You may remember that this application is one of 29 similar applications considered jointly by the European Court of Human Rights. The facts of these cases have much in common: applicants’ relatives disappeared in Chechnya between 2000 and 2006 following arrest by the military. Besides Ms. Yagayeva represented by INGO “Committee Against Torture”, a number of applicants from this group are represented by the Russian Justice Initiative, some applicants do not have representatives and support their cases themselves.
The facts of Yagayeva’s case are artless and ordinary for that time: a family of civilians was in their home, when several armed men dressed in camo stormed inside under the pretext of a documents check. Without explaining reasons or legal grounds for their intrusion, they abducted Zayndi Ayubov (applicant’s husband), and since then his fate and whereabouts are not known. The abductee’s relatives immediately lodged a crime report, but, unfortunately, it did not bring any result, like in the majority of similar situations.
The European Court asked the Russian Government a lot of questions, to which the Government has routinely replied in a rather vague fashion, not bothering much to defend their position. In the case of Zayndi Ayubov’s abduction, as in other cases with similar facts, the dispute is focused on whether or not armed men in uniform were state agents and whether or not the applicants’ relatives were actually dead. The Government maintains that the applicants have failed to prove that armed men dressed in camouflage were servicemen and that missing relatives were actually dead.
It must be noted that while refuting armed forces servicemen’s involvement into the abduction, lawyers of the Russia’s Representative Office at the ECtHR use standard arguments which have been many times proved wrong both by the Committee Against Torture and other victims’ representatives, and therefore, found inadequate by the European Court.
These cases are very similar to “Khashuyeva v. Russia”, hence, the Committee Against Torture does not doubt that the Government will be held responsible for disappearance of 29 people. Therefore, we would like to point out that it would be much more productive for Russia not to wait for other judgments under similar cases, but establish a system to deal with the problem on the national level, for instance, like Turkey did.