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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Another Original LR Translation: Annals of the Horror of Chechnya

La Russophobe's original translator offers another insight into the Russian Internet with the following story about Russian human rights abuses in Chechnya:

European Court Says Russia Must Pay 42,000 Euros for the

Murder of a Chechen by Policeman Federal Soldiers

November 15, 2007

The European Court of Human Rights on November 16 handed down a decision in a suit related to the murder in Grozniy of Aslanbek Kukayev, a policeman of the Staropromyslov Regional Branch of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

As reported by Interfax, the court found in favor of the suit brought by Khamzat Kukayev, the father of the policeman who was killed in November 2000 in Grozniy, and obliged the Russian Federation to pay him 7,000 euros as compensation for material damages and 35,000 euros for moral damages. In addition, Russia is required to pay over 7,000 euros for court costs.

In the opinion of the court, with regard to the petitioner Russia permitted the violation of Articles 2, 3 and 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Specifically, violation of the “Article 2 (right to life) of the European convention on human rights concerning the disappearance and death of Aslanbek Kukayev; a violation of the same Article concerning the authorities’ failure to carry out an adequate and effective investigation into the disappearance and death of Aslanbek Kukayev.”

The Strasburg court also found that with respect to Kukayev’s father, who suffered mental anguish as a result of the disappearance of his son and the lack of a competent investigation, Russia had allowed a violation of Article 3 - according to which “No one shall be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

The court also established a violation of Article 13 of the Convention, which guarantees the right to an effective remedy in defense of a person’s rights, as well as Article 38, which establishes a procedure for examining cases brought to the European Court. The Russian government failed to present documents that the court had requested.

As reported by the online publication “Kavkazskiy Uzel” (Caucus Knot), Dmitriy Grushkin, a lawyer with the “Memorial” organization who is representing the father of the murdered man in the Strasburg court. Kukayev disappeared in Grozniy in the year 2000. On November 26, Kukayev, a member of the patrol service of the Aslanbek Kukayev (No. 221 on the list of those who have disappeared mysteriously), together with his fellow serviceman Roslanbek Damayev (No. 134 on the same list), left for work for the last time in his life, bound for the Central Market of Grozniy. On that day, Russian Federal forces were conducting a “special operation” in the market.

According to multiple witnesses who were interviewed by members of the human rights organization “Memorial”, at 11:00 a.m. on 26 November, 2000 the central market of Grozniy was unexpectedly cordoned off by soldiers and armored vehicles. Traffic was halted for several blocks around the market, and pedestrian movement was limited. Heavy machinery, including tanks and bulldozers, moved toward the rows of stands located on Mir Street.

The market was plundered. One of the traders, a woman, tried to protect her goods. A fight broke out, involving several other women as well. The soldiers were forced to retreat to a market exit, firing over the heads of the people -- as described by “Memorial” in the first book in the series “People Live Here. Chechnya: Chronicle of Violence”, covering the period from July to December 2000 and published by the company “Zvenya” in 2003.

Grozniy resident Khava Magomadova: “At 11:00 a.m. the market was surrounded by soldiers, some of them in masks. Under the guise of checking passports, they chased the traders from their working places and right in front of everyone began taking merchandise from the tables. After opening the merchants’ lockers, they began to load up their Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) and other vehicles with boxes and crates of alcohol and food products. I had goods worth 22,000 rubles disappear.”

Zarema Abubakorova, a resident of the Grozniy region: “I was working at the market on November 26, when the Russians started roughing people up outrageously. They stole merchandise, food, boxes of vodka, cigarettes and equipment. When two police officers from the Zavodskyy Region tried to intervene, they took away their identification and led them away somewhere. Things stolen from my locker included raincoats, jackets, suits, and shoes, worth 50,000 rubles. Only a few of my colleagues managed to hide and preserve their goods.”

While some soldiers plundered the market, others kidnapped young people: at least 20 people were detained. A few of them managed to ransom their way to safety, but the fate of most of them is still unknown. Two women also disappeared from the market, also perhaps taken by the soldiers.

A student at Chechnya State University, who requested anonymity: “I went to the central market to buy some clothes. Suddenly a panic broke out, people started running around in confusion. It turned out that the Russians had surrounded the market and were conducting a document check. Although I presented my passport and student identification, they took me to a vehicle with several dozen other young men who were being detained. On the road I managed to negotiate with one of the soldiers, who let me go in exchanged for money. Several other people from my group also managed to buy their release. I don’t know what happened to the others. I only know that their relatives are looking for them. If I hadn’t had some money with me at the time, I’m sure mine would be looking for me now.”

The policemen Aslanbek Kukayev and Roslanbek Damayev were in camouflage uniforms and had with them their identifications as members of the police force. At about 12:00 noon they were detained by soldiers of the federal forces. Presenting their credentials, Kukayev and Damayev “demanded the soldiers explain what was going on. But then, in front of a multitude of witnesses, they themselves were placed in a truck with some other Chechen policemen who had also been arrested.

According to witnesses, the vehicle stopped at the Grozniy Teachers College, where Kukayev and Damayev were taken off by a group of six soldiers. The truck then continued on, and after a little while shots were heard. By evening of the same day, all of the Chechen policemen who had been detained had returned home. Except for Aslanbek Kukayev and his fellow officer.

Khamzat Kukayev immediately began looking for his son Aslanbek. He appealed to the Grozniy city prosecutor, as a result of which a criminal case was opened. He also turned to the FSB and Commandant of the city.

After 4 months, on 22 April 2001, soldiers of a mobile unit of the Federal Forces discovered two corpses at the entrance to a basement in the Teachers College building during a search of the area. Expert analysis determined that the bodies were those of the missing policemen: Aslanbek Kukayev and Ruslanbek Damayev.

Both of them had been shot in the head. On 12 May the criminal case on the disappearance of Kukayev and subsequent discovery of his body was passed to the military prosecutor’s office. After a few days the military prosecutor returned the case to the civil court, on the basis that no military servicemen were involved in the crime.

On 28 May 2001, the civil prosecutor’s office officially closed the case “on the basis that no individual could be found subject to being identified as a suspect.”

Having exhausted all possible means of investigating and punishing those responsible in Russia, Khamzat Kukayev appealed to the European Court of Human Rights. In the view of the petitioner, with respect to the death of his son there were violations of Article 2, para 1 (right to life), Article 3 (right to not be subject to torture or inhuman treatment) and Article 13 (the right to effective remedy in defense of one’s rights) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In the list compiled by “Memorial” of people who have disappeared in Chechnya, Aslanbek Khamzatovich Kukayev, date of birth 1976, is listed as a member of the Chechen OMON. According to eyewitnesses, he was detained and taken away in the direction of the “Khankala” military base. Criminal case number 12332 was opened in the Grozniy city prosecutor’s office on 13 December 2000, in accordance with Article 126, chapter 2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (kidnapping of a person), and was investigated by agencies of the prosecutor’s office of the Chechen Repulic. In the middle of 2001 the case was closed in accordance with Article 195, chapter 3 of the Criminal Code (“inability to find an individual subject to being identified as a suspect”). The bodies of Kukayev and Damayev were discovered on 22 April in the ruins of the Grozniy Teachers College.

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