The Investigative Committee opened a criminal case with regard to abduction of the 1Adat Telegram-channel chat moderator Salman Tepsurkayev. As we previously reported, he was abducted in Gelendzhik by people who introduced themselves as the officers with the Ministry of the Interior. Later on, his relatives managed to track the location of Salman’s phone territory of regiment of the Patrol-Guard Service of the Police named after Akhmat Kadyrov based in Grozny.
On 6 September 2020, Salman Tepsurkayev was abducted in Gelendzhik. He was a chat moderator of 1Adat Telegram channel which informs about violations of human rights in the Chechen Republic. Witnesses report that the abductors presented their IDs of the Ministry of the Interior officers. For twenty-four hours there was no information about the fate of Salman. But in the evening of 7 September, his phone was turned on again and the relatives managed to obtain his geolocation data, according to which Salman’s phone was on the territory of regiment of the Patrol-Guard Service of the Police named after Akhmat Kadyrov located in Grozny.
On the same day, 7 September, a person under nickname “Hunter” published a video in the chat of 1Adat Telegram-channel, in which Salman Tepsurkayev curses himself and his channel in the Chechen language, after that he attempts to sit on a glass bottle.
On 11 September, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture submitted an application to the ECHR with regard to the violation of Tepsurkayev’s rights, provided by Articles 3 and 5 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms: “prohibition of torture” and ‘right to personal integrity”. Human rights defenders requested that the Court applied “Rule 39” and demanded from the Russian Federation to take provisional measures to establish the whereabouts of Tepsurkayev, as well as to ensure the guarantee of his release and safety.
According to the information, published on the website of the Ministry of Justice of Russia, on 22 October, the European Court of Human Rights dismissed the application submitted by human rights defenders. Lawyers with the Committee Against Torture haven’t yet received the text of the ECHR ruling, that is why its motivation is not known.
On 14 September, human rights defenders applied with crime reports on behalf of Salman Tepsurkayev’s wife to the Investigative Committee of Russia for the Chechen Republic and to the Investigative Department for Gelendzhik of the Investigative Committee of Russia for the Krasnodar Territory.
In addition, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture conducted their own public investigation, during which they managed to obtain convincing evidence of the law-enforcement bodies’ involvement in Tepsurkayev’s disappearance. Human rights defenders provided the investigators with a video record which features Tepsurkayev’s abduction process, as well as the data on vehicles and the abductors who were filmed by the video camera at the place of the incident. In the course of public investigation, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture managed to find out that one of the cars belongs to the acting police officer from Chechnya.
On 15 October, investigators from the Krasnodar Territory made a decision to hand over the evidence that they collected to the Investigative Department for Chechnya due to the fact that the car of Tepsurkayev’s assumed abductors crossed the boundary of the Chechen Republic. On the same day, on 15 October, the investigator with the Chechen Investigative Department dismissed the claim to open a criminal case referring to absence of a criminal event.
On 29 October, head of the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the RF for the Chechen Republic Adlan Lepiyev returned a part of the material of the check that concerned Tepsurkayev’s abduction, to his colleagues from the Krasnodar Territory. In addition, the Chechen investigators continued to conduct a check of the report on applying violence against Tepsurkayev on the territory of the Republic. By the present time, the Chechen investigators have issued three dismissals of claims to open a criminal case, the last one dated 3rd of December.
On 27 November 2020, after additional check with regard to the fact of Salman Tepsurkayev’s abduction, investigator of the Investigative Department for Gelendzhik with the Investigative Committee of the RF for the Krasnodar Territory Gleb Lebedev initiated criminal proceedings under elements of crime provided in item “a” of Part 2, Article 126 of the Criminal Code of the RF (“abduction of person, performed by a group of persons by previous concert”). Lawyers with the Committee Against Torture received a notification about this ruling in the end of last December.
“In our opinion, it is wrong that the Investigative Committee decided to separate Salman’s abduction and applying violence against him. But the fact that at least with regard to one of these episodes a criminal case was opened, increases our chances to learn what is the present fate of Tepsurkayev, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Leysan Mannapova comments. – Now we do not have a reliable information on further plans of the investigative authorities on this case. But we will be insisting that the criminal case shall also cover the illegal detaining of Tepsurkayev on the territory of the regiment of the Patrol-Guard Service of the Police named after Akhmat Kadyrov and the violence applied against him. Taking into account that such a high-profile crime was committed on the territory of several federal districts, it appears feasible to conduct the investigation in the Central Office of the Investigative Committee of Russia”.