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Personal data of police officers – official secret

06.04.2022 @ 14:21 – 15:21 Europe/Helsinki Timezone
Personal data of police officers – official secret

About the case: The Interior Ministry wants to reimburse police officers for off-duty work at two rallies on January 23 and 31, 2021 – a claim for 3.9 million rubles has been filed against Irina Fatyanova, Navalny’s former chief of staff*.

The case is being heard by the Dzerzhinsky District Court of St. Petersburg.

*According to part 2 of Article 4 of the Russian Federation Law № 2124-1 dated December 27, 1991, “On Mass Media,” we are obliged to state that this organization has been declared extremist and is prohibited on the territory of the Russian Federation.

The bailiffs let me into the courthouse after I had called Judge Matusiak’s courtroom and received a positive answer about the possibility of the presence of the public. At the same time, they report that non-litigants are still not allowed in due to coronavirus restrictions.

The hearing began with a delay of 32 minutes due to the late arrival of a representative of the Main Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for St. Petersburg and Leningrad region. Attorney Sergei Loktev, representative of Fatyanova, and Alexei Vetrov, representative of the Main Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, are present.

Besides me, there are three representatives of the media (, Moi rayon). The benches for the public are completely piled with volumes of case files – at my request, the secretary moves three volumes, making room for three people, another journalist brings two chairs from the hall. Everyone manages to accommodate themselves, no one leaves due to the lack of seating.

At the beginning of the hearing, a bailiff approached me and asked me to turn a recorder off, because the court had not authorized it. I replied that the demand was unlawful, because audio recording is allowed by default. The bailiff turns to the judge, who confirms that audio recording is allowed and adds, “we do audio recording ourselves”. The bailiff comes back to me and stands next to me for the rest of the hearing, squinting at the recorder and looking into the phone.

Judge Matusiak starts the hearing. The case is about the claim of the Main Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for St. Petersburg and Leningrad region against Irina Sergeevna Fatyanova for compensation of damages caused by uncoordinated public events.

The representative of the Main Department of the Ministry of Interior declares a motion to hear the case in closed session due to the fact that a significant amount of data concerning employees of the Ministry of Interior will be disclosed. In view of the current norms [i.e. the Federal Law “On Service in the Internal Affairs Bodies of the Russian Federation and Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation” dated 30.11.2011 № 342-FZ] it is stated that this is an official secret. “Disclosing this information to any other person may result in violating the rights of those involved in the litigation.”

Fatyanova’s representative objects, saying that the plaintiff’s party is abusing the right, the Federal Law “On Service in Internal Affairs Bodies of the Russian Federation” assumes the existence of only official information, except for information relating to state or other secrets protected by law. The information concerning the internal service part has already been made public by the plaintiff himself, and in this hearing only one issue will be investigated: the number of employees involved, their participation in the actions of January 23rd and 31st of 2021, the cost per hour of work. It is unlikely that the personal data of the employees will be reflected in the time sheets, because such documents usually contain the full name, position and rank, as well as the structural unit in which the employees work, which is not a secret protected by law. This is public information. The attorney believes that the request is premature, since at the moment there is no way to judge how sensitive this information will be for police officers, besides, in any case, considers this information to be sufficiently public, since salaries and wages of employees are published in open sources in electronic form. There can be no secrets here.

The court asks the representative of the Ministry of the Interior to explain what information he intends to submit. He replied that although when filing the lawsuit there were extracts from the decree, where the personal data of employees was figured, it is necessary to somehow prevent the possibility of further dissemination of information, “after all, a number of departments are engaged in operational and investigative work, so in order to preserve their security, it is necessary to impose certain obligations on the party of the lawsuit of non-disclosure of this information, and the Federal Law “On service in the internal affairs bodies of Russia” expressly provides that all data in the employee’s personal file is considered confidential information, and therefore, an official secret.

The court granted the request of the representative of the Main Department of the Ministry of Interior and proceeded to the consideration of the case.

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