Olga Dolzhenkova, Alexandra Vasilkova
According to the Coalition against Torture, in Kyrgyzstan torture is used systematically and remains a common practice in prisons, boarding schools and senior centres. In Kyrgyzstan, local judges have considered 44 criminal cases upon statements of torture
90 per cent of people contained in prisons are exposed to torture by law-enforcement bodies.
Law-enforcement bodies of Kyrgyzstan remain with impunity, which sets a precedent of torture as one of the tools to get necessary responses.
Physical torture and violence are used to force to obedience,
threaten, force to speak what is favourable to the investigative

The stories of the victims of torture are direct evidence of how life
can be destroyed in just one hour.
The "elephant" for Sasha Timonov
The story of Sasha Timonov was described by his father,
Aleksandr M. Timonov. He has been struggling for his son and justice for ten years.

Back in 2010, 20-year-old Sasha Timonov was dating a girl in the neighbourhood named Victoria. Once a police officer called him and asked him to come to the local police precinct of Moskovsky district. He was told that Vika was in the precinct and needed his help. Sasha and his friend Sergei went to set the girl free.

The young man never went out of the local precinct building.

Later on, his friend told he was waiting for Aleksandr near the police building for about three hours. Then he saw how officers went out of the building, in uniforms, and went to the car. The boy was afraid he would be detained and left.

Sergei told about it to the friend's family and mother went to cover up for the son. She did not want to take her husband with her to the police precinct because he would have made a lot of blunders.

At the local police precinct, the anxious woman was told they did not detain any Aleksandr Timonov. But when she was leaving, one of the security guards showed her with gestures that her son was on the second floor of the police building.

The worried woman went upstairs and heard her son's cry. At one of the offices, she saw a picture that made her heart almost stop beating: Sasha was lying in the corner of the room in handcuffs, a police officer was sitting on him and was beating him with a full bottle. So much blood was around him, other police officers were standing beside.

The woman shouted and then she felt a knock to her face, which made her fall into the corridor. Then two police officers dragged the woman to the first floor and said her son was a murderer. He allegedly killed Ryspek, the ex-boyfriend of Victoria.

Later on, it became known that Sasha's girlfriend, Victoria Boltunova, and her friend Anna were witnesses in the murder case. Under coercion from the investigation agencies, they witnessed against the man. After repeated battery, Sasha signed his own confession of murder.
Later on, the handwriting examination found that the document had two persons' handwritings – someone "helped" Sasha write the confession.
— Sometime later, I went to Victoria Boltunova and wondered why she witnessed against him. And then I learned that police officers seized her passport during the interrogation, tied her head to her legs, took her pants off, poured some vodka and raped her one after another.

They told their son, "We'll put you in prison anyway. If you want to be a man in prison, sign it. Otherwise, we'll buy a condom at the chemist's, put it on the baton and rape you."

When Sasha after the interrogation was taken to the diagnostic centre for MRI for health reasons, the doctor was shocked and switched off the tomographic scanner and said he could get paralysed. The son had a convulsive attack because of the most severe concussion. He was all in bruises and blood spots. He said he was beaten by bottles, was subjected to "the elephant" ("slonik"), and they put a plastic bag over his head.

Aleksandr Timonov
Father of the victim of torture
A repeated short-time asphyxiation of a detained using a gas mask put on him/her with the flow of oxygen cut off repeatedly; any fluid can be poured into the gas mask.

Sasha Timonov has already served his term for the murder. Now the young man has a job, he has a family, and tries to socialise.

He does not want to recall the years spent in prison and torture. However, he remembers them by regular headaches, a fat medical chart with a lot of diagnoses, and nightmares. Crime films about the police are a taboo in the Timonovs family. Both Sasha and his mother have high pulse rate when they see the scenes of detention and interrogation.
Lost donkey

For 10 years Aleksandr Mikhailovich has never given up for a minute. He held single-person pickets in front of the 'white house' demanding the attention of the authorities.

For years of struggle, Timonov has mastered legal concepts better than lawyers, learned some laws and regulations by heart, and divided the case into three volumes: by witnesses and their false testimonies, by episodes of torture, by illegal actions of procurator's officers and the investigation. They made mistakes in giving judgements, omitted the surnames of the defendants in documents, executed papers improperly, and used repeated threats against the senior Timonov.

Aleksandr Mikhailovich filed lawsuits against the eight police officers on the following charges: abuse of office and falsification of evidence. He is planning to seek justice via the Constitutional Chamber and the disciplinary committee.

In 2011, the donkey and the road cart belonging to Aleksandr Mikhailovich Timonov, which were an essential property for a villager, went missing. He filed a petition to the local police officer. Timonov found the donkey a few days later and forgot about his petition.

Six months later, he received a notice he won the case – the donkey and the road cart were found, the thief was convicted and was imposed a fine of 2.5 thousand som (32 dollars). Timonov went to the police precinct to sort out the situation, and they showed him the documents, including acknowledgement on his behalf. Also, there was a protocol of donkey identity parade. However, the donkey was found a year ago.

Later on, it was found out that the escaped prisoner was convicted of the theft of donkey and road cart and a couple of crimes were imposed on him.

Graphics by Tatiana Zelenskaya
— The story with the donkey is a prime example. The ministry of interior affairs has a criterion of the assessment of activity. It's all that simple: once there is a petition filed to the police, it should be followed out. The state system does not care about the way it would be followed out – whether by torture or by forgery. The important indicator is the statistics.

In 2015, we, the Coalition, started to apply to the government asking it not to assess the activity by crime detection rate. The key criterion of assessment should be public trust.

Recently, we obtained the statistics of the Supreme Court by the number of persons charged based on facts of torture during interrogations in 2016-2019. Only every fifth person accused of torture was found guilty. Now they serve their term in prison, while the rest were acquitted.

The phrase that is frequently used by judges is "Used combat sambo techniques to protect oneself". In such cases, it all depends on health officers who examine injuries caused by torture. However, health workers are also being pressed.

Indira Sautova
Executive Director of the Coalition against Torture in the Kyrgyz Republic
I lived like in hell with my husband and will be living like in hell after his death
Systematic domestic abuse and untimely response of competent authorities are considered torture and ill treatment. Unfortunately, this fact was ignored by the Osh City Court that sentenced Gulzhan Pasanova to nine years in prison. The young woman killed her husband who maltreated her for years.

Graphics by Tatiana Zelenskaya
Gulzhan met her future husband when she was a student. A widower who was bringing up two children promised to her she would complete her studies after the marriage. Finally, the girl decided to get married and her life turned into a nightmare.

All these years, since 2013, husband used to beat Gulzhan and used both physical and psychological violence against her. According to witnesses, he used to drink much and come home drunk and then he manhandled.

"My body was all in bruises and scratches. I was not going outside for months not to let my neighbours see me. My eldest children (adopted ones) took my girls outside for a walk and neighbours used to ask "Where is your mother?", Gulzhan said to her lawyer.

Once he beat his wife so much that she had her nose and mouth bleeding
uninterruptedly. At a hospital, Gulzhan was scared to tell the truth and said she fell down the stairs. On the eve of new 2017 year, her husband beat her so much that she lost her pregnancy.

All these years, Gulzhan Pasanova was suffering from abuse.

On November 19, 2019, her husband kicked up a row again. He blamed his wife for adultery, threatened to kill her and threw a knife against her. afterwards, he started to beat her and kick her on the head. Gulzhan was self-defending, took a metal stick and beat him a few times. The man fell down and went faint. A few hours later, he died at the Osh City Hospital.

Gulzhan Pasanova was detained during her husband's funeral.

After a month of investigation, she was found guilty and sentenced to nine years in prison and a fine of 90 thousand som (1,162 dollars). During court hearings, the husband's relatives cursed Gulzhan and the prosecutor said "she chose her husband on her own," "if you didn't like him, you should have gotten divorced, why kill him?".

In her last petition, Gulzhan said she acted to self-defend and that beatings and
violence that her husband practised for years made her commit irresistible impulse.

After the sentence was pronounced, Gulzhan said, "I lived like in hell with my husband, and will be living like in hell after his death".

(Clooney Foundation for Justice)
The organisation provided advisory opinion in support of the
victim of domestic abuse based on observations of their
representative that participated in all sessions of the Osh City
Court regarding his case.
#1 The court violated the right of Gulzhan Pasanova to the equality of parties to the trial

#2 Kyrgyzstan violated the right of Gulzhan Pasanova to presumption of innocence

#3 Kyrgyzstan failed to ensure the right of Gulzhan Pasanova to the equality before the law

— In 2020, Osh regional court reconsidered the case of Gulzhan Pasanova, convicted of the murder of her husband, and applied amnesty in celebration of the 75 th anniversary of the Victory Day and 10 th anniversary of the April revolution. As a result, the term of deprivation for Gulzhan was reduced by one third – to six years.

At first, we asked the court to requalify article "Causing severe bodily injury resulted in death by inadvertence of the sufferer", which was applied to Pasanova, to self-defence. However, the judicial board did not take our arguments and objections into account.

Mukhayye Abduraupova
Lawyer, director of Positive Dialogue Public Foundation
Mukhayye Abduraupova said that Gulzhan
Pasanova does not want any human rights aid now.
The relatives of her deceased husband are very unsatisfied because amnesty was applied to their daughter-in-law. Now they exert pressure on the young woman. She is scared of taking any measures to defend herself. She thinks it would be only worse.
Want a candy?
Maksat Zhaparov does not eat candy anymore. The young man feels sick once he sees multi-coloured candies packed in clear wrapping. They remind him of inhuman torture he suffered.

Graphics by Tatiana Zelenskaya
On August 26, 2019, two young men robbed a young Kyrgyzstani in Archa Beshik residential area. They seized his electric shocker that cost 28 dollars (2 thousand som at the rate of that time) and 57 dollars (4 thousand som) in cash, and disappeared from sight. This fact was registered in the Unified Register of Offences and Crimes of the interior affairs office of Leninsky district of Bishkek. Pre-trial procedure was started under article 201 "Robbery" of the Criminal Code of the Kyrgyz Republic.

18-year-old Maksat Zhaparov was suspected in this crime. Representatives of law- enforcement bodies came to his home the next day. As his mother Svetlana Akmoldoeva said later, police officers asked 287 dollars (20 thousand som) to close his

The family did not seek money, and did not apply anywhere, as they did not take their statement seriously. On September 25, Maksat Zhaparov was summoned to the police precinct. They told him he was a suspect on this case but never provided him or his family members any service documents.

In less than a month, on November 22, the investigation officer urgently called the young man to the police precinct. This day became a real nightmare for Maksat: they exerted psychological pressure on him in the investigation office and demanded that he confess to the robbery. The same night, law-enforcement officers took him to the 4 th city hospital for examination.

After a visit to the medical facility, police officers started to beat Maksat – they were beating him on kidneys. Then the young man was taken to the car and they put handcuffs on him. One of the officers sat aside and kept on beating the young man. Another officer who was in the driver's seat stopped on the way and was beating Maksat on his head with a one-litre plastic bottle.

Then he dropped candies – which Maksat does not like now – from a plastic bag and gave it to the officer who sat behind. The police officer started to put the bag on the young man's head. Maksat started choking and was trying to get free. His leg was near the windscreen and he started to kick it with all his force. When the police officer saw it, he was scared the windscreen could be broken and took the plastic bag off his head. But he kept on beating Maksat demanding him to confess to the robbery.

Then he was taken back to the police control room. Maksat Zhaparov asked to call the medical ambulance, but his request was ignored. In one hour and a half, he was taken to the temporary detention facility of the interior affairs department. Police officers there kept on exerting pressure on the young man: they threatened him with reprisals, said they would create hard life for him in prison and it was only the beginning.

The case of Maksat Zhaparov is not over.
It is not over despite the fact that legally, as the Coalition against Torture
explained, this case, even if he was involved in the robbery, should have been considered under the Code of Offences that became valid on January 2019.

The damage caused by the crime was 86 dollars (6 thousand som), i.e. it is not more than 10 estimate indicators or 143 dollars (10 thousand som). It means that this crime is of medium gravity. Nevertheless, the investigation decided to qualify this act as robbery and impose a pre-trial restraint as incarceration.
- Police officers can beat so that there are no injuries outside. Nevertheless, doctors can determine by blood tests whether the internals are injured. It is important to be a professional and to interrogate the victim thoroughly.

There have been frequent cases of pressure against health workers from law-
enforcement officers. Doctors are scared. There have been cases when health workers had to write "no injuries". In my practice, I've received complaints from health workers of the Bishkek scientific and research centre of traumatology and orthopaedics and the National Hospital. They receive 30 persons who are the victims of violence per month in average.

Doctors are interested in making photo evidences of injuries of patients, but health workers are scared anyway. Especially in the regions. I think doctors need to unite and they should be protected by their administration first. A systemic approach is essential, too.

The Istanbul protocol (The Manual on Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture – editor's note) must be available to health workers. They should be made aware, especially gynaecologists, proctologists, surgeons, trauma surgeons, officers of emergencies and ambulance. Systemic measures include automation – all calls with complaints should be received and recorded automatically.

My belief is that torture is corruption. The rules, standards and automation will make a difference and set new behavioural habits. In this case, lawsuits will get things moving and the justice will prevail.

Bermet Baryktabasova
Expert of evidence-based medicine
© 2020