Communication from Memorial Human Rights Centre concerning the case of R.A. Kadyrov for the protection of honour, dignity, business reputation and compensation for moral harm at the Tverskoi District Court, Moscow.
Today, September 10th 2009, in preparation for a court examination, my lawyer and two representatives of Memorial Human Rights Centre gave the court our objections to R.A. Kadyrov’s claims. Our objections contained legal arguments that were based on the essence of the case.
However, Kadyrov’s claims contained a host of assertions that do not bear any relation to the essence of the case. We consider it necessary to bring attention to these claims and to respond to them outside of the legal process.
1) Kadyrov claims: ‘I first met Estemirova just over two years ago during a meeting with human rights defenders’.
This is false.
The first meeting between Ramzan Kadyrov and Natalya Estemirova took place more than five years ago in June of 2004. Natalya accompanied the Novaya Gazeta journalist Anna Politkovskaya to the residence of Kadyrov in Centroi village. Politkovskaya interviewed Kadyrov and the interview was published in Novaya Gazeta on the 21st of June, 2004 (http://politkovskaya.novayagazeta.ru/pub/2004/2004-051.shtml).
Estemirova was present during the conversation between Politkovskaya and Kadyrov. Judging by what Estemirova said about the meeting at Kadyrov’s residence, his hostile attitude towards Natalya could have been initiated there.
2) Kadyrov claims: ‘We have only met a couple of times since then and those meetings were never in private. My last meeting with human rights activists that was attended by Estemirova was held last autumn and was incidentally also attended by Oleg Orlov himself.
This is false.
The last meeting between Estemirova and Kadyrov was by no means public and Oleg Orlov was not present.
On the 31st of March 2008, the Mayor of Grozny, Muslim Khuchiev, unexpectedly urged Natalia Estmirova to come to the Place of Youth in Grozny where the President of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, was present.
That day Estemirova told her colleagues about the meeting, she even mentioned the events over the phone to colleagues in Moscow. Once in Moscow she described the meeting in detail.
Given the extremely severe statements of Kadyrov in his conversation with Estemirova during the meeting as well as the unfolding situation in the republic that was increasingly dangerous for her, Memorial Human Rights Centre, after some deliberation, decided that Estemirova should leave Chechnya temporarily.
On April 17th 2008 a document entitled ‘Interim results from a meeting between the President of the Chechen Republic and representatives of Memorial’ was disseminated on Memorial’s website. In this document, following a discussion about the safety conditions, and at the request of Estemirova, some of the details of Kadyrov's comments were published (http://www.memo.ru/2008/04/18/1804084.htm).
In this document, which was sent to the media and authorities within the Chechen Republic, the following was written specifically about the meeting with Kadyrov:
‘On the 31st of March, the Mayor of Grozny, Muslim Khuchiev, unexpectedly requested Natalya Estemirova to urgently come to the Palace of Youth in Grozny where the President of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, was present. Once there, the Mayor of Grozny began to discuss the future work of the Civic Council with her. However, on entering the room, the President of the Chechen Republic sharply changed the subject and tone of the conversation. He was angry with Estemirova following an appearance on the programme ‘Islamic Evolution’, shown on the 30th of March on REN-TV. During the programme, Estemirova had spoken out against the interference of the state in the private lives of citizens and discussed attempts by the Chechen authorities to make it a duty for women to wear headscarves in public places.
The President of the Chechen Republic didn’t stop there. He said that Memorial Human Rights Centre was disseminating any inauthentic information that blackening the leadership of the Republic and he himself saw no positive results from co-operation with human rights organisations.
Finally, Ramzan Kadyrov said that he was discharging Estemirova from the post of representative of the Grozny Civic Council because of her refusal to act to care for the rights and freedoms of individuals and citizens and further demanded that Memorial Human Rights Centre send a person to this Council who agreed with the policy of the authorities of the Chechen Republic in relation to women wearing head scarves. Kadyrov insistently recommended that Estemirova stop visiting ministers and departments under the control of the President of the Chechen Republic.
Since then no denial or objection relating to the contents of the docusment have been forthcoming from Chechen authorities or from Kadyrov personally.
3) Kadyrov describes his supposed last meeting with Natalya Estemirova as such: ‘I can remember very well how we discussed a number of social and economic issues. Orlov insisted, among other things, on a planned restoration of a mountain village that had been abandoned by practically its entire population, which had chosen to move closer to civilisation. I pointed out to Orlov that I was ready to cooperate should he be able to find at least a dozen families who would agree to return and live in that village on a permanent basis if we built good solid houses for them there. This was, in fact, the end of the discussion, since no-one has so far volunteered to return to live in that village’.
This claim is false.
First off, it is obvious that he is talking not about his last meeting with Estemirova but about a meeting between himself and representatives of Memorial on February 22nd, 2008 at the Government House in Grozny.
At this meeting it was not only social-economic issues that were discussed. Other issues included:
- Work principles of human rights organisations
- The possibility of examining criminal cases that have been fabricated in relation to residents of the Chechen Republic
- Severe handling of prisoners from the Chechen Republic in prisons outside of the Chechen Republic
- Non-punishment of serious crimes committed in the Chechen Republic; non-investigation of crimes committed by employees of the authorities against residents of the Chechen Republic
- Problems of lack of news on those who have disappeared (absence of investigations of abductions, identification of bodies)
- Torture and falsification of criminal cases
- Illegal places of detention in the Chechen Republic
- Internal displacement of people in the Chechen Republic and moving of points of temporary displacement
- Return of residents to mountain villages
- The situation of Chechens outside of the Chechen Republic
On February 20th, 2008 a description of this meeting and its initial results were disseminated on Memorial’s website (http://www.memo.ru/2008/02/27/2702081.html). This text was then sent to the media and the Chechen authorities. No denial or objections from the authorities have followed.
Firstly, the issue of the restoration of mountain villages, including the village of Zymsoi, was raised in this meeting by Ekaterina Sokirianskaia, and not Oleg Orlov. The President of the Chechen Republic really did say that the authorities of the Chechen Republic would be prepared to include the village of Zumsoi in the state programme for the restoration of mountain villages, if ten families could be found who were prepared to return to the village for continual residency.
On February 26th , 2008 in a meeting with the leader of the Administrative Office of the President and Government of the Chechen Republic, Abdulkakhir Izrailov and Ekaterina Sokirainskayaia met with a group of residents who represented the initiative concerning Zymsoi. A list was composed of the first 20 families from Zymsoi who wished to return to the village. Izrailov said that the authorities of the Chechen Republic were starting work on the restoration of the village, the first stage of which would be mine clearance of the territory and debris clearance of the road to the village.
Memorial reported on the restoration of the village in a document dated April 17th , 2008 and entitled ‘Interim results on a meeting between the President of the Chechen Republic and representatives from Memorial Human Rights Centre (http://www.memo.ru/2008/04/18/1804084.htm):
‘In March 2008, part of the road to the village was cleared of a large landslide, which had fallen in 2005.
On the 11th of April 2008, residents of Zumsoi together with representatives of the authorities went to the village to look around and evaluate the condition of houses and graves situated on a sacred place.
According to the residents of Zumsoi, the road to the village was still in an unsatisfactory condition and in need of significant repair. In order to approach the village by car it was necessary for a tractor to go ahead and clear the road of stones. It was impossible to get into the village by car because it is necessary to rebuild the bridge that joins the village and the road.
Additionally, it is necessary to clear mines from the village and surrounding territory (Zumsoi, as many other mountain villages does not have solid buildings and the buildings are far from each other).
Currently in the village of Zumsoi electricity has been connected, the road has been cleared, a school has been built, an administration building is under construction and ten residential houses have been incorporated. Several families are permanent residents in the village. Residents planted potatoes in the fields in the spring 2009, the materials for which came from the non-governmental organisation ‘Civic Assistance’ - a group which works closely with Memorial. Currently, at the request of the residents of Zymsoi, ‘Civic Assistance’ is searching for the means to acquire livestock and a tractor.
The impression that Ramzan Kadyrov gives bears no resemblance to real events in the Chechen Republic.
However, these responses answer far from all of the claims of Ramzan Kadyrov to which we could object.