Oleg V. Volkov, presiding judge at the North Caucasus District Military Court in Rostov, took his seat at the raised bench overlooking the defendants he had repeatedly seen over the past year. Tall, stern, and chillingly serious, Volkov sat with perfect posture, eyes directed at Sergei Zirinov, a Krasnodar parliamentarian and member of the Legislative Assembly on trial for the alleged murders of of various political figures. Zirinov, along with five other defendants, were charged with "banditry, murder and arms trafficking."
Volkov started menacingly at the so-called "Zirinov Gang' locked in a glass cage known as the 'aquarium.' His eyes wandered to the only member of the gang who was unable to stand. His ashen, bloodless face barely able to return the judge's glare.
For weeks, Suloev's defence pleaded with the court to rush the defendant to emergency medical care. For weeks, Volkov denied their request. Suloev lost 48 pounds over the Christmas holidays and was incapable of consuming solid meals. Sips of water between bout of blood-soaked nausea kept him partially alive, though his body had suffered irreparable damage.
Overcome with bouts of dizziness, Suloev pled his own case to Volkov while seated:
"Your Honor, I am worse and worse. It's a vicious circle. I could not participate in the process. From my judgment, I am returned to prison where nobody cares about my condition, and no one involved in my treatment. I'm not trying to make you pity. I can make anything you want. But what I want here? I really do not understand what is happening. I do not listen. I feel dizzy. Noise in the ears. Weight loss continues. I ask you to treat with understanding and adjourn."
The prosecution, responsible for presenting the case in a criminal trial against the accused, backed up Suloev's statement. Prosecutor Alexander Korobeynikov sided with the defendant's lawyer , Alexander Pervach and requested to postpone the hearing. He even informed the court, including Volkov, that non-compliance could result in irreversible damage to his health, or even death.
"Today is the rare case when we are in complete solidarity with the defence," said the prosecutor. "To put it mildly, this does not look like a healthy person."
Volkov denied the defendant medical care on January 8. Instead, he was given a foreign pill and forced onto a drip via an ambulance. It would be another week before he allowed Suloev to be hospitalized for examination. It was already too late.
Initial reports confirmed that Suloev was taken to the hospital in Rostov and a gastroscopy that found an "aggravated ulcer" and "chemical burns in the esophagus" that had caused gastric bleeding. However, when it was time to examine the stomach tissue closely to ensure that there was no risk of stomach cancer, the doctors did not undergo the testing because of "technical issues."
The eventual diagnosis was far worse than expected.
By January 28, it was confirmed that Suloev had Stage 4 stomach cancer, which meant that the cancer has already spread from its starting point to another bodily organ. The defence returned to the court with the medial documents that revealed the diagnosis, and petitioned to have him removed from prison on bail.
Day later, the North Caucasus Military District Court press secretary, Alain Katkalo, announced that Suloev was released from prison on three million ruble bail. His case has been separated from the other five defendants and postponed for the foreseeable future. He will be treated at the oncology centre in Krasnodar.
According to DonDay.ru, the court has no right to refuse Suloev's release. Courts could refer, for example, to the "inappropriate behaviour of the prisoner," which resulted in terminal patients behind bars. However, on January 27, the Supreme Court made a significant clarification that greatly impacted Suloev: the seriously ill prisoner's behavior is not pivotal to the discussion about a release from detention. Only the diagnosis matters. If the disease is on the list the defendant must be released.
While Suloev's lawyers and doctors are yet to refer to his diagnosis as terminal, reports suggest that Amar is unlikely to recover.
Suloev's defence referred to the situation as a human rights violation based primarily on the judge's refusal to allow Amar medical treatment despite obvious concerns. Though a petition was filed against Volkov, it later became obvious that his decision-making was part of a disturbing trend.
A few weeks after Suloev was released on bail, the trial continued. However, the gang's elderly participant, Edward Paladyan, had also been taken ill. On February 18, the trial proceedings began with a call to the emergency unit. The doctors examined Paladyan and simultaneously suggested that he "may participate in the session" but is "recommended to go to bed."
Naturally, Volkov opted to keep the defendant inside the aquarium. Paladyan laid down on the bench and allowed the gang leader, Sergei Zirinov, to cover him with a coat. The judge immediately told Paladyan to "sit in the presence of the court and the jury."
Determined not to lose another defendant, the lawyers pleaded with the court not to make another costly decision that could affect the health of a human being.
"Your honor, think about Suloev."