Spurious Court in Chechnya Sentences Ruslan Kutaev to Four Years in Prison
The lawyer Pyotr Zaikin has reported that on July 7, the spurious Urus-Martan City Court in the Russian occupied Chechen territory sentenced Ruslan Kutaev, the President of the Assembly of Caucasian Nations, to four years of imprisonment in a general regime colony on a charge of illegal possession of drugs that human rights activists say was blatantly fabricated. The court also banned Kutaev for one more year to attend public events and be engaged in any public activities.
Just days prior to his arrest on February 20, Ruslan Kutaev had convened a scientific conference in Grozny, called “Deportation of Chechen people. What was it, and can it be forgotten?”, to mark the 70th anniversary of the deportation on orders from then-Soviet leader Josef Stalin of the entire Chechen and Ingush nations to Kazakhstan and Central Asia. Speaking at that conference, Kutaev had incurred the pro-Kremlin leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s wrath by criticizing his edict two years earlier that henceforth the deportation anniversary should be marked not on the actual date (February 23), but in early May, concurrently with the anniversary of the death in 2004 of Kadyrov’s father, Akhmed-Hadzhi, in a bombing.
According to the puppet prosecution, 56 year old Ruslan Kutaev, was detained on the street in the town of Gekhi in the Urus Martan district, southwest of Grozny, on February 20, because he was behaving “oddly”. A search of his person reportedly revealed 3 grams of heroin. Kutaev and other witnesses, however, say he was apprehended at the home of friends he was visiting and was not searched before being driven away. What is more, the six witnesses for the puppet prosecution who claim to have been present at Kutaev’s arrest gave mutually contradictory testimony in the spurious court. While all agreed on what the weather was like that day, they were unable to say who authorized Kutaev’s arrest or whether they made their way to the spot where he was apprehended on foot or in a vehicle of Kadyrov’s armed bandits. They were alsounable to describe the packet of heroin purportedly found on Kutaev.
After his abduction, Ruslan Kutaev was taken not to the pro-Moscow regime’s local Urus Martan police station, but to Grozny, where he was questioned in the presence of pro-Russian so-called Chechen Deputy Interior Minister Apti Alaudinov and Magomed Daudov, head of Kadyrov’s administration. Daudov had telephoned Kutaev after the deportation anniversary conference and demanded he report to his office for questioning, a demand that Kutaev ignored as he considered it shameful to comply immediately.
Testifying on May 7, Ruslan Kutaev said that after his arrest he was “brutally beaten and kicked” by top pro-Russian officials in the presence of their bodyguards. He did not name the officials in question.
While most human rights activists attribute Ruslan Kutaev’s arrest to his public criticism of Kadyrov and/or his refusal to report immediately to Kadyrov’s office for questioning when ordered to do so, Kutaev himself sees the reprisals against him as part of a broader trend, “a clear tendency to discredit political and public figures who criticize the pro-Russian management.”
Let us remind you that Ruslan Kutaev is a well-known civil society activist from the Russian occupied Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. Kutaev served as a deputy to then acting Prime Minister Aslan Maskhadov in the interim government formed after the signing in August 1996 of the Khasavyurt Accord that ended the 1994-1996 war, and as an aide to Maskhadov after the latter was elected Chechen Republic of Ichkeria president in January 1997. He was co-chairman of the Society for Russian-Chechen Friendship until its closure in October 2006. He is current head of the Assembly of Peoples of the Caucasus and the International Committee for North Caucasus Problems.