To the Prosecutor-General of the Russian Federation
Dear Yury Yakovlevich,
On 5 December 2014 at 19:25 on the webpage of the Head of the Chechen Republic R.A.Kadyrov in one of the social networking sites there appeared a record of a meeting that R.A.Kadyrov conducted with «the Ministers, heads and cadis of the districts and heads of the regional Departments of Interior» in connection with the armed attack of the group of individuals on buildings and facilities in Grozny which happened the day before.
In this record the Head of the Chechen Republic, in particular, points out: «I officially declare that times when there used to be a saying that parents cannot be held responsible for their children’s deeds are over. In Chechnya they will! If a father sees that his son chose a path of terror and Wahhabism let him bring his son to the authorities or stop him by any other means before he is able to spill blood… If a militant in Chechnya commits a murder of a policeman or any other person, the family of this militant will be immediately deported out of Chechnya without a right to return, and their house shall be demolished together with its foundation».
These words of R.A.Kadyrov were cited, in particular, in a live television broadcast of «Rossiya 24» television channel (this item is available here, the news with extracts of the Head of the Chechen Republic is available here).
According to Article 49 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, «each accused of a crime is considered innocent until his guilt is proven in the order established by the federal law and is ascertained by the court decision that has entered into legal force».
In Article 5 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation it is specified that «a person is subject to criminal liability only for those socially dangerous acts (or inaction) and supervening socially dangerous consequences, in connection with which his guilt is established». At the same time the «strict liability», i.e. criminal liability for guiltless harm-doing is banned».
It means that the relatives of a militant who «commits a murder of a policeman or any other person», can be subject to criminal liability and undergo due penalty only if the court brings in the verdict of guilty, which would establish the guilt and stage of involvement in the committed crime.
Criminal prosecution merely for the fact of kinship with a criminal is not allowed by the Russian legislation.
As to other types of liability of criminal’s relatives, apart from the criminal one, the Russian legislation provides for only one possibility – it is stipulated in the federal law No.35-FZ dated 6 March 2006 «On counter-terrorism measures».
Article 18 of this law specifies that the «compensation for harm, including moral one, incurred as a result of a terrorist act, is performed in the order established by the legislation of the Russian Federation on civil legal proceeding, at the expense of the person who committed the terrorist act, as well as at the expense of his close relatives, relatives and connected persons”, however it is performed only if «there is enough evidence to believe that the money, valuables and other property are acquired by them as a result of terrorist activities and (or) represent revenue from such property».
There are simply none other legal liabilities of the relatives of persons who are established as criminals by the court.
Moreover, arbitrary restrictions of citizens’ rights established by the authorities without a legal provision, are also illegal under the Constitution of the Russian Federation in effect, since the rights and freedoms of a person and a citizen can only be limited by the federal law (Art. 55 of the Constitution).
Measures, proposed by the Head of the Chechen Republic R.A.Kadyrov in his official statement, like «deportation out of Chechnya without the right to return» and demolition of the houses «together with the foundation» are not only beyond the limits of the law but are in direct conflict with it.
If such actions are committed they would become definitive violation of the constitutional rights of the citizens – in this case, right to free movement, choosing the place of stay and place of residence (Art. 27 of the Constitution), right to private property (Art. 35 of the Constitution) right to housing (Art. 40 of the Constitution).
It stands to reason that these actions are subject to appropriate qualification in accordance with the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.
I would like to point out that based on information of different human rights groups the practice of households demolition and committing other illegal actions against relatives of persons in many cases only suspected in involvement in illegal armed groups activities is not uncommon in the Chechen Republic.
For example, the employees of the Human Rights Center «Memorial» registered 26 cases of arsons of houses of the militants’ relatives only from summer of 2008 till March 2009.
In the same year of 2009 Head of Moscow branch of Human Rights Watch Tatyana Lokshina told of such practice. Human Rights Watch representatives at that time counted about 20 cases of arsons of houses of militants’ relatives in different districts of the Chechen Republic.
That is what Tatyana Lokshina told about typical cases of arsons: «Most of the time it happens at night. Armed people in camouflage come on several vehicles. People, most likely involved with the Ministry of Interior, oust people from the house outside or oust them to a second house located in the same household, which is rather typical for Chechnya, – and lock them there.
Later on, they move the furniture around in an unhurried manner, scatter the easily flammable items around, pour some petrol over everything, set fire and, as a rule, don’t leave at once. They wait for half an hour or more – in order to make sure that the fire has developed and there would be nothing or little left of the house».
And although after 2009 there have been less cases of arsons of suspected militants’ relatives houses, they still happen.
For example, «on 22 April 2012 in the vicinity of Gerzel-Aul settlement of Gudermes region of the Chechen Republic as a result of republican security agencies special-forces raid two militants were killed – Akhmed Bantayev, born in 1990, native of Komsomolskoye settlement of Gudermes district, and Bislan Alkhazov, born in 1988, native of Koshkeldy of Gudermes district. Also in the process of the raid two officers of Gudermes district Department of Interior were killed – Lieutenant Colonel Aslan Dzhamaldayev, head of the criminal investigation department and sub-lieutenant Akhmad Adalayev.
Two days after the raid armed people in camouflage came to Komsomolskoye settlement , ousted the relatives of Bantayev from their house, located not far from the school in the center of the settlement, and burnt it down. Bantayev family were not allowed to take anything from the house, even the documents. The fire-fighting vehicle was seen at the place of arson, but it is unknown how it got there. According to the local residents the security officials called for it to make sure the fire did not spread to the adjacent house. The fire brigade received an order to pour some water only on it. The house and property of the Bantayev family were completely destroyed by the fire. The house belonged to grandfather and grandmother of the killed militant Akhmed Bantayev.
At the eastern edge of the settlement, at Olimpiyskaya street, there was a house belonged to the parents of Akhmed; lodgers dwelled there. They, too, were ousted from the house and were not allowed to take anything with them, and the house was burnt down («Memorial» web site)».
Actions against relatives of persons suspected in or accused of crimes go beyond destruction of households.
Cases of complete disappearance of relatives are not uncommon, so are their illegal detention and use of force. Lawyers working with «The Committee Against Torture» and Mobile Joint Group (JMG) working in the Chechen Republic are dealing with quite a number of such cases.
For example, in September 2013 Murad Sulumbekovich Amriyev applied to JMG and told that on 25 August 2013 he was detained and taken to the building of the Regional Department of Interior of Grozny. There he was kept handcuffed for two days: he was beaten, tortured with electricity, hanged from the ceiling, humiliated. He also told that one of his abductors was a high-ranking officer of the Department of Interior for the Chechen Republic Magomed Dashayev.
M.S.Amriyev explained that Dashayev already arranged his detention in 2010. The police officer suspected the elder brother of M.S.Amriyev of attempting to kill him in 2008. Amriyev’s brother moved from Chechnya to Germany a long time ago and now is out of reach of the local policemen. According to M.S.Amriyev he did not have the information about the assassination attempt that was required from him, but was forced to sign some documents under torture.
After two days, in the evening of 27 August, Dashayev with his people took the battered M.S.Amriyev home to his parents. About 15 people came inside the flat of the Amriyev family. Negotiations started. The main demand of Dashayev was the return of the elder brother of M.S.Amriyev to Chechnya. However, due to concerns for the security of the emigrated relative the Amriyev family could not guarantee this return. The Amriyev family were told that if his elder brother does not return to Chechnya all the liability for the assassination attempt would transfer to Murad.
In this respect the human rights defenders sent a crime report to the regional Investigative Committee. The Investigative Committee conducted a number of pre-investigative checks, on 6 November 2014 another refusal to start criminal proceedings was issued (The Committee Against Torture web site).
In 2009 human rights defenders received numerous applications from people telling about destruction of households and abduction of their relatives.
In particular, on 7 December 2009 Raisa Saidakhmedovna Turluyeva applied to JMG and explained that on 21 October 2009 on the territory of household No.117 in Ganchayev street of Goyty settlement of Urus-Martan District of the Chechen Republic a firefight between the law-enforcement officers and three persons belonging to illegal armed groups took place. In the course of the above-mentioned firefight and subsequent fire the residential facilities of the household belonged to R.S.Turluyeva burnt down.
Materials, gathered by JMG lawyers, allowed them to draw a conclusion that the members of the illegal armed groups could not perform arson of the household.
It is confirmed by:
– explanations of R.S.Turluyeva, L.V.Sadulayeva, M.A.Yakhyeva, E.A.Ibragimova, which point at the fact that the arson of the house happened after two militants were killed and the third one escaped. The complainant and the witnesses state that the household was surrounded by armed groups and could not be set to fire by third parties.
– video record of the press-service of the Russian Federation Ministry of the Interior for the Chechen Republic made on 21 October 2009 where it is seen that upon the completion of the active phase of the firefight there was no fire in the household (this video record was put on the web site of the Russian Federation Ministry of the Interior for the Chechen Republic).
On 19 December 2009 Achkhoy-Martan Interdistrict Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation Prosecutor’s Office for the Chechen Republic a criminal case No.73054 was opened, however the felony arson version was not adequately checked.
On the day of the described firefight (21 October 2009) the son of R.S.Turluyeva, Said-Salekh Abdulganiyevich Ibragimov, born in 1990, was detained by the officers of the special police regiment of the Extradepartmental Protection Directorate of the Ministry of the Interior for the Chechen Republic for Chechnya oil field sites protection (“oil regiment”). For several days S.-S.A.Ibragimov was supposedly held in the regiment premises.
Lawyers of JMG established that on 21 October 2009 S.-S.A.Ibragimov was detained and taken by the oil regiment officers to the administrative building of the regiment located in Grozny. Adnan Abdullayevich Ibragimov (uncle of Said-Salekh) was taken to the same premises, he saw S.-S.A.Ibragimov and talked to him. According to A.A.Ibragimov at that time a lot of oil regiment officers were present in the room, who were voicing their grievances against S.-S.A.Ibragimov and threatened to kill him as blood revenge in connection with the death of their colleague during the firefight at the place of residence of S.-S.A.Ibragimov. After interrogation A.A.Ibragimov was released, and his nephew S.-S.A.Ibragimov was left on the territory of the regiment.
On 28 December 2009 criminal case No.66102 was opened based on the report of Ibragimov disappearance. Investigation of this case was repeatedly suspended and reopened. The fate that befell S.-S.A.Ibragimov is unknown, nor are the identities of his abductors.
At the present time in the case «Turluyeva against Russia» the European Court of Human Rights has passed a decision which establishes a violation of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms with reference to the applicant (Web site of the Committee Against Torture).
Not in all cases of illegal actions against the relatives of the persons suspected in or accused of committing crimes the victims apply to the law-enforcement agencies, considering it futile. And such attitude of the citizens cannot be called groundless, since investigations based on complaints of the ones who nevertheless decided to apply to the state authorities for help, as a rule, do not bring any result.
In particular, the inefficiency of investigations of abductions cases in the Chechen Republic was repeatedly stated by «The Committee Against Torture» (see Report on the status of the investigation of criminal cases, initiated based on facts of torture and disappearance of people in the Chechen Republic, drawn up with the use of the Joint Mobile Group materials of Russian human rights organizations in the Chechen Republic).
In summer 2014 the first case of the criminal’s relatives deportation out of the territory of the Chechen Republic happened, which attracted a lot of public interest. According to mass media, the residents of the settlement Goy-Chu unanimously decided to deport out of the Republic all the members of the family of Khusein Dakhtayev, who committed a much talked-of assassination of the Ministry of Interior officer Akhmed Dopayev at the elevated crossing in Leninsky district of Grozny.
Thus, taking into consideration the above-mentioned illegal actions against relatives of the persons, suspected in committing crimes (or criminals), it can be reasonably supposed that the official statement of the head of the Chechen Republic will definitely be implemented.
However, it is not possible to establish law and protect the citizen’s rights using measures which do not comply with the Constitution of Russia and other norms of Russian legislation.
In my opinion, statutory powers that the state bodies of Chechnya have at their disposal, are quite sufficient for solving the present problems and challenges, including struggle against crime. Proposing to implement measures contradicting the law can only aggravate the situation.
Moreover, I think that such statements and slogans pronounced by the head of the subject of the Russian Federation establish a dangerous precedent of arbitrary violation of the fundamental law of the country – the Constitution of Russia, which Ramzan Kadyrov made an oath to protect («I swear in exercising of authority of the Head of the Chechen Republic to respect and protect rights and freedoms of a person and a citizen, protect the rights of a multi-national people of the Chechen Republic and to serve to it loyally, observing and protecting the Constitution of the Chechen Republic and the laws of the Chechen Republic» – a quote from the text of his loyalty oath).
Taking into account the above-mentioned, as well as the fact that R.A.Kadyrov made the indicated statement officially and this statement was broadcasted by a central television channel as such,
I ask you to:
Organize a check, based on which the legality of the statements of the Head of the Chechen Republic R.A.Kadyrov shall be evaluated, take the appropriate measures of prosecutor’s office response, and in case of detecting the elements of crime submit the materials to the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for conducting a procedural check and the resolution of the issue of initiating criminal proceedings.
In a similar appeal to the Chairman of the Investigative Committee A.I.Bastrykin A.I.Kalyapin pointed out at the fact that, in his opinion, the statements of the Head of the Chechen Republic contain instigations of the authorities to commit a crime defined by Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation («exceeding official authority»). Due to that Kalyapin asked Bastrykin to arrange for the procedural check according to Articles 144-145 of the Russian Federation Criminal Procedure Code in order to resolve the issue of initiating criminal proceedings in case of sufficient grounds for that.