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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07TALLINN309 2007-05-10 14:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Tallinn
Cable title:  

REPORTS OF POLICE ABUSE UNFOUNDED

Tags:   PGOV PREL RS EN 
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1. (SBU) Summary. Post has uncovered no concrete evidence
of police abuses during the Bronze Soldier riots April 26-27.
Investigations of a small number of complaints are on-going.
Of the 1,300 individuals taken into custody during and after
the riots, about 300 are facing riot-related charges and 55
are being detained pending further investigation. End
Summary.



2. (SBU) Last week, a local Russian-language newspaper ran a
series of articles about the Bronze Soldier riots, including
an excerpt from the International Helsinki Foundation (IHF)
for Human Rights, which called on Estonian authorities to
investigate reports that the police used disproportionate
force against riot participants. According to IHF, some
protesters were reportedly hit with batons, beaten and
mistreated after being taken into custody at the temporary
detention facility established in a terminal at the Tallinn
port. IHF claims that some cases of "apparent" police
brutality were documented by TV broadcasts and cell phone
recordings. In contrast, the Estonian Institute for
Human Rights told Poloff that it has not received any
complaints concerning the use of excessive police force
during the same period. The Institute representative we spoke to
stated that rumors of excessive force are likely based on TV
news footage where people saw, for example, suspects being
held sitting on the ground awaiting transport to jail.
Estonia's Legal Chancellor of Justice, Allar Joks, has been
engaged in monitoring police actions throughout the riots and
has personally visited many of the individuals currently in
police custody. Joks reportedly received no complaints
during his visits.



3. (SBU) On May 7, a local Russian-language tabloid
published an interview with North Estonian Police Prefect Raivo Kuut.
Kuut stated that although some innocent bystanders were
arrested for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, none
of them were kept in custody for more than 12 hours. (Note:
Under Estonian law, an individual can only be held by police
without a court order for 48 hours. End Note.) Kuut argued
that the riots called for quick and organized action, and
called for people to report any incidences of police cruelty
so that they can be investigated. Approximately 1,300
individuals were detained by police in association with the
riots. To date, police have received a total of 12 formal
complaints asserting the use of excessive force. Local and
state prosecutors plan to conduct investigations into all
complaints. Prosecutors have not yet found grounds to charge
any police officers with misconduct.



4. (SBU) Post contacted the Northern Police Prefecture
regarding the IHF report. The public affairs office declined
to comment, noting they had not received an official
communication from the organization. The Prosecutor's office
stated that out of everyone initially taken into custody, 55
people are still being held on suspicion of riot-related
crimes. Court orders allow those individuals to remain in
custody for up to six months while a case is being built. The
Prosecutor's office told us, however, that some individuals
could be released sooner. The total number of people facing
riot-related charges is approximately 300.



5. (SBU) Disorderly conduct, theft, and resisting arrest are
the principle charges against those in court-ordered custody.
Among those being held is ethnic-Russian high school student
Mark Siryk, who is accused of being one of the riot's
principle organizers. The Estonian Criminal Central Police
told us that Siryk is being investigated for sending out SMS
messages calling Russians to gather at the Bronze Soldier on
the night April 26th. He allegedly promised each individual
80 Estonian Crowns per hour for their efforts. This arrest
has garnered some attention from protestors in Moscow. (See
reftel.) Another ethnic Russian individual in custody is
being investigated by the police in connection with the
stabbing and death of Russian citizen Dmitry Ganin on the
first night of the riots.



6. (SBU) RSO's initial assessment, based on conversations
with the police and personal observations, is that the police
responded appropriately. He has not witnessed any examples
of excessive police force either personally, in the media, or on
internet sites such as "YouTube." (Note: A significant
amount of amateur video footage of the riots is available on
the YouTube website. End Note.) Police used only non-lethal
means to subdue non-compliant demonstrators. All methods
utilized by police appeared to be commensurate with the

TALLINN 00000309 002 OF 002


threats posed by demonstrators.



7. (SBU) Comment: While it is not impossible that police
abuses have occurred in isolated cases, Post's initial
assessment is that the Estonian police forces have, as a
whole, conducted themselves in an appropriate manner. We
will continue to monitor police actions and investigations into
specific complaints.
PHILLIPS