- Press Release No. 19/1542
On April 3, the Mother’s Right Foundation won an important victory (thanks to the donations of those who support the foundation’s activities) in the Dzerzhinsky District Court, City of Nizhny Tagil, Sverdlovsk Region. The court upheld the claim filed by the foundation on behalf of the family members of Dmitry Dedyukhin who died in the military. Judge Marina Karakash (Bunkova) appealed to the participants of the hearing to be active: to appeal against illegal decisions made by draft committees and to take responsibility for their children. Her appeal and the story of Dmitry Dedyukhin are relevant against the background of the spring draft campaign.
The previous hearings of the case were held on December 24, 2012; January 22, 2013; April 2, 2013. The interests of the family of the deceased were represented by Tatiana Sladkova, a lawyer of the Mother’s Right Foundation. Thanks to today’s victory, the family will receive 2,400,000 rubles. This is the cost the Russian Federation will pay for the belt buckle ritual (Press Release No. 44/1380 of June 20, 2012; Press Release No. 67/1403 of September 16, 2011) practiced in M.U. 69647, Village of Kyakhta, Rep. of Buryatia. The unit’s officers could hardly imagine such a high cost for their connivance.
Dmirty Dedyukhin, resident of the Sverdlovsk Region, was called up to military service on November 9, 2010. Despite the fact that Dmitry suffered from high blood pressure (150/110 – 190/100), the local draft committee declared him fit for military service. Three months after the beginning of Dmitry’s service, his father was informed that he had committed suicide. The Dedyukhins were a poor family consisting of Dmitry’s disabled father, old grandmother and underage sister Vika. They had no idea how to apply for legal aid. We would not have known about their tragedy and nobody would have been punished for the boy’s death but for their indignant fellow-villagers who wrote a letter to the Mother’s Right Foundation.
In February 2011, the Mother’s Right Foundation received a letter from Dmitry Dedyukhin’s fellow villagers. They expressed despair and outrage: “Hello! Not long ago, an 18 year old boy from our village died in the military. He has been buried today. According to the official version, he hanged himself, but it’s clear that he was beaten: they hit him in the head and ears. He died of asphyxia. We believe that first he was beaten and then his murderers saw that he was dying and put his head in the loop. Dima wrote to his parents and asked for money: obviously somebody was extorting money from him. His parents are disabled. He himself had bad eyesight and flat feet. But according to the draft committee’s physicians, he belonged to the A group (the highest degree of fitness). Such a conclusion is a mystery. But that’s not the main point. The chief of the military commissariat tried to persuade the family not to initiate a medico-legal investigation. He was rude to Dima’s grandmother, and is unwilling to help the boy’s family. Not a single representative of the commissariat attended the funeral. The teachers of our school wish to apply to the officials of the 1st TV channel and raise the issue, but I think it’s useless. They also want to boycott the spring draft campaign…” On reading the letter, we contacted with the Dedyukhins. It was a challenge to work with the family. Alexander Pavlovich, the father of the deceased, has bad hearing. It’s was impossible to talk to him by phone. Yevdokia Ivanovna Illarionova, grandmother of the deceased, was not able to discuss the tragedy: she was grieving over her grandson’s death. The only family member we could talk to was Dima’s16 year old sister Viktoria: she recorded our talks and then interpreted them to Alexander Pavlovich. As a rule, victims send us their case materials but the Dedyukhins were not able to. Also, they were not able to attend the hearing, which considered the death of their son, grandson and brother. The Mother’s Right Foundation took those responsibilities on its shoulders.
Despite some technical problems, the Mother’s Right Foundation effectively represented the interests of the Dedyukhins in the Kyakhta Garrison Court in summer-autumn 2011. On September 16, 2011 Rayan Kusyukbayev guilty in Dmitry Dedyukhin’s death was sentenced to 4 years of imprisonment under Article 335, Section 3, of the RF CC.
Needless to say, that compensation for the Dedyukhins was a matter of honor for us. The Ministry of Defense and the military unit did not send representatives to the hearing: they sent letters of objection instead. The hearing was attended by D.P. Vyzhimok, a representative of the Military Commissariat of the Sverdlovsk Region, City of Nizhny Tagil and Prigorodny District, and Konstantin Popov, a representative of the Ministry of Finance. Mr. Popov was active and thus compensated the absence of other representatives while Mr. Vyzhimok was busy with his mobile phone (perhaps his phone talks were more interesting than listening to the Dedyukhins). The young and untiring Mr. Popov would ask too many questions, so the hearing lasted about three hours.
The father of the deceased failed to hear the majority of questions, and Vika had to work as an interpreter. Alexander Pavlovich could not understand the meaning of the questions because he was extremely upset; Dima’s grandmother was weeping. However, that did not bother the representative of the Ministry of Finance, “Why didn’t you appeal against the draft committee’s decision according to which your son was fit for military service?”
Alexander Pavlovich was nervous and failed to answer the question properly.
Tatiana Sladkova said, “A deaf and illiterate man without money is not able to appeal against a draft committee’s decision.”
In turn, Mr. Popov started talking about a citizen’s right to appeal against a draft committee’s illegal decision, and then noted that the Dedyukhins could have appealed against the decision but had not.
“Your statement sounds demagogic,” said the lawyer of the Mother’s Right Foundation. “You know that when the boy was drafted into the army, his father was disabled, his grandmother was old, and his sister was underage. That was the main obstacle.”
The representative of the Ministry of Finance ignored the remark and the fact that the Dedyukhins were not able to struggle against the commissariat on their own. He asked, “Do you think that the plaintiff was not able to send a letter of complaint?”
“Ask Alexander Pavlovich what a letter of complaint means,” suggested the lawyer of the Mother’s Right Foundation.
Alexander Pavlovich could not answer the question: he was just sitting with his head down.
Judge Karakash interfered with the dialogue, “The Dedyukhins could have applied for legal aid. They applied to the foundation when the tragedy happened!”
Tatiana Sladkova had to explain to Judge Karakash (Bunkova) and Mr. Popov that the Mother’s Right Foundation was the only organization which could provide free legal aid to the Dedyukhins; that the foundation is a public organization and is not financed by the state; that the state did nothing to provide the foundation’s free legal aid to people who lost their children in the army; that services of a legal agency would have been too expensive for the Dedyukhins; that high quality services related to military issues are provided only by the foundation’s lawyers; that it was their fellow villagers who applied to the foundation.
“It’s enough to look through the Internet to have a legal consultation,” objected Judge Karakash (Bunkova).
“Do you have access to the Internet?” Tatiana Sladkova asked the father of the deceased.
“Internet? No,” answered Alexander Pavlovich.
“The Dedyukhins are educated people,” continued Judge Karakash (Bunkova). “They graduated from school during the soviet period and could have found websites where attorneys give free consultations. Why didn’t you ask for help?” she addressed the question to Dedyukhin.
“Whom?” asked Alexander Pavlovich.
“You should have applied to the commissariat and appeal against the decision of the draft committee,” said the judge to the father of the deceased. “You’ve got children. You should take responsibility for them!”
The Dedyukhins were quite upset after the hearing of April 2. Vika said, “We can’t answer questions in court. Grandmother and father don’t understand anything: they are very upset. Father does not hear their questions. We won’t manage it”. It was difficult to reassure the family. Then, they decided that they would write down their speech, and Vika would read it during the next hearing.
During today’s hearing, Tatiana Sladkova spoke about the claims filed by the Mother’s Right Foundation and demanded that the Dedyukhins should be granted compensation for moral damage. Viktoria tried to read her speech, “My brother was dear to me; we spent much time together…” But she failed to read the letter up to the end: she burst into tears. The boy’s father was exhausted by the previous hearing: he felt ill. The boy’s grandmother would only say, “It would have been better if I had died instead.”
After discussion, the judge issued the decision: the claims of the Mother’s Right Foundation were upheld; the Ministry of Defence was obliged to pay the Dedyukhins 2,400,000 rubles.