2011/09/28 "Court Hearing in Tambov: Unit Commanding Officer Charged with Deaths of Six Servicemen"
  • Press Release No. 72/1408
  • 28/09/2011

Today, on September 28, the Tambov Garrison Court considered the case of A. A. Slobodyan, commanding officer of M.U. No. 54607. The ex-commander is charged under Article 219, Section 3, of the RF Criminal Code (violating of fire safety rules and regulations resulting in deaths of two and more persons).

This case is one of the most complicated cases run by Mother's Right Foundation. First of all, the accused is the commanding officer of the military unit where the incident took place. It's a rare case, when the prosecutors managed to collect all materials and present them to court. We should mention that Slobodyan is no longer the unit's commanding officer and has nothing to do with the army and soldiers. Currently, he is holding the position of Vice-Head of the Department of Security and Law Enforcement in the Administration of the Tambov Region. During the investigation, Slobodyan was making emotional speeches at numerous events, as well as taking part in chess championships. Rumors say that some influential persons made phone calls to the court and offered some advice on the case. However, we do not believe such rumors, we believe only facts.

Secondly, this case is complicated by the number of victims, and their views on the case differ. Today's meeting demonstrated the split in their opinions.

Two years ago, on September 13, 2009, approximately at 9:00 am, the fire took place in the headquarters of M.U. No. 54607. As a result of poisoning from carbon dioxide, Major Eduard Dudenkov, Captain Artem Popov, Privates Vladimir Borovikov and Denis Zlobin died. On the same day later Major Vitaly Ivanov died in hospital. On September 19, 2009 Private Igor Sinyavsky died of poisoning and burns in hospital - doctors could not save his life. The investigation into the deaths of six persons was initiated. The investigation revealed a large number of violations on the part of the unit commanding officer. It looks like Slobodyan did not care a straw about the fire safety, as well as the safety of his subordinate personnel.

From the case materials: "The building of the headquarters of M.U. 54607, where the fire took place on September 13, 2009, was built in 1910. The walls were made from red brick, and the floors and ceilings were made of wood. (...) The building of the headquarters was not equipped with all necessary fire alarm equipment; no fire alarm equipment was set up at the floors of the building. (...) The question of installing fire alarm equipment was not even discussed by Slobodyan. (...) Electricians from the Tambov electric station were appointed as persons responsible for the safety of electrical system of the building. (...) Thus, the electricians were controlling themselves; there was no control on the part of the unit's officers. (...) In February 2009, the Head of the Tambov electrical station informed Slobodyan that people should get banned from gathering in the club room and using the central staircase.... However, no corresponding order was issued by Slobodyan. Instead, he was planning to move the Educational Work Department to another building. But it was not ready for the purpose."

Thus, on the day of the tragedy, the classes on educational work were held in an old building, with outdated electric wiring and wood floors and ceilings, with no fire alarm equipment - at the place, where people should not have been. The classes were conducted on the third floor. The fire started on the first floor, in the state secrets room where an electric junction box with wires was behind the mounted ceiling. The building itself was constructed in such a way that persons who stayed on the first and second floors were not aware about the people studying on the third floor. The unit's headquarters were located on the first floor of the building; they were separated with a door from the central entrance staircase which goes to the second and third floors of the building. The door was always closed and a person on duty could not see people going up to the second and third floors. Another duty post was not provided. As a result, the people from the first floor were evacuated, while the people from the third floor were noticed only afterwards, when they started breaking windows. Later, it was found out that the officers that were conducting the classes tried to organize evacuation of the soldiers through the central entrance. However, nobody could reach the end of the staircase due to thick smoke. As a result, firemen saved only those who managed to reach the windows.

The Mother's Right Foundation was applied to by Nadezhda Anatolievna Sinyavskaya, mother of Igor Sinyavsky, and Sergei Alexeyevich and Marina Borisovna Borovikov, parents of Vladimir Borovikov. They asked the foundation to represent their interests in court. They think that Slobodyan, who is guilty in the deaths of their sons, should bare the blame and a hush punishment. The interests of the parents of the deceased were represented by the Mother's Right Foundation lawyer, Ms. Tatiana Sladkova.

After reading the charges (Slobodyan did not plead guilty), Colonel Vladimir Alexeyevich Abramov, military prosecutor of the Tambov Garrison Court, asked the court to interrogate the two victims, who arrived at court to give their testimonies. The parties agreed to listen to the testimonies of Gulnar Salavatovna D. and Olga Nikolaevna P., dead officers' widows. Their husbands died while trying to rescue the soldiers from the fire. Two weeks ago, these women called to the Mother's Right Foundation and asked for help. However, they asked to help them receive compensation for the deaths of their husbands and not bring charges against Slobodyan. After discussion, we decided not to represent these widows' interests because of the conflict between their interests and the interests of the families of the dead soldiers.

During the hearing, both widows made speeches in defence of Slobodyan. The first testimony was delivered by Gulnar Salavatovna D. She told that she herself had been working for M.U. 54607 since 2007. The building of the unit headquarters was very old. Military servicemen saw that it was about to collapse. She was never present at fire safety classes. She believes that it was the RF Ministry of Defence that was responsible for the tragedy. She is grateful to Slobodyan because had helped her solve housing problems, helped her with the funerals, raised money for her family and assisted in obtaining her son's loss-of breadwinner pension.

Olga Nikolaevna P.'s speech was much the same: "I would like to say some words in defense of Slobodyan. I do not have any claims on him. Also, I do not have any complaints against the military unit. It is a well functioning mechanism". In her opinion, it is the Ministry for Civil Defence and Emergencies that is responsible for the unit's fire safety, not Slobodyan. She is grateful to him for transporting her husband's body to the Kirovsk Region, financial assistance provided by his fellow servicemen and a loss-of-breadwinner pension.

We did not attempt to change the widows' minds and to explain them that there was nothing to be grateful to Slobodyan for. Transportation of a dead body to a burial place is the state's obligation. Pensions and other social compensations are also a part of their legal rights and state obligations. It cost Slobodyan nothing out of his pocket. It was their husbands' fellow servicemen who raised the money. We did not remind them that ‘the fish always stinks from the head', that a human life is priceless... In this case, the Mother's Right Foundation represents the interests of the mother of the late Igor Sinyavsky and the parents of the late Vladimir Borovikov. We are going to represent their position in the case.