Sergey Babinets: “Kadyrovites enjoy the impunity”
The free daily French newspaper, 20minutes has conducted an interview with Russian lawyer Sergey Babinets who works with the Joint Mobile Group on Torture and Enforced Disappearances in the Russian occupied Chechen Republic of Ichkeria.
20minutes: What are the most common cases in Chechnya?
Sergey Babinets: Mostly the illegal arrests or kidnappings of civilians by the pro-Russian regime’s police (Kadyrovites) on the pretext that they are terrorism suspects, which is not generally true. Relatives of the victims ask for our help in obtaining release for their loved ones. During the procedure, the head of the pro-Russian regime’s police often blackmail the families: “All right, we are going to release him/her, but you will not complain about the issue, otherwise next time you may not find your son/daughter”. On the contrary, we ask the victims to start a legal process. However, people are afraid of reprisals and they don’t know how to begin or they don’t believe that it will help. Sometimes they come to us to ask for our help, but when their loved ones are released, they withdraw their complaints. In these cases, we can’t do anything.
20minutes: Why don’t they go to the courts? Is it ineffective?
Sergey Babinets: It is a fight against the system and you can’t change it with individual cases. Since 2009 we have followed 15 cases and so far none of them have been elucidated. The criminals are often the pro-Russian regime’s police officers and most of them are from the same clan as the pro-Russian leader Ramzan Kadyrov (who is Putin’s man and was appointed in 2007). They aren’t brought to justice and so, they don’t worry. Naturally, nobody believes in justice. We would like to break the system while trying to conduct investigations in accordance with the law.
20minutes: Have you ever been pressured?
Sergey Babinets: Yes, in 2010 all of our group members were arrested in a village of Chechnya, but then released. The pro-Russian regime’s authorities repeated to the local population that our work is harmful and that we just want to sow discord and earn money.
*Text was written by Waynakh Online and edited by Michael Capobiancon