“Victims of rape or sexual assault are redirected to private prosecution, where they have to finance and substantiate their case, carrying all the burden of the proof,” as the Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ) recently noted.

A Russian federal judge in the Ural city of Chelyabinsk says he was pressured to conceal the illegal detention of a defendant, the forgery of a signature, and to transfer a nonexistent case to court despite the prosecutor’s admission that there was no case against the man. The defendant was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment and the judge has since faced administrative harassment from fellow judicial officials, writes Aliide Naylor in Europe’s Edge.

Unusually, Judge Anton Dolgov decided to make public the story in an interview with the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, whose own journalists have been the target of significant threats and violence. Editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov, was recently a joint recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for the continuing struggle for free journalism.

Dolgov said the case dated to 2018, when he was passed a case in which a 70-year-old man stood accused of both torture and sexual violence against two girls aged seven and eight. “The investigation lasted over a year,” he told the newspaper. “The prosecutor told me that the accusation of torture was utter nonsense,” he said. It simply had not happened, she told him, and she was astonished that the case was launched.

Nonetheless, the prosecutor said that she planned to go ahead and would fully support the prosecution. Dolgov has noted that this itself was illegal.

“We have article 246 (participation of the prosecutor) of the Criminal Procedure Code, which imposes an obligation on the prosecutor to drop the charge in such cases. The prosecutor replied: ‘Well, you understand that this is impossible.’”

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