«If I'm not at home — well, I don't know, sorry…». The Chechen Ombudsman told the Crew’s lawyers whether he was ready to guarantee the safety of Elena Milashina during her work in the region


22 August 2023


The lawyers of the Crew Against Torture have met with Mansur Soltayev, the Ombudsman of the Chechen Republic. At a personal reception at the official’s office, the lawyers asked him questions about the attack on Elena Milashina and Aleksandr Nemov, about torture in Chechnya, and about the ill-treatment of Nikita Zhuravel in the Grozny pre-trial detention center.

Mansur Soltayev refused to be interviewed by the CAT lawyers within the framework of the public investigation into the attack on Ms. Milashina and Mr. Nemov. The lawyer gives the following details of the meeting with the Ombudsman:

About the meeting and work of the Chechen Ombudsman

«We have long tried to get an appointment with Mr. Soltayev. The reception itself can hardly be called «warm»: Mr. Soltayev was in a hurry somewhere, and therefore “received” us in the corridor. However, it is worth noting that for many years we did not have any relationship with the Ombudsperson’s office in the Chechen Republic, so even such a kind of communication seems quite constructive to us. We never got a clear idea of what role this office itself plays in protecting human rights, since, while answering questions about complaints of citizens related to torture in the region and the reaction to them, Mr. Soltayev said that he fully trusted the results of official investigations, and his function is merely to transfer information to the appropriate authorities.»

About the attack on Ms. Milashina and Mr. Nemov

«Regarding the Milashina case, we also counted on a more specific discussion, because on the day of the attack Mr. Soltayev said that it was a shame that he had not been warned in advance about Milashina’s visit to the Chechen Republic. Currently, when we asked about specific aid during Elena’s next visit, Mr. Soltayev answered rather abstractly: «If I’m at home, then no problem. If I’m not at home, well, I don’t know, sorry.»

About the beating of Nikita Zhuravel in the Grozny pre-trial detention center

Mr. Soltayev told the CAT lawyers that he did not have competent information, and that the investigating authorities «would look into it». The Ombudsman also stated that in the Chechen Republic human rights are now «at the highest level».

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