2009/06/05 "700 000 for Reflex Cardiac Arrest"
  • Press Release No 50/1193
  • 05/06/2009

TODAY, June 5, the Domodedovo Town Court of the Moscow Region has issued a favourable decision on the compensation claim for moral damage filed by the Mother's Right Foundation on behalf of Rimma Valentinovna Zakharova, mother of a dead serviceman from Orenburg. Her son, Sergey Zakharov (born 1988), served in military unit No. 41600 as a sergeant. On December 29, 2007, he died of reflex cardiac arrest after he was punched by a captain of the unit, Melnikov. A year ago, the Mother's Right Foundation represented Sergey Zakharov's parents in two criminal trials against two captains of unit No. 41600 - Klassen (hazing trial) and Melnikov (death trial). The trials revealed the fact that the unit was overwhelmed with hazing. At the moment, besides Melnikov and Lassen, Artukhov, the accused lieutenant of the unit, was also awaiting his trial on charges of hazing. One of the two victims in Klassen's case had been convicted earlier. Melnikov's trial ended with a sentence of 5 year imprisonment under section 3, article 286,  paragraphs (a) and (c) (abuse of official authority with grave consequences) and article 344 (violation of service regulations). Captain Klassen was sentenced to 3 year probation under section 3, article 286, paragraph (a) (violent abuse of official authority).

The Mother's Right Foundation filed a case of moral damage compensation against the Ministry of Defense for the actions of the officials of unit No. 41600 (Klassen and Melnikov). The trial began May 18, 2009 (see details in Press Release No. 40/1183, May 18, 2009). Like during the last session, the representative of unit No. 41600, Lysenko, kept silent, and the representative of the Ministry of Defense, Shapovalov, took the rap for both of them persisting in the usual position of military officials - the Ministry should not pay for its officials' mistakes.

‘It's not the fault of the Ministry,' Mr. Shapovalov kept saying.

The interests of the mother of the deceased were represented by the Mother's Right Foundation lawyer, Tatyana Sladkova, who during the pleadings stressed the atmosphere of impunity reigning in unit No. 41600. At first, it was the case of Klassen. His sentence had not been passed when another officer of the unit, Melnikov, committed a crime resulting in the death of Sergey Zakharov. Thus, parents who send their children to the Army and know about crimes committed by officers can't be sure of their safety.

In the losing situation when silence was the best option, the representative of the Ministry of Defense tried to save ‘the honour of the regiment':

‘There are no grounds to rebuke officers,' he claimed. ‘You can't judge the Army by the actions of two negligent officers! We ask that the claim be denied.'

Judge Svetlana Nikolayevna Popova announced the decision, according to which the mother of the deceased should be paid 700,000 roubles. No representatives of the Ministry of Finance were present at the trial. They will learn post factum how much the State Treasury is to pay for hazing among the officers of unit No. 41600.   

Sergey Zakharov's parents still can't recover after their son's death. Sergey's room is still empty. Over and over again, the parents look at the photos - all that remained from their son. ‘We still can't find answers to our questions: "How could they kill our child, a Russian citizen, so cold-bloodedly? How are we to live on without Seryozha?"'

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