Saturday, April 25, 2020

One Woman’s Fight for Her Home and Her Children Shows Russian Laws ‘Don’t Work in Chechnya’

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 23 – Many commentators casually observe that Ramzan Kadyrov is a law unto himself, a man who rules Chechnya without regard to laws. But a horrific case involving a woman who is trying to reclaim her children taken by relatives connected to Kadyrov’s regime clearly shows that “in Chechnya, the laws of the Russian Federation do not work.”

            That is the unvarnished conclusion of Maryana Simonova who writes for the Daptar portal, an Internet portal that reports on the travails of women in the North Caucasus as a result of the continuing influence of often archaic cultural values and the imposition of new political repressions (боролась-за-дом-лишили-детей/).

            Liana Sosurkayeva’s story is truly a tragic one. She had a happy but brief marriage – her husband died four years after the wedding – and gave birth to two children whom she was raising in Stavropol.  After her husband’s death, his brother convinced her to sell the apartment she had paid for and put the money in a house in Grozny.

            That she did, and then her troubles really began. Her brother-in-law drove her out of the house she had paid for but kept the children to raise as his own. She appealed without success to the authorities in Chechnya, civil and religious, but without success. Not only couldn’t she get her money back for the house, but she was cut off from her children.

            Liana has given up trying to get the money she paid for the house but not on her efforts to reclaim her two minor children.  The brother-in-law’s family do everything they can to keep her away, chasing her from the school where the children are enrolled, and even using an armed gang to stop her when she tried to take them in her car.

            The Chechen woman has good evidence that the children are being abused physically and mentally, including the testimony of a child psychologist. But Chechen courts won’t recognize that evidence or her rights as the mother, despite the provisions of the Russian Constitution and Russian law.

            Those who have taken her children insist that her demands are unjust because they do not correspond to “Chechen laws,” and they have succeeded in convincing the police and judicial authorities in the republic to ignore her efforts to recover her children and raise them as their mother.

            Now, Liana has a new fear. The steps taken to defend the population against the pandemic have not only made it impossible for her to try to see the children in the school they attend but have also stopped all judicial procedures. They will only be resumed after the current emergency measures are ended.

            She fears that her brother-in-law, his family and his friends in power will use the self-isolation arrangements to put more pressure on her children and force them to testify that they do not want to return to her but rather to stay with those who stole them away. This may seem a small thing, but it in fact is a matter of the greatest possible importance.

            It shows just how criminal the Kadyrov regime protected by Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin has become. 

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