Thursday, July 25, 2019

Chechen Siloviki Kidnaped, Tortured, and Killed 27 at One Time, and Grozny Covered It Up, Rights Activists Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 24 – The record of violence and illegality by the regime of Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov only continues to lengthen, with rights activists now reporting that in December 2016, his siloviki kidnaped, tortured and then killed 27 people all at one time – and then blocked any serious investigation into what had occurred.

            Abdul-Khadim Abdulmedzhidov, a Chechen who was in the same jail when this crime occurred on separate charges and who knew about the case, told a Memorial Human Rights Center press conference this week that investigators looking into the mass murder did not even bother to question him (

            His testimony adds to the evidence gathered by rights activists over the last three years and also presented at this week’s event, evidence that shows official claims are not to be trusted. According to the “official” report on the claims, one of the 27 died at home from a heart attack, a story his relatives who work for the police were compelled to back up.

            Igor Kalyapin, head of the Committee Against Torture, told the press conference that his group had succeeded in having police who engaged in torture removed and even punished everywhere in Russia except in Chechnya where the authorities refuse even to acknowledge that this could be possible there.

            That republic’s magistrates do not see any crime even in cases where everyone else does because the evidence is so compelling, Kalyapin says; and the courts shut their eyes to all of this.  When the evidence is overwhelming, investigators and judges say it must be investigated and thereby prevent any investigation from happening.

            And when they can’t deny any longer that they have held someone who was tortured, he continues, they have a standard action. “After his detention,” they say, “we released him and he joined the militants.  It turns out, Kalyapin adds, that “in Chechnya, we do not have police stations but rather recruitment points for the militants.”

            That is true, of course, but not in the sense those who make such declarations intend.

            A major reason for all this duplicity is Kadyrov’s insistence that there are no militants in Chechnya anymore and that his is a “most peaceful” republic.  When that is challenged, he becomes hysterical – and that, Memorial’s Oleg Orlov says, is likely the best explanation for why 27 people were slaughtered. That was necessary to maintain Kadyrov’s fiction.

            Unfortunately, Kalyapin adds, that pattern is found in more parts of the Russian Federation than just Chechnya.  Many in the police try to do the right thing, he acknowledges, but for many others, “the falsification of cases has become the norm.” Chechnya may offer more examples of this than other federal subjects. But it is not different “in principle.”

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