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Samson Martirosyan

Yerevan Drug Raid: Russian Couple Accuses Police of Mistreatment, False Testimony

On June 24, police raided Yerevan's Ban club and detained thirty-eight people on various drug charges.

Russian citizen Elizaveta Danilcheva was among those detained. She’s been held in the Abovyan penitentiary since then. Danilcheva is the only person of the thirty-eight detained to be charged. The case is now in the courts.

Local human rights activists have accused the police of beating and cursing those in the club during the raid.

Hetq recently spoke with Elizaveta's husband, Nikita Maksimenko. He says the prosecution, without any evidence, is trying to single out his wife as the mastermind of the alleged drug sale.

The couple moved to Armenia from Russia and married in Yerevan. Both worked as graphic designers. Maksimenko said that on the day of the raid they went to the Ban club to attend a friend’s wedding.

Danilcheva and several people were sitting at a table in one of the club's rooms when the police raided the club. A polyethylene package containing 1.47 grams of a powder-like mass was placed on the table. A subsequent examination revealed the package contained methamphetamine. Some marijuana was also found in the club.

Maksimenko says police interrogated his wife without the presence of a lawyer, failed to explain her rights, and subjected her to psychological torture. "She did not have the opportunity to fully understand what happened," he says.

He says the police gave false testimony about what happened in the club. This was proven by police video recordings.

"The accusation of selling drugs is completely based on the false statements of the police. There is no evidence. This is clearly visible in the video recordings," says Maksimenko. He says his wife is ready to accept the charge of drug possession, but the charge of selling drugs for profit is a complete fabrication.

Danilcheva’s lawyer Artashes Hovhannisyan, in an interview with epress.am, says Yerevan cops target the most vulnerable to get results in their anti-drug campaign. He says police use such methods to accumulate brownie points with their superiors and receive pay bonuses.

"In this case, we are talking about less than two grams of narcotics. The logic is to imprison people for six-ten years just to remove two grams from circulation. Naturally, this is not an effective mechanism to fight drugs," says Hovhannisyan.

Maksimenko says that he doesn’t understand why they chose the most severe measure, detention, against his wife when they could have chosen a milder measure, for example, house arrest.

"As far as I understand, detention was chosen as a preventive measure because my wife is a citizen of Russia. But we have been living here for a long time, we have established ourselves in Yerevan. We have a house lease agreement, bank accounts, work, etc. I know of a case when two people were put under house arrest for having more drugs, and the term of Elizaveta's detention is constantly being extended," says Maksimenko.

He says they will try to change the restraining order in court at next session.

The next court hearing in the case will be held on December 12.

Top photo courtesy of Nikita Maksimenko.

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