24 January 2022

'Living woman' COVID law-breaker spent six days in custody

| Albert McKnight
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Elvira Shagabuddinova

Elvira Shagabuddinova, now 39, leaves court in August 2021. Photo: Albert McKnight.

When police repeatedly asked for her name, COVID-19 law-breaker Elvira Shagabuddinova would only identify herself as a “living woman”.

The 39-year-old has been found guilty of breaking health restrictions just before Canberra’s lockdown last year and was convicted in her absence after she failed to appear in the ACT Magistrates Court on Thursday (20 January) to face her hearing.

She gave her last name as Useinova when she first appeared in court last August, where it was also suggested she was a sovereign citizen. Broadly speaking, sovereign citizens believe they are not bound by government laws.

At the time, prosecutor Elizabeth Wren said, based on what Shagabuddinova had told the court and police, she had suggested she was not bound by laws of the territory.

Last year Shagabuddinova was taken to hospital for a mental health assessment, but was returned to court after it found she had no illness or disorder.

Today, the court heard she went to a St Vincent de Paul store in Greenway on 1 August 2021 and was asked by staff to sign in with the Check In CBR app, which was required under the COVID-19 laws, but refused to do so.

She also refused to leave the store when asked and police were called.

An officer’s body camera footage was played to the court which showed their chaotic encounter, during which she repeatedly refused to leave the store or give the police her name.

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“My English not very good, but my English enough to understand my rights,” she said.

She was asked if she signed in when entering the store to which she said “no” and was told a staff member had asked her to leave to which she replied “doesn’t matter”.

She appeared to film police on her phone, asked for their names and wanted them to answer a question.

“Am I a living woman? It’s easy answer,” she said.

“You are, let’s go ma’am,” an officer replied.

Shagabuddinova was with her three children and was holding a crying child in her arms as the interaction grew heated.

“The only reason I’m not touching you is because you’ve got a child in your hands, otherwise you’d be in handcuffs,” a police officer told her.

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She finally left the store. Still refusing to give her name she told police, “you can call me living woman, that’s it”.

She was taken into custody for six days after authorities organised for her children to be transferred into the care of a family member.

Magistrate James Lawton found her guilty of three offences: trespass, failing to comply with a direction without a reasonable excuse and failing to provide her name.

Shagabuddinova was convicted and fined $450.

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So, the fine was $450 which I imagine won’t be paid. The cost to the tax payer would be over $20,000 given police and prosecution efforts let alone the cost of six days in detention. You just have to ask where the community benefit lies

The laws on the Check In CBR app are quite vague, which is why I’ve never used it.

What happens if she doesn’t pay the $450 fine?

I guess she’ll eventually end up as a living inmate.

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