Doc. 12276 4 June 2010 Legal remedies for human rights violations in the North-Caucasus Region

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List of cases transmitted to the Russian authorities

1. Murder of Anna Politkovskaya, journalist

2. Murder of Natalya Estemirova, human rights activist (Memorial, Grozny)

3. Lapin case: proceedings initiated against persons accused of being jointly responsible for the crimes, cited in the book by Stas Dmitrievsky published in 2009 (“An international tribunal for Chechnya”) in collaboration with Ms Estemirova?

4. Murders of Madina Yunusova (July 2009) and Abusubyan Albekov (and disappearance of his son Adis) – the last cases covered by Ms Estemirova

5. Murder of Zarema Sadulayeva and her husband Alik Dzhabrailov, human rights activists in the Chechen Republic

6. Abduction in July 2008 of Zurab Tsechoyev, human rights activist and applicant to the European Court of Human Rights (regarding the disappearance of his brother Tamerlan, who disappeared at the same time as Rashid Ozdoyev, see below)

7. Disappearance in March 2004 of Rashid Ozdoyev, public prosecutor in Ingushetia, “whistle-blower”

8. Murders of Stanislav Markelov, lawyer, and Anastasia Baburova, journalist

9. Assassination attempt on Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, President of Ingushetia

10. Death in a police car of Magomed Yevloyev, Ingush journalist

11. Murder of Maksharip Aushev, Ingush journalist

12. Abduction in 2008 of Mohmadsalah Denilovich Masayev and investigation into the accusations he published prior to his abduction (unlawful detention at Tsentoroy in 2006)

13. Murder in Vienna of Umar S. Israilov (who had accused R. Kadyrov of torture)

14. Abduction of Zarema Gaisanova, human rights activist, on 31 October 2009

15. Case of Lt Gen. V. Shamanov: proceedings initiated following the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights regarding the events in Katyr-Yurt in February 2000? Results?

16. The Bazorkina v. Russia case, Application No. 69481/01, judgment of 27 July 2006: proceedings initiated against General Baranov?

17. The “North-East” case: proceedings initiated against the perpetrators of the fatal shooting of unconscious terrorists during the freeing of the hostages?

18. Abduction and ill-treatment of V. Tutakov in September 2007

19. Violent death of M. Khaikharoyev on 31 May 2006 in Nesterovskaya/Ingushetia (accusation of “public execution” carried out by Chechen agents against the wishes of Ingush police officers)

20. Disappearance of Ibragim Gazdiev (on 8 August 2007 in Magas – accusations against the Ingush FSB)

21. Abduction of Idris Tsizdoev (Republic of Ingushetia)

22. Abduction of Mr Rustam Kagirov (Chechen Republic)

23. Murder of the three Ilaev brothers (Chechen Republic)

24. Abduction of the Albekov's, father and son

Public extrajudicial execution of Rivzan Albekov

(Chechen Republic)

25. Abduction and murder of Batyr Albakov (Republic of Ingushetia)

26. Abduction, killings and staged combat in the village of Gubden (Republic of Dagestan)

27. Abduction of Apti Zaynalov (the Chechen Republic)

28. Acts of torture within premises of Malgobek interior department (Republic of Ingushetia)


Presentation of cases illustrating the malfunctioning of the judicial system

1.  Abduction and disappearance of Zarema Gaisanova who worked for the Danish Refugee Council, a humanitarian NGO

1.  At around 3 pm on 31 October 2009 in Grozny, a “special operation” was carried out by unidentified officers of units of the law enforcement agencies, during which Ali Hasanov, a member of an illegal armed faction, was killed. While searching the house next to Zarema Gaisanova’s, the officers opened fire on Ms Gaisanova’s house, killing Ali Hasanov. During the shooting exchange, a fire broke out in Ms Gaisanova’s house, a large part of which burned down. At around 5.30 pm, Ms Gaisanova was taken from her home, apparently by the law enforcement officers carrying out the operation. Criminal proceedings were initiated following this abduction. On the official website of the Chechen Republic Interior Ministry, the Minister of the Interior said that the special operation in Grozny on 31 October 2009, during which Mr Hasanov had died, had been carried out on the orders of the Chechen President, Ramzan Kadyrov. Witnesses of the incident said that they had seen the President and the Interior Minister at the site of the operation, the former giving an interview on the “liquidation” of the outlawed rebel fighter, Hasanov. Ms Gaisanova’s mother then approached the President of Ingushetia, the Investigation Committee of that country’s prosecution service and the Chechen prosecution service to assist her in finding her daughter. In November 2009, during a conversation with Ms Gaisanova’s mother, the investigator in charge of the case said that he had learned that her daughter was alive but that the investigators had no access to her. According to human rights activists and those close to Ms Gaisanova, officials of the Leninski district internal affairs department in Grozny (suspected of having carried out the special operation in question) repeatedly ignored the orders of the investigator in charge of the case, sabotaging the investigation process. The non-governmental “mobile human rights defence units”, whose remarkable work we have already commended,84 have taken an interest in this case. According to correspondence provided to us, the investigator in charge, Mr Tamayev, on three occasions85 ordered the internal affairs department to take a number of specific procedural measures (identification and summoning of witnesses, identification and summoning of officers who took part in the special operation, etc). These orders were ignored, in blatant violation of Russian legislation.86 The investigator subsequently sent two “protests” to the internal affairs department, also informing the acting head of the Grozny Department of Investigation. Igor Kaliapin, head of the Committee against Torture’s “mobile units”, acting as the victims’ legal representative, wrote to the Chechen Minister of the Interior to inform him of the police’s failure to comply with the prosecution service’s instructions in this case.87 The Minister, in his reply to Mr Kaliapin, promised to take this information into account and said that tangible measures would be taken in connection with this case. Meanwhile, Ms Gaisanova’s family has referred the matter to the European Court of Human Rights. To date, Zarema Gaisanova has not been found.

2.  In the course of the meetings we have had with the Chechen Prosecutor, the Director of the Investigation Committee and with the Minister of the Interior, I was assured that the police and the prosecution investigators co-operated very well. Nonetheless, the Minister did eventually acknowledge the problems raised in Mr Kaliapin’s letter.

3. The written comments sent to us by the Chechen Prosecution Department regarding this case (No. 66094) confirm that a “special operation” targeting a certain A.A. Hasanov, member of an illegal armed faction, had indeed been carried out on the date and at the location indicated. It appears from the replies from the Minister of the Interior and the Director of the regional FSB that “the abduction of Z.I. Gaisanova by law enforcement officers has not been confirmed”. Seven officers from the Argun police station who took part in the operation apparently saw nobody other than A.A. Hasanov.

4.  On 16 April 2010, Memorial published a document on the shortcomings of the investigation into the disappearance of Ms Gaisanova. Drawing on the various statements made by those in charge of the investigation and on the material provided by the Russian authorities under the urgent procedure initiated before the European Court of Human Rights, this document shows, in a very convincing way, the clear contradictions in this case and the authorities’ prevarication.

2.   Abduction and disappearance of Abdul-Yezit Askhabov, Chechen Republic

5.  In the middle of the night, around 3 am, on 5 August 2009 in Shali, three armed individuals wearing masks and camouflage clothing, broke into the Askhabovs’ house. Without giving any explanation, they took Abdul-Yezit Askhabov to an undisclosed destination. According to the neighbours’ statements, the abductors used three vehicles. Mr Askhabov’s family members immediately informed the police and the head of the regional administration and that same morning filed a complaint with the regional internal affairs department, the prosecution service and the local FSB (federal security services).

6.  In the morning of 7 August 2009, while outside the building of the Shali regional internal affairs department awaiting news of the whereabouts of her son, the victim’s mother Tamara Askhabova, together with other women from the Askhabov family, were removed by police officers, on the pretext of avoiding any “trouble” in the official building. Members of Mr Askhabov’s family then went to Grozny, to the prosecution authorities. They were received by Umarpasha Hakimov, a co-worker with the the Chechen Republic ombudsman, who in the presence of Tamara Askhabova called the Shali regional internal affairs department and was told that the head of department was not there at that time. He was given another number (probably that of the deputy head) which he immediately dialled. Mr Hakimov then spoke to someone who told him that Mr Askhabov was being held and that he was the brother of an “emir” (in the Chechen Republic, this term refers to the leaders of illegal armed factions). Mr Hakimov insisted that he should be released and added that “even if he is the brother of an emir, you have no right to detain him beyond the legal time-limit”. He assured Mr Askhabov’s family that he would provide them with all the necessary assistance.

7.  On 16 or 17 August (Mr Askhabov’s mother is not sure of the precise date), at around 11 pm, armed men in camouflage clothing but not masked, broke into the Askhabovs’ house to carry out a search. They said that they had come from Khankala (where the largest federal military base in the Chechen Republic is located). However, according to the victim’s mother, they were all Chechens. In one of the bathrooms in the house, they very quickly found a hiding place, the existence of which they could not have been aware of unless Abdul-Yezit Askhabov had previously spoken to them about it. Eventually, criminal investigations were initiated following the abduction of Abdul-Yezit Askhabov. It was only one month after his abduction that the investigator in charge of the case went to the Askhabovs’ house for the first time. The whereabouts of Mr Askhabov are still unknown. According to his mother, Abdul-Yezit Askhabov has been visually impaired since childhood and would be unable to use a weapon of any sort.

8.  Abdul-Yezit Askhabov’s brother, Yusup Askhabov, had been a member of the illegal armed factions, but had left them. According to his family, the hiding place referred to above was used to hide Yusup Askhabov who feared reprisals from the law enforcement agencies. It is claimed that he was killed in the centre of Shali on 28 May 2009 by officers of the town’s regional internal affairs department. That same day, when identifying Yusup’s body, his father was violently beaten by police officers after expressing the wish that Allah would take him into His care. According to Yusup’s father, the head of the Shali regional internal affairs department, Magomed Daudov (also known as “Lord”), took an active part in this beating. Yusup’s father subsequently said that he had had to spend two weeks in hospital. This case is also described in the correspondence handed to us by the Committee against Torture’s “mobile units” and also illustrates the lack of police co-operation with the prosecution investigators.

3.  Abduction of Apti Zainalov, Chechen Republic

9.  This was one of the last cases on which Natalya Estemirova from Memorial was working before her murder. Apti Zainalov, a resident of the Chechen Republic, convicted and imprisoned for membership of an illegal armed faction in 2005 then released in 2006, disappeared on 26 June 2009. On 2 July 2009, an individual (who preferred to remain anonymous) told the Memorial human rights defence centre that a young man named Apti, who was wounded and showed signs of having been tortured, was to be found in the Achkhoy-Martan hospital. On 3 July 2009, a representative of Memorial and a member of Apti’s family went to the hospital. Through a half-open door in the hospital ward, they saw four armed men in uniform, belonging in all probability to the Ministry of the Interior. A young man was lying in bed, with a bandage round his head and bruising to the face. Subsequently a nurse told them that the patient’s name was Apti Zainalov. It is claimed that the nurse added that it was forbidden to speak to this patient, that he had been taken away from the hospital on several occasions and that he had obvious signs of having been tortured. The Memorial representative who had seen Apti Zainalov in the hospital recognised him from a photograph provided by his mother. The following day, Apti’s father, accompanied by a Memorial representative, once again tried to visit him in hospital, but the guards posted at the entrance to the ward prevented them from going in.

10.  On 7 July 2009, the victim’s mother, Aima Zainalova, accompanied by Natalya Estemirova, was received by the prosecutor of the Achkhoy-Martan region. She filed a complaint and asked him to help her get her son back. The prosecutor passed Aima Zainalova and Natalya Estemirova on to two prosecution officials, asking them to “clarify the situation”. After waiting for the head of the Achkhoy-Martan internal affairs department for one and a half hours in the prosecutor’s office, the two officials finally agreed to go themselves to the internal affairs department. Once there, they left Aima Zainalova and Natalya Estemirova outside the Department building, never reappearing. Aima Zainalova eventually returned to the hospital where she saw her son being taken away by two armed guards and put into a vehicle.

11.  On 8 and 9 July 2009, Aima Zainalova brought the matter to the Chechen Prosecutor, the head of the Achkhoy-Martan Department of Inter-district Investigations and the head of the Investigation Department of the Russian Federation’s Investigative Committee for the Chechen Republic, asking them to initiate criminal proceedings following the abduction of her son and to take the necessary steps to find him. Subsequent to 9 July 2009, unidentified vehicles began following Natalya Estemirova and Ahmed Gisayev, the two Memorial workers looking into this case.

12.  On 15 July 2009, Natalya Estemirova was abducted in Grozny and her body was found in Ingushetia. On 15 July 2009, Memorial filed an application before the European Court of Human Rights, complaining of a violation of Articles 3, 5 and 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights (Makayeva v. Russia, Application No. 37287/09). The application was notified to the Russian Federation authorities on 20 July 2009. In August 2009, Ahmed Gisayev was subject to pressure and threats from unidentified law enforcement officers. He reported this to the investigator in charge of the case, who, however, took no action to offer him protection. Memorial then decided to move Mr Gisayev away from the Chechen Republic in order to guarantee his safety.

13.  The comments on this case (file No. 74032) by the Chechen Prosecutor General’s Office are very detailed. They include lists of witnesses questioned, requests for information addressed to various security service agencies, places inspected etc The specific and precise observations by members of Mr Zainalov’s family, submitted by Memorial, are neither refuted nor confirmed; in fact they are not commented on at all. All the same, given the large number of witnesses and the long list of investigation activities the authorities say they have undertaken, there is some room for optimism and hope that the case will be clarified, if the authorities are willing to do so, in the near future.

4.  Abduction of Idris Tsidzoyev, Republic of Ingushetia

14.  On 26 May 2009, at around 4 am in Malogbek in Ingushetia, Idris Tsidzoyev (born in 1981), while preparing for morning prayers with his brother Adam Tsidzoyev (born in 1979), was forcibly removed from his home by several individuals. When Adam Tsidzoyev asked them where they were taking his brother, they replied that they simply wanted to talk to him and would release him within a few minutes. Adam could hear the cries of his brother being beaten in the street. Ten or so minutes later, the abductors left taking Idris Tsidzoyev in their vehicle. Adam Tsidzoyev immediately informed the Malogbek regional internal affairs department.

15.  The information on the abduction was immediately notified to all police stations. A vehicle fitting the description given by Adam Tsidzoyev was stopped by police officers. At an ID check, the head of the Malogbek regional internal affairs department identified one of the abductors as Lieutenant-colonel Adlan Akhmatov from ORB-2.88 The latter claimed to have arrested and then taken Mr Tsizdoyev to the town of Magas. It would appear that the head of the internal affairs department received a telephone call ordering him to allow the abductors to pass. The matter was brought to the attention of the Investigation Department of the Investigation Committee for Chechnya, the Malogbek regional internal affairs department, the Ingush Ministry of the Interior, the public prosecutors of the Chechen Republic and Ingushetia and the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation in order to shed light on what had happened to Idris Tsidzoyev. Several human rights defence organisations, and the Chechen, Ingush and Federal ombudsmen were informed of the matter.

16.  However, to date, nobody has been able to find Idris Tsidzoyev. Officers from ORB-2 officially informed the Investigation Committee that on 26 May 2009 no operation had been carried out in Ingushetia and nobody had been arrested. A criminal investigation has been initiated into the facts as described. In August 2009, the case was transferred to the General Investigation Department of the Investigation Committee of the Russian Federation prosecution service for the southern federal district. However, none of the abductors has been identified in the investigation and no action has been taken against Adlan Akhmatov.

17.  In our view, once again, the precise facts available to the investigators should make it possible to solve this case and prosecute those responsible, if the authorities so wish.

5.  Abduction of Alikhan Markuyev, Chechen Republic

18.  Svetlana Gannushkina, from Memorial, told us about a letter she had sent to President Medvedev on 12 January 2010, in which she described a particularly odious case relating to the abduction on 28 July 2009 of Alikhan Markuyev, who nonetheless had been granted an amnesty after voluntarily handing himself over to the authorities and leaving the illegal armed factions. What distinguishes this case is that an anonymous person in the police had sounded the alarm even before the crime took place: on 19 October 2009, this person informed the Memorial office in Moscow that Mr Markuyev and three others reported missing in the Chechen Republic (including Rasukhan Elpiev, a 15-year old boy) were in fact being held by the police in a detention facility in Gudermes. The person said that it was planned to dress the detainees in camouflage clothing and then kill them, stating afterwards that they were members of a rebel armed faction killed during a special operation. Memorial immediately informed the offices of the Chechen Prosecutor General and Minister of the Interior. The reply came on 22 October 2009 to the effect that “the information could not be confirmed”. However, on 27 November 2009, the body of a man who had been shot was found on the outskirts of Serzhen-Yurt, with a submachine gun lying by his side. His family were told that he had been killed during a “special operation”. Ms Gannushkina told President Medvedev that Memorial was aware of a series of similar abductions, in which the victims’ parents had even refused to report the matter to the authorities and make public what had happened, out of fear for their own lives and those of other family members.


Programme of the Rapporteur’s visit to the Russian Federation (22-27 March 2010)


Monday 22 March 2010

9h30 – 10h30  Deputy Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation, Mr V. Grin’

 (with the participation of representatives of the Military Prosecution and the Investigative Committee under the Prosecution Service of the Russian Federation)

12h00 – 12h45  Deputies of the State Duma for the Republics within the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD)

13h00 – 14h30  Working lunch with the members of the Russian Delegation to the PACE and Deputies of the State Duma and Members of the Federation Council for the Chechen Republic, Dagestan and Ingushetia

15h00 – 16h00  Deputy Director of the Russian Federation Federal Service for Execution of Sentences, Mr A. Smirnov

16h30 – 17h30  Chairperson of the Council on Civil Society Institutions and Human Rights under the President of the Russian Federation, Mrs E. Pamfilova

18h00 – 20h00  Representatives of Memorial

Tuesday 23 March 2010

9h00  Representative of the Red Cross

11h00  Deputy Chairperson of the Russian Federation Government, and the Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation President in the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD), M. A. Khloponin


Wednesday 24 March 2010

9h30 – 10h30  Prosecutor of the Republic, Mr Y. Turygin

11h00 – 12h00  Minister of the Interior ad interim, Mr M. Gudiev

12h00 – 12h30  Representatives of the Ingush civil society

12h30 – 13h30  President of the Republic, Mr Y.-B. Evkurov

15h45 – 16h45  Head of the Regional Department of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation, Mr H. Ilyasov, and the Head of the Penitentiary Department, Mr M. Gagiev

17h00 – 19h00  NGO representatives


Thursday 25 March 2010

11h00 – 12h00  President of the Republic, Mr R. Kadyrov

12h15 – 13h45  Ombudsperson of the Republic, Mr N. Nukhazhiev

14h00 – 15h00  Lunch hosted by the Ombudsperson of the Republic

15h20 – 16h20  Minister of the Interior, Mr R. Alkhanov

 Head of the Penitentiary Department, Mr A. Iriskhanov

 Representative of the Ministry of the Interior in the federal district of the North Caucasus, Colonel-General E. Lasebin

16h30 – 17h45  Prosecutor of the Republic, Mr M. Savtchin

 Military Prosecutor, Mr M. Toporikov

 Head of the Investigations Department, Mr V. Ledenev

18h00  NGO representatives

DAGESTAN (Makhachkala)

Friday 26 March 2010

12h30 – 14h30  Ministry of the Interior, Investigations Committee, Prosecutor, Penitentiary Department

15h45 – 16h45  NGO representatives

16h45 – 17h45  Representatives of civil society in Dagestan

17h45 – 18h30  Ombudsperson of the Republic, Ms Uma Omarova

18h30 – 20h00  NGO representatives

Saturday 27 March 2010

9h00 – 9h45  President of the Republic of Dagestan, Mr Magomedov

9h45 – 11h15  Transfer to Derbent

11h15 – 15h00  Representatives of civil society in Derbent

1 Reference to committee: Doc. 10916, Reference 3277 of 23 June 2008; Reference 3607 of 2 October 2009; Doc. 12090, Reference 3633 of 29 January 2010.

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