Gullit is Helping Kadyrov’s Regime
Radio Netherlands Worldwide has reported that Oleg Khabibrakhmanov, a spokesman for the Committee Against Torture is visiting the Netherlands and wants the Dutch government to put political pressure on Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to order an investigation into human rights violations in Chechnya.
The human rights defender explains that “The Netherlands is the first country we are approaching. In recent years we have worked hard to collect evidence in Chechnya, evidence we are prepared to hand over to the Russian authorities. Political pressure from the Netherlands can help our cause.”
Oleg Khabibrakhmanov does not have much to say about Ruud Gullit himself. He believes that, by allying himself with the fortunes of the Chechen capital’s team, the Dutch football star is inadvertently polishing up Kadyrov’s shady reputation. He does think the Dutchman’s decision to sign with Terek Grozny is a strange one. “Perhaps parts of the population have spent their whole lives dreaming of watching Gullit play in Chechnya,” he says cynically. “But I have the impression that most of them are against his presence. Gullit should really have known that human rights defenders have their doubts about Kadyrov and why so many violations are taking place in Chechnya.”
The Russian rights defender has spent years combating human rights violations in Chechnya. Until 2001 he was a police officer in Russia and saw his colleagues’ disregard for the rules with his own eyes. He set up his own human rights center in the Russian city of Kazan and later started working for the Committee Against Torture, an organization that is also active in Chechnya.
“In Chechnya we are investigating cases of torture and disappearances, often carried out by the secret service. The problem is that the public prosecutors in Chechnya are too afraid to conduct an investigation. They sometimes know who has disappeared or been tortured but no information is forthcoming. The whole investigation is sabotaged.”
Mr Khabibrakhmanov believes Ramzan Kadyrov is aware of the disappearances. The secret service comes under his authority. However, Kadyrov has not lifted a finger to change the situation.
The work that Mr Khabibrakhmanov does in Chechnya is dangerous. In April 2005 Murad Muradov of the aid organization “Let’s Save the Generation” was abducted and killed. The same fate awaited his successor Zarema Sadulayeva and her husband in August 2009. Is Mr Khabibrakhamov afraid? “No,” he says firmly. “If you are afraid, you cannot work in Chechnya. We work in the public domain. That is our protection. The authorities know that.”