More than 1,000 people have been detained across Russia on the day of Alexey Navalny's trial. Alyona Kitaeva, a 21-years-old Navalny team member, told The Insider that she and her 19-years-old sister were tortured at the police station.
Daria Postnova contributed equally to this article.
Alyona Kitaeva, born in 1999, is a volunteer at Lyubov Sobol's Office (Sobol is Navalny's close ally). She reported that after being detained at the Donskoye police station at the Moscow protest following Navalny's trial on February 2, the police officers tortured her. As she told The Insider, policemen put a plastic bag over her head and forced her to reveal her phone password.
«They refused to give me my phone back for a very long time... I was forced to tell them my password, because they threatened me with a taser. They put a bag on my head and started beating me, so I gave them the password. I didn't see which social networks they checked, but I am sure they checked them all,» she said.
Kitaeva also says she was threatened with false accusations of assaulting a police officer: «The guy who was detained with me was taken out of the room as soon as they started torturing me. They shut the door. When I started screaming, he [one of the policemen] mocked me, mimicking, 'Oh, help, help!' And then he said: 'Look, you scratched me!' — and he ran his hand over his face where there was a little redness… 'I'm going to report that you scratched me,' he said. There were definitely no cameras in the office. Just me and four huge men».
Together with Alyona Kitaeva, her sister, 19-years-old Alexandra, was also detained in Moscow. The Insider managed to talk to her. The girl said that they were taken to the police station in an overpacked paddy wagon. Policemen took Alexandra's phone and passport, threatened her to get the password from her phone and forcibly took her fingerprints.
Alyona's sister Alexandra
Photo: Alexandra's personal archive
«While I was waiting for my turn for questioning, they started threatening me. 'Let's go through everything smoothly, or you will have severe problems'. I said that I wanted to wait for my lawyer, but they shouted at me. One of the men (later I identified him from the photo as the infamous Center 'E' employee Alexey Okopny) pinned me to the wall and squeezed my hand hard to unclench my fist. I have bruises now. They twisted me, smeared my palms and fingers with paint and made prints. Then I was taken to a cage, where I spent two hours all alone. I asked the police officer where my sister was, and he said, 'We killed her!' and laughed. Then he said, 'She's now a striptease dancer for us'. Then a man in civilian clothes took a picture of me, they began to insist that I should give them the password to my phone.
I asked the police officer where my sister was, and he said, 'She's now a striptease dancer for us'
In the end I gave up and gave them the password. They wrote down some numbers from my phone book, checked Telegram, 'VKontakte'. They asked me which social networks I was using. They asked who coordinated my activities, who paid me, and said 'Come on, tell us everything, you are already in trouble'. I could not confront them, I was constantly under pressure, I was terrified. I just did what I was told. I was then taken back to the room. We did not get any sleep all night, we were exhausted, so I signed all the papers I was told to sign».
On February 3, Simonovsky court sentenced Alyona to 12 days in a detention center. Her sister Alexandra has been sentenced for 10 days. Putin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov commented on the situation, stating that «if that's what happened, she [Alyona] should be now at the General Prosecutor's Office, filing a lawsuit to defend her civil rights». How Alyona should go about doing this, considering that she is now under arrest, is unclear.
The court on February 2 ruled that while Alexey Navalny was in Germany, he violated probation terms from a 2014 case. His suspended sentence was replaced with a prison term. The judge took into account the 11 months Navalny had already spent under house arrest as part of the decision.
In Moscow, protesters calling for his release were met with a show of force from authorities. More than 1,000 people have been detained across Russia, according to independent monitoring organization OVD-Info.