Human rights defender Mr Igor Kalyapin has been subjected to an ongoing defamation campaign. The most recent incident took place on 25 February 2014, at a meeting of the Civil Chamber of the Chechen Republic, during which the Head of the Republic of Chechnya, Mr Ramzan Kadyrov, accused human rights defender Mr Igor Kalyapin of being a “traitor of the nation” and a man who defends “bandits and drug addicts” and “promotes his personal interests”.
Igor Kalyapin is the chairperson of the Interregional Committee Against Torture, and founder and President of the Joint Mobile Group (JMG), which was established by human rights NGOs in November 2009 following the murder of human rights defender Ms Natalya Estemirova in Chechnya. The JMG received the Front Line Defenders Award in April 2011 for their work in investigating torture and disappearances in Chechnya and was also the 2013 recipient of the Martin Ennals Award. Igor Kalyapin is also a member of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights in Russia.
On 25 February 2014, Ramzan Kadyrov, apart from calling Igor Kalyapin a traitor and defender of criminals and drug addicts, further accused the human rights defender of using human rights work to make a career. Ramzan Kadyrov stated that there are ‘real’ human rights defenders in Chechnya and that the Republic does not need ‘Kalyapins’. This statement was broadcast by the state TV channel Vainakh. Kadyrov went on to list cases which are being investigated by Igor Kalyapin and the JMG, including that of Mr Islam Umarpashaev, who in 2009 was abducted and deprived of his liberty for four months by the Chechen Special Police Task Force, during which time he was tortured.
Ramzan Kadyrov also mentioned the case of Mr Ruslan Kutaev in an attempt to paint Igor Kalyapin as a careerist. The human rights defender and JMG have recently been working on the case and came to conclusion that from 20 to 22 February 2014 Ruslan Kutaev was subjected to torture. On 18 February 2014, the “Assembly of Caucasian nations”, of which Ruslan Kutaev is president, had organised a conference to commemorate 70 years since the deportation of the entire Chechen and Ingush population on 23 February 1944. During this conference, Ruslan Kutaev accused the authorities of disrespecting the memory of the victims by not celebrating this date in Chechnya. Shortly after the conference concluded, Ruslan Kutaev was invited to meet Ramzan Kadyrov on 19 February, an invitation which he declined. On 20 February, he was arrested and charged with possession of drugs. Soon afterwards the allegations of torture came to light.
This is not the first time that Igor Kalyapin and JMG members have been the targets of defamation and intimidation as a result of their work. On 7 July 2012, Igor Kalyapin was called for questioning by the Investigative Committee of Northern Caucasus Federal Region in the town of Yessentuki and threatened with prosecution. On 1 June 2012, the JMG members were summoned to a meeting with Ramzan Kadyrov which was conducted in a threatening manner. He declared that the JMG members “hate Chechens and come just to earn money.” More information on human rights defender Igor Kalyapin and JMG can be found here.
Front Line Defenders condemns the continued defamation and intimidation of Igor Kalyapin and other JMG members, and views these actions as part of an ongoing campaign aimed at discrediting and intimidating the human rights defenders in relation to their work documenting and investigating human rights violations in Chechnya.