Desperate mothers go to Strasbourg

The mothers of two Russian teenage girls who they say were raped and murdered by men connected to authorities have lodged last week appeals with Europe's human rights court. Another twelve similar cases - according to the lawyers from London-based European Human Rights Advocacy Centre - are in the pipeline.

In 2002 in Bashkiria, an oil producing region on the South of Russia, 18-year-old winner of the local beauty contest Svetlana Karamova and 15-year-old Elena Aleksandrova were raped, tortured, and killed. Murderers have never been found.

‘It is not enough just to say that she was killed with special cruelty. It is a horror how she was killed,’ says Olga, mother of the beauty queen, choking back tears, ‘she was raped in every way these monsters could think of… She was violently beaten. Her chest was broken; it was completely pressed inside. Her stomach was full of blood. Blood was in her lungs.’

Svetlana’s body was found in March 2002 near her home. She was naked, with numerous bruises, broken ribs, and burst liver. Her mother says that she was asked to go to a sauna to ‘entertain’ a visiting member of the government and when she refused she was abducted, gang-raped, and killed.

Two suspects were identified. DNA samples from the body matched DNA of the suspects, two police sergeants. Then, mysteriously, the results of the forensic examinations were lost. ‘The Main Federal Institute for Forensic Expertise said that there is nothing they can do now,’ says Margaret Satterthwaite from European Human Rights Advocacy Centre,

The suspects have not been prosecuted. One still works at the same place, the other left to the north. Both were promoted.

Elena Aleksandrova’s disfigured body was found hanged on a tree in May 2002. Although it had signs of beatings, strangulation, burns, and rape the police decided it was a suicide.

Lena’s mother does not believe that her daughter killed herself: ‘We went to this tree with my nephew of the same age [as Lena] – and she could not get on it; she needed help. And the knot that was there was a sailor’s knot, the one a 15-year-old girl can’t do. There was an expert examination of the knots – one of them was a sailor’s knot with a warp bend. Also, there was forensic examination of the soil from her sneakers. It’s different from the one under the tree’.

The parents applied to the European Court of Human Rights, and this is just a beginning. Seen as the last hope for justice, the court is becoming increasingly popular among Russians. Only last year it accepted 8,161 cases from here.



September 29, 2009





It appears that the human rights court should now go beyong Chechen cases.
Tragic story. Though it is ridiculous when the European court is expected to act as a sub for a district court in Russia. I am afraid there is a great chance the case will not be admitted.