — investigative isolation prison, in Moscow it is usually "Butirka" (Butirskaya prison) or "Matroska" (prison with a poetical name "Sailor’s Silence" — Matrosskaya Tishina), women are held in Prison No. 6. Those are huge old prisons. Butirka’s population is about 7,000 men, Matroska’s population around 10,000. Some cells are populated up to 100 men, some about 10 or 20. Small cells are preferable.

As I said, you will not be beaten up in SIZO but they have some special cells where you might be pressured by other prisoners. Those cells are named "press-khata." Pressure is usually: menaces, advices to confess, vicious promises to kill you when you are asleep, etc. Strong person will stand up anyway, after few days then, you will be let alone and transferred from a press-khata to usual cell. It might also happen that you will not be put in press-khata at all.

Basic wisdom: don’t have a fear. Be ready to everything. One example: Oleg Laletin, one of protagonist of my process in Saratov choose to collaborate with investigators. Once he confessed he was afterwards a preferred victim for them. When it was a time for him to testify in a courtroom he was transferred to a cell with the sick of AIDS, under false pretext that his blood samples were suspect. It was a lie, of course. When he gived the testimony what satisfied FSB, he was transferred back to his old cell. Finally Laletin was sentenced to an equal punishment as others accused National-Bolsheviks, who were strong and never admitted their guilt. His veakness made him a traitor. Be avare of that, you, prisoner of tomorrow’s days.

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