Report dedicated to the next round of EU-Russia consultations on human rights
Terrorism represents a real threat in contemporary
of application of force which were chosen by the leadership and security
services of the
In the recent years
the level of military confrontation has significantly reduced. Armed units of
Chechen field commanders have suffered great losses, part of fighters took up
jobs at security services of the
legislation of the
Even having such enormous powers, the Russian
officials permanently and systematically violate norms of law prohibiting
illegal violence. Such practice is clearly supported by the highest authorities
Presently in the
This year the number of casualties among
Below you can
find the data obtained by way of summing up the available casualties data of
Total in three summer months of 2008
The summer 2007
number of casualties among Russian military officers and policemen serving in
the conflict zone was given as 61 killed and
132 wounded, while the summer 2006 figures were
83 killed and 210 wounded. This undoubtedly means that in 2008 the number of
fatal casualties has, sadly enough, reached the
same level as it was two years ago which was the period of high activity of Basayev
and Maskhadov. Special emphasis should also be given to the fact that the total
casualties figure in the small
This tendency had already been mentioned in May by the Commander General of the United Task Forces in the North Caucasus Major General N.I.Sivak. According to him, the number of casualties of the United Task Forces had not dropped in comparison to the first months of the previous years, on the contrary, a certain rise had been registered.
The militants’ tactic was to avoid direct
collisions, instead they opted for ambush
attacks and mine detonations. Not being able to control any patch
of the territory for a long time, they chose to occupy individual villages for
a few hours accompanying their actions with various acts of intimidation –
arsons targeting mainly governmental buildings, households of police officers
and state authorities, violent attacks on and executions
of government officials. The period from April to October 2008, had seen 5 such
incidents of villages being occupied by the militants in
of the Russian Ministries of Defense and of Interior claim that the
intensification of the militants’ activity in Ingushetia and Dagestan is
allegedly due to the militants having been ousted from
The rise in the number of terrorist attacks committed against representatives of the state authorities in Ingushetia is the direct consequence of the grave violations of human rights in the course of the fight against terrorism. The arbitrariness of the security and military forces stirs up indignation of the local people. The authorities suppress all peaceful and legal protest actions. The opposition has been deprived of any opportunity to address the society and the authorities using legal democratic means.
This, in turn, only contributes to the alienation of the society and the authorities, and strengthens the support base for the armed underground. Citing the intensification of the militants’ activity as an excuse, various security and military authorities and forces have deployed a tremendous scale of uncontrolled activity in the region, often acting absolutely independently of each other and without proper coordination of their operations. This, in the end, plays into the hands of the armed underground. It is usually impossible to understand who is moving around in cars without number plates or keeping surveillance from such cars – the security forces or actually the militants themselves.
In August 2008 Memorial Human Rights Center published a report "Ingushetia: New Methods of Anti-Terror: A License to Kill?". According to this report, a new tendency has emerged over the last 18 months for the personnel of security and military services to eliminate persons suspected of participation in illegal armed groups rather than detain them during special operations theoretically aimed at detention of such persons. In many cases eyewitnesses claim that the killed persons did not resist detention, moreover the officers had not even made any attempt of detaining them. In 2007 alone 26 persons suspected of participation in illegal armed groups were killed that way. Only three of them were said to have offered some kind of resistance to the law enforcement forces. In all the other cases we have sufficient evidence to believe that the suspects were killed in an imitation of fight. In the period from January till August 5, 2008, Memorial has information about 26 people killed in Ingushetia, 12 of whom did not offer any resistance at the time of their allegedly attempted detention, according to eyewitnesses. Not infrequently representatives of security services plant the weapons to the killed right in front of the witnesses.
The overwhelming majority of crimes (with a tiny and marginal exception) committed by the representatives of the state authorities during counter-terror operations in Ingushetia remain unpunished. Here are few examples of such cases.
Not a single criminal case into the fact of abductions of civilians by
officers of the security and military structures has been investigated. Nobody
has been charged with criminal responsibility for the violations of the local
resident’s rights in the course of the so-called counter-terrorist operations,
for example, for the mass beatings of the residents of the
No criminal proceedings have been initiated into the fact of the
extrajudicial execution of Apti Dalakov in the town of
A criminal case was initiated
into the fact of the murder of the detained Murad Abdul-Kadyrovich Bogatyryov
on September 8, 2007 at the district police department of the city of
A criminal case has also been
opened into the fact of the murder of the 6-year-old Rakhim Amriev on November
In these circumstances the sinister term of "civil war" increasingly comes into use In his most frank interview to the Grani.Ru television project, Magomed Khazbiev, one of the leaders of the legal Ingush opposition gave his perspective of the situation: "Quite ordinary fellows choose to go out at night and avenge their brothers by eliminating anyone representative of security services whom they happen to come across".
In the Chechen Republic, despite the claims of the authorities that comprehensive stabilization has been achieved, they are unable to fully suppress the armed underground. The totalitarian system which has in practice been introduced in the republic has met with a strong protest reaction of a significant part of the younger generation.
The Commander General of the
United Task Forces in the North Caucasus Major General N.I.Sivak admitted in
his interview that "the number of militants hiding in the mountainous
On July 24 the President of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov held a meeting with the heads of local administration, the heads of the district police departments and the religious leaders of the republic which was dedicated to the situation of the Chechen youth. According to media reports, Kadyrov had among other things said: "It is not a secret that many of our civil authorities and directors have kin ties to young men who have gone into the woods. I know that they continue to maintain contact with them and even supply them with food sometimes. I am warning you: should such young people not be made to return home within 10 days from now, all chiefs and directors will go on trial. I forbid you to bury those, who are waging a war on us. If I only learn that someone from those in the woods has been buried in any of the villages, no one will retain their position, be they a police chief, a head of administration or an imam of any mosque."
Possibly as a results of that meeting in early August the authorities of
Argun, the third largest city in
Another method of exerting pressure on relatives were arsons of the houses of the families of the fighters. Memorial Human Rights Centre has information about 17 cases of such arsons taking place during the summer of 2008.
Over a number of years abductions
and enforced disappearances ranked among the most widespread human rights
violations in the North Caucasus region (primarily, in Chechnya and, to a
lesser extent, in Ingushetia and Dagestan).
In 2007 the number of instances of such crimes dropped drastically.
However, since May 2008 Memorial has
recorded a new rise in the number of such cases in
Over the period from May to September 2006 we have registered 23 cases of abductions. In most of cases there was serious evidence to suspect the involvement of state agents in the abduction. Four of the abducted people were found a few days later by their families in district police departments. By that time, the policemen would had already managed to obtain “confessions” from the people kept there resorting to illegal means and coercion. 11 of the abducted people were subsequently released by their abductors. 8 of the abducted people have disappeared without a trace.
Over the previous 5 months of 2008
Memorial has recorded 8 cases of abductions in
In Dagestan cases of abductions and torture of local residents were mainly linked to the work of the Department for Combat of Organized Crime and the Department for Combat of Extremism and Criminal Terrorism of the Dagestan Ministry of Interior. In private conversations the officers of the above-mentioned agencies do not even attempt to conceal that they are resolved to continue "fighting terrorism" using illegal methods and violence as their means.
If before June 2007 the majority of people abducted in
The practice of ‘temporary
disappearance’ of suspects is characteristic not only of Dagestan but of other
republics of the
As a rule the security services try to obtain confessions from a “disappeared” person usually with application of cruel beatings an torture. At this point defense lawyers are not being provided to suspects or a ‘lawyer on duty’ is being appointed who does not file complaints related to application of torture in respect of his defendant, does not demand medical assistance to his client if necessary or forensic examination in order to document torture. At this point the relatives usually do not yet know about the whereabouts of the detainee and they cannot hire him an independent lawyer. Even in cases when the relatives do invite another lawyer, he is being denied access to his client until all necessary documents are being signed by the suspect. Documentation regarding the date of detainment of such person are being backdated and oftentimes the official date of detainment is several days after the actual date when detainment took place.
Even if the lawyer knows that illegal methods have been applied to his
client, he oftentimes would not send appeals about cruel treatment, being
afraid for his or her own security. Very few individual lawyers dare to
confront this system, but their complaints are being turned down, and their
appeals to the Prosecutor General of the
Evidence provided under torture later becomes the main evidence of the suspect’s guilt in court. Even if the case is being processed by Jury trial, according to the Russian Criminal Procedural Code the issue of unacceptability of evidence is decided in the absence of Jury (article 335 of the Criminal Procedural Code RF). Judges prevent lawyers and the accused to raise the issue of torture and evidence provided as a result of it in the presence of Jury. Not knowing that the confessions have been provided under torture the Jury has difficulty passing a fair judgement.
Such a system leaves little chances for fair punishment of perpetrators and acquittal of innocent. Complaints sent by lawyers to federal supervision authorities are being forwarded to the republican supervision authorities, who cover violence and arbitrariness of law-enforcement agencies and security services.
Since summer 2008 we observe a new dangerous tendency. People and organizations who speak openly
about human rights abuses in the
On August 3
A criminal case was opened on this fact, yet the criminals have not to date been identified.
On August 12, the Moscow Municipal Court definitively banned the opposition website Ingushetiya.Ru on the pretext of its publishing materials containing extremist views and appeals. The site regularly published information on human rights violations in the course of counter-terrorism operations in Ingushetia. The court has ordered all Internet providers to block access to this website.
On August 13, 2008, near the office of the MASHR Human Rights
Organization in the town of
On August 31, the owner of the Ingushetiya.Ru website Magomed Yevloyev was detained by the
police at the airport of the city of
Newspapers quoting anonymous sources inside the law enforcement services, claimed that this organization had links with the militants, and provided deliberately false and misleading information about the members of the organization.
Representatives of the state authorities and the security forces have
repeatedly attempted to intimidate the activists of this organization
threatening with initiation of criminal proceedings against them or their
relatives. The threats went beyond mere words. The family members and friends of some of the activists had become
victims of criminal prosecution. We know of cases of application of torture and
fabrication of criminal cases against such people. One of such cases has
already "fallen apart" and the defendant, Ilyas Dibirov, who was charged with participation in terrorist
activities, was acquitted by the Supreme Court of the
In summer 2008, the Chernovik newspaper came under
persecution for having repeatedly written about the unlawful methods of
anti-terrorist operations in
Over the period from April till October 9 the
In these decisions, ECHR has proclaimed
What measures are being taken by Russian authorities to implement the ECHR decisions?
Applicants are given monetary compensations in time and in full. Investigations into criminal cases are being reopened, but are being carried out formally and drag on for no good reason.
None of the officials who were clearly involved in perpetrating crimes have gone on trial. The whereabouts of people whose abduction by state agents was recognized by the ECHR have not been established. No amendments to normative acts outlining security services’ actions in areas of internal conflicts (anti-terrorism legislation, charters of armed forces). Meanwhile, the need for such changes results directly from some ECHR decisions.
Over the past years some applicants have been subject to pressure from authorities after they made their complaints; some were threatened and a few of them were abducted or killed.
and stability are inseparably linked to human rights issues. A clear
illustration of this obvious truth is the situation in the
Peace and stability there (which also includes the respect for the inalienable human rights) in the long-term perspective can be achieved only through political reform that ensures the formation of the authorities in the subjects of the Federation on the basis of the people's will. This political reform is not possible without an end to the suppression of the opposition and the violation of the freedom of speech.
Unreasonable restrictions on holding rallies and demonstrations must be removed. An integral part of such reform must also become a real fight against corruption.
it is clear that such policies can be implemented only if there is a political
will in the Kremlin, and they should not be limited to the North Caucasus but
should address all regions of
Currently, the Russian federal authorities lack this political will.
Therefore, now we can talk about only the first and minimally necessary steps.
minimal steps should be measures aimed at ending the massive and systematic
violation of human rights by law enforcement agencies, especially the Ministry
of Interior and Federal Security Service of Russia, and removing climate of
impunity for crimes against civilians, which is still prevalent in the
Such measures should include the following in particular:
· Carrying out adequate investigation into cases of human rights violations and bringing the perpetrators to accountability.
Having the Prosecutor
General of the
· Putting an end to the widespread practice of “temporary disappearances” of detained persons. In order to decrease the risk of torture as well to guarantee the legal rights of the family members of the detained, it is essential to ensure that relatives of the detained or arrested are speedily informed on their whereabouts.
· Instructing members of federal and local enforcement agencies and security services about the absolute necessity of respecting and observing human rights within the framework of their activities as well as about the accountability for following criminal orders of superior instances and employees.
· Ensuring the compliance of the state counter-terrorism activities, both on the level of normative acts and on the level of practices, to the international human rights standards and the international humanitarian law, including the European Convention for Human rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the Geneva Conventions, and the Council of Europe Guidelines on Human Rights and the Fight against Terrorism.
· Providing adequate legal and judicial protection and due compensation to victims of human rights violations.
· Effectively guaranteeing access to places of temporary and pre-trial detention for representatives of international humanitarian organizations, including the ICRC, in order to visit prisoners on conditions acceptable to those organizations.
· Cooperating with the human rights protection mechanisms and agencies of the Council of Europe and the United Nations, including the special procedures of the UN Human Rights Commission and the treaty bodies of the Council of Europe and the UN.
· Effectively cooperating with the Council of Europe Committee for Prevention of Torture.
Extending the necessary
assistance to Russian and international human rights organizations in their
human rights monitoring work in the