Representative of the Russian Federation Mikhail Galperin responded to the questions of the European Court concerning the disappearance of Movsar Umarov from Checnya. According to him, the Russian investigators established that Umarov was not apprehended or delivered to any Chechen law-enforcement bodies, and was never subjected to brutal treatment by power authorities or the third parties. Human rights defenders consider these explanations to be unsatisfactory and continue to insist on applying “Rule 39”.
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 Magomed Baytuyev, an assistant to head of Checnnya Ramzan Kadyrov. 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.
On 15 September 2020, human rights defenders received a notification from the European Court of Human Rights that the Court is considering applying “Rule 39” to provide for Movsar Umarov’s safety. Among other things, the ECHR posed questions to the Russian authorities on whether Movsar was taken to the Leninsky police department and the “Oil Regiment”, and on what grounds; where he is now and what steps did the Russian law-enforcement bodies take to establish the circumstances of this incident, whether Movsar was subjected to torture, does he have an opportunity to see his relatives and the lawyer.
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.
“Despite the fact that Mr Galperin points at a wide range of checking activities, performed by investigative authorities, until now the investigators have not even questioned Movsar Umarov’s brother and wife, whom he called and wrote repeatedly after 7 August, – head of the North Caucasus branch of the Committee Against Torture Dmitry Piskounov comments. – Until now the check of evidence on site is not performed – the one involving Umarov’s mother and his brother, who would be able to show how and at what circumstances they saw Movsar in the territory of the “Oil Regiment”, which officers of police and Rosgvardiya were present at that time, as well as tell their names. Due to that we cannot consider the explanations of the Russian authorities to be convincing and will continue to insist on applying “Rule 39”.