The Investigative Committee is convinced that Movsar Umarov from Chechnya was in law-enforcement officers’ custody after the abduction


18 December 2020

Deputy Head of the First Department for Major Crimes with the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Chechen Republic Shamil’ Khamidov disproved the official position of the Russian government that concerning the disappearance of Movsar Umarov, a resident of Checnya, was not apprehended and was not in custody of the Chechen law-enforcement authorities. At the present time, the investigators are investigating the case on Umarov’s murder.

As we have previously reported, on 4 September 2020, the relatives of Movsar Umarov from the Chechen Republic applied to the Committee Against Torture asking to help establishing his whereabouts. According to them, Movsar was apprehended on 18 July by law-enforcement authorities and taken to the Leninsky District of the Grozny City Police (previously, another applicant of the Committee Against Torture, Timur Debishev, told about tortures in this police department – author’s comment). On the next day after the apprehension, the Leninsky District police officers informed Umarov’s relatives that he was transferred to the Federal National Guard Troops of the Russian Federation Extradepartmental Protection Directorate State-owned Federal State Institution for the Chechen Republic (habitually it is nicknamed “Oil Regiment” – author’s comment). To the question about the reasons of apprehension they received a response that Movsar did not do anything wrong and in an about a week they will call for the relatives on the father’s side together with a mullah, will have an educational talk and will let him go. During the whole period of Movsar’s stay in the “Oil Regiment” territory his wife and mother were bringing him food, but they were not allowed to see him until 7 August.

In the evening of 7 August, Umarov’s relatives were asked to urgently come to the “Oil Regiment”. When they arrived, they were brought inside and taken to the room without a sign. Movsar and about 7-10 officers were inside that room. One of them introduced himself as “Jabrail”. Later on, Movsar Umarov’s brother, who attended that meeting, recognized that man by photographs in the Internet, as half colonel Zelimkhan Agmerzoyev – commander of 3-rd squadron of the “Oil Regiment” (previously, Umarov’s brother erroneously identified Jabrail as Magomed Baytuyev, an assistant to head of Checnnya Ramzan Kadyrov – author’s note). Umarov did not have any visible bodily injuries. According to Movsar’s mother, they demanded that he provided evidence required to catch two “devils” from Ingushetia and Dagestan, otherwise he was threatened with 15-20 years of imprisonment. After this meeting of Movsar with his relatives, he was allowed to use the phone to talk to them from time to time. Several times he called his wife and told her on 10 August that he was going to be released. Last message from him came in the evening of 11 August: “I’m at the meeting”. After that Movsar has not contact his wife or any of his relatives.

On 18 August, Umarov’s relatives were called to the “Oil Regiment”. There was a man there again, who introduced himself as “Jabrail”, who told them that Movsar allegedly escaped from the police officers during the apprehension of a suspect in the territory of Ingushetia. Movsar’s brother asked “Jabrail” why then they did not declare him wanted, if he escaped from the law-enforcement officers’ custody. To this “Jabrail” lifted his hands helplessly and said that he did not understand it either.

On 14 September, lawyers with Committee Against Torture submitted an application on Movsar Umarov’s rights provided by Articles 3 and 5 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms: “prohibition of torture” and “right to personal integrity”. Human rights defenders asked the Court to apply “Rule 39” and demand that the Russian Federation took provisional measures to establish Umarov’s whereabouts, as well as guaranteed his release and safety.

The European Court dismissed human rights defenders’ request on applying “Rule 39”, but gave a priority status to the application.

On 25 September 2020, representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights Mikhail Galperin informed that no one apprehended Movsar Umarov or delivered him to any law-enforcement bodies of the Chechen Republic. He added that after Umarov’s relatives applied to law-enforcement bodies, the Investigative Department of the Leninsky District of the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of Russia for the Chechen Republic was assigned for the check. In the course of the check, the investigative authorities established that Movsar was not apprehended and not subjected to brutal treatment by state representatives or third persons.

On 28 September, the Investigative Committee initiated criminal proceedings based on Umarov’s mother application, having pointed out that they revealed the elements of crime under part 1 of Article 105 of the Criminal Code of the RF (“murder”).

In November, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture submitted an application to the superiors of the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of Russia for the Chechen Republic due to the investigator’s dismissal of the request to perform a check of Umarov’s relatives testimony, according to which they saw Movsar on 7 August on the territory of the “Oil Regiment”.

In December of this year, human rights defenders received an answer from Deputy Head of the First Department for Major Cases of the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the RF for the Chechen Republic Shamil Khamidov, in which he reports the following: “In their testimony, the victims (Umarov’s relatives – author’s comment) described their point of meeting with M.M.Umarov on the territory of the Oil Regiment in detail, including the rooms layout and interior. At the present time, the investigative authorities do not doubt the objectiveness of this testimony, including the fact that M.M.Umarov was kept in custody on the territory of the above-mentioned regiment for some time after his apprehension”.

“At the present time we cannot precisely say which evidence apart from witnesses’ testimony confirm the fact of Movsar’s presence on the territory of the Oil Regiment, since we can only familiarize with the case materials if it is sent to court or suspended”, – head of the North Caucasus branch of the Committee Against Torture Dmitry Piskounov explains. – But we are satisfied with the fact that the Investigative Committee takes a reasonable approach in the criminal case and was not afraid to disprove the initial version of the Russian Government, which Mikhail Galperin reported to the European Court of Human Rights. In the next few days, we shall add some new information to our application to Strasbourg, and, certainly, will continue to interact with the Investigative Committee on this case”.

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