Correspondents from Novaya Gazeta managed to find the damaged VAZ at one of the lots of the traffic police. The car was struck so hard that the right side had completely caved into the interior of the car...
At 11:15 p.m. on 31 July 2010, two people were killed at the 21st kilometre marker of the Kaluga Highway: Viktor Abasev and Ratmir Nikolayev, lifters and repairmen who worked for the company Liftek.
The VAZ 2104 service vehicle they were driving was struck at a T-junction by a Volkswagen minivan (licence plate number X893EM199), which was frequently seen in the motorcade of the Russian Minister of Interior Affairs Rashid Nurgaliyev and which was later found with a crashed front end at a garage belonging to the Ministry of Interior Affairs. The accident was hushed up immediately – it wasn’t listed in the accident report and the accident site was completely repaired the next morning, leaving no traces. In addition, the tiny market nearby, where theoretically there could have been potential witnesses from the closest village, was quickly dispersed. The Ministry of Interior Affairs was forced to acknowledge that one of its official vehicles was involved in the accident only after Duma deputies made an inquiry into the matter and a controversy erupted in the media.
Correspondents from Novaya Gazeta managed to find the damaged VAZ at one of the lots of the traffic police. The car was struck so hard that the right side had completely caved into the interior of the car. The passenger was killed on the spot, while the driver, Ratmir Nikolayev, died a few hours later in the hospital.
Novaya Gazeta learned that those travelling in the Volkswagen were the wife of the interior minister and her friend, a high-ranking employee in the investigation agencies. They were taken to the hospital with minor injuries along with the driver.
The parents of the victims, who lived in a remote village in Chuvashia, didn’t learn about what happened for a long time until the local district police officer notified them of the tragedy.
When lawyers from the AGORA Interregional Human Rights Association began working on this case in late 2010, they learned that an order had been issued back on 30 September to deny the opening of a criminal case in the accident due to the death of the person responsible. As per tradition, the guilty party was recognised as the VAZ driver who died in the accident. Nobody even informed the parents of Nikolayev and Abasev about this decision.
For nine months, the relatives of the victims tried to obtain materials on the investigation into the accident, however, they have still been unable to accomplish anything. In February, Natalia Kharitonova, an investigator working in accident investigations at the Central Internal Affairs Department for the Moscow Region, who had previously made the decision not to initiate criminal proceedings, refused to let AGORA lawyer Ilnur Sharapov study the case materials. She stated that representatives of the victims’ relatives could not request such materials because “there is no criminal case”.
The investigator’s refusal, as well as the order denying the opening of a criminal case, was appealed at Moscow’s Tver District Court. This court, however, in violation of the law, passed it off to the Vidnoye City Court of the Moscow Region since the accident occurred there. The Moscow City Court concurred with this position, although the relatives of the victims were attempting to challenge the actions of the investigator, who works in Moscow and not in Vidnoye.
The Vidnoye’s court, however, was perplexed by all the inquiries. According to court officials, they never received any materials about an accident involving a vehicle from the minister’s motorcade. The Moscow’s Tver Court, in turn, offered assurances that everything had been sent long ago, although they were unable to indicate on what date the materials were sent.
It should also be noted that the Russian Ministry of the Interior Affairs has not issued a single comment on the situation this whole time despite official inquiries from the media and human rights advocates. Not to mention that nobody even thought of expressing condolences for the victims. The police investigators did, however, attempt to learn from the relatives of the victims whether the lifters and repairmen knew that the minister’s wife would be travelling down this road. What if they were terrorists?
AGORA Interregional Human Rights Association