On Saturday the web-site of INGO “Committee Against Torture” was hacked by unknown trespassers, as a result of which a lot of web-site content was destroyed, including all descriptions of cases, but for those dealt with by the Chechen representation of the organization. The hackers also published a news article simulating a call of one of ICAT departments (Public Investigation Department). The anonyms expressed their discontent with the fact that the ICAT was allegedly paying a disproportional share of its attention to the work of the Joint Mobile Group in Chechnya, at the same time neglecting the need to address police abuse in other Russian regions.
It is obvious that the author of the message used worn-out clichés of nationalist propaganda in order to disrupt trust in our organization as an NGO defending human rights irrespective of the racial, ethnical or religious status of victims and offenders. Perhaps, this provocative act was aimed at discrediting the Committee Against Torture and disuniting its personnel. However, it has failed, despite thorough planning.
We do not find it necessary to refute the message of this news report, as we think that our performance speaks for itself. It is a well-known fact that 90% of 75 law enforcers held responsible as a result of our work are from Central Russia. It is obvious that the attack and clumsy forgery were committed by people personally interested in ruining public investigations into police abuse. Besides, it must be noted that such actions are not just unethical, but also fall under the scope of Article 272 of the Russian Criminal Code “Unauthorized access to computer information”.
We would also like to recall that our NGO has recently been subject to more frequent assaults of law enforcers. Thus, last week ICAT lawyer Anton Ryzhov was detained by the police upon leaving the train in Nizhny Novgorod on his way back from Chechnya. His notebook and storage devices were seized. Last Wednesday we lodged an application with the Investigative Committee, Prosecutor’s Office and Interior Ministry asking them to conduct a check of the above incident. At the same time, Igor Kalyapin is now the subject of another check instigated in connection with alleged disclosure of the state secret.
You may remember that the Joint Mobile Group of human rights NGOs working in Chechnya was created following Natalia Estemirova’s murder and has been operating in Grozny since autumn 2009. The most high-profile JMG case is that of Islam Umarpashayev’s abduction by Chechen Special Police Task Force officers who had detained him at their base for several months in order to stage his liquidation as a militant some time later. Umarpashayev’s case is being investigated by the investigative task force of the Main Investigative Administration of the Investigative Committee led by colonel of justice Igor Sobol.