Igor' Kalyapin: "In the Kutaev case there was no competition at all", Open Russia

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05 November 2014

Ruslan Kutaev. Photo: pytkam.net

On 31 October penal commission of the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic reduced the imprisonment term of human rights defender Ruslan Kutaev who was convicted for  possession of drugs. The head of «The Committee Against Torture» Igor Kalyapin who conducted the independent investigation of the Kutaev case, — on why there is no point in hailing the humanism of the Chechen court.  

I’m going to speak only about things which are considered to be established by the court and things that the court of appeal agreed with. The court established that on 20 February of this year a mentally competent 57-year old person, a Candidate of philosophical sciences who defended his thesis in St.Petersburg and not in Grozny, as some academicians did,  being in sober mind was going on taxi from the town of Pyatigorsk to the Chechen Republic.

He was wearing a sports suit and flip-flops; just to remind you, it was 20 February. On his way he was calling different high-ranking and influential people  — deputy Gudkov, a Hero of Russia Nefedov (Sergey Nefedov — research-cosmonaut, a friend of Kutaev — Open Russia), Novaya Gazeta military columnist Izmaylov  — and kept telling them: guys, I’ve got problems, they are after me, they were at my place, they search for me everywhere in order to take me to the Republic’s leader to receive my punishment.  

And while he was telling all this he allegedly found a pack with heroin in the taxi. Knowing that he could be detained and not being a drug-addict himself, which is established by expert examinations, he put this pack in his pocket, went to the remote village Gekhi to his relative and here, to his misfortune in a dead-end street he met six policemen and two attesting witnesses, who happened to be there by accident. It is unclear why they stopped him and decided to search him, but they found heroin, and different policemen give different evidence about who exactly found the drug. In general, all six of them suffer from amnesia — they mention different cars, they don’t remember what the weather was. Then the policemen took Kutaev to their car and brought him to Grozny. None of them could explain what he was doing there for the next 12 hours either — the detention report was drawn up only 12 hours later when Kutaev was already taken to Urus-Martan. 

This extremely strange version of events is considered to be established by the court. All our attempts to appeal to the court for checking it were dismissed. Were the policemen present at the scene of events on that day? In the photos from the case file we see that the weather is obviously different to what is was on that day. The signature in the detention report evidently was not put by Kutaev. But the court dismissed all motions:  they told us they did not have any grounds to doubt the policemen’s evidence. What grounds exactly are we talking about? — since all the policemen say different things. Then this strange version moved on from the first instance to the second and the court of the second instance «enforced» it as they call it in their slang (upheld, kept in force — Open Russia).

Noone even tried to search for the car where Kutaev allegedly found heroin, his house wasn’t searched — everyone understood everything. If we accuse Kutaev of purchasing drugs it is logical to ask who from. If we accuse him of selling, then it is logical to ask who to? So the court  specified in its appellate resolution that Kutaev did not purchase or sell the drug but only kept it in possession, and reduced his imprisonment term by two months, showing humanism.  

At the same time throughout the whole trial Kutaev was telling about what had been happening to him during those 12 hours before the detention report was drawn up: that he was not taken into custody by policemen but some people in uniform, that they took him to Grozny where he was beaten so brutally that he had bodily markings left, and he was tortured with electricity, and he had markings left of that as well. Kutaev filed an application personally with the Chairman of the Investigative Committee, to human-rights ombudsman Lukin, to the head of the Presidential Council Fedorov (I delivered it) — and in every application he described how he was tortured in detail. Naturally the same was repeated many times by his lawyer Petr Zaikin. Apparently, someone who kept a close eye on the trial did not like it. That is why two court rulings have been announced today: a special court ruling would be filed with the law chamber to withdraw Petr Zaikin lawyer’s status, and secondly — a court ruling is sent to the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Chechen Republic on conducting procedural check in order to initiate criminal proceedings against Zaikin under Article related to «libel».  

If this was happening in Cheboksary, Nizhny Novgorod or Uryupinsk it would not occur even to a biased investigator to open a criminal case on such grounds. But the events take place in Grozny. Here I assume that even these rulings were delivered by the court not independently. In any case, only two court hearings ago the head of the penal commission was paying compliments to Zaikin: that he wished that every Chechen had such lawyers. So there are forces in the Republic which can give orders to the Supreme Court. I think such orders can also be given to the Investigative Committee, as well.    

Of course, we are going to file a complaint with the ECHR, because Article 6 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (right to fair trial — Open Russia) is violated here, and it is obvious that there was no competition during the trial at all.  The words of policemen, which served the basis for prosecution, are treated by the court as absolute truth. The words of the defense team and the victim are not taken into account even as grounds to perform a check in their respect. Kutaev mentioned this during the proceedings: «I did not ask the court to take my word, the court trusts the policemen and does not trust me, I realized that already. But I don’t understand why the court does not want even to check my words».   

The president of the «Assembly of the peoples of Caucasus» Ruslan Kutaev was apprehended by unidentified persons in black uniform on 20 February 2014 in the house of his relative in Gekhi village. Not long before that the Chechen human rights defender conducted scientific and historical conference dedicated to deportation of Chechen, Ingush and Balkar peoples, the 70th anniversary of which was on 23 February. In 2011 Ramzan Kadyrov declared that no more mourning events linked to this date would take place in Chechnya. On 19 February 2014 participants of the conference organized by Kutaev were summoned for a conversation to Kadyrov’s administration. The human rights defender refused to go to this meeting. «Memorial» acknowledges him as a political prisoner. 

Source: Open Russia