“Memorial”: after cancelling CTO regime in Chechnya power agents strengthen pressure on youth
After Chechnya ceased to be a counterterrorist operation (CTO) zone, law-enforcement bodies have strengthened pressure on young people. This sort of “actions” aimed to “prevent” terrorism give a boomerang effect – the young men, exposed to violence demonstrated by power gents, go away and join militants’ groupings. This is the topic of the statement of the Human Rights Centre (HRC) “Memorial”.
The latest case of this sort was the departure from home of Anzor Bashaev, a resident of Shalazhi village, Achkhoy-Martan District of the Chechen Republic. On May 7, the young man left his home and never came back. About two days before that, he was detained by employees of power agencies and then returned home strongly beaten. He said that he was taken away in the context of disappearance of Asmarzaev, who, in the opinion of his relatives, had been kidnapped by militants, or, in the opinion of local residents, went away voluntary with them.
In total, during the last six months, eight person left Shalazhi “for the forest”, as reported by the HRC “Memorial”. Among them there were cousins Adam and Islam Shakhbiev and Baudi Akhtakhanov, 22. Akhtakhanov went away to join militants after he was detained on November 29, 2008, by power agents and severely tortured. On the following day Baudi left his home.
Local resident Alvi Khamzaev left for the forest for the same reason. In late April 2009, in the afternoon, he was taken away from his house by some employees of some power agency (presumably, from the ROVD of Urus-Martan District). Khamzaev was kept in custody till midnight and released after his relatives managed to detect his whereabouts. In the course of interrogation the young man was tortured.
“It seemed to us that cancellation of the CTO regime would be another step towards normalization of the situation in the republic, but what we see now is quite the opposite,” residents of Shalazhi told human rights activists. According to their version, periodically at the entrances to the village from the villages of Orekhovo (Yandi-Kotar) , Achkhoy-Martan District, and Gekhi, Urus-Martan District, block posts are deployed, and helicopters keep flying over the village at low altitude.
At the mosque, the villagers were warned that they should not go the forest, as they can be shot dead there without any warning.
On the other hand, On May 20, at 4:30 a.m., four persons were kidnapped from the house at No. 7 Zvyozdnaya Street, Zavodskoy District of the city of Grozny, the capital of Chechnya. This is the topic of the application lodged by Eki Paraulidze, a woman-resident of Chechnya, to the ROVD of the Zavodskoy District.
It has become known to the “Caucasian Knot” that members of one family and their relatives were kidnapped: Sultan Machalikashvili, born in 1972, Ramzan Margoshvili, born in 1976, Nugzar Bakagashvili, born in 1972, and Ruslan Tkhadadze, born in 1970.
“They were guests of Nugzar Bakagashvili at the following address: Zavodskoy District, Andreyevskaya Dolina, No. 7 Zvyozdnaya Street, where Ramzan Margoshvili brought his bride,” runs the application also submitted to the Prosecutor’s Office of Chechnya and HRC “Memorial”.
Ms Paraulidze said: “Everybody was asleep, when before dawn the house was surrounded, armed people in camouflage and masks came in, seized all the four men, put them into cars, without asking anything, and took away in an unknown direction.” None of the women were allowed to go out under threat of execution.
In the evening, the kidnapped persons were set free. They were put out of the car near the house. The men do not know where they were, as polyethylene bags were on their heads all the time.
“Now, the mechanism is as follows: as soon as relatives of kidnapped persons reach us and write an application, we use the model of sending copies of the application to the public prosecutor of the district, public prosecutor of the republic, to the ‘Memorial’, ROVD and the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) – and people are immediately found,” said Natalia Estemirova, an employee of the HRC “Memorial”.
In this case, according to her story, the kidnapped men were released less than in three hours after kidnapping.
“The kidnapped persons are ordinary residents; they never had any problems with the militia. However, right now, when the ‘Vikhr-Anti- Terror’ operation is underway, after the terror act, every power agency wants to expose some activity and show ‘results’,” Ms. Estemirova said.
According to her, quite often the kidnappers themselves suggest to release their victims in exchange of their relatives’ withdrawal their applications from the militia.