Sweden Resident Chechen Man Abducted and Tortured in Chechnya
Suleiman Sultanovich Edigov, a 27-year-old citizen of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, was kidnapped on August 3, 2012 in the town of Urus-Martan, central Chechnya. He had arrived in the Russian occupied Chechnya from Sweden, where he had been living with his wife and young child since 2008 as a legal permanent resident. The purpose of his visit was to visit his mother and other relatives. On that day, August 3, Edigov bought a new (local) cell- phone and at 23.15 he called his older brother in Sweden to tell him his new phone number.
After that he went out of his mother’s home into the street, saying that he would come back soon. His mother, Mrs Z. Umarova, and his daughter-in-law also went out of the house exactly 5 minutes after he left , and reported seeing several cars with no license plates and a cluster of men in camouflage uniforms about 15 meters from their house, and two pro-Russian security officials grabbing someone and throwing him into one of the cars. The cars instantly drove away, and then the women realized that it was Mrs.Umarova’s son Suleiman who had been captured. Many neighbors who had also witnessed the whole scene confirmed the kidnapping.
Edigov’s mother went to all the pro-Russian police departments and the Russian military posts, trying to find out what hadhappened to her son, but she was told nothing. “Memorial” staff also took part in the search. Finally, on August 27, Edigov’s relatives received a text message from Edigov, that a so-called trial had been opened against him in the pro-Russian regime’s Grozny city court on charges under “articles 317 and 222 Part 2.” He also wrote that he had been brutally tortured in the so-called “investigation” cell. He pleaded for help.
The appeal which follows was drawn up and sent to the Prosecuting Authority (Prosecutor General Mr. Chaika Yu.Ya. ) and to Ombudsman Mr. Lukin V.P. by the Independent International HR Group.
1st letter (Appeal) :
To the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation
“We are writing to you about an act of blatant lawlessness occurring in the territory of the Chechen Republic. On July 31, 2012, Suleiman Sultanovich Edigov, a permanent resident of Sweden (personal number 19851003-0417), came by car to Grozny from Sweden in order to visit relatives in the Chechen Republic, where the Russian authorities claim to have stabilized the situation. Mr Edigov has described in detail on nine handwritten pages what happened to him when he arrived in Chechnya.
These are some of the offenses committed by the authorities in Chechnya: the unlawful kidnapping ofMr Edigov in the trunk of a car on August 3, 2012; his lengthy torture of the type that is used by Russian power structures against Chechen prisoners; and the rigging of a kangaroo court to try Mr Edigov on fabricated charges. In the end, it turns out that the representatives of different branches of government in Chechnya are linked in a bloody chain: the police who kidnapped Edigov; the investigators who extorted a guilty plea by torturing Edigov for a long time; and even the lawyer; they continued mockery of him.
An agent provocateur known as “Islam” was involved in Suleiman Edigov’s misfortune.“Islam”, identifiedin court as Timur Bulatovich Isaev who lives in the Leninsky district of Grozny on Zakrevsky Street , played a critical role. He had known the defendant since 2006, and after the abduction of Edigov persuaded him to take responsibility for the murder of a traffic policeman (presumably as the only way to get the beating and tortures to stop). “Islam” (Timur ) acted at the behest of FSB officers and the police, in particular the Kurchaloevsky police station chief Edelgireev Khamzat , who also took part in the in the torturing of Edigov.
As it turned out, Islam (Timur ) had been involved in the recruitment of Chechen youth , offering them weapons and then delivering them to the police, who reported these “recruits” as “captured bandits” to their superiors and thereby “improved” their performance records; the department employees received awards, promotions, and bonuses. The provocateur Islam (Timur Bulatovich Isaev) used to be a member of the gang which committed a robbery of a gaming club in Rostov -on-Don, but no punishment for the crime followed, probably because the Russian security services assured him of freedom and impunity as “payment” for his partnership – in this way agents provocateurs are being made in Chechnya.
We ask, isn’t it clear to the Chechen authorities, who appear to be so worried about the image of the restored republic, where celebrities are invited and millions of dollars are spent on making a glamorousfaçade that endless, so-called anti-terrorist operations, which result in destroying innocent young people, nullify all the efforts of Russia to normalize life in the Chechen Republic? There is a paradoxical situation where statements by the highest Russian authorities are contradicted by the actions of local officials in Chechnya, who continue to act using the only methods they know. The effects are that local residents are suffering while for young Chechens two destinies only are left: either to go to join the Resistance in “the forest”, to retaliate against continuing lawlessness , therefore making the whole situation a vicious circle; or to leave their homeland, fleeing to the West and applying for asylumthere. Thus, the authorities of European countries are learning that in the Chechen Republic, beyond the newly-built skyscrapers and the largest mosque in Europe, unspeakable crimes are committed at the instigation of local authorities. The Edigov trial case is a striking example of this. It is an incredible judicial farce.
At the trial, Suleiman Edigov completely rejected his earlier testimony, saying that all his previous statements were made under torture. In addition, an individual who was also forced to testify in the case as a “witness”, went into hiding. The culmination of the farce was when the police officers from Kurchaloevsky district along with their boss burst into the hearing and staged chaos there, right in the court, threatening the defendant in an attempt to intimidate the judges.
We hope that you, as the Prosecutor General, will intervene immediately in the unfolding chaos and restore justice and constitutional order in the Chechen Republic in the Russian Federation.
We also hope that as a result of your intervention a prompt and fair investigation will be carried out, and the victim of the crimes committed by the Chechen security forces – Suleiman Edigov – will be released from the courtroom or immediately afterwards, and be allowed to go back to Sweden, the country where he currently resides; and those responsible for the kidnapping and torture of Edigov will be punished.
The Independent International Human Rights Group
Victoria Poupko, USA;
Mayrbek Taramov, Sweden;
Elena Maglevannaya, Finland;
Nadezhda Banchik, USA;
Maiu Plado, Estonia
The second letter, which received media attention in Chechnya and some media in Russia, in a sense continues and describes illegal aggressive law enforcement actions described at the end of the first letter, and just: ” The culmination of the spectacle was that Kurchaloevsky police station officers along with their boss burst into the courtroom while the court was in session, causing chaos and uttering threats against the defendant, Suleiman Edigov, in order to intimidate the judges.”
The unpredictable events that occurred may seem fictitious. But this is what really happened.
2d letter (Court document):
Decision of the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic No. 2-23/2013 of November 1, 2013 on self-withdrawal of the judge.
“Judge of the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic, Abubakarov R.A, with the participation of the public prosecutor Muradov V.S., defendant Edigov S.S., defense attorney Yusupov S.-A., from the BarAssociation of the Chechen Republic, and secretary Hadzhueva M.M., considered in a public hearing of the criminal case against Suleiman Sultanovich Edigov, a Russian citizen, having a residence permit and living in Sweden [here come passport details – V.P. ], married, having dependent of a young child, not convicted, accused of committing crimes under Art . 317 and 222, part 2 of the Criminal Code,
A person whose phone number was not identified, but who introduced himself as the Minister of Internal Affairs of the Chechen Republic, Lt. Gen. Ruslan Shahaevichem Alkhanov, called me and toldme, the judge, that he – Alkhanov – was certain that the defendant Edigov S.S. is guilty of the crimes the defendant was charged with, and warned me from allowing him an acquittal”.
[So, apparently, here he is, the main “investigator” of defendants! And so, all the fake investigation, consisting mostly of the terrible torture, aims only at squeezing out his own self-incrimination. In this case, thanks to the incredible courage of Edigov and his lawyer, the glaring facts of his abduction and torture were revealed in the court –V.P.]
The final part of the letter, the decision of the judge, showing unprecedented courage in today’s Chechnya conditions, reads as follows:
“That person is the head of the Federal department which is obliged by law to protect and ensure the judge’s independence in case of attempted intimidation of the judge or interference with his impartialityby any person. During the trial, court was provided with a set of consistent evidence in support of defendant Edigov’s claims that subordinates of Alkhanov R. Sh. – operational police officers – on August 3, 2012 illegally kidnapped him, kept him under arrest without bail until September 12, cruelly torturing him with electroshock: winding his fingers with aluminum wire in order to extort a guilty plea. The torture caused gangrene in the 4th and 5th fingers of both of Mr Edigov’s hands.
The telephone call and warnings by Alkhanov R.Sh. to me are his reaction to biased reports of his subordinates who were questioned by the court and thus interested in the court’s outcome. He hoped to avoid the dangerous consequences they might have for their crimes.
After the intervention of the official of such level into my consideration of a criminal case against EdigovS.S., any decision by me on sentence, even in my own mind- against my will – will look like either aconcession to the warning, if conviction would be decided, or [inappropriate] demonstration of courage, in case of acquittal, i.e. either “ordered” or as a protest.
When a court decision is considered on indictment of the person and his punishment, any doubt of impartiality of the judges is inappropriate. Since the above-mentioned circumstances questioned my disinterest in the outcome and my impartiality, I think it’s necessary to declare that I withdraw from further consideration of the case.
Based on the foregoing, the Court decided: to declare my withdrawal from the case and cease further consideration of the case. “
Unfortunately, this unprecedented action doesn’t end Edigov’s tragic adventure, as the court decided to extend his time in custody for 3 months. But we are quite sure that this case, while identifying illegal and criminal acts of security forces in the Chechen Republic, will open a new page in the Chechen and possibly in Russian legal proceedings.
As to Edigov S.S., we hope that oversight of the entire case will be provided as a guarantee that it will receive a fair due process.
Victoria Poupko, Boston